Even though The Corporate Caterer is my full-time pursuit now, I still have plenty of interaction with outside vendors like accountants and attorneys, and when I pay my CPA or lawyer a visit, I always make the effort to talk to the receptionists about their office lunch catering experiences. The following actually happened when my CPA’s office tried to order three box lunches from a national catering chain at 9:00 a.m. for a same day pick-up:

Office: Hi- I’d like to order five box lunches.

Caterer: When do you need them?

Office: By noon, but we’ll pick them up.

Caterer: Uh, that could be a problem.

Office: Why?

Caterer: Well, there is no one in the kitchen.

Office: Huh?

Caterer: There’s no one in the kitchen; they’re all out running deliveries – I’m the only one here.

Office: So, I can’t even pick up five lunches?

Caterer: Well maybe I could find someone to make them, but I there would be a 45-minute pick-up window.

Office: What does that mean?

Caterer: I can’t guarantee an exact pick-up time. It would be somewhere between 11:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. provided I can even find someone to do it.

Office: Just forget it. Good-bye.

What Was Wrong with That Picture?

Obviously there was a lot going in that caterer’s world that particular day, but consider this:

1) If no one was in the kitchen at 9:00 a.m. when did they cook all of the hot food?

2) Was everything sitting for hours even before it was loaded?

3) What if a customer had a last-minute change?

4) What if there was a delivery error that had to be fixed?

I bet you can think of even more questions, but you can be sure that my CPA is never calling that number again.

Find a Way

You may remember my previous blogs that outlined ways to get your food delivered when you were overloaded with orders.  I still maintain that you need to do everything possible to satisfy as many customers as you can, but these plans must be in place ahead of time. You need a list of back-up drivers and delivery services that you can turn to when one of those insane days occurs. I’d be happy to walk you through some procedures you can follow so that you will never have to turn down an order for five box lunches a customer wants to pick up.

One More Thing

The caterer or restaurant that was happy to help my CPA’s office on extremely short notice undoubtedly gained a satisfied and loyal customer that day. Don’t let opportunities like that pass by!

Published by Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman has spent more than three decades in the food industry. He built a $1.8 million a year corporate drop-off catering operation from the ground up in suburban Boston. Throughout his company’s steady growth he kept detailed records of the process. His membership website is a compilation of tips, tools, templates and behind-the-scene trade secrets that he and his team have created over the years.