Running a food business is not an easy task. There are so many areas that need adequate attention and coverage, from managing employees to monitoring inventory to meeting customer expectations and so on. As most chefs and managers can attest, juggling that much workload can take its toll, which can lead to poor management and result in poor service and bad dining experience for customers.
Emerging trends in the foodservice industry are also paving way for new business models, particularly the meal prep or meal kit businesses. People are busier now than ever. More time is spent on work, which means they have less time (and energy) for anything else, including making meals. Especially, with the Covid-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019), and forced shutdown of restaurants, offices, and the likes. More and more customers are in need of food delivery services.
The introduction of the meal prep business is a welcomed development for many customers. No longer do they have to troop to the market and buy the necessary ingredients to cook the recipe they want. Meal prep delivery firms do all the preparation and include all the needed items. Customers need just cook or, in some cases, reheat.
It’s a booming niche, with a projected growth of $8.94 billion by 2025 from just $2.5 billion in 2017. But it also has its challenges. The good news is that with the right restaurant management software, meal prep businesses may just grow deep roots and flourish.
1. Offer Creative Specials to Maximize Stock
Your meal prep business purchases ingredients, sauces, seasonings, and other items on a regular basis to make sure you have everything you need to fulfill your customers’ orders. In fact, your supply stock represents a huge chunk of your operating budget. One particular report says foodservice businesses spend between 20% and 40% of its revenue on ingredients, seasonings, and other food items.
The thing with food stock is you need to dispose of them quickly to prevent them from becoming food waste. Any food stock that doesn’t make it to your customer’s plate decreases your potential profits. Thus, it is only logical to make the most of your stock and derive revenue from it as quickly as you can.
That said, excess inventory is not an uncommon issue in any restaurant environment. Also, losing some of your stock is inevitable. But using your restaurant management software, you and your staff can determine which items need to be disposed of immediately.
Offering creative specials for a low price is one way of utilizing excess ingredients. If you have a surplus of tomatoes or onions, you can offer tomato soup or fried onion rings as special add-ons to your regular menu items for reasonable rates while supplies last. With a dash of creativity and the help of technology, you can still generate value from your excess food stock instead of letting them spoil in your inventory.
2. Offer Self-Serve Options
Modern customers tend to be more involved in their orders and are keen on being part of the meal preparation process, whether they are dining out, taking food to go, or requesting for a delivery. There are many instances where customers dictate their unique food requirements and their orders still go wrong.
Wrong orders and unsatisfied customers are bad for business because it means repeating the meal preparation process, which also means ingredients are wasted. As mentioned earlier, wasted food stock is lost revenue potential. Aside from that, a negative experience can also result in the loss of customers.
Meal prep services should address this by letting customers take charge of how they want their orders made. Give them a degree of control over their orders via self-serve and order customization options through self-serve kiosks, your restaurant management system website, as well as mobile ordering apps.
Such practice is highly effective in growing your food business, particularly if you offer meal prep delivery to your customers.
You can set your restaurant management software to capture data from your customers’ orders and remember the specifics. This helps your restaurant staff to prepare your customers’ orders just the way they like it the next time they buy from your restaurant.
3. Profile Your Customers
Your customers are the main component of your restaurant’s success. It doesn’t matter if you have the best pizza or hamburger in the world if you don’t attract and retain droves of customers. Thus, you need to deliver great service and awesome experience to each and every customer your business has if you are to grow your customer base.
Creating profiles per customer is one of the effective ways to attract customers. By integrating your restaurant management software with your CRM and POS solutions, you can use your customer’s data to build detailed customer profiles. The best restaurant software solutions come with POS and CRM-ready integrations and capabilities.
The benefits of customer profiles include effective marketing, improved services, and delightful experiences. You can segment your customers into groups based on a number of variables, such as age, gender, location, favorite food items, and more. By grouping them into specific segments, your staff can create promos and target specific individuals who are likely to respond and participate.
Customer profiles is one of the essential restaurant management system features that help in preparing meals as useful information such as previous orders, allergies, and specific instructions are easily accessible. This helps your staff prepare meals for customers the way they want them prepared.
4. Invest in Mobile-Based Ordering Apps
Paper-based order taking practices are a thing of the past. In this highly digital world, paper-based orders and tickets can slow down your operations almost to a grinding halt.
People today are highly digital and constantly connected to their mobile devices. They perform many basic and essential tasks through their smartphones, including ordering food delivery. According to the NPD Group, mobile orders comprise 60% of a restaurant’s digital transactions.
The increasing popularity of third-party food ordering services such as GrubHub, DoorDash, and UberEats is a clear indication that people are gradually moving away from phone-based ordering and now prefer mobile apps. Your meal prep delivery business must capitalize on this fact and invest in a mobile food delivery app. That said, research data suggests investing in a branded mobile food delivery app is a more rewarding move than utilizing third-party apps and portals.
While third-party apps like GrubHub and DoorDash dominate the mobile food delivery market, customers prefer to place their orders via branded mobile apps and websites instead according to a 2019 article by QSR. Customers gravitate towards branded apps and websites because of the potential savings, rewards, and promos branded apps offer.
With all that said, phone-based orders will not go away. People will still call your meal prep business and place their orders over the phone. But instead of jotting down their orders on a piece of paper, you can take their orders using a digital menu application integrated into a tablet.
All you have to do is tap on the items they specify and the software will automatically tally the total amount including taxes. Orders are then immediately sent to the kitchen display and the staff won’t have trouble getting the customers’ orders right.
Tablets help eliminate instances of confusion, improves the accuracy of the order, and accelerates the whole ordering process. While tablet-based ordering systems represent additional expenses on top of the total cost of restaurant management software, it is a worthwhile investment especially
Future-Proof Your Meal Prep Business
Restaurant management software solutions undeniably bring in a throng of benefits to modern restaurants, as well as meal prep delivery companies.
The advantages that stem from its utilization and implementation are so apparent that the restaurant management software market is set to grow in the future. That said, there are various trends that will impact meal prep delivery operators as well as the entire food service industry. These include cashless payments, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence, among others.
Sprwt is at the forefront of providing meal prep delivery businesses the technology and tools they need to succeed in this very unique market. Check out this expert’s review of Sprwt to know how it can help your meal prep company achieve its business goals and elevate it to greater heights.
Article specially written for sprwt.io
By Michael Rapoport