How to Cater to the Corporate Customer
Any caterer with a degree of experience in the competitive catering market will be aware of the need to maintain a steady stream of work. This regular work, whilst not creating huge profits for the business, does bring in the bread and butter income that keeps the business ticking over, pays the staff’s wages and many of the business’s running costs. It can also lead to more profitable work from the same source. The type of contract that best fits this bill is the contract to provide catering services for corporate clients. The phrase “corporate catering” implies that it is one entire genre. In fact, there are various types of corporate catering service, all of which the successful caterer needs to be able to fulfil if valuable ongoing contracts are to be won and retained. In this article we will look at some of these different corporate catering disciplines.
It seems appropriate that the first topic that we should cover is the first meal of the day. Time is so scarce, especially in the business world, that working breakfasts, which used to be a rarity, are now a frequent component in the corporate day. It is essential that breakfast buffets for business clients are prompt. In fact, the need for timely delivery to the corporate trade is of the essence generally. A smaller breakfast buffet can include Danish Pastries & Croissants, muffins with butter and preserves, fruit juices and tea and coffee. If something more substantial is required, the menu can be augmented with eggs and toast, whilst, if a substantial breakfast is required, a complete selection of grilled food can be provided.
Once again, there is a wide variety of catering services for the business lunch. For many corporate clients, a selection of sandwiches is sufficient for an internal luncheon meeting. However if the lunch is intended to entertain their business contacts (or potential contacts) it is probable that a much fuller menu will be required. This may even involve more than one course and the provision of beverages in addition to the food.
Because the business dinner does not happen during the course of the working day it is likely to involve some special occasion or celebration, such as a retirement or to mark an important event for the business. The caterer is likely to need to provide the full range of dinner services for such an occasion, including the provision of beverages.
AGMs and Board Meetings
Once again, the caterer is likely to be required to produce his entire repertoire of services and menus for annual meetings, extraordinary general meetings and meetings of the board of directors.
The annual company Christmas party is an event which, although happening only once a year, is an extremely valuable contract to have, whatever the size of the business. Along with wedding celebrations it really can represent the “cream” for a catering business. Because the work is repeat work, unless the firm decides against future Christmas parties, it is essential, once a contract has been won, to deliver everything to the satisfaction of the customer. One of the realities of “special occasion” catering is that customer expectation is higher and the disappointment with poor catering is felt all the more keenly. A poorly fulfilled Christmas party contract for a corporate client is almost certain to lose not only the following year’s party but also any other periodic work throughout the course of the year. Conversely, a corporate client who is happy with the catering provided for a Christmas party is likely to use the caterer again.
If a caterer has an ongoing relationship with a corporate client it can often entail having to provide catering services on a single isolated occasion, sometimes with little warning. If a meeting becomes more difficult than envisaged, the client may well make an urgent call for provisions to be delivered. Although it may not always be feasible to meet such a request the more prepared the caterer is to at least try to do so, the more he will be held in esteem by the client.
Corporate catering does, indeed, cover a wide range of services. The successful catering company will need to be able to satisfy all of the needs of the corporate client. That way, not only will the regular “bread and butter” contracts come in, the occasional helping of “cream” may also be served!
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