Best Strategies for Off-Premise Business

As an operator or restaurant marketer, it's important to constantly stay up to date on best industry practices. In today's market, the most successful operators are leveraging off-premise programs.

With technology platforms readily available, the growth potential for catering, take-out, and delivery programs is significant. But this doesn't mean developing these programs don't come with a unique set of challenges.

With that in mind, the Restaurant Takeout, Delivery and Catering Symposium will be returning for its fourth year. 

240 off-premise leaders and suppliers will be joined together to discuss the latest trends in the industry, along with the challenges and how to overcome them when it comes to off-premise business.

We decided to sit down with Erle Dardick, the founder, and CEO at MonkeyMedia Software, The Catering Institute, and Catering Insights to learn more about this year's event, what attendees should expect, and where he thinks the future of off-premise is going. 

Why do you think operators and marketers should pay special attention to the off-premise sector? 

Dardick: This particular symposium is specific to just focus on the off-premise opportunity because there's just so much to think about just in this space. 

What's important for foodservice operators is the business strategy. You have to bring the strategy to the forefront. The real differentiator, of this particular workshop, is it's really focused on the strategy. People will walk away with is a business framework that they can use, structure, and scale for their programs.

How does the symposium stand out from the other events in the industry? 

Dardick: We find a lot of the conferences we go to, which are general overviews, offer only some sort of break out session on take-out, delivery, and catering. A lot of times people leave with more questions than answers. Our goal here is to really give them answers.

What will be some of the sessions that attendees don't want to miss and why?

Dardick: We have a great keynote by Darren Tristano and there's a new study that we've been working on, known as the Five-Year Outlook Study, and it's focused on take-out, delivery, and catering. 

Also, the attendees are going to hear from some great CEOs. The reason why we're doing that is that we want them to share the reality of the investments. If brands are going to focus on this sector, they've got to have sponsorship from the executive team.

We're also going to be talking about the technology blueprint. We will try to clarify for operators, where they need to put their technology investments. We're going to be talking about the role and the place that third-party marketplaces and services fall into all of this. What role do they play? 

Finally, we will address the strategic areas of investment, we call it the eight strategic areas of investment. So, where do we need to invest our money, in terms of product, service, and infrastructure? 

What are some of the challenges operators are experiencing when it comes to technology and what are some of the solutions?

Dardick: There's a lot of confusion about technology platforms you need as a foodservice operator to run your operations. This is a complex discussion, because every technology provider, that's selling technology says that their solution is the one. In fact, there's no one solution. 

Restaurant and foodservice operators are overwhelmed with technology because what's happening is when the orders get to the restaurant, they don't have the infrastructure and controls in place to be able to manage the orders. 

This is the new paradigm. This is the main piece of the conversation, which is what do you need to do as a food service operator to put in the technology infrastructure so you can execute your channels of take-out and catering, for pick-up and delivery, but also to deal with the direct consumer channel and marketplaces. 

One of the topics is on the differentiation of Takeout and Catering and how takeout and catering programs need to be treated as completely different businesses. If an operator isn't doing this, why should they be?

Dardick: This is going to be the magic future of off-premise and it's going to be in your ability to sell more services to your customers. Differentiation is key because you have a customer who is loyal to the brand, and they want more services. 

For example, if I want a take-out order from Starbucks, I might also have an occasion to feed 30 people on Sunday in my home because I'm having a life event. Starbucks might offer me a solution. If they don't offer me one, I'm not going to spend more money with them.

The key is to differentiate your products and services because that's where the clarity and segmentation comes in for the customers and gives them more reasons to spend more money with your brand. 

Are tickets still available and where can people get them?

Dardick: They are absolutely still available and you can get them at