Catering The New Growth Model For Restaurants

In the United States alone, catering has grown into a $60 billion market—making demand generation essential to every restaurant and industry operator’s marketing strategy. Of that $60 billion, $24 billion is concentrated in business catering. And some brands are feeling the pressure to broaden their digital and marketing efforts to keep consumers coming to their door.

On this episode of The Barron Report, host Paul Barron chats with David Meiselman. Meiselman is the chief marketing officer for ezCater, the world’s largest online marketplace for business catering. The company works with over 62,000 restaurant and catering partner locations throughout the United States.

According to Meiselman, studies show “that 70 percent of catering buyers want delivery with their order, but only about 44 percent of catering orders are delivered.” With ezCater, he adds, “about 97 percent of the orders that come through our marketplace are delivered.”

For ezCater, the mission is simple: partner with dependable, high quality catering partners to help connect restaurants and operators with their current customers while also building that base. The company utilizes three online platforms—ezOrdering, ezManage, and ezDispatch—to accomplish this goal. Business class catering and delivery is provided via a network of local couriers and companies. Membership is free and there is no cost to be part of the marketplace itself; ezCater simply takes a small percentage of each order from the restaurant.

“The catering business is growing 50 percent faster than the overall restaurant business,” notes Meiselman. And ghost kitchens are part of that growth: restaurants are maintaining one flagship location while adding a number of ghost kitchens in surrounding areas to expand their reach. Such expansions ensure that customers receive a consistent delivery experience.

Listen to The Barron Report episode above to learn more about what makes the catering business unique and how the movement toward online ordering may help restaurants and operators focus on doing what they do best: making great food. And if you would like to keep listening, check out The Barron Report podcast on iTunes Now!

Produced by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


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The Catering Marketplace Company ezCater Raises $150 Million in Latest Funding Round

The online catering marketplace and software company ezCater announced this week that it has raised $150 million in a Series D-1 investment round.

ezCater has now raised $320 million in total. The latest raised funds, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and GIC, will be used to expand the company.

“This funding expands our ability to help our catering partners grow in a way that no one else can," said Stefania Mallett, co-founder, and CEO at ezCater in a press release.

ezCater, which claims to be valued at $1.25 billion, was founded 8 years ago. Since then, the company has made a series of strategic acquisitions.

Last year, ezCater acquired GoCater, another online catering platform. But the company recently made another investment to enhance its tools for restaurant operators. In March of this year, the company acquired MonkeySoft Solutions Inc. (MSI), which is a software that offers insights to operators on how to increase off-premises sales and profits.

"ezCater is having a huge impact on the industry by moving catering online and driving substantial profitability for their partners—this is a mission we’re excited to accelerate," said Brad Twohig, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners in a press release.

On the ezCater marketplace, there are over 60,000 local caterers and national chains including Jersey Mike’s Subs and Romano’s Macaroni Grill across the U.S.

Users plug in their zip code, then a list of restaurants in the specific area on the marketplace pops up. Customers can browse a number of restaurants to order catering from, while also seeing ratings from past customers, pricing, delivery fees, and more details.

Want to learn more? Watch the video below where the Foodable team recently spoke with an ezCater sales manager to learn more about how the company is offering a solution that helps operators leverage their catering business.

How These Tech Companies are Helping Restaurants Help Customers

Video Produced by Denise Toledo and Vanessa Rodriguez

With an industry that is constantly evolving, it’s important to anticipate the needs of business owners. Many companies serving the industry have already begun to do so. Trends like off-premise food service and extracting consumer data have influenced tech companies to leap into the business of providing solutions. Foodable spoke to some of these companies at the 2017 NRA show to see how they’re improving customer service.

Sling

Sling is a smart solution to the common scheduling conflicts restaurants are constantly facing. Managers can easily schedule employees by name or by position. They are notified when they start scheduling an employee for overtime and can easily approve shift trades from within the program.

Managers can even keep track of how much a particular shift is costing them in labor and can view that cost as a percentage of their net revenues– bringing a new level of efficiency to labor costs.

Turnstyle

Recently acquired by Yelp, Turnstyle is bringing a wealth of customer data to restaurant operators who already offer free WiFi to customers.

Turnstyle applies their hardware to a restaurant's WiFi. By allowing a restaurant’s patrons to easily log in to the WiFi using social media accounts, customers are satisfied and the restaurants now have access to demographic and preference data on their customers. This gives restaurants a leg up by being able to more easily quantify their customer base, so they can provide better experiences for them.

ezCater

Catering is a great way for restaurants to increase sales. However, creating a catering program requires a bit of coordination and is not always feasible for restaurants.

That's where ezCater comes in. ezCater is laser-focused on the business catering market. Connecting to a quality catering program can be difficult and often requires a bunch of research and calling around. But, ezCater makes ordering catering easy for businesses! Companies can browse a number of restaurants and their menus via the ezCater app or website. Once an order is placed, the restaurant can decide whether or not to accept. ezCater is making it simple for restaurants to jump on the off-premise foodservice bandwagon. 

UNiCharge

Nowadays, everyone is constantly connected to their phone. Created by a man who was frustrated by the lack of charging ports available when he went out, UNiCharge is a new solution for restaurants who want to keep their customers connected. Customers can now pick up charging blocks available at host stands that work for both Apple and Android (as well as any USB charger) and use them as they dine or drink– upping the level of service at any hospitality location.