The season of food festivals and farmer’s markets is rapidly disappearing — but that doesn’t mean the opportunities for bringing your food directly to the people are vanishing with it! In fact, the holiday season offers a unique chance to reach more customers than ever, right in their own homes. The secret? Encouraging your chef to leave your kitchen for someone else’s.
Think that sounds crazy? Well imagine this: A young couple sits at their perfectly-decorated dinner table, surrounded by friends and family making toasts to Thanksgiving or a happy new year. But instead of eating something they slaved over for hours, or, even worse, the same-old catering cuisine, they’re eating a delicious menu prepared exclusively for them — by your chef. And they have your business to thank for it.
Offering “personal chef” services can be as easy as printing up a few flyers and pumping your staff up for the task — but this simple effort can seriously pay off. The revenue boost you can receive from offering personal kitchen services and catering corporate parties can be profound, providing cash flow during down times at your restaurant. Here are just three benefits to taking your chef to the streets:
1. Better brand recognition
We already know that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective methods for advertising your business. And chances are, a happy host or hostess will be singing your praises to anyone who will listen if the highlight of their party was your delicious dishes. Where could that lead? You might be surprised the kind of domino effect one evening can inspire through referrals. Your chef’s performance at a Thanksgiving party could inspire one guest to hire him or her for a corporate cocktail party between the holidays. A VP could be so impressed with the tray of appetizers that keeps circling the room that your chef could end up catering her Christmas Eve dinner. And then New Year’s Eve is right around the corner as well. Getting out into the market outside your dining room could be a huge boon for your brand in the new year, with just a few well-placed holiday opportunities.
Besides, what could be a better topic for dinner conversation than the amazing meal happy guests are currently eating?
2. Infinite upselling opportunities
Although you can limit your offerings to an hourly “personal chef” service, this type of program allows for nearly endless “add-on” options. In addition to your chef, offer your customers the option to purchase menus of their personalized dinner — with your restaurant’s name written on them, of course — to hand out to their guests. The menu may be a lovely souvenir of a special event, but for you, it’s a powerful tool for word-of-mouth marketing. Imagine that menu gracing the desk or kitchen counter of the satisfied guest, who then shows it to his friends and brags about the amazing party he went to last weekend. Every artifact of that fabulous event becomes an in for new customers at your restaurant.
If your customer will be serving alcohol at their private event, offer them an optional wine pairing service, where your sommelier can consult on which bottles would be best — or acts as a wine curator on site during the event. For an even more personalized experience, you can offer customers their own custom cocktail recipe developed by your bartenders themed on the event or the client themselves. You can also upsell additional labor for the party and bring a mixologist with you to serve, or even do table side cocktails. Even small conveniences, such as after-dinner clean up, can help boost the ticket price of one of your chef’s meals.
3. Employee retention
Offering your team for private event services doesn’t just help your bottom line. Encouraging your kitchen staff to participate can help boost their name recognition, too — and it might just improve your employee retention. Sure, sending your employees to work for other people may seem like a strange way to keep them with you. But the more you support your staff’s personal brands — and the more opportunities you give them to fulfill their own creative needs — the more likely it is that they’ll stay loyal to your business.
Encouraging your team to add variety to their schedules keeps the job fun and exciting, and keeps the creative juices flowing right back to ideas for your own restaurant menu. Chefs can plate the same dish 5,000 times a year. There’s no better way to break the monotony of this kind of repetition (and keep your chef from getting bored) than by offering opportunities to shake things up. Plus, honing new skills outside your current day-to-day operational needs expands your staff’s capabilities, potentially opening up doors for new offerings you may never have considered. It’s a great opportunity for you and your chef to grow together and cement your partnership over time.
Would you rather explore options for a catering business to work in tandem with your full service restaurant? We lay out those options — financial and operational — for you, too.