There are so many variables that go into running a successful takeout, catering and delivery operation. This means restaurant operators are sometimes so busy looking down that they can’t seem to find the time to look up.
Looking up involves looking into the future and making decisions based on where off-premise is going, and not necessarily where it is today. After all, everyone is working to ensure sales increase, orders rise and their off-premise operation, large or small, gains traction.
Yet when it comes to packaging, marketing, menu mix and technology, there is plenty to look forward to in terms of future forecasting. We asked industry veterans and experts in their given field, to weigh in on what restaurant operators should consider in 2018 and beyond in terms of packaging, marketing, menu mix and technology. Here’s what LBP had to say.
Packaging: Dorothy Heckle, Director of Marketing, LBP Manufacturing:
Everyone is looking at packaging right now and we continue to get requests about packaging for off-premise. The main thing is to make sure you’re considering the full life-cycle of the product. Additionally, what are your space constraints? Be realistic with your expectations on what you can accomplish because sometimes space constraints can make off-premise difficult to get off the ground, especially if you don’t have the space to store packaging for catering, takeout and delivery. We recommend to our clients that they expand beyond reactive orders and have a dedicated support team to execute off-premise. This means operators need to first determine their off-premise menus and then decide the type of packaging they want. It doesn’t work if you reverse engineer it. Packaging also should be straightforward, simple and operationally strong. For example, hot items have unique requirements that could have special packaging configurations and substrates while cold items require other considerations and temperature control. And don’t forget that containers for condiments should be part of the packaging plan.
When clients come to us, they are looking for solutions that showcase their menu items in the best way possible. They view off-premise packaging as another way to make a brand impression. From a menu perspective, we can produce a variety of imagery or messaging on a corrugated box, and the LBP Pop-Up Catering lid folds in on itself and once opened, can be a billboard. You can list menu items, say thank you or put a brand website on there. If operators wanted to, they could put a customized message on the lid and at the end of the day, it’s a cost-effective marketing option.
Another popular off-premise item that we have is the 3-gallon Beverage on the Move®. Given that it is recyclable and disposable, there is no pickup or cleaning which allows the operator to service more catering orders. Storage is easy since it comes in flat providing limited back-of-house constraints. The 3-gallon BOTM keeps liquids hot for up to two hours and is another fantastic marketing tool when printed with branding and messaging for maximum impact.