Online Ordering Technology Supports Shift in Corporate Dining Operations as Businesses Reopen
The COVID-19 pandemic put an unexpected halt on business dining operations. To promote social distancing and prioritize employee safety, office buildings closed as companies shifted to a remote workforce. During the crisis, 62% of employed Americans worked from home, which left corporate dining operations without an onsite audience. (Gallup) Order cancellations came flooding in and the silence of the typical lunch rush was deafening.
During the shutdown, foodservice operators got creative and found new ways to safely serve customers and generate alternative streams of revenue using existing online ordering technology. Revamped business dining programs transitioned to focus on minimal contact foodservice with contactless ordering and payment. Now, as employees trade their pajamas for business attire, they’re enjoying safe ways to dine in a post-pandemic workplace.
Take Away Meals for Pick-up and Delivery
To accommodate the evolving landscape and keep everyone safe, companies are augmenting traditional cafeteria services with take away meal offerings. These menus include pre-packaged, individual-style meals, as well as grab-and-go items.
Customers place online orders from their computer or phone for pick-up at a designated location. This provides the flexibility to dine in an appropriate place, at a safe distance from others. To reduce capacity during pick-up times, many companies are providing multiple pick-up locations or direct delivery to employees where they sit. Since business dining customers are typically in the same general area, in-office delivery may not require hiring additional staff.
Employee Grocery Services
To offset reduced sales due to COVID-19, 27% of operators expanded their menus to include grocery items. (Restaurant Business) Recognizing the opportunity to bring in additional revenue and reduce waste from unused inventory, many corporate dining operators have added groceries to the menu. Customers browse mobile-friendly menus, place orders remotely, pay electronically, and pick up their groceries at a designated pick-up spot.
Taking on-premise grocery service a step further, some foodservice operators are offering take home meal options which include all ingredients necessary for cooking a meal at home. Customers have everything they need to prepare a delicious meal without the added step of stopping at the grocery store. For example, a take home menu option may be a spaghetti dinner and include enough pasta, sauce, bread, butter, and meatballs to feed a whole family.
Providing customers the opportunity to skip the busy grocery store helps limit outside interaction with others. With less grocery shopping to do, employees run a reduced risk of exposure to the coronavirus and subsequently bringing it into the work environment.
Meeting rooms now have maximum capacity limitations to ensure social distancing restrictions are followed. To support smaller-scale meetings, operators are offering limited catering menus with contactless ordering methods. These menus typically include safely packaged items that can be served on an individual, personalized basis. Boxed lunches have proven to be a highly effective, popular corporate catering offering as they can include a meal, drink, sides, cutlery, and paperware, all in one safely packaged box.
By limiting the size of catering menus, operators reduce food waste from unused inventory and boost their bottom line. Although the menu may be reduced, customers place catering orders remotely using the same online ordering technology they’re used to.
COVID-19 hit the foodservice industry hard and in response, operations quickly shifted. By working closely with clients and partners, the CaterTrax team deployed several solutions to support the transition to our new normal. Interested in Take-Out, Grocery, Meal Replacement, Limited Catering, or Café Service Solutions? – let’s talk.