2007 Catering Study: And the survey says ...

The desire to operate foodservice in a more environmentally friendly manner isn’t necessarily a driving force in catering.

Million-dollar baby: But whether caterers recycle or not, their operations are big business for their institutions or companies—especially on college campuses, where respondents averaged nearly $1.1 million in catering revenue last year. The average for all respondents was $468,000, with B&I operators reporting $561,000, hospitals averaging $239,000 and school districts only $88,000.

And it’s growing. Sixty percent of respondents said their revenue increased in 2007, led by colleges (77%) and B&I (71%). Fifty-seven percent of hospitals reported an increase in revenue, as did 44% of school districts.

Most operators (80%) attributed the growth to a higher number of catered events. Among the other causes cited were increased customer satisfaction (66%), increase in customer base (40%), menu changes (32%), and marketing and promotions (28%).

Going off-site: This growth comes in the face of continuing competition, since only 40% of respondents said they have exclusive rights to catering. Universities are most likely (66%) to have a catering monopoly, while B&I operators (10%) are least likely.

Universities are also most likely (63%) to  cater to both on- and off-premise customers, while B&I operators (27%) least likely.

Off-premise catering can be more lucrative for operators, because they can—and often do—charge more for off-premise events. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they charge more for off-premise, with universities (67%) and hospitals (64%) most likely to. Only one-third of B&I respondents said they have a two-tiered pricing structure.

That being said, catering is not necessarily a profit center, according to the survey. Only 44% of respondents said they operate catering at a profit, while 15% said it is a break-even proposition and 41% said catering operates at a loss or is subsidized. Colleges (67%) and B&I (57%) most frequently run catering as a profit center, while hospitals (58%) and school districts (42%) either subsidize catering or operate it at a loss.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

Ideas and Innovation
bolognese sauce

We’re trying to bring scratch cooking to all the elementary schools, but we’re taking it dish by dish. Right now, we satellite a lot of the dishes out. This month we made a Bolognese from scratch, and went to each of the schools to talk to them about the process and see if they could implement it. It helps us find out the hurdles and what they are going to need to make it work.

Ideas and Innovation
rolling silverware

Ensuring that employees regularly complete the busywork missing from their daily checklist can be a challenge, but these tasks often help an operation run efficiently with fewer unexpected costs. At Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Regional Executive Chef Dustin Cochran has found a solution to ensure his walk-in coolers always have a clean vent. Cochran starts with a thorough cleaning of the vent, then slips a hairnet over it to catch the dust. Instead of getting employees to deep clean the vents, they need only replace the hairnet.

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

FSD Resources