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
ucmc model

With a budget and timeline in place, and the support of the university behind them, the foodservice team at the University of Chicago Medical Center was ready to get rolling with the renovation of one of its patient services kitchens. The facility, which services the hospital’s Center for Care and Discovery and Comer Children’s Hospital, was tripling in size to serve two additional patient floors, to the tune of $9 million. But that didn’t mean immediately jumping in with steel and screws.

“First, we cut out scaled pieces of paper and moved things around,” says Elizabeth Lockwood,...

Managing Your Business
pizza toppings

When the FoodService Director editors first started tossing around the idea of an “influencers” issue, our minds immediately turned to, well, foodservice directors. After all, so much of the learning in this industry is a peer-to-peer experience, and it’s your influence that inspires the content in every single issue of this magazine.

Then we imagined the massive infighting that would occur if we tried to whittle ourselves down to a list of just 20 influential operators and thought better of it. There’s already enough arguing for us to do about which pizza toppings are best (...

Ideas and Innovation
granola bars

Where possible, we make grab-and-go items reimbursable. For example, if we’re serving a fruit and milk smoothie, we let students take a granola bar or other grain component to make it count as a meal.

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...

FSD Resources