FSD 2008 Catering Study

Innovation and diversification could be key to non-commercial caterers surviving 2009.

The 2008 Catering Survey: With these comments as a backdrop, FSD presents its 2008 Catering Survey, begining with a snapshot of the survey respondents. The largest percentage of responders, 27%, were schools. Another 24% came from hospitals, 20% were from colleges and universities, 14% from long-term care and 12% from B&I or contract management headquarters. Demographically, 35% of respondents hail from the Midwest, 29% from the South, 21% from the Northeast and 15% from the West. 

Seventy-nine percent of respondents offer catering: 45% of them report less than $100,000 in annual catering revenue, 29% have revenue between $100,000 and $499,000, and 26% have more than $500,000 a year in catering business. The average revenue among our respondents is $507,818.

Fifty-three percent generate all of their revenue from within the confines of their institution or company, while 44% offer their services both on- and off-premise. Of all respondents, only 3% operate off-premise catering exclusively.

As a percentage of business, 19% of respondents said catering represents only 1-2% of total revenue. Another 18% said it makes up 3-5% of revenue, and the largest percentage, 23% said it represents 6-10% of all foodservice business. For another 18%, the figure is 11-20%, for 11% it is 21-30% and 8% said it represents more than 30% of business.

In all markets except long-term care, operators who have exclusive rights to catering are a minority, with the industry average being 39%. Sixty-five percent of operators in long-term care say they are the only caterer allowed in their facilities. In colleges, that figure is 46%, in hospitals it is 45%, in B&I/contractors it is 27% and in schools the number is 26%.  

Colleges and universities (60%) are most likely to conduct business both on and off campus, while long-term care operators are least likely (35%). Among operators who offer both, more than three-quarters of revenue is generated by on-premise events. Two-thirds of respondents say they charge more to cater off-premise events. Colleges/universities and hospitals  most often charge a premium, at 76% each, while only half of schools and 40% of B&I/contractors do. The upcharge is usually up to 20%; only 20% of operators charge more than that.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
recipe revamp chicken soup

As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

Managing Your Business
line kings girl goat open kitchen

Open kitchen concepts satisfy guests’ curiosity and desire for transparency. But there are some caveats. Here’s how to create a positive experience for both staff and customers when the walls are down.

Train to serve

With the back-of-house up front, everybody gets hospitality training. “Our cooks understand the food and what they’re doing incredibly, but translating that to guests requires [soft] skills that need to be honed,” says Marie Petulla, co-owner of two restaurants in Southern California.

Dress for a mess

At Girl & The Goat in Chicago, chef-owner Stephanie...

Ideas and Innovation
bus advertising jagermeister

Because many locals use the bus system, we paid for some full bus wraps to advertise [job openings within] our dining services program. The buses go all over campus where students can see them, and to apartments where the public can see them. To top it off, the cost wasn’t much more than newspaper rates.

FSD Resources