A Catering Pro Dishes Out His Secrets to Success
Business Solutions Jim Rand, catering practice leader at ezCater, shares the expertise he’s developed over four decades in the restaurant industry.
When did you first realize your love for food and, specifically, catering?
I’ve worked in restaurants since high school and enjoyed the camaraderie and the teamwork. My restaurant jobs paid my college tuition, and when I graduated with a bachelor's in business administration, it was natural for me to seek a career in the industry. The passion for catering took off in 2000 when I was a franchisee for Panera Bread and we needed to grow our business. People didn’t know who we were and there was a demand for catering.
How has your past helped you get where you are today?
My bachelor’s degree gave me the basic skills that I needed to think big, but I consider my working life to be my master’s degree. There’s no formal education that will give you the experience that coming to work gives you.
How has technology benefitted the catering industry?
Our technology at ezCater is making it simple for catering restaurants to create the supply they need. We’re not only helping companies fulfill the demand; we’re providing the tools and support they need to execute catering at a higher level.
What top three strategies should a restaurant adopt if they want to cater?
The first thing you have to do is commit to it. Catering is a business within itself and needs to be treated with its own respect because it has different operating processes and clientele. The second part is looking at how you’ll drive more business. Are you going to use a sales force? Are you going to use marketing? The third piece is your execution strategy. How is this going to work in your restaurant? But the key is to dedicate someone to the catering business.
Any advice for the catering industry?
I would love to ask the paper goods manufacturers to focus more on higher quality catering packaging. If there were one thing that the industry could do for itself, it would be improving how we package the product.