It’s no secret that the catering industry in Australia is very competitive and facing the same pressures as others who are late to the party in embracing technology. But Richard Dwyer’s soon-to-be-launched cloud-based product, Catered4, is set to revolutionise the catering industry for the benefit of caterers and their customers right across Australia and beyond.
20 years in the catering industry has equipped Richard with a key insight into what customers are looking for when they engage a caterer. It is this knowledge, coupled with a love of technology, that is behind Catered4, a computer system designed by Richard to assist caterers to run effective and profitable businesses.
Food and technology have paralleled Richard’s working life and this ultimately led to him setting up his catering company, Helen’s Catering, in 1997. A Business Enterprise Centre advertisement in the local paper also caught his eye at the time and he signed up for a small business management course, and then a 12-month mentoring program while he set up and established the catering business.
While initially exploring the concept of running a home style dinner service, Richard soon realised it wasn’t going to fly so he set about purchasing an oven and basic catering equipment, and over the next few years he set about developing his own website using Front Page 2000. Even then, Richard started developing functionality at the back end of the site, integrating online tools like equipment checklists, rather than just relying on Excel spreadsheets or notes.
With a focus on organisational efficiency, in 2007 his website was re-built from the ground up, integrating a Content Management System (CMS). Initially exploring the concept of expanding his business as a franchise, Richard rethought the idea and decided to develop the CMS as a product to be licensed by other catering companies keen to bring their businesses into the digital age.
Testing is a key component when rolling out an IT program, so Richard has used his own business “Helen’s Catering” as a “guinea pig” and it’s really paying off. Richard commented that “we have just had our best month in 20 years and our conversion rate has skyrocketed, giving us a huge amount of confidence”.
Catered4 is a cloud based catering system that sits as a “hub” as part of the caterer’s current site. Its functionality includes a booking engine, a “to do” list, menu creator, and the ability to choose food and other catering items, as well as a host of other unique back end features including a staffing module and pricing. The system allows clients to choose and pay for the exact package they want through a few easy steps. The Catered4 system integrates neatly with existing WordPress sites.
Richard is currently working with Realise Business advisors Stevie V Brown, Geoff Silk, and Louise Lye on various parts of the business, including marketing and financials, in the lead up to the official launch of Catered4, commenting that the advice is “money well spent”.
He also believes that customers of all ages are now very comfortable navigating websites and choosing the exact type of event they want, and he is focused on putting the final touches to Catered4 including T&Cs, marketing, and other legal agreements.
Richard’s tips to business success include:
- If you are comfortable with it, take on some risk
- Concentrate on your major strength and outsource the rest
- Look for ways to automate your business and streamline processes
- If you employ good people, make sure you take steps to hold onto them
The imminent launch of Catered4 is a clear indication that many businesses can think outside of the square and provide a resource that takes advantage of a gap in their industry. After all, that’s what innovation and business growth is all about.
You can sign up to keep updated on the launch of Catered4 here.