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Coworking's untapped catering revenue stream

June 11, 2024

Not so long ago, commercial property owners had one revenue stream: seeking as few tenants as possible and hoping they stay that way for as long as possible.

Now, in 2024 and for the foreseeable future, owning office space is about the diversity of tenants, or as coworking spaces like to refer to them, 'members.' Most importantly, though, it's about diversity of revenue streams. Now that your teas and coffees are likely an all-you-can-drink perk of membership, how does a coworking space monetise food in the workplace and revive the age-old coffee cart?

Food is part of working. If it isn't, it's likely the working part of the day could be more productive. However, as a coworking business, member productivity isn't your concern; but member satisfaction is!

So, how can providing an easy way of ordering meeting room food increase member retention, attract new customers in a booming sector, and generate new profit? After all, members aren't short of food-ordering apps, which send deal notifications daily!

Why tenants want catered food

Catered fast food

There's a massive difference in quality between your average caterer and a high-street food provider. Whether your members walk to the local restaurants or open a food delivery app, the choices are similar. Quality ingredients, health credentials, and cost are all significant considerations people make when choosing their food, especially if it's a choice they have to make consistently a few times a week... and if it is ordering for others too! Providing a simple and efficient way for members ordering catered food is your opportunity to bring professionally cooked quality to the desk or canteen area.

Flexible working eating

Coworking centres often have an open-door policy or, at the very least, extended opening hours to attract a workforce that has long forgotten the 9-5.  Finding a selection of trusted caterers able to provide every day, at every hour, for every corporate or casual occasion is a challenge for coworking environments, a challenge perfected over the years by hospitality businesses such as hotels, which are masters of customer experience.

Mixed meals members

We have all seen the social media posts of a team being rewarded with a stack of Domino's boxes. But in reality, people need gluten-free and allergy-free options. The list of potential diet requirements is extensive, and workplace catering needs to offer more individual choices without making anyone feel fussy. The list of catering scenarios spans from a single order for a lunch break to a large event hosting customers and attendees where great food and service make a great impression. A professional service requires professional caterers.

How coworking businesses benefit

By now, we hope we've persuaded you that your members are just waiting for your coworking space to offer food. Is it a good business decision though? I’m sure you’re asking yourself, How will your coworking business benefit? Is it more admin and hassle than it's worth?

Questions any astute business owner or manager would ask and the next section of this article will provide all the answers.

New revenue stream

We're not suggesting you invest in a commercial kitchen and hire catering staff. However, if you already have these facilities, we can show you a way to offer more choices or make savings by just opening your internal kitchen on busy days!

We suggest you become a broker or a facilitator who earns commissions or fees from caterers for orders placed at one of your coworking locations.

Enhanced spend

Upselling your current customers is the easiest and cheapest way to increase revenue as a business. Coworking tenants and ad-hoc visitors benefit from your commercial services because they are convenient and cost-effective. Catered food members know they enjoy arriving when they want it; it is just another convenient service to utilise.  

Increased Membership Retention and Attraction

Coworking spaces are popping up in every city and town worldwide. The added convenience and services, such as easy, personalised access to quality catering, will help a coworking space stand out and become a strong selling point to attract new members and retain existing ones.

Community building

Community, socialising and networking are core motivators for members joining coworking spaces. Food events and group orders can foster community and collaboration among members.

Offering food from local caterers is also a great way to support local vendors who source ingredients locally and information you can use to create marketing stories.

How do you start providing catering at your coworking spaces?

At this point, you're probably wondering why you haven't provided catering yet and trying to figure out the revenue you've missed out on to date. (We don't recommend this, sometimes it's better not to know.)  

Luckily, there is a way to start offering catering services to your coworking members through a bespoke food marketplace using your brand, which can be set up and launched in just four weeks.  

Need a name for your food ordering app? Not to rip anyone off... but how about... [Insert Company Name]Eat? There's even more time saved to launch!

Step 1: Choose your catering vendors

Approach the caterers near your coworking spaces and see if they would like to supply your members. They'll likely have service days and times, so try to get a good mix.

If yes, you'll need to fill out (or get them to) a vendor onboarding form provided by Spoonfed that requires contact details and menu information.

Just send these forms back to the Spoonfed onboarding team.

Step 2: Marketplace system training

After the Spoonfed onboarding team has set up your marketplace, the only thing left to do is train everyone to use it. Don't worry—it's very simple, and support is always on hand as you move forwards.

Internal training—The office, building, or operations manager will likely own the system. They'll also likely have little reason to use it, as the Spoonfed support team will manage any major changes. [record of catered food coming into the building, giving admin team opportunity to smooth  

Caterer training—Usually done in group training sessions, we will show your chosen caterers how to view orders and access delivery information. They'll also receive email notifications every time an order is made.

Step 3: Pay your caterers (unless card payments are enabled)

You may want to set up card payments so your members can pay caterers directly, from which you can charge a fee. If this is not the case, you will have to accept payments for food and wait for an invoice from the caterers for your accounts team to pay.

Step 4: Let the orders roll in with your new marketplace

It's that easy. Businesses can create additional revenue streams by offering catering through the Spoonfed marketplace, without adding extra admin and management burdens.