Boonumpar, an On-Site Religious Ceremony Catering Company, Shares 7 Years of Experience; A Must-Read Article for Restaurants That Want to Offer Catering Services!

Jul 20, 2020

Boonumpar is considered a leading religious ceremony catering company in Thailand. 

With up to 300 catering jobs per month over the past year, it generates up to 8 figures per month. The company has recently upgraded its service level to a one-stop service center and is branching out with Mr. Chon readymade frozen food products. Most recently, the company opened an office in the form of a restaurant so customers can drop by and taste the food first.

A major factor that has led Boonumpar into its 7th year is planning and creating a strong system. That’s why we’re inviting you to take a look behind the scenes at how Mr. Sorasit “Golf” Netnin, the founder of Boonampar, has created the business that is continuously growing and developing its services.

Where did you get the idea to start Boonampar?

Mr. Golf: Seven years ago, I went to a friend’s housewarming party. My friend complained throughout the planning of the merit-making ceremony that everything looked so chaotic and he didn’t know how he should prepare. He wasted a considerable amount of time on these things. And since he was of working age, he didn’t have a lot of time to plan a housewarming merit-making ceremony.

After I saw how he complained about it, I got the idea that it would be good if we offered a service where we planned housewarming and office merit-making ceremonies for other people to make things convenient and fast in addition to making inviting people to make merit a faster process. That idea made us study everything about how to plan a merit-making ceremony. What we should do and have. We learned from monks about how to prepare for ceremonies. One thing is that we needed food. Seven years ago, we hired caterers. We acted as the organizer. That was our start.

How did you get into the catering business?

Mr. Golf: Catering was a problem we had to solve. After a time of organizing merit-making ceremonies, we found that we couldn’t control the quality of food or employee service quality. Customers gave feedback that the food or service wasn’t good. They didn’t remember that we hired other people, only that Boonumpar didn’t provide good food. When this problem arose, we decided to set up our own catering service.

I was already a kitchen person, so I experimented with how much I needed to prepare for 10, 100 or 1,000 people. Catering doesn’t increase tenfold. It increases in scales. We’ve collected data over the past 7 years on how much we need to prepare for one dish for 1,000 people. Today, we know how much to prepare with just one click because we store our data in the cloud system. That was the start of Boonumpar.

What is Boonampar’s target market? Mr. Golf: We set our target market by searching for information on how many new houses or offices are built per year.  At present, our business with companies and individual homes are about fifty-fifty. However, we emphasize companies because it’s more likely that we’ll have repeat business.

What are Boonampar’s current outstanding services? Mr. Golf:   Boonumpar currently offers event organization services, whether it’s for housewarming or company merit-making ceremonies, spirit house ceremonies and religious ceremonies. We provide catering services to merit-making ceremonies, parties and buffets. We have a central kitchen capable of supporting about 2,000 people per day.

As for our restaurant, since some people who want to host an event may want to taste the food first, we’ve provided a space in our office for customers to taste the food there. It’s only been open for about two months.

As for frozen food products for coffee shops and cafes that don’t have chefs as well as academies for restaurateurs and caterers, we expect to be ready to launch these services at the end of this year. All of the services have come from data we’ve collected and slowly built up.

What are the pros and cons and differences of running a business without a storefront? Mr. Golf: There are pros and cons. Boonumpar is a business without a storefront, so we get pre-orders. I don’t have to stock up much. Regular restaurants need to stock up, because they don’t know how many customers they’ll have. This is the difference. The next one is restaurants with a storefront may build more credibility with customers than restaurants without a storefront. That’s because customers can just visit the restaurant directly. Boonumpar always had customers who asked if we had any food for them to taste. As a result, we opened an office space for our customers to taste our food. It’s like our storefront. If you ask me if it’s good to have a storefront, I’d say it’s good for credibility and having a presence, although there’s a disadvantage in that we need to have a good stock management to prevent ingredient loss.

We have our way of handling things. We do the catering in the morning, so the ingredients for our restaurant in the evening will be used for the next morning’s catering. I think restaurateurs who also offer catering should do it like I do. Otherwise, the ingredients will be different. However, behind-the-scene things, like accounting, data collection and sorting out the numbers to figure out what the restaurant’s costs and catering costs are, need to be planned out with your accounting department or the numbers will get confusing. You won’t be able to tell what is from which unit.

How do you handle promotions and marketing when you don’t have a storefront?

Mr. Golf: Initially, we didn’t do only online marketing. We also did offline marketing. As for whether we actually get our customers from online marketing, we have our own technique for analyzing the collected data, which we then analyze. Since we do our own marketing analysis, we can analyze all of our collected customer data and our channels to find out which channel they came from and whether or not it’s real. We can analyze Facebook using some keys and analyze Line OA using hashtag and we can set up groups. We can figure out how to sort customers into Grade A, B and C and how many repeat customers we have. All of this is our customer data.

As for credibility, we created a brand so customers know who we are. How do we continue to build credibility? Before Covid-19, we organized tours and trips to maintain a good relationship with customers like we’re family.  That’s O2O, offline-to-online and online-to-offline. However, what we emphasize depends on the data analysis. In Bangkok, I can tell you how many customers we have in each district. I can sort Bangkok into the northern, southern, eastern, western and inner zones. How many customers we have in the provinces? We know everything, so we can be specific about what content we can play with for people in Bangkok and in cities.

How do you categorize the customer ratios from different channels?

Mr. Golf: Right now, the word of mouth percentage is about 50%, so we have old customers who use our services every year and a good number of our customers recommend us to other people. Take this Covid-19 situation for example.  Have we been affected? Yes, we have. In April, 80% of our business was affected because we couldn’t organize events. Over 300 of our customers had to postpone their events. However, Mr. Chon frozen food products sold well. This another one of our brands. They include, green curry sauce and massaman curry sauce that can be eaten with Korean fried chicken. These helped slow down our bleeding and gave us income during Covid-19. Because I organized the data well, we had products and services to offer our customers and when people start coming back, we’ll get back a reasonable number of customers. Our old data allows us to keep going.

How much has Boonumpar been affected by Covid-19 and how has the company adapted to it?

Mr. Golf: Since we have enough employees, we turned them into deliverers and earn some income from delivery fees for our employees. This helps us save on delivery costs from using several service providers.  Do we use them? We use the Big 4 of delivery services, but we try to have our own employees deliver our products as much as we can, because it helps us save a considerable amount on delivery cost.

Back during the Covid-19 crisis, we were already delivering food and readymade food. However, since we had a considerable amount of customer data, we used our employees to spray disinfectants at our customers’ homes or offices for a price we can survive on to generate income. That’s how we adapted.

How have you adapted your business plans for the new normal?

Mr. Golf: First, we slowed down our expansion strategy. We didn’t make any big investment. We held off on any unnecessary investment to save our cash because we don’t know if there’s going to be a second or third wave. We also changed our catering service package to offering box sets customers can take home. We provided protective equipment and partitions between monks and laypeople. As for food, we looked for additional channels.

For people who sell food without a storefront or ghost kitchens that don’t want to pay GP for delivery, do you have any advices on how to make their businesses survive?

Mr. Golf: I think it would be hard for people to buy our products if we sold exclusively online without a storefront. This was most noticeable during the Covid-19 crisis when a lot of people turned to selling food online and offering delivery. Most of their first customers were friends and family members. They knew them, so they bought to support them. What if we didn’t include this group? What groups do we have to add? It probably wouldn’t work to just boost our posts. There are several components. What’s marketing? What makes people want to buy from us? What are the factors? Does what we do meet our customers’ needs? Where is this customer group? Keep investigating, especially for food delivery. I’d look at where we are. The customers are no more than 5 km away.  What’s more, there would be fewer customers. Also, what types of people are in this 5-km radius? Analyze the customers from a marketing perspective and then answer one question at a time. Otherwise, you’ll just lose the money spent on boosting your posts without getting anything back.

For restaurateurs who want to branch out into catering, how should they start?

Mr. Golf:  The catering market is highly competitive. People who already own a restaurant probably have to look at kitchen management. From doing the normal à la carte dishes, if you want to cook for 100 people, it doesn’t mean making 100 dishes or increasing the ingredients tenfold. It’s about the ratio. If you don’t have a formula or data, you’d have to test it out first and be careful about balancing the people. How many people do you need on your team to succeed? Therefore, it is very important to do your research first.

What factors will lead a successful business?

Mr. Golf: To make your business successful, you need honesty and integrity in your services to your customers. Honesty means what you can and cannot do. Tell your customers straight out. Don’t get greedy and hope for money even though you can’t do it. I tell my customers frankly what I can and cannot do. When there’s not enough time, we tell our customers we can’t do it. As for integrity, you should be direct in how you speak. These two values can also be used with your employees.

Do you have any encouragement for restaurateurs?

Mr. GolfI give importance to three aspects of business. One – people, two – time and three – funding. If you have all three, your business should survive. If you have the people and time but no funding, you can’t do it. You need to find a funding source such as taking out a loan or finding a partner. As for time, it means you need to have dedication. Think and then do. Once you have these two things, find experienced people to help push you forward. I think if you give importance to these three things and a strong mind and keep fighting, whether it’s the new normal era or any other era, you can get through it.

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