No. 8: Catering

Catering sales represent a potential $33 billion opportunity for the restaurant industry.

By expanding catering offerings, restaurant operators are leveraging their assets and paving a path to higher profits. To manage catering operations, many restaurant chains are installing software to assist with tasks such as order taking, production planning and marketing.

If you don't yet believe in catering's profit potential, just follow the earnings of Einstein Noah Restaurant Group. In the company's 2011 third quarter in 2011, catering sales grew 20 percent. Other segment chains, such as Panera Bread, Boston Market and Wingstop, are using catering platforms to drive product awareness and build holiday sales.

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