How Byte Technology Helped Tomé Catering
Tomé Catering is a foodservice business based in Lufkin, Texas. Britany and her team are passionate about giving their community healthy, convenient, and profitable alternatives to the fast food chains that dominate her rural region.
“My anxiety melted away after I got my first report. Revenue for that first month was 60% higher than what we paid for the machine. We paid for it in less than a month." — Britany Vinson, Founder
Catering revenue decimated from the coronavirus pandemic. Scalable food production processes, but pop-up store model was too labor-costly.
Find a way to get fresh food to people stuck in their places of work. Set up storefronts that can sell 24/7 without a human attendant.
New sales channel that generates revenue while Britany sleeps. Scalable food production can finally happen, thanks to scalable a sales channel.
Tomé Was Scaling Food Production, but Not Sales
Britany Vinson has been serving food at scale for years, first working in restaurants, and then through her own company, Tomé Catering (an acronym for the ordinary made extraordinary). Her vision is clear: take back convenient eating from fast food, and make healthy food more accessible than it’s ever been before.
Britany’s largely been successful at her goal with a large catering operation, local delivery, and “Take and Bake” meals that customers can pick up from Tomé Express locations. Despite the variety of ways to engage with Tomé, Britany saw the glaring roadblock to scaling further:
“There are a lot of doctors, nurses, and different business people that cannot get out of the office for a lunch break. We wanted to reach more people, so we said, ‘If they can’t get to us, how can we get to them?’”
It was clear that scaling large catering orders wasn’t the answer. For one, Britany only had three delivery vans. More importantly, it didn’t make financial sense to keep buying more.
“For a customer to order a delivery, they have to consciously think about it hours in advance. That’s a barrier to getting more orders, so we wanted to find a way to make it as painless and simple as possible.”
Britany needed to find a way to serve customers outside her typical sphere of influence that didn’t revolve around large, pre-planned catering orders.
“With micro-markets, it's all based on the honor system. People can swipe whatever they want, because not everyone is honorable. With Byte, the minimal opportunity for theft is huge. Between that and the labor savings, we can actually make money now in foodservice.”
A 24/7 Storefront That Can Reach the Unreached
Britany’s team already had a food production operation that could easily scale from regular Take and Bake meals to large events, and Britany knew she could easily expand that model to a third sales channel.
“We realized we already had a scalable food prep model that worked—why reinvent the wheel when we can just do more of what we’re already doing?”
First she tried a pop-up Tomé shop at a local office building.
“Some days we’d make enough money to pay somebody to sit there and sell the food. Other days only two people would buy, and I’d actually lose money on labor.”
Britany eventually closed down the pop-up, but she wasn’t ready to give up on the idea of a more scalable sales channel—and that’s when she discovered Byte.
“When I saw how the Byte fridge uses tags to record what goes in and what’s purchased, I realized it’s perfect for distributing fresh, homemade food.”
Tomé opened its first vending location at a local hospital in August of 2020.
“That's one of the things I used to hate when I did vending machines. I'd unload everything out of my car, then get there and be like, 'Oh, I only need five cokes'. Now with Byte, I can sit at the desk and can check every machine's inventory from my computer.”
A Positive ROI within 30 Days, and a Clear Path Forward
The coronavirus pandemic delayed the launch two months due to hospital restrictions—and all that time, Britany wasn’t able to get reassurance that she’d made the right investment.
“I was worried because the hospital can’t have extra visitors right now because of coronavirus, and I wasn’t sure if we’d make the money back.”
When the store finally opened and Britany got her first report thirty days later, it was all the reassurance she needed: sales had outpaced the total cost of the machine by nearly 60%.
“What we realized was, it’s for the staff, especially the night staff. We’re literally making money while we sleep.”
But the Byte fridge wasn’t just profitable—it fulfilled Britany’s mission in a way she couldn’t have achieved with her other sales channels.
“Doctors and nurses come up to me and are so grateful that we’ve given them an alternative to Taco Bell, McDonalds, and the other junk food. The morale has increased because we took the time to remember that we need to take care of those that are taking care of us overnight.”
Operationally, the Tomé vending location blew open a bottleneck that had held Britany back from growth for years: she finally had a way to scale production and sales.
“We streamlined what we do. For example, we now have the same containers in the drive-through and the Byte fridges. That way it’s easy to prep what we need, and we don’t have to worry about container sizes.
“Now instead of doing fifteen wraps for the drive-through, we do thirty-five so we can fill the vending fridges. It’s been very, very productive and huge for helping us get extra sales.”
Within six months, Britany had launched two additional Byte stores—and she’s got an appetite for more growth.
“My goal is to double our fleet in the next year. We’ve already had three calls asking for machines since January. Instead of thirty-five wraps per day, we’ll go to seventy-five.
“It fills my heart to know that we’re restoring quality food and family time, and Byte gives me the opportunity to do that in a way that nobody else could.”
“We posted a picture of the fridge and over 200 likes and comments. People were just really excited, and the hospital employees felt so blessed to be able to have somewhere to eat that’s healthy.”
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