Tasty Catering began in 1984 as a fast-food hot dog stand called Tasty Dawg. Founded by a trio of entrepreneurial brothers, Tom, Larry, and Kevin Walter, the company now serves up tasty treats at weddings, corporate meetings and conferences, social events, residential parties, special events, holiday parties, outdoor picnics, and more.
By its very nature, the catering business involves razor-thin margins, which puts constant pressure on organizations like Tasty Catering to watch their expenses. That challenge has only been exacerbated in recent years as more and more restaurants and sandwich-chain companies have entered the marketplace—2.5 million over the past decade by one report.
From the beginning, the Tasty leadership team shared the company income statement with their associates and built company-wide bonus programs tied to increased sales and a lower cost of goods sold. But it wasn’t until 2011, when they were introduced to The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) at a Small Giants Community gathering in Germany, that the Walters realized what they were missing out on: it wasn’t just important to share the numbers, it was also essential to teach your people to think and act like owners.
One of the events Tasty held to kick off its GGOB launch in 2011 was to invite their 50 full-time associates to play the classic “wheelbarrow” game, which serves as a great visual tool to show how much money the company’s owners really make. When the Walters laid out 600 $10,000 fake bills to represent their $6 million in sales, they asked everyone in the room to write down how much the owners took away once you accounted for all expenses and taxes. The average answer was about $1.1 million—despite the fact that a 10% margin is considered healthy in the catering industry. “Most people see that the business is busy and that means the owners are going to the bank,” says Kevin Walter, who is now a GGOB coach. “But through that exercise we showed them that the company actually earned zero profit and took on debt that year. That was a powerful example to share with them.”
“We have created employees that think and make decisions as owners. They understand they have skin in the game and being transparent and setting up bonuses allows them to help make the company more profitable, which puts more money into their pockets.”
~ Kornel Grygo, CEO
Spotlight on the Pandemic
Kevin Walter says playing GGOB helped Tasty remain consistently profitable as they grew the business from $6 million to $9.5 million in revenue. Over the prior two years, the company had its most profitable years ever as the three brothers stepped away from the business. Inspired by Jack Stack and SRC®, the company had also been building a $1 million “war chest” over the past decade to help prepare them for the expected recession in 2020. The original intent was to use those resources to acquire other companies. But when the pandemic shut down 95% of Tasty’s sales, they leaned on their cash to help them make it through the crisis. “Without that cash, we may have had to lay off workers or may not have made it through COVID,” says Walter.
As the pandemic hit, the Tasty team turned to MiniGames to help them through the crisis. One game was called “Pack the Lot.” The idea was to get all the associates involved in driving sales. And they could do that by looking for which companies had cars in their parking lots—which indicated that the company was still operating as an essential business. The sales team would then reach out to that company to ask if they needed individual and safe meals delivered to their team as a way to reduce the risk of their employees contracting COVID by going out to eat. The MiniGame was a huge success: It created new sales that helped to keep our people employed, cut losses, and reinforced the notion that everyone, not just the sales team, could make an impact on sales. Over that period, the team made and delivered over 40,000 individually packaged hot meals—something the company had never done before. “What a pivot,” says Walter.
“Playing GGOB has caused my team to focus on certain goals that make our company more profitable. It also adds friendly completion while playing MiniGames. Open communication is a GRAND thing.”
~ Kristen Banks, Business Development
Unlike many of their competitors who are struggling to rehire employees—Tasty didn’t lay off a single hourly worker—they already begun their plan to dominate the market for catering in 2021. Thanks to the cost-cutting they turned to in 2020, their breakeven point is now substantially lower, which gives them the opportunity to generate profitable growth quickly. “The success we have had in the past will continue to fuel why Tasty will continue to play GGOB into the future,” says Walter.
“Learning GGOB has been a positive experience for the company. All employees now understand sales, costs, and profitability and everyone has a circle of responsibility.”
~ Share Brown, Sales