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How to increase your catering sales
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There's nothing better for catering sales than delighted clients. Their guests are all potential customers, and they are likely to spread the word about you to family and friends in need of a caterer. Invariably providing excellent service and fresh, delicious food on-schedule is the priority for marketing a catering business. When you're not on the job, though, there are many ways to bring in new customers and increase your catering sales.
Target Your Restaurant CustomersIf your catering business is run out of a restaurant, you have a built-in supply of potential catering customers and marketers. Customers are already familiar with your food and other aspects of your brand. Your regulars even count as fans. Advertise your catering services on your website, restaurant menu, and near the door of your restaurant. If your place is casual, leave catering menus on the tables and near the cash register. Make sure your restaurant customers know you cater, so they think of you when they need a caterer or know someone who does.
Approach Event VenuesTalk to the directors or management of area venues that host events. Museums, schools and universities, religious institutions, lodges and other private clubs, concert halls, theaters, sports arenas, private parks, and many other places host events of all types. The people at these venues who book and coordinate events are in a unique position to recommend you to potential customers. Some venues may be interested in a formal relationship, taking you on as their official caterer. Pay particular attention to venues that profit from renting out their space to the public with whom you can forge a mutually beneficial relationship of cross-promotion. Don't overlook unaffiliated event planners.
Approach OfficesMeet with owners or management of local offices. Offer to sell them boxed lunches or refreshments for meetings during the workday. If they hold meetings after-hours, they may be interested in snacks or dinners for those stuck working late. Your catering business might be a welcome change from yet another pizza delivery. Such relationships can yield unforeseen sales, as well. Perhaps you'll be baking cakes for employee birthdays, catering negotiations and other inter-office meetings, and working the office Christmas parties.
Get Involved in High-Profile EventsKeep an eye on local news for high-profile public events expected to attract a large turnout. Events benefiting charities or non-profit organizations are particularly good opportunities. Offer to donate some food in exchange for publicity, including, if possible, a sponsorship credit. If the event is well-funded, you can offer a significant discount, rather than giving food away for free, to at least cover costs. Of course, even though you're working for free (or cheap), you must still show off your best food for the effort to pay off. Similarly, get your catering business involved in festivals, street or county fairs, and other wide-scale public events. Even if you don't work out of a restaurant, look into participating in dining-related public events that set up restaurant booths.
Written by: Jon Mohrman