RESTAURANT STARTUP GUIDE
Menus, Marketing, & Management tips to grow your restaurant business.
A Great Website for a Catering Company
The Ingredients of a Winning Catering Company Website
So you’ve decided to take the plunge, working on your own or with web developers to build and maintain a website for your catering company. Or you have a website, but you’re looking for ways to get better ROI. What are the building blocks of a successful catering website?
For starters, you need photos—at least of your food, and ideally, also of your events. “I can't tell you how many food-related business websites I've seen with no food on them!” observes Jessica Hulett, private chef and writer and former editorial web producer for companies including AOL.com, iVillage and Time Inc. “It's a no-brainer, but sometimes people get so focused on written content that they forget that their website is going to be, for a lot of people, the first introduction to their food.”
Event Photos for Your Catering WebsiteIf you’re already working with event photographers, review the pictures they take at each event and pick the best for your site. Main Event Caterers, just outside of Washington, DC, relies on a professional photographer and one of its owners, also a skilled photographer. “We have some stock images on our website, but, for the rest, about half were taken by the owner and the other half by a photographer we’ve been working with for years,” says General Manager Cheryl Bennett. “We get about 400 photos at an event, and then we whittle it down.”
Menus, of course, should be there as well. They should be updated on a regular basis and available for online viewing and download in a universal format like PDF. If your company customizes menus for different customers, then post sample menus from events you’ve catered to show the creativity and artistry you’re capable of. “You absolutely have to have menus on catering websites,” says Bennett, “and they have to be compelling—they need to elicit a response. We’re actually updating ours right now. We want people to read the copy at our website and say, ‘I can picture this event.’”
Menus need not include prices—and, in fact, some caterers advise leaving them out. Bennett calls pricing on online catering menus a double-edged sword. “If you’re higher end, it can easily scare people away from picking up the phone and calling you,” she says.
Posting customer testimonials to your site is another great idea. Main Events Caterers has made good use of this practice. It’s important to update testimonials regularly so that it’s clear to site visitors that your business continues at a healthy pace. Bennett reports that Main Event comes back from each event it caters with photos and testimonials from satisfied customers.
It’s also smart to devote a section of your website to your company’s staff. Include names and professional biographies at a minimum. Consider including photos as well. As Jaime Oikle points out in an article at RestaurantReport.com, this is an opportunity to differentiate your company and highlight the talented people who make it special.
Catering BlogAnother good idea, and a simple way to make your site more dynamic, is to devote a section of your site to your company’s blog or to add a link a blog that your catering company’s maintains external to its website. A blog, short for web log, is an online journal for a person, group or company. There are many free online services for setting up blogs, like Blogger or your web developer can set one up for you. A standalone blog or a blogging section of your website is an ideal platform for showcasing events, new color palettes and recipes and posting video and photos of your events.
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