The catering industry is very competitive. This can be a challenge when you want to start a new business or if you want to grow your current one. You need to be different from the rest and work hard to find customers that will book you for their events.
So many people wonder how to grow a catering business. Here are the best business strategies that will help you to grow your catering company. You can expand your client base, keep loyal customers, and make better business decisions. In the end, it is all about revenue.
In this post, you will find ten tips on how to grow a catering business. The tips are about how to be more professional and how to increase your profit margins.
Increase Efficiency With Good Business Software
Some use little pieces of paper; others use more advanced methods such as Google Calendar. In the end, they both rely on a manual process. This could be holding you back from achieving success in your catering services business.
Automated scheduling software will be of great help to you. A good recommendation for catering business owners is Trafft.
Software like Trafft will make you more efficient in scheduling events and booking appointments. It will take your mind off many of the scheduling problems you face. Here are some practical things that it can do for you:
- It keeps your business approach consistent and professional all the time. You can offer a branded booking experience to your clients.
- Customers can book their own appointments and events. They can do it online and even from their mobile phone.
- You can take the initiative when it is necessary to rebook. You can offer new options before customers might think of going to your competitors. That can help you to bring in many repeat business sales per year
- You can accept orders and payments automatically. This would save you a lot of time.
- You can set a fixed price per service. You can customize prices based on the number of staff you need.
Get Out and Promote Your Catering Company
Many startups rely on orders from friends, family and coworkers. Later, referrals start to come in as well.
To really get your catering business going you need to go out and do some marketing. Find potential clients and work hard to turn them into loyal customers.
You can make a list of people that you can contact with a direct and personal approach. Think of local clubs, wedding planners, law offices, art galleries, banks and bridal shops. You can approach families, as they have private events as well. Prepare your presentation well and do your research.
Often, you can approach local businesses in person. Make an effort to get involved in the local business community and volunteer organizations. People need to know that you are the go-to caterer in the area. Offer special prices or cater at no charge for befriended business owners.
Good places to have contacts are wine stores, hotels, florists, local musicians and jewelry stores. You can use these places to show the public what you have to offer.
Host Tasting Events
The big question for new customers is whether your food is any good. Help people discover your gastronomic talents by organizing tasting events.
Throw a party. Use a local hotel or convention center and get other service-related businesses involved. The cooperation allows all to offer their services to the guests. You can tell them why they should pick you for their next event.
Think about offering a special discount to the guests for the first event they book with you. Use their positive experience to convert potential clients into loyal customers.
Create an Online Presence
An online presence makes you easier to find in search engines. Make accounts on social media platforms and keep the accounts up to date. People can follow you on those channels and soon they will recognize the brand.
It is best not to use too many social media platforms. One or two is enough. Remember that you need to keep them interesting and up to date. Good business platform choices are Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Check also that your Google Business information is correct and up to date. It should have the right address, contact details and business description. Adding pictures is also a big plus.
On your social media channels, you can publish a blog or vlog. For example, as a wedding caterer, you can talk about the five worst mistakes when hiring a caterer. People who search for a wedding caterer on Google will find your blog or vlog, and your company.
You can create a website on WordPress or use a video website like Vimeo or YouTube. You can link the video to your other media outlets.
Stylize Your Food Presentation
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Pay attention to the way your dishes look. You can make dishes that look great and post pictures or videos of them. You can give a good impression by showing what the events you cater look like. These are things that will impress customers.
Here are some things that make the best visual impact:
- Centerpieces and feature items. Table centerpieces always catch the attention of viewers.
- Color. Use colors in smart ways. Don’t overuse bright colors and do emphasize contrasts.
- Drizzle. Drizzle sauces, syrups and other liquid ingredients to bring a special touch to your dishes.
- Odd numbers. This may sound strange, but odd numbers of things make them stand out more.
- Smaller portions. Again, this may sound counterintuitive, but your food looks better in smaller portions.
Create a stunning sample menu. Invite clients to come and taste your cooking at fairs and events. Make your menu unique yet versatile and cost-effective.
Use Professional Photos
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Considering the importance of good photos, it is best to hire a professional photographer. Use high-quality photos for your brochures, handouts and website.
It would be a mistake not to show your potential clients what your work looks like. A strong visual impact is much more powerful than a description. Take time to think about which of your dishes represent your brand best. Which ones look best, and what do customers like to see?
High-quality images are important, but make sure to size them correctly on your website or social media. Add hashtags so that the posts come up when people search for them. Use a mixture of content types: stories, photos and videos.
Keep Costs Under Control
Review your business expenses. This helps you see opportunities to control your spending and cut your costs. Check from time to time whether you are buying your products from the best vendors. There are companies that can help you with the analysis.
Establish the right price for your dishes. Consider the cost of the ingredients, the preparation time, transportation and presentation.
After each event, see how much you have left over and adjust amounts and portions according to your observations. You can think about ways to use leftovers in other events or dishes.
Another area where you can save money is advertising. Word-of-mouth advertising is free and often more effective.
You can optimize your revenue by learning how to upsell your products and services. Upselling is a smart sales technique in which you offer add–ons and extra options. That makes life easier for the client and brings extra value to your service.
Some simple things that you can offer are:
- Included desserts and/or drinks
- Extra side dishes
- Upgrades to give choice of entrée and/or side dishes
Most people will see these extras as a pleasant surprise, as many will not have considered these options and see them as a bonus. There is no limit to what you can do with upselling. It depends on your imagination. Think about what your clients might like and include it as an add-on service.
Take Care of Your Walk-In Customers
Most caterers receive orders online or over the phone., but some people still like booking an event caterer in person. So, every staff member needs to know how to handle in-person catering requests. Train them so that they are ready when someone enters the store. Give your employees the answers to common questions.
It gives you peace of mind if any staff member is able to handle an in-person visit. You will be more organized and efficient.
Some catering companies also run a restaurant. In that case, not every walk-in customer has an event that needs catering. But it does give you an opportunity to convert the restaurant guest into a catering client.
Rent a Cloud Kitchen Space
A more modern idea on the list of how to grow a catering business is to rent a cloud kitchen.
Cloud kitchens, or ghost kitchens, are a way of saving money. These cloud kitchens are professional rentable workplaces. They are often equipped to cater to the needs of professional cooks. Renting instead of buying can be a cheaper solution. You also do not need to look for the perfect kitchen space.
Below is a list of more specific benefits of renting a cloud kitchen space instead of buying one.
- Expansion. Renting cloud kitchens makes it easy to start a new location, which is a way to grow a catering business.
- Cost effectiveness. A rented kitchen can lower your overhead. It is much more affordable than building and maintaining your own kitchen space.
- Convenience. Sometimes you cater for a small party and sometimes you need more resources for a large event. A cloud kitchen is your best option for both. An adequate space reduces your cooking and prep time.
- Flexibility. A rented kitchen gives you a lot of flexibility for your catering business. You can rent the kitchen per hour, week, month or year. It will be available when you need it. You pay when you use it, which reduces the costs for your catering business.
Conclusion on How to Grow a Catering Business
You can make your catering business stand out by offering the best quality of products and services. You can use a smart marketing strategy to bring that to the public’s attention. Work on your online presence, and present your food with beautiful pictures. There are many things you can do to increase your catering sales.
Talk to your customers to see how satisfied they are. You can do that right after the event, or better, a few days afterward. Ask them if you can use them as a reference.
Check also with your employees. See what went well in the process and what didn’t. Happy employees can do much good for the quality of your catering services.
These tips on how to grow a catering business will help you to improve your catering sales and be more efficient and effective.
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