7 Caterers Reveal What it Took to Grow Their BusinessGet more clients by borrowing these strategies.
Taking your catering business to the next level means finding more clients and expanding your reach to fill slower seasons.
These seven caterers told NCR Silver, in their own words, how they found creative ways to bring on more clients.
Branding trucks and uniforms
Andrea Correale, founder and president, Elegant Affairs Catering, New York
“To constantly get more customers, we branded our trucks with our name and logo as well as our staff uniforms. The trucks serve as a great vehicle to get the word out to new customers. They are moving billboards. This ensures that everyone present at our events knows exactly who we are, which prompts ‘word of mouth’ tenfold.”
Analyzing marketing and sales data
Vijay Goel, co-owner and COO, Bite Catering Couture, Los Angeles
“Look at your data. Marketing and sales both are funnels that you can examine to see what’s working and what’s not. The more you’re able to look at the data, plug the holes and expand the parts that are working, the faster you’ll see results. And not all revenue is profitable revenue. Sometimes closing down unprofitable product lines or putting less emphasis on lower margin channels can lead to profit growth using the same people and infrastructure you already have.”
Embracing unexpected opportunities
Beth Bach, director of catering and corporate events, Roundabout Catering and Party Rentals, Reno
“When we were approached to take on school lunches, we embraced that. This keeps our team working full-time and year round. We have no slow season now. When we were approached to purchase a rental company, we took the leap to help our clients when they come to us. That was a huge part of our growth. When a corporate client calls us and needs tables, chairs, linens, service-ware and catering, we are their one stop resource.”
Posting on Instagram
Olivia Colt, chef and owner, Salt and Honey Catering, Berkeley
“People eat with their eyes. In three months, we have grown our Instagram account from a few hundred to more than 2,200 followers. This has been great for us because we have gotten clients, but also media inquiries (bridal magazines and lifestyle publications), business partnerships — even lenders have contacted us. A good Instagram account shows people your professionalism, what you are capable of doing, and your style and food aesthetic. My advice for those who aren’t active yet is to not wait for the ‘right’ moment. Jump right in and find which platforms works best for you. For us, it’s Instagram and Pinterest. Start by posting weekly at first, if that is all you have time to do, then build from there. I especially love Instagram stories. I find Snapchat doesn’t work for us because people can’t find us on that platform.”
Marcy Ragan, chef and owner, Relish Chef Services, Monmouth County, New Jersey
“I design and cook menus that fit my clients’ occasion and the season and locale. I do have certain standard “go-to” menu items, but I find it’s best to tailor a menu specifically to the client, which in turn gives them the satisfaction that they are getting a unique experience. Opening yourself up to opportunity is always key. And being present on social media and showing your work, dedication and creativity is always a huge help. It is always cool when someone says to me, ‘Oh, I saw that elegant barbecue you catered — it looked great!’
Catering corporate lunches
Christophe Sanges-Kubiak, executive chef and owner, La Bonne Cuisine Catering and Events, Oakland, California
“Many companies, specially in the San Francisco Bay area, offer lunch as a perk to their employees. We added lunches menus for tech companies to order every day. It’s more predictable for us, so we can keep more full-time employees. We also partner with companies that cater to this market like Zesty and Peerspace to provide catering to their clients. For a caterer as large as we are, the secret is to be shortlisted by venues (preferred caterer lists). You refer them and they refer you.”
Creating event packages
Karen Moran, owner, Sweet Lulu’s Bakery On Wheels, Charleston, South Carolina
We primarily cater weddings, but to keep busy during the week or off season I wanted that special event revenue — say, catering a birthday party or corporate event. So I created event packages to give folks more options. Our packages are not only tailored to weddings of 100, but as small as 50 folks or single serve a la carte desserts.”