How to Cook Up Clients for Your Catering Business
If you have decided to take the plunge and start that catering business you have always dreamed of, congratulations to you! You have researched local licensing regulations, started pricing equipment and written your business plan. Now comes the primary ingredient of success—finding clients.Word-of-mouth is always a great way to get business in this industry, but in the beginning, you need to do some work to get those initial clients who will then tell others they absolutely must use you for their next event. There are also many other avenues you should utilize to maximize your success. Here are some tips to drum up some business for your catering services.
When running a business, it is understandable to want to maximize your reach, but in trying to be everything to everyone, you can dilute your marketing efforts; in turn, you lack the business you are working so hard to get. Think about your ideal target market, the types of events you are looking to cater and marketing accordingly. While there is always flexibility with a menu to suit a client’s tastes, specializing in a certain type of cuisine may also be beneficial to brand yourself.
Get Out in the Community
For the most part, catering is a local business—you will not be traveling all over the country, but rather, focusing on a particular geographic location. Food is typically a central part of many different kinds of organized events, and this presents a powerful opportunity to get your name out in front of lots of potential clients. If there is a non-profit organization fundraiser, or a children’s sports awards banquet in the area for example, perhaps you can offer your services for free or at a steep discount. Local businesses who take an active role in the community have an advantage.
Again, since food is usually a core component of many organized events, a caterer can get very far with some smart networking. All sorts of businesses and organizations have a need for what you do, and the more people you connect with, the more opportunities you will get. Join your local Chamber of Commerce, or other local professional organizations such as Biznik. Reach out to other businesses, such as bakers who specialize in weddings if that is your niche, event planners and DJs to see if you can strike up some mutually beneficial referral services.
This may not be a viable option for anyone brand new to the catering business, but once your client lists starts growing and you are working on a regular basis, work on establishing partnerships with hotels, museums, theaters, banquet halls, event centers, country clubs and convention centers in the area. You may be able to get listed as a preferred, or even exclusive, caterer. Offering to suggest their venues to clients can establish a mutually beneficial partnership.