Last updated on December 20, 2019
When one of your greatest passions is food, starting a catering business seems like a good move. Sure, you may have a talent for whipping up amazing dishes, but it takes more than just cooking skills to run a successful catering company. You also need to know your way around the business.
You see, to run a catering business, you will need to spend a lot of time OUT of the kitchen. You need to create meal packages, make sure your expenses are accounted for, and hire waitstaff for your events. All this and more in addition to cooking up sumptuous meals that your clients will love.
And because it’s highly unlikely that you’re the only caterer in your area, you also need to find ways to set yourself apart from the competition and secure clients.
So, how do you stay ahead of the competition? By defining who your target audience is. Once you start focusing your marketing efforts towards a specific demographic, it will be easier for you to come up with catering packages that address your target audience’s needs.
To help you get started, here are eight ways to secure clients for your catering business.
1. Develop your social media presence
Social media is all the rage in marketing these days and for very good reasons. It’s the only place where you can find prospective clients just by posting and sharing content that you love. By developing your social media presence, you can get people to take notice of your brand and services.
Creating content for your social media accounts is easier than you think. Just put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and think of the kind of content that you would like to see. Behind-the-scenes shots, food images, and quick cooking videos are some examples of content that work pretty well for businesses in the food niche.
2. Set up a branded website
As we are currently in the digital age, having a website is not optional anymore- it’s an absolute necessity. According to studies, almost 2/3 of businesses that started in 2019 have their own websites. If you still don’t have one at this point, then you’re definitely missing out.
Having a website with a blog is a great way to attract prospects, especially those who use Google search for just about anything and everything. So, what’s the secret to getting more clients through your website? Invest in SEO so that your website pops up in local searches.
3. Form an alliance with niche-related businesses
The great thing about being in the catering business is that you have the chance to meet interesting business owners at events. This gives you the opportunity to form an alliance with non-competing businesses within the same niche.
If you specialize in engagements and weddings, look for florists and event planners to partner up with. If you mostly cater at corporate events, then look for event venues that will allow you to sign up as one of their affiliated suppliers.
Teaming up with niche-related businesses will not only give you access to their clients, but it will also give you an opportunity to work on projects with other creative entrepreneurs such as yourself. You’ll help each other grow by sharing your resources and exchanging information.
4. Hold a tasting event for prospective clients
Set one weekend every month as your official tasting days and invite prospective clients over for a free meal. Most people only book caterers only after they’ve experienced what a catering company has to offer.
Make your tasting event even more interesting by working with a different theme every month. For example, one month you can try serving a vegan menu, and for the next month, you can showcase an international menu.
5. Generate word-of-mouth buzz
Most companies in the catering industryrely on word-of-mouth to get more clients. Why? Because when clients are happy with their service, there’s nothing that will stop them from sharing their experience with family, friends, and associates.
Being a caterer means that you’re not just offering food, you’re also offering a unique experience. If a client is happy with your package, make sure to ask them for a testimonial you can post on your website and social media accounts.
6. Set up a booth at farmer’s markets
Showcase your cooking skills by setting up a booth at your local farmer’s market. Most towns and cities hold farmer’s markets during Saturday or Sunday where people come to a place to enjoy the local produce and good food. It’s a good way to mingle with the local community, and at the same time, make a bit of money from the food you sell.
7. Offer discounted rates during the slow months
Catering businesses also experience slow months so if you want to secure clients for the “dry season”, come up with discounted rate packages. Give away a free drinks bar or a free dessert spread for clients who will book during the slow months.
You may not earn as much profit during the dry season, but it’s better than having no clients at all. Besides, you can make up for it on your peak months.
8. Hold free cooking classes
People love free stuff so if you have an industrial kitchen, holding a few free cooking classes can be a great way to introduce your business to people in your community. You don’t have to share your trade recipes. You can teach just the basics of cooking and people will already flock to your cooking classes.
Of course, you’ll need to spend some money on this, but it beats buying ad space from your local paper. Why? Because you’re developing an emotional connection with the community with your classes. And we all know there’s no better way to get people to buy from you than tapping into their emotions.
So, you see, getting clients for your catering business isn’t exactly rocket science. Just stay up-to-date with the latest trends and take every opportunity to expand your network. Before you know it, you’ll have more clients than you can handle.