Just because your restaurant is successful, doesn’t necessarily mean that your catering business is, too. Many times successful restaurant owners have trouble when they first start catering because marketing for catering is different from how you would market a restaurant. Here are five tips to help get your catering started and increase sales:
Let Your People Know
The people who come to your restaurant already are the people who are most likely to purchase your catering. If they already love your food and are familiar with what you serve, chances are they would be willing to have you cater an event for them if such circumstances should arise. So the most important thing you can do to make this happen is to make sure that everyone who comes in your restaurant knows that you also cater. That means putting details on signs around the restaurant, in the bathrooms, on the receipts and if your restaurant is less formal, maybe even somewhere on the table or napkins.
Offer Specials For First Time Customers
This is one of the best ways to get new customers. Post coupons in ad books or mailed ads for first time customers. This can be a great way to get people talking about whom you are and create awareness about the fact that you offer catering, and not just running a restaurant. You can also consider using services like Groupon to offer discounted catering services. Listing these specials and coupons is a great way to grow your client base and if you do a good job, they are more likely to use you again for catering other events.
Reach Out To Event Planners
If you live in a big enough city, chances are you have some event planners living in your area. Form relationships with these people and offer them and their companies discounts to try you out. Event planners are always looking for new things to make their events stand out, so if you aren’t getting a lot of attention yet, these people are great resources to make your debut. If there are no specific event-planning companies, try looking for people in public relations.
Go Back To School
Universities and colleges are always having events and meetings where they use catering. Reach out to the event planning student organizations as well as the student activities staff. Chances are these people have catered events multiple times every week, so they will be more willing to branch out and get something different than what they normally get.
Join Forces With Other Companies
Networking among other services in the event planning industry is another great way to increase catering sales. Try asking the florist at the next event you cater if they want to swap customer lists or cross promote each other. It can be mutually beneficial, so oftentimes these companies will agree unless you are a direct competitor. If you both decide to put both of your companies’ names on your marketing, it’s double the awareness with no extra money and only a little extra effort.
These are just a few tips to get you started thinking about ways you can increase your catering sales.
Sammy Jo is a writer for Lutz’s BBQ, a catering restaurant in Columbia and Jefferson City, Mo.