5 Quick Tips for Catering Success

by Alistair Coats

The Spoonfed system is great for handling orders and managing a catering business, but we are often asked what can be done to drum up interest and build the customer base. Knowing that you’ll be able to get every order right and handle more orders is great, but how do you go about getting those new customers?

5 tips

Here’s our 5 quick tips to maximize sales in catering. They are based on our own experience running a catering company and are relevant to any business from the smallest independent sandwich shop to global retail chains, whether you’re starting from scratch or have been offering catering for decades already.

1. Get out and about

You’ve perfected your menus and are located right next to offices, but now you need to go that extra mile.

Do not underestimate how lazy people are - potential customers may buy from you every day and yet not really think about getting catering from you.

Your business will be one of many competing for customer attention and you need to be front and centre to be seen. There is no alternative to visiting offices and getting your name out there, whether it’s by sharing food or just your business card…

2. Free Samples

The initial cost of delivering a few free platters to offices nearby is very quickly offset if a single one bites and becomes a regular customer.

With the average value of a catering order about 12x that for an individual order, and with long term loyalty being the norm from catering customers, putting together a free platter of something that will impress people is worthwhile. Just make sure they know who you are and how to order from you...

3. Branded napkins

Branded napkins are an incredibly cheap and effective way of getting your name out there. Even if you are not delivering free samples (see previous point), leaving branded napkins in the kitchen spaces of local offices is a great way to spread the word that you supply drop off catering.

Chipotle is famous for generous napkin donation and countless desk and car spills have been cleared up with their cheap single-ply napkins. In a digital age, it’s rare that marketing can be considered truly helpful, but your napkins could generate a lot of goodwill and business.

4. Promo codes

Discounts are an effective way of bringing in new customers, and of reminding old ones to order from you again.

Set yourself up with an easy system to control discounts without manual involvement - you don’t want to end up tailoring each discounted order on the phone. Systems like Spoonfed make it easy to limit code use by date or usage, so the code does the job of building order numbers and values, rather than eating into revenues. And it’s worth looking into the best way to share those codes...

5. Mailshots

Bringing back customers who might have forgotten about you is easily done with promo codes, but special offers and newsletters can end up more hassle than they are worth.

If you are messing round with a spreadsheet to update your customers and work out who could do with a reminder, you’re wasting time. There are plenty of email marketing options that won’t charge you until you have a very large subscriber base. Mailchimp integrates with Spoonfed and is a simple system for keeping your brand on customers’ minds.

Those 5 steps will help just about any caterer grow their customer base and increase sales. They are in no particular order, but if you had to focus on a single one, go with the first. Our experience from running our own catering business was that nothing beats a bit of shoe-leather wear. It’s tempting to think in a digital age that the right online presence will fix all. It won’t. After all the hard work you’ve put into your food and your business, don’t sit back and expect the customers to just come to you - go that little extra distance and get them! A little extra effort can put you miles in front of your competitors.

If you’d like to know more about best practices in catering and how the Spoonfed system can help, book a meeting with us here - we’d love to talk with you.

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