Gone are the days when people set up catering businesses just because they had a passion for it.
Nowadays, passion isn’t the only motivating factor in the billion-dollar catering industry. It has grown leaps and bounds over the years to become lucrative for lots of caterers.
It’s no surprise then to see over 12,000 caterers in the US alone, making it more competitive especially for new caterers.
And with this number increasing daily, how do you as a drop-off caterer keep your business running in the face of stiff competition?
By getting new catering clients and retaining existing customers. This is your best bet to never run out of orders. It’s also the most predictable way you can generate enough revenue to sustain and expand your business.
However, due to the impact of the global pandemic, several avenues most drop-off caterers relied on to find clients are inaccessible at least for now.
For example, before the pandemic, you could reach out to new or existing venues or event centers to partner as their preferred catering vendor. Also, you could visit offices where they host corporate meetings and events to be their go-to drop-off caterer.
But now, there are no events and most offices are closed.
So how do you get a lot more catering clients to ensure you don’t go out of business?
Well, that’s what I’ll show you in this article – how to get more catering clients.
But before we get to the crux of this topic, here’s one important thing you should know:
It’s not just about finding clients but finding the “right clients” that will become loyal customers in the long run.
And how do you do this?
By setting yourself apart in the catering industry.
The Importance of Setting Yourself Apart in the Catering Industry
In the words of Seth Godin:
“Everyone is not your customer.”
I couldn’t agree more.
With the high demand for catering services, you may be tempted to appeal to all kinds of clients. However, this only adds you to an already long list of existing caterers who offer the same thing.
But to set yourself apart, it’s essential to carve a niche for your catering business. This helps you attract and retain clients faster than you can imagine. And how do you do this?
First, you can either limit your client base to a specific target audience like hotels, in-home dinner parties, family reunions, or wellness retreats.
Another way is to create specialized menu offerings like vegan, keto, organic, or cultural-specific dishes unique to you. It will set you apart from your competitors.
This was how Elizabeth Choto, founder of Grazedat Catering based in New Orleans was able to carve out a niche for herself in the catering industry.
She specializes in charcuterie, platters, boxes, jars, and celebratory numbers and letters filled with the likes of prosciutto, manchego, and local honey.
And she has made a name for herself in it. This sets her apart from other caterers.
Without a doubt, finding your niche to carve out special services and menus that you do well and are known for is key to ensuring your business remains competitive.
Now that you know the importance of setting yourself apart in the catering industry, how do you acquire more catering clients to patronize your business?
Let’s take a look at five simple tips to help you find more clients for your catering business
5 Simple Tips to Get More Catering Clients
1. Provide Excellent Customer Experience
Have you ever purchased a product or service because your family, friend, or even someone on social media recommended it?
You are not alone.
According to a Nielsen report, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. This is the power of word-of-mouth marketing which is the most effective form of marketing.
And that’s why you must provide an exceptional experience to your customers that will:
- Keep them loyal
- Ensure they recommend your catering services to their friends.
As a result, you will acquire more customers.
I bet you’ve also recommended a product or service to other people because you had a great experience using it.
And one way to ensure your clients’ experience is exceptional is by using catering software like HoneyCart to manage your entire ordering process.
This way, they can easily place orders without any hassles rather than going back and forth with you over the phone or email. An inconvenient process which in turn affects the overall buying experience.
This is something Elizabeth Choto found out when she started using HoneyCart to run her catering operations.
In her words:
“Using HoneyCart makes the ordering process so much easier! My customers can see exactly what’s available on which dates and customers can book in one seamless experience.”
2. Leverage Social Media
Today, we live in a digital world. As such, many people search and shop for almost everything online which makes it easy for potential clients to find your business.
However, you still need to establish a digital presence for them to find your business online. And what’s one way to quickly establish an online presence? Through the use of social media.
Social media is a powerful tool you can use to find clients for your catering business. And with over 4.2 billion active social media users, there is no shortage of potential customers who’ll be happy to patronize you.
And these days, besides going on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest to connect with their family and friends, most people also use them to search for local businesses.
So how do you ensure your business pops up when someone searches for a catering vendor? To answer this question, it starts with a well-optimized social media page.
Your profile is a good first impression when clarifying why they should follow you. And you know what they say about first impressions right?
Your profile should communicate your brand name, what you do, who you cater for, and a link to your website or online menu.
However, one mistake I’ve seen most caterers make on their social media page is using keywords like food, caterer, dishes, cuisine in their bio. These keywords are too generic as there are thousands of caterers already using it.
Instead use your profile should also contain relevant keywords related to your unique catering services or special menu offerings.
For example, if you cater to birthday parties for Kids, you can change your profile name to “Kids Birthday Caterer” instead of just using caterer. You get the idea right?
Here’s an example of a well-optimized Instagram page.
Anyone searching for “Dinner Party Catering” is likely to find Nicki’s Instagram page. Also, she also does a great job of adding her other services to her bio as well as a website where people can obtain more information.
In addition, to make your social media page standout, use it to showcase your culinary skills and position yourself as an expert caterer. Here you can post visually appealing images of your mouth-watering designed spreads and expertly plated meals.
Also, you can post how-tos and behind-the-scenes videos on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. This helps to build a connection with your followers and makes them feel a part of your brand.
For example, Chef Jolie Oree-Bailey, owner of Low Country Quisine does a great job of sharing lovely videos like live cooking demos and videos of her and her staff on her Instagram page.
This results in lots of engagement from her followers as shown below:
The truth is, if you are consistent at this, it’s only a matter of time before potential customers find and patronize your business.
But how do you avoid any back and forth between you and your clients when they want to place an order?
That’s where a catering order automation software like HoneyCart comes in handy.
HoneyCart makes it easy to set up an online menu and get a customizable link you can add to your social media pages.
Anyone who clicks on it would be taken directly to your online menu where they can see what’s available and place their orders.
Again, this is something Elizabeth Choto from Grazedat Catering uses to great effect.
3. Get Found on Search Engines
This makes having a website a surefire way to find clients. You can use it to provide basic information about your catering services and menu offerings.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, you don’t have to break the bank to set up a website. You can use basic Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress or Squarespace to set up your catering website.
But for your website to rank on the first page of search engines like Google, you still need to optimize it. And that’s where SEO comes in.
SEO makes it easy for potential customers to find your business online.
But you have to research keywords they are searching for that are relevant to your particular services and the catering industry in general. Then use them to optimize your website.
However, if you are going to use a website, it’s best you also use catering software alongside. This way, when someone wants to place an order, it takes them straight to your order page.
To see how this works, let’s take a look at Jim Lenz, co-owner of Two Unique Catering. He has a website where people can get more information about their catering services.
Then, he set up his online menu on HoneyCart and placed his customized link on his website as shown in the image below:
Anyone who clicks on the link would be taken straight to his order page on HoneyCart.
And using HoneyCart has proven to be a masterstroke for Jim.
According to him:
“Without a doubt, using HoneyCart definitely saves staff time. Time, in any business, is always money. Particularly once the pandemic hit, I found myself with less staff, which meant I had less staff having to do way MORE things, and entering orders by hand didn’t make sense when the customer could do it themselves.”
4. Create a Google My Business Page
Another way to find clients is by creating a Google My Business (GMB) Page also called Local SEO.
This way, when people search for keywords related to your services, your GMB page shows up on Google Maps on Google search results.
For example, if you do a quick Google search for Catering vendors in New York, you see a list of caterers who have created an account on GMB as shown in the image below:
You can link your website or online menu to your Google My Business page. Also, people who have patronized your catering business can leave a positive or negative review.
Again, this emphasizes the importance of providing an exceptional customer experience. 61% of customers read online reviews before choosing to buy a product or service. This shows social proof goes a long way to determine whether people will patronize your business.
5. Join Local Groups
While social gatherings and networking events may be on hold for now, the internet has made it possible to network without a physical presence. And how’s that possible?
By joining several groups on Facebook in your local area related to the services you offer.
For example, if you cater to birthday parties for kids, you can join Facebook groups for moms in your local area as illustrated below:
However, the idea of joining groups isn’t to constantly shove your catering services in their faces.
You have to actively participate, provide helpful tips, engage, ask and answer relevant questions. This positions you as an expert.
And when the need for a caterer arises, it will be easy for you to sell your catering services.
Conclusion: Catering Automation Software Makes Getting Clients Seamless
There’s no doubt, the present economic situation has made it difficult for drop-off caterers to gain clients the usual way. As a result, revenue isn’t flowing in consistently.
However, consumers across the world have been over-reliant on e-commerce to purchase everything from groceries to food. In fact, a recent Mckinsey report shows that 10 years of ecommerce adoption was compressed into 3 months.
This massive shift in consumer behavior shows there’s an increase in demand for online orders.
But while there are more customers, there are equally more competitors. So, to find more catering clients, you have to remain competitive in the catering industry.
And how do you achieve this? You have to carve a niche to set yourself apart from other caterers.
Also, provide an exceptional experience to your customers so they can refer other customers.
Furthermore, use social media to great effect, set up a catering website if you don’t have one, and don’t be shy to join and participate in your local Facebook groups.
And lastly, use catering software like HoneyCart to make the ordering process seamless for your customers.
It will also help you process orders faster, streamline operations, and grow revenue for your catering business. All without sacrificing commissions to third-party sites.
Just as Abbey Duke of SugarSnap found out when she started using HoneyCart to run her entire catering business.
According to her:
“We gave HoneyCart a try and found it was really easy to implement, and our customers liked how intuitive it was. Features like lead times, blackout dates, and being able to charge cards later were designed for catering.
It automates mundane tasks to allow us to use our time as efficiently as possible. HoneyCart truly enables small caterers to compete with larger companies by having a really professional and easy-to-use online ordering system.”
Ready to give HoneyCart a try like Abbey did and get more catering clients?
Then signup for a free 14-day trial. It doesn’t require your credit card..