Business Building Basics for Caterers

Have you heard of the 90-day principal? In the business world, they say that whatever you do today, you’ll reap the benefits of in 90 days.

90 days from today is mid-November.  The catering season will be heading into full swing. Wouldn’t you like to have some events on your calendar for the holiday season?

Here are some things you can do right now to make that happen.

Gear up for a marketing push. Do you have business cards? Have you set up a web or Facebook page with basic information about your products and services?  Look at your calendar and set a goal—how many events can you handle? What dates are you available?

Make a contact list.  Start with your existing clients, or if you’re brand new, start with people you’ve cooked for—put them on the list. Then brainstorm leads from the people you know. Who are the social butterflies—who hosts or attends parties every season? Who works parties—entertainers, decorators, florists, valet services? What about business contacts—who hosts staff meetings and client appreciation functions?  Sales people are also great prospects; who do you know that calls on clients? Include everyone who comes to mind; even if they’re not interested, they may lead you to someone who is.

Reach out. You’ve got three ways to do this: electronically, by phone or in person.  Use all three ways.

  • Post to your social networks and your website. Remember to be customer focused—this is not about how you need work; it’s about how they need a great caterer.  Ask for referrals, and offer a small incentive for anyone who sends you a lead.  
  • Pick up the phone and start calling your contact list. This is a tough one if you’re not used to it—you’re a chef, not a telemarketer, right? Well, remember that and present yourself as such. You have a valuable service to offer.  If you’re nervous, try writing a basic script. You don’t need to stick to the script; it’s just helpful to have words in front of you to get you started. Another trick is to practice on a friend– have a trial call or two to warm up. If that’s comfortable for you, then tell yourself they’re ALL practice calls. Just working on your sales skills…that’s all…it takes the pressure off. 
  • Hit the streets. Bring business cards with you wherever you go. Make it a goal to give out several cards every time you leave the house. If you go to the bank, ask the bank manager who caters the holiday party. If you run into someone you know, tell them what you’re up to, and ask if they know anyone who needs a caterer. Also, attend networking events. Try your local chamber of commerce; most have monthly networking meetings. You may wish to call on some local businesses in person; if you’re going in cold, sometimes it helps to bring samples of your work. Food has a way of opening doors.

So you get out there, you get events booked, and then you need a place to do all that cooking, right? Don’t forget, that’s why exists. Visit the site to find a commercial kitchen in your area that’s available when you need it.

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