The catering industry is highly competitive. It’s also the 10th-ranked industry within the accommodation and food services field by market size, and it remains an essential service for various events, corporate settings, and more. Parties and events come and go. The decorations and even the event details will often be forgotten. However, no one will forget the food.
Client acquisition can be challenging as your business grows. Despite the competition and the challenges, however, you can find plenty of tactics to help you attract new customers to your catering company. The strategies that work best for your business might not be the same as the next, so be ready for some trial and error in implementing these lead generation and client acquisition efforts.
Finding new clients is a combination of strategic planning and establishing relationships both within the industry and with existing clients. Fortunately, with a $10k/month budget, you’ll find that you have plenty of options to keep your client list growing.
Here are five tactics that every catering business can benefit from in their quest for new clients.
Local venues are a great connection when you are looking for catering clients. You can, and should, reach out to local event centers, expo centers, and other venues in the area to share information about your catering business. These venues have tons of promotions that they offer for clients and events, in addition to just being a good source of business in the first place.
Consider the types of events held at various venues. Partner with the ones that are most in line with your catering business. Find out if venues have an in-house kitchen or catering staff, or if they require people to cater their own events. If that’s the case, you can ask them to share your business and in exchange, you can share theirs with your catering clients.
Cost: Free, unless you offer incentives.
92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family and friends. Of course, you don’t need a marketing study to tell you that word-of-mouth is still one of the most valuable marketing tools that you have. You should solicit reviews and referrals from anyone with whom you do business. Asking for a review is easy, but you can also give people incentives for referrals and recommendations, such as a discount on catering services or something similar.
Just make sure that if you’re offering incentives for referrals, both parties get something out of the deal. And get reviews in different places: your website, social media, local business directories, etc. Google reviews, for example, hold a lot more weight than the ones on your website when it comes to your business reputation.
Local SEO is an essential element of marketing for all catering businesses. In addition to using location-specific keywords, you’ll also want to develop an entire strategy that is dedicated to local optimization efforts. You can even hire an SEO expert to help you along the way. What you spend will depend on their rates and what kind of optimization work they do for you.
Local optimization includes standardizing your NAP, name, address, and phone number. This is your business listing and it needs to be the same in every single place that it’s posted. Even something as simple as abbreviating versus not abbreviating the address could cost you valuable points. You’ll want to create local content and make sure that your website is optimized for mobile local search, too.
Tip: The “near me” search query is hot right now, so if you can incorporate that into your local content, you’ll get a lot better rankings.
Social media is more than just a “set it and forget it” platform. In order for your catering business to be successful, you have to go where the people are. Today, people are on social media and if they’re looking to see what a caterer can do, they’re far more likely to head over to Instagram or Pinterest than to try to find your business website. You need to take advantage of this. Engage on all social media platforms and make sure that you connect with people in a way that works for them.
Choose the type of content you share based on the network that you’re using. For example, you might want to share your most recent blog on Facebook, while Instagram is a great place to display your catering events and amazing food creations. Comment on conversations, get involved in groups and discussions, and make sure that you are taking advantage of all the leads that you can find on social media.
Cost: $250-$5,000, depending on what you outsource
Today, there’s no reason you have to do all the work yourself. And there’s no reason that you should. Outsourcing makes it easier to get things done. Professional companies all over North America (and the world) offer an array of solutions that will allow you to outsource all kinds of routine tasks and tedious work.
Even better, when you outsource to dedicated virtual receptionists like the team at Smith.ai, you’ll get a 24/7 answering service to ensure that you never miss an opportunity. Plus, we can also offer assistance with lead intake, appointment scheduling, and live website chat. If you’re still working on finding new clients, ask about our support for outreach campaigns.
Our virtual receptionists will ensure that you get all the solutions that you need with a custom strategy that covers every last detail, allowing you to spend more time focusing on the clients and catering jobs that need your attention. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to email@example.com.