When the rapid “ring, ring, ring” of the dinner bell, placed just to the left of the food conglomerate icons’ plate, resonated from the dining room, through the mahogany butler’s pantry door Kranston looked at me with an air of curiosity.
“Get in there”, I said looking up from my pan of one – inch Lamb Meatballs, only long enough to see my partner dart through the door.
We had been awarded, as everyone on
When I originally received the call from the matriarch inquiring about our services I was shocked. Kranston was in
“Kranston, you won’t believe this. Good news: We have been invited to the P——— for Christmas Eve. Bad news: You are the maid. I am the butler.”
Catering comes in all forms and sizes. And, surprisingly, once you begin a catering department, or division, or company, if your food is creative- without over shooting the market or the client, reasonably priced- something for everyone, if your service is friendly but professional, and you treat your clients as though they were all special, your business will grow through word of mouth.
Plus, your ability to market and promote catering services to your customers daily begins at the tables in your dining room.
Each meal you deliver is merely an edible brochure for a possible catering event. And, the server’s attitude at the table and with the customer throughout the meal is also completely conducive to your catering success. Nobody wants Nasty Nancy serving guests in there home during the Holidays.
These factors all add up to marketing and execution as your dining room is an example and showcase for your off-premise expertise.
Here are ten tips on marketing your catering service that will be cost effective and will also generate bookings and income…
1). Have one person in charge of catering consultation. This person should be knowledgeable about the product, have an eye for creativity and an ability to read a customer.
2). Let everyone on the staff know that the catering division is new and they will grow with it. Verse them on what to say to a customer when they ask about catering.
3). Table tents and check inserts are a perfect way to announce your catering services. Let everyone in your restaurant know that they can inquire for more information.
4). Add a page to your web site announcing catering. Make sure there is a form for a customer to fill out if they have a catering inquiry. Answer the inquiries within 24 hours.
5). Edible brochure. Your menu is your best form of advertising. I will guarantee one thing- if the food out of your kitchen leaves a bad impression you won’t be getting any catering business from the customer you just upset. Every meal has to be consistently perfect. It is the brochure for your business.
6). If you have developed a catering menu with entrees that differ from your menu, try putting one on as a special and let customers know it is a new entr?e on your catering menu.
7). A large part of catering is the showmanship involved with the presentation. Occasionally send a good customer, who does a lot of catering, a sample tasting from the kitchen, with your compliments. This begins the word of mouth chain.
8). Always prepare a tasting for potential clients. If someone seriously inquires about catering invite then in with a spouse or friend to sample the food they are considering. Let them dine alone, but be sure to have the catering director near by to answer any questions. This is a great opportunity to up-sell. The meal, of course is complimentary. Build the cost into the catering bill.
9). Catering gossip is a suburban and city subculture. Just as The Food Network is hot, so are the latest trends in catering. Send out press releases to your local papers and let them know that you have started a catering division.
10). Choose a night before the Holidays, mid-October is usually best, and invite guests to join you as you unveil your new seasonal catering menu. Prepare the food as you would for an event, stage your restaurant, and introduce your guests to passable appetizers, a selection of buffet items including salads, entrees and desserts. Make a toast during the evening, thanking everyone for coming and let them know you look forward to seeing them over the holiday season. If done well, and the guest list is targeted correctly you will book enough business out of that event to pay for it, make a profit and begin a catering department that could grow into a second revenue stream and business.
You could become successful enough to serve lamb meatballs and Pillsbury doughboy rolls.