If you don’t have at least one even each week in your event calendar, already booked, with a deposit, you are missing one of the largest money making segments of your business. Catering is the bread and butter that we can capture with one chicken breast at a time. And, if your catering department is not up and running at full speed by now, you may have a problem. But, there is still time to capture the bonus dollars of the season.Summer is the season of the continual party. Whether it is the clam bake, the chicken barbecue, the steak out, the brat bash, or just a simple dinner party on Mrs. Harrison’s deck overlooking her 12 acre vineyard, or trout pond, depending on which house she is at, next to the Christmas season, summer brings the guests. The first thing every restaurant should have is one person who does the catering planning, menu presentation, and catering sales. Now, if your operation is small, this can be a floor supervisor, a host with a great personality, or, one of the owners. However, it should not be the chef. The chef has a walk-on part later. If you have q larger operation, hire a full time event planner and let them book you restaurant every chance they get. This position will require a base salary and commission on the sale.
There is a simple way to get someone to be interested in selling catering. Commission. Make sure that you look at the catering position as a profit center. And it is. A big one. So you must pay for that profit. And, the way to do that is to give commission on the sale of the event. Build it into the cost of the event, but you have to pay it. It motivates your staff, and it also makes the person selling catering feel as though it is worth their while to come up with ideas that are creative to present to potential clients.
How do you attract the clients if you are just beginning? It’s simple. Think of three events that you would like to package throughout the summer. Develop a theme, a menu, and price per person. Have some post cards printed. One hundred dollars will get 500 postcards printed with your package on the front, details on the back; Make sure that you let people know you do any type of event. These particular events are just specials that you are promoting this particular season.
With every guest check, put a post card in the check presenter. Write a note on the back of the ones going to great customers if you happen to be at the restaurant. Let them know than it is party time.
Another way to stir up catering excitement is to have a party at the restaurant and invite the customers who will consider having a party. Introduce your summered catering menu. It is a tremendous way to drum up business and get people thinking about having someone else do the work at their summer events.
As far as the chef, they come out in the middle of the catering consultation. They do the up selling. They suggest a better cut of meat, an added appetizer, or a special that they have just created that would be so appropriate for the party. It works. People love to be in the presence of a chef. And, if the event is large enough, make sure the chef has a chance to go to the event and do some plating, or cooking. His or her ability to communicate with the guests and talk about the food as they are passing by the grill or the buffet line is the groundwork for your next big event and another client´s house.
Catering is a profit center that takes time to build. But with the right ingredients, promotional tools, sales people, and marketing, it can turn a losing restaurant into a profitable venture, in a seaon, one party at a time.