Do you want to promote your catering brand and get jobs from clients? If YES, here are 17 smart tips on how to get catering contracts for events and weddings.
The success of a catering business usually depends on the number of customers, both new and returning, who book your contracts. Without these contracts, your business may be idling away, and anytime you are less busy, you are losing revenue.
In order to keep your catering business viable, you need to find ways to keep your business in the faces of people so that they can think of your catering business first when they have events and weddings around the corner. Events and weddings are usually a frequent occurrence, but you may not have been able to snatch such opportunities. Outlined below are ways you can get more events and wedding contracts for your catering business.
Steps to Get Catering Contracts for Events and Weddings
Decide the kinds of events you want to serve and how many
Before you start looking out for event contracts, you have to first determine the kinds of events you want to cater and how many you can handle at a time. Write down the number of days or weekends each month you’re hoping to fill with events.
Keep in mind also that some events may be for a single evening, while others could be a three or four day affair—you’ll need to keep these factors in mind when you begin applying to events, as you shouldn’t apply to a long event if you won’t be able to commit to the schedule. Deciding which events you would like to cater would help you to know how to channel your search.
2. Start your research
Now that you have a general idea of how many events you’re looking to serve each month, you have to take those numbers and triple or quadruple them—the figures you come up with are the number of potential events you should try to find.
You almost certainly won’t be accepted to every event you apply to, so it’s important to find as many as you can to start out with.
Search for all types of events happening in your city that are within your niche. Take down information on the events as you find them—including the date, name of the event, website address, contact information for the organizers, registration or application deadlines, and a rating to track how interested in the event you are. This will help to speed up the process when it comes time to begin applying.
3. Update Your Website
If you haven’t noticed, websites are the models of the internet. The more compelling a website looks, the more interest it garners from web surfers. Keeping a clean and polished website is really important and should never be compromised.
Your website is the mirror of your business; if it looks a mess, you can be sure that a potential client will think your food truck is the same.
Visitors might have had zero interaction with your actual business, and will be judging your capabilities based on the look of your website. Interested parties might receive recommendations, find your name in a web search, or be led to your site by a magazine article. Don’t let your site scare off customers. It’s worth investing in an update to attract more customers.
4. Have Eye-Catching Photos of Your Menu Online
Of course, the next best thing to actually tasting food is to have eye-catching photos one can stare at. This strategy works all the time, so you need to make sure to add mouthwatering images of your food. Get high-quality photos, and you may not need to spend much to get this.
Make a friend that is a photographer or hire a college student that’s majoring in photography. Keep an updated version of your menu online, and to boost interest in your catering abilities, suggest a menu with special dishes. To round out your site’s gallery, upload one or two photos per event category to show how versatile and accessible your menu is for different crowds.
There is one other thing to be wary of, and that is menu prices. You should ensure that you don’t attach prices to your menu. Prices distract viewers from the quality of the food and your experience. Without prices, you also have the flexibility to maneuver costs depending on the event.
5. Build your offline image
A catering business is all about presentation. Every caterer should have three critical promotional items: a well-designed brochure with detailed, hi-resolution, professional images; an active Instagram account; and a YouTube channel showing some of the art that goes into the creation of your meals.
This would ensure that you have something to show clients who want to see what your creations look like. Trust me, a lot of clients would not look your way of you do not have these.
6. Network/promote your business
Being a caterer involves more than just making great food. If your customers don’t know you cater, then they won’t know to seek you out.
The more people that know about your service, the more likely you are to land catering gigs. As the owner, you are responsible for spreading your business’ name throughout the community. Get out there and meet event professionals and other business owners.
While business owners might have large companies—or can recommend you to their peers, event professionals help produce special events. Music concerts, political fundraisers, and corporate galas are just a few examples of the types of gigs an event professional would need a caterer for.
If you really want to get creative, then you can advertise your catering services on taxis or other mobile means. you can equally print out flyers and pass them out at stores, weddings and other events, especially those you cater. If you’re not sure where to start, first join your local department of commerce, then, visit the happening places in your area. Don’t be shy when introducing yourself and your business.
7. Make good use of your social media
In this day and age, catering business owners have to market/advertise their services if they plan on taking their businesses to the next level.
Not only that, but thanks to social media, marketing your business won’t cost a fortune. Posting to your social media networks will literally cost you zero dollars, so why not market the catering side of your business in that fashion? Yes, this option would take some of your time, but I bet you that it is time well spent.
8. Join Local Groups
If you are a corporate events caterer, you really need to join your local groups. That’s where you’ll find your clients and that’s where you can talk about what the best and freshest foods you have available.
You can also share articles about how to host a great holiday party and how you can really make sure that the event is a success. As with all social media, you get out what you put into it, and if you’re able to showcase yourself as an expert caterer, you’re really going to stand out amongst your clients.
9. Reach out to local event venues
Many venues provide their customers with a list of preferred vendors when someone books the venue for an event. Contact the popular wedding and event spots in your area and figure out how you can become a preferred vendor. This may mean a little extra work on your end to obtain the necessary licenses and insurance that each venue might require, but if you are one of a few preferred options for a large event, the payoff is so worth it.
10. Focus on word of mouth
Word of mouth has been hailed as a caterer’s best tactic. It’s really effective as people trust information that was provided by a close friend or family. It you have recently catered an event, it is important that you make your contact information available to event attendees.
One subtle method is to leave business cards at the bar and with servers and bartenders.” Again, you can just simply ask. Take your list of all of all of your customers and call or e-mail them. Ask them if they know of anyone seeking catering services right now, and if they can give you a personal referral.
Then, contact the referrals they give you and see what happens. People are more likely to hear business pitches from referrals from people they know. You may be surprised at how many new catering clients you can get this way.
11. Work with local food bloggers
One other very effective way to get wedding and event contracts is to liaise with food bloggers. You can target recipe blogs and posts that include recipes and tips. If you specialize in cakes alone, you can target wedding or event blogs.
You can even offer up a little discount when people contact you via those blogs. Bloggers are specialized is writing catchy articles that can attract people to your business, so you should endavour to make use of their services. They may cost you a bit, but that cost is generally worth it. Just make sure you choose a blog that has great readership in your local area.
12. Ask for Referrals
Another tried-and-true method to get event and wedding contracts is referrals. You should ask existing customers, friends and family members for leads. You never know where they might lead. You don’t have to stick within the box of corporate catering and know that there are people who would love to refer you.
Become active in communities where people are going to need your services, so when they need you, you will be the first in mind. Plus, referrals cost no money and very little time, making it a perfect tactic for the busy catering professional.
13. Check out your local farmers market
You may be wondering what a farmers market has to do with event catering, but you have to know that these are great publicity venues. You can whip up one of your specialties and take them to a local farmer’s market for sale, while promoting your services with banners, flyers and in-person conversation.
For example, if a caterer specializes in lavender and lemon cake, they can sell slices of it. Once consumers taste it and realize how good it is, they may book the caterer then and there or think of them for a future event.
14. Take samples to targeted locations
Asides farmers markets, there are other targeted locations you can key into to promote your catering business. Some of these places are offices, parties, book lunches etc. You can sample trays to local offices and some of these events happening around your area. If your offerings are loved by the people, you can easily get other contracts from there.
If you take your samples to offices and they are loved, you can easily land a contract to start supplying lunches to employees in the place, or to start supplying catering services for official meetings. You can equally focus on nonprofits and community foundations by offering more affordable, tax-exempt options. It can be a lucrative tactic since many nonprofit organizations host annual galas and other events.
15. Form partnerships with complementary businesses
Another good way to land catering contract is to form strategic partnerships with businesses in the same sector as your own. You may wish to look for ancillary event services, such as rental equipment companies and florists, and co-market their individual companies to prospective clients.
Most times, people having events ask for recommendations from people they know that work in a similar industry, like asking a florist a nice catering business they know. What you need to do is find some of these businesses that complement your own and offer them a sort of contract that can work for both parties. You can even offer to give them some commission for every job they bring your way.
16. Find seasonal events and figure out how to get involved
Many cities offer holiday markets, tree-lighting ceremonies, or parades. Try to get involved by offering small, discounted (or free) samples to hand out to the public along with your catering menu. This gains exposure for your company at moments when they are already thinking about their holiday plans.