Catering can be a satisfying and profitable business for someone who loves to cook and orchestrate events. But marketing a catering company and getting more events to cater can be a tricky endeavor. Unlike food businesses such as restaurants, which largely stay in one place and attract nightly customers through a consistent presence, caterers often rely on clients hosting intermittent events such as weddings.
As a caterer, you can get more events by patiently and effectively building your brand, and by choosing a specialty and then seeking opportunities to connect with customers who fit into the appropriate demographic
Potential customers are particularly likely to choose you to cater their events if they know who you are and understand what you do. Your company should have an attractive logo, ideally one with a graphic that communicates your specialty. For example, if you specialize in vegan catering, then your business card might have a graphic of a vegetable, and if you specialize in weddings, then your business card might have a graphic of a wedding cake. Hand out your business card freely and enthusiastically, and also have your logo printed on your catering vehicle and your aprons.
Understand your target customers and strategize about ways to reach these individuals. Although it may seem on the surface that it would be easier to market a catering company that could provide anything that any potential customer might want, you can actually target your marketing more effectively and reach more potential customers if you narrow down your specialty and look for a specific type of client. If you specialize in weddings, set up a booth at your local wedding show. If you specialize in providing spreads for movie shoots, purchase listings in entertainment industry guides to local professionals.
Get to know people in your area who may be looking for caterers. Join locally based professional organizations such as Biznik, where you can meet other independent entrepreneurs who may need catering services or may be in a position to refer you to someone who could hire you for an event. Collaborate with other business owners. For example, if you specialize in wedding catering, get to know bakers who specialize in wedding cakes, and if you specialize in meals using sustainable ingredients, network with environmental groups.
Develop a strong online presence and update it regularly. Launch a clear and attractive website with professional photographs of your food and your events. Use social media to keep past clients current on exciting events and new developments in your company. Build an online mailing list. Maintain a blog that provides information about different types of food you are exploring, and provides information that helps potential customers navigate the process of hiring and working with a caterer.