By Jim Rand, catering practice leader.
This is Part 4 of our four-step FEED formula for building a successful catering business. (If you missed a step, start here.)
The hope is that if you build a catering business, customers will come to support you. But will they? As you probably know, you need to take matters into your own hands. Here’s a primer on four ways to get on your target customer’s radar and build demand.
Some people have little patience for a 30-second ad, preferring the apps on their mobile devices. For others, banners and ask-me buttons may work best. While there are different marketing tactics to create demand for your catering, you need to determine which approach is suited to your target customer (read more here). Let’s discuss the options:
Multi-unit operators should hire professional salespeople who can qualify leads, close deals, and make sales. Operations people rarely work out in sales roles. Finding strong candidates may be tough since there’s only a shallow pool of catering sales pros. But you can always hire salespeople from other industries, then give them catering-specific job training. Once trained, they can apply their sales know-how to the catering business.
Salespeople are competitive but need clear goals coupled with accountability. Incentivize them with immediate and long-term bonuses to keep them motivated.
Using customer-relationship management (CRM) software, managers can track the performance of each salesperson: the numbers of weekly calls, qualified leads, and sales closed.
If your catering volume is significant and spread over multiple store units, consider outsourcing workers to handle phone calls. While expensive, call center workers ensure you never lose a customer when your phone line is inundated.
Next, if you offer online ordering, push customers to order online. As pizza chains shifted to online ordering in the early 2000s, those companies reported that productivity soared since employees were answering fewer phone calls.
Here are things to keep in mind with these strategies:
If you play your cards right, you can earn the brand loyalty of even the toughest customers. Make sure your employees connect with customers, take down and deliver orders correctly, and enhance the experience. We often size up customers based on their smallish one-time orders but overlook the fact the long-term loyalty of a single customer can put thousands of dollars into a business.
Sure, a $50 cookie order can seem measly, but that customer could be an admin assistant for a Fortune 500 bank who places catering orders all the time—and who might never call you back.
Reward repeat customers with discounts, freebies, and reward points. Customer rewards apps, like LevelUp and Punchh, track customer purchases on mobile devices and sync with your back-of-house (BOH) system.
When you show customers you’re interested in their business, that’s the surest way to generate demand.
Want to capture more online catering orders?