Tips on Creating Demand for Your Catering Business, Straight from Customers
- 3 Min Read
Creating demand for your catering business is a job unlike any other. Often with catering, a different set of rules and methods apply. Especially when you’re trying to reach the most profitable catering customers. If you’ve ever tried to pass out coupons and freebies at a heavily secured commercial building, that memory might stay with you. It can be difficult to reach prospective catering customers, much less the elevators without a day pass. Luckily, there are other ways to get your catering in front of customers.
To help you create demand for your catering business, we organized a panel at CaterUp! to share insights from our high-value catering customers on what it takes to win their business and brand loyalty. Our audience had more questions than we had time for, so we’re responding to all unanswered questions in a four-part follow-up. This is Part 4 of the series, on how to create demand for your catering business.
Here are our customer panelists:
- Zack Schnyder, Events Coordinator
- Megan Price, Manager of Global Accounts
- Christina Barbaro, U.S. Events Manager
- Tim Mariakakis, Account Executive
Key insights from our customers:
- Our customers are more likely to order catering from a restaurant after receiving a free tasting.
- To zip past the “gatekeepers” to corporate accounts, give out free food to people like the concierge staff, the property manager, and the receptionist. Also, if you’re targeting a commercial building with security, do your research before you drop by. You’ll probably need to make a phone call to get a visitor’s pass first.
- When physical barriers bar you from potential customers, LinkedIn is a great tool for reaching out to healthcare reps, executive assistants, and office managers who order catering for work. Additionally, try connecting with concierge staff and property managers, who may be able to help you get into a commercial building.
- Entice customers with coupons, ezRewards incentives, and freebies to win their brand loyalty.
1. If a caterer gives you a free tasting, are you more likely to order catering?
- Zack Schnyder: Yes.
- Megan Price: Yes.
- Christina Barbaro: Yes, 100 percent. It’s not just about tasting the food; it’s about the presentation, too.
- Tim Mariakakis: No.
2. Does loud packaging turn you away from using a brand?
- Zack Schnyder: If the design is too loud, yes.
- Megan Price: I haven’t encountered loud packaging. But elegant branding and food labels create a wow factor for me.
- Christina Barbaro: Perhaps. In the past, I’ve had to transfer the food onto plainer platters because of the flashy packaging.
- Tim Mariakakis: No.
3. What’s the best way to zip past the “gatekeepers” to corporations that might need catering?
- Zack Schnyder: Offer the team a free catered lunch. If possible, ask the receptionist for help because this person probably works with the events manager.
- Megan Price: Offer free samples or a steeply discounted first-time catering order.
- Christina Barbaro: If you’re targeting a large commercial building of office tenants, reach out to the concierge or property manager. Do your research and email or call in advance. Tell the person in charge that you are in the area and would like to drop off a free treat. If you offer the team a branded sample or a tray of goodies, your gesture will go a long way.
- Tim Mariakakis: Drop off free coffee or sweets.
4. What’s the best way to reach out to a company’s concierge staff when there’s building security?
- Zack Schnyder: LinkedIn, possibly.
- Megan Price: Send samples. Everyone loves free food.
- Christina Barbaro: Do your research. It’s usually a property manager or a concierge who runs a larger commercial building. I would start with a phone call. Without making a hassle, ask to make a quick visit. You’ll need your name put on the list of security clearances. Keep in mind that the companies providing concierge services to these buildings have their own headquarters. They also have a list of preferred vendors, which gets distributed to employees. If you’re unable to reach the building’s concierge staff, find the company that manages the concierge services and start there. Your name will be funneled down to the appropriate contact.
5. If you’re a healthcare rep, what’s the best way for restaurants to get their catering in front of customers like you?
- Christina Barbaro: Sign up with ezCater. A lot of us are using the platform. Also, sign up for the ezRewards loyalty program, then offer your customers 5x rewards points for orders. It may cost more, but you’ll never get business from healthcare reps without offering this incentive.
6. Do you recommend a LinkedIn search to find potential customers in the healthcare industry?
- Megan Price: Yes.
- Christina Barbaro: Yes. Not just for healthcare reps, but for executive assistants, office managers, concierge staff, and property managers, too.
- Tim Mariakakis: Yes.
7. Besides getting the catering right, what can caterers do to earn your brand loyalty?
- Zack Schnyder: Start a conversation about your brand at the level of local marketing. Go above and beyond. Be consistent. Show up early. Set up the catering for the customer—don’t make us lift a finger.
- Megan Price: Get everything right. Just be consistent and reliable. Plus, no one ever turns down a free meal, so a gift card or a gift basket doesn’t ever hurt.
- Christina Barbaro: Give us perks! I love it when caterers drop off a coupon for in-store purchases!
- Tim Mariakakis: Offer variety and rewards.
Learn how ezCater can help you get even more catering orders.