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How to increase catering sales

How to increase catering sales

Want to skyrocket your catering sales in 2024?

You’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll reveal 11 proven strategies to attract more customers, boost revenue, and grow your catering business.

From crafting a strong online presence to offering personalized experiences, implementing effective upselling techniques, and leveraging partnerships – we’ve got you covered.

Ready to take your catering sales to the next level? Let’s dive in.

Catering Marketing Strategies to Attract More Customers

Create a Strong Online Presence To Boost Catering Sales

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for attracting new catering clients and customers. Start by developing a user-friendly website that showcases your catering services, menu options, and customer testimonials. Make sure your website is mobile-responsive and easy to navigate, as many potential customers will be accessing it from their smartphones or tablets. Metrobi assists catering businesses by offering delivery solutions across more than 20 cities in the US, including the option for same-day deliveries specifically in New York City.

To improve your website’s visibility and attract organic traffic, optimize it for search engines. Research relevant keywords related to your catering business and incorporate them naturally into your website’s content, meta tags, and headers. This will help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), making it easier for potential customers to find you.

Marketplace Comparison:
Catering check averages are higher on first-party online ordering than marketplace online ordering, with marketplace check averages sitting at $350, and direct online catering at $380. 75% of catering orders are placed online on mobile or desktop.

Leverage Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide excellent opportunities to engage with potential customers and showcase your catering offerings. Create profiles on these platforms and regularly post high-quality photos and videos of your food, catering setups, and satisfied customers. Engage with your followers by responding to comments and messages promptly, and consider running social media contests or promotions to generate buzz and attract new customers.

Social Media:
44% of caterers use social media to find leads.

Video Marketing:
50% of caterers use video marketing to showcase their products and services.

Influencer Marketing:
20% of caterers use influencer marketing to promote their products and services

Offer Unique and Personalized Catering Experiences

To stand out from competitors and attract more customers, focus on offering unique and personalized catering experiences. Develop custom menu options tailored to prospective clients with specific dietary needs and preferences, such as gluten-free, vegan, or keto-friendly dishes. This will show potential customers that you are willing to go the extra mile to accommodate their needs and preferences.

Consider providing interactive food stations and live cooking demonstrations at your catered events. This creates a memorable and engaging experience for guests and can help generate positive word-of-mouth referrals. For example, you could set up a sushi-making station where guests can learn to roll their sushi or a live pasta station where a chef prepares fresh pasta dishes to order.

Collaborate with Event Planners and Venues

Collaborating with event planners and venues can help you reach a wider audience and attract more catering customers. Develop relationships with local event planners and venues, and offer all-inclusive catering packages that make it easy for them to recommend your services to their clients. These packages could include everything from food and beverages to rentals and staffing, making it a hassle-free experience for both the event planner and the end customer.

Additional Strategies For Your Catering Company

  • Host Virtual Tastings: Organize virtual tastings to showcase your culinary skills and allow potential clients to experience your food without the need for in-person events.

  • Launch an Online Ordering System: Implement an online ordering system to simplify the ordering process and make it more convenient for clients.

  • Strengthen Local SEO: Optimize your website and online presence for local search engine optimization (SEO) to attract more local customers.

By implementing these catering marketing strategies, you can attract more customers and grow your business in 2024. Remember to consistently showcase your unique offerings, engage with potential customers online, and focus on providing personalized, memorable experiences that set you apart from the competition.

Consumer Ordering Trends:
37% of catering dollars are spent at quick-service restaurants (QSR), while 25% are spent at full-service establishments

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Proven Catering Sales Techniques to Boost Revenue

Implement Effective Upselling Strategies

Upselling is a powerful sales technique that can significantly boost your catering revenue. By training your sales team to suggest add-ons and upgrades to existing and catering orders, you can increase the average order value and maximize profits. According to a study by Upserve, upselling can increase restaurant revenue by up to 30%.

To implement effective upselling strategies, create enticing package deals that include additional services like décor, staffing, and rentals. This makes it easy for customers to say yes to upgrades, as they perceive them as a better value. Additionally, consider offering discounts for bulk orders or repeat customers to encourage larger catering sales and foster a loyalty program.

As catering expert Sarah Thompson, “Upselling is not about being pushy; it’s about understanding your customers’ needs and offering solutions that enhance their experience. When done right, upselling benefits both the customer and the business.”

Leverage Referral Marketing and Partnerships

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to attract new customers to your catering business. Establish referral programs that incentivize existing customers to recommend your catering services to their friends, family, and colleagues. According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.

Partnering for Success

Partnering with complementary businesses like event planners, florists, and entertainers can help you reach a wider audience and generate quality leads. By cross-promoting each other’s services, you can tap into new markets and offer your customers a more comprehensive event experience.

Attending industry networking events is another excellent way to build relationships and generate leads for potential catering sales. These events provide opportunities to showcase your catering services, exchange ideas with other professionals, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the catering industry.

As event planner Jessica Rodriguez mentions, “Collaborating with reputable catering companies has been instrumental in the success of our events. We trust them to deliver exceptional food and service, which allows us to focus on other key aspects of the event planning process.”

By implementing these proven catering sales techniques, you can boost your catering revenue and set the stage for sustainable business growth. Focus on upselling, referral marketing, and strategic partnerships to attract more customers and increase your average order value.

Strategies for Sustainable Catering Business Growth

Sustainable growth is essential for any catering business looking to thrive in the long term. By focusing on expanding your service offerings, investing in your team and operations, and implementing technology solutions, you can create a solid foundation for success.

Expand Your Service Offerings

One of the most effective ways to generate catering sales and grow your catering business is by expanding your service offerings. This allows you to attract new customers and increase revenue streams.

Introduce New Catering Formats

Consider introducing new catering formats such as drop-off catering, food trucks, or meal delivery services. These options cater to different customer preferences and can help you reach a wider audience. For example, drop-off catering is ideal for corporate events or smaller gatherings where clients prefer a more hands-off approach. Food trucks, on the other hand, can be a great way to participate in local events and festivals, exposing your brand to potential customers.

Corporate Catering:
65% of employees head into the office due to catering.
80% of companies frequently order business catering—at least once a month.
40% of businesses that order catering request food for over 20 people.

Offer Specialized Menus

Another way to expand your service offerings is by providing specialized menus for specific dietary needs. This includes vegan, gluten-free, or keto options. By catering to these niche markets, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and attract health-conscious customers. Make sure to highlight these specialized menus on your website and marketing materials to reach your target audience effectively.

Provide Additional Services

Consider offering additional services like event management software and planning, décor rentals, and staffing solutions. This allows you to become a one-stop shop for clients, making their event planning process more convenient. By providing a comprehensive range of services, you can increase customer loyalty and generate more revenue per client.

Invest in Your Team and Operations

Investing in your team and operations is crucial for sustainable growth. A skilled and motivated team, combined with efficient processes, can help you deliver exceptional service and maintain a competitive edge.

Hire and Train Skilled Staff

Hire staff with the necessary skills and experience to ensure consistent quality and exceptional customer service. Provide ongoing training to keep your team up-to-date with industry trends and best practices. This investment in your employees will pay off in the form of increased productivity, lower turnover rates, and better customer satisfaction.

Streamline Kitchen Operations

Analyze your current kitchen operations and identify areas for improvement. This may include optimizing your menu, improving inventory management, or implementing more efficient cooking techniques. By streamlining your operations, you can reduce costs, minimize waste, and improve overall efficiency.

Implement Technology Solutions

Investing in technology solutions like catering software can help you manage orders, inventory, and customer data more effectively. These tools can automate repetitive tasks, reduce errors, and provide valuable insights into your business performance. By leveraging technology, you can save time and resources, allowing you to focus on delivering exceptional service to your clients.

Marketing Channels:
Investing in a direct catering online channel has a 9X ROI after the first 12 months

Marketplace Comparison:
Catering check averages are higher on first-party online ordering than marketplace online ordering, with marketplace check averages sitting at $350, and direct online catering at $380

Case Study: Successful Implementation of Sustainable Growth Strategies

To illustrate the effectiveness of these strategies, consider the example of XYZ Catering, which successfully expanded its service offerings, invested in its team and operations, and implemented technology solutions. By doing so, XYZ Catering increased its revenue by 25% and improved customer satisfaction ratings by 30%. This real-world example demonstrates the potential benefits of adopting sustainable growth strategies in the catering industry.

Generating Qualified Leads for Your Catering Business

Develop Targeted Marketing Campaigns

To generate qualified leads for your catering business, start by creating buyer personas that represent your ideal customers. Consider their demographics, preferences, and pain points. This will help you craft marketing messages that resonate with them.

Next, use targeted advertising on social media platforms and search engines to reach your desired audience. For example, Facebook allows you to target users based on their interests, behaviors, and location. Google Ads enables you to display your ads to people searching for catering services in your area.

Develop email marketing campaigns to nurture leads and promote special offers. Segment your email list based on factors like lead source, interest level, and past interactions with your business. Send personalized emails that provide value and encourage recipients to take action, such as requesting a quote or booking a tasting session.

Create Compelling Ad Copy and Visuals

When crafting your ad copy and visuals, focus on the benefits of your own catering program and services rather than just the features. Highlight how you can make the event planning process stress-free, provide exceptional food quality, and create memorable experiences for guests.

Use high-quality images and videos that showcase your culinary creations and event setups. This will help potential clients visualize what you can offer and differentiate your business from competitors.

Leverage Event Partnerships and Sponsorships

Partnering with event venues and planners can be a highly effective way to generate leads for your catering business. Reach out to popular venues tasting events in your area and propose a mutually beneficial partnership. Offer to be their preferred catering vendor in exchange for referrals and exposure to their clients.

Attend bridal shows, corporate events, and other industry gatherings to showcase your catering services and connect with potential clients. Set up an attractive display that highlights your unique offerings and provides samples for attendees to taste. Collect contact information from interested prospects and follow up with personalized outreach after the event.

Sponsoring local events and festivals can also help you gain exposure and generate leads. Look for opportunities to provide catering services or donate food items in exchange for promotional benefits, such as logo placement, social media mentions, and speaking opportunities.

Establish Referral Partnerships

In addition to event venues and planners, consider establishing referral partnerships with other businesses that serve your target market. For example, if you specialize in wedding catering, partner with wedding photographers, florists, and bridal shops. Offer them a commission or reciprocal referrals for sending new clients to your way.

Referral Marketing Effectiveness:
Referral marketing can increase profits byat least 16% from referred customers.

60% of marketers say that referral programs generate a high volume of leads.

Implement Lead Capture Strategies

To turn website visitors and social media followers into qualified leads, implement lead capture strategies on your digital channels. Add prominent calls-to-action (CTAs) throughout your website that encourage visitors to take the next step, such as filling out a contact form, requesting a quote, or signing up for your email list.

Create valuable content offers, such as event planning checklists, seasonal menu guides, or catering tips, that visitors can access in exchange for their contact information. Use landing pages and pop-up forms to collect leads and nurture them with targeted email campaigns.

On social media, run contests and promotions that incentivize followers to engage with your brand and share their contact information. For example, offer a discount on catering services for anyone who tags a friend in the comments or shares your post.

Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

To attract more organic traffic and generate leads through search engines, optimize your website for relevant keywords. Conduct keyword research to identify the terms and phrases your target audience uses when searching for catering services. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your website’s content, meta tags, and header tags.

By implementing these lead generation strategies, you can attract more qualified prospects and grow your catering business sustainably. Remember to track your results and continually refine your approach based on what works best for your unique market and target audience.

Understanding Your Target Market and Competition

Identify Your Ideal Catering Customer

To effectively boost your catering sales, you need to have a clear understanding of your target market. Start by researching the demographics, preferences, and needs of your ideal customer. This information will help you tailor your services and marketing efforts to attract and retain the right clients. At Metrobi, we specialize in enhancing your catering delivery management, ensuring your services are always aligned with your customers’ expectations.

Analyze your existing customer data to identify common characteristics and trends. Look for patterns in age, income level, location, and event types. This data can provide valuable insights into what your current customers are looking for and how you can better serve them.

Conduct surveys and focus groups to gather direct feedback from potential customers. Ask questions about their catering needs, preferences, budget, and pain points. This information can help you refine your offerings and address any concerns or challenges they may have.

Creating Customer Personas

Once you have gathered data on your target market, create customer personas to represent your ideal clients. These fictional profiles should include demographic information, behavioral traits, and purchasing habits. Use these personas to guide your marketing and catering sales strategies, ensuring that you are targeting the right people with the right message.

For example, you could create personas like “Corporate Event Planner Pam” or “Wedding Couple Wendy and William” to better understand the needs and preferences of your target market.

Perform a Competitive Analysis

In addition to understanding your target market, it’s crucial to analyze your competition in the catering industry. Identify your main competitors and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. This information will help you identify gaps in the market and opportunities to differentiate your catering services.

Start by researching your competitors’ pricing strategies, menu offerings, and marketing tactics. Look for areas where they excel and where they fall short. For example, if a competitor offers a limited menu selection, you could focus on providing a wider variety of options to attract customers looking for more choices.

Next, analyze how your competitors are positioning themselves in the market. Are they targeting a specific niche, such as corporate events or weddings? Are they known for their unique cuisine or exceptional service? Understanding how your competitors are differentiating themselves can help you identify opportunities to stand out in the crowded catering market.

Importance of Competitive Analysis:
85% of marketers believe that competitive analysis is crucial for their business.
Regular competitive analysis helps businesses understand their market, compare performance with competitors, identify gaps in strategy, develop unique value propositions, and stay ahead of market changes.

Identifying Market Gaps and Opportunities

As you analyze your competition, look for gaps in the market that you can fill with your catering services. For example, if there is a lack of catering companies offering plant-based or gluten-free options, you could specialize more catering sales in these areas to attract health-conscious clients.

Consider offering unique services or experiences that your competitors don’t provide. This could include interactive food stations, themed events, or customizable catering menu options. By identifying and filling market gaps, you can position your catering business as a leader in the industry and attract customers looking for something different.

Leverage Industry Reports and Market Research

To gain a deeper understanding of your target market and competition, leverage industry reports and market research. These resources can provide valuable insights into market trends, consumer preferences, and competitive landscapes.

Some reputable sources for catering industry reports and market research include:

  • IBISWorld: Offers in-depth industry reports and market analysis

  • National Restaurant Association: Provides research and trends specific to the food service industry

  • Catersource: Offers articles, reports, and resources for catering professionals


A recent report by IBISWorld found that the catering industry is expected to grow at a rate of 3.5% annually from 2023 to 2028, driven by increased demand for event catering and corporate events.

Industry Outlook:
85% of caterers predict that business will be up in 2024.
The catering market is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 percent, reaching $124.36 billion by 2032

By staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and market research, you can make informed decisions about your catering business and stay ahead of the competition.

Attend Industry Events and Network with Peers

Attending industry events and networking with peers can also provide valuable insights into your target market and competition. Trade shows, conferences, and workshops offer opportunities to learn from industry experts, discover new trends, and connect with potential partners or clients.

Some notable catering industry events include:

  • Catersource Conference & Tradeshow: The largest gathering of catering professionals in the world

  • International Caterers Association (ICA) Annual Convention: Offers education, networking, and resources for catering professionals

  • The Special Event: A trade show and conference for event professionals, including caterers

By attending these events and engaging with your peers, you can gain a deeper understanding of your target market, learn from your competition, and identify new opportunities for growth in continuous business.

Measuring and Optimizing Your Catering Sales Performance

Set Clear Catering Sales Goals and Metrics

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) catering sales goals is crucial for your catering business. These goals provide a clear direction and help you track your progress over time. Start by defining your overall catering sales target for the year, then break it down into quarterly and monthly goals.

Next, identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure your progress towards these goals. Some important KPIs for a catering sales manager include:

  • Conversion rate: The percentage of leads that convert into paying customers

  • Average order value: The average amount spent per customer order

  • Customer retention rate: The percentage of customers who return for repeat business

Catering Company Size:
52% of catering companies make between $1 million and $7.5 million per year in annual sales

Tracking and Reviewing Your Catering Sales Goals

To stay on track, regularly review your catering sales performance against your goals. Set up a system to collect and analyze data from your sales process, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool or a spreadsheet. This will help you identify trends, successes, and areas for improvement.

Schedule monthly or quarterly review meetings with your sales team to discuss progress, challenges, and opportunities. Be prepared to adjust your goals based on performance and market trends. Celebrating successes and learning from setbacks will keep your team motivated and focused on continuous improvement.

Analyze and Optimize Your Sales Funnel

Your catering sales funnel represents the journey a customer takes from initial contact to post-sale follow-up. By mapping out this process, you can identify bottlenecks and drop-off points that may be hindering your sales performance.

Start by creating a visual representation of your sales funnel, including each stage a customer goes through:

  1. Lead generation: Attracting potential customers through marketing efforts

  2. Lead qualification: Determining if a lead is a good fit for your catering services

  3. Proposal and presentation: Presenting your catering solutions and pricing to the prospect

  4. Closing the sale: Securing the customer’s commitment and finalizing the contract

  5. Post-sale follow-up: Ensuring customer satisfaction and encouraging repeat business

A/B Testing and Optimization Strategies

Once you’ve mapped out your sales funnel, analyze each stage to identify areas for improvement. Look for stages where leads are dropping off or taking longer than expected to progress. These bottlenecks can be addressed through A/B testing and optimization strategies.

For example, if you notice a low conversion rate from lead qualification to proposal, you may need to refine your qualification criteria or improve your proposal template. Test different approaches and measure their impact on conversion rates. Continuously refine your sales process based on data-driven insights to maximize your catering sales performance.

Invest in Sales Training and Coaching

Your catering sales team is the face of your business and plays a critical role in driving revenue growth. Investing in regular sales training and coaching sessions can help your team develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

Start by assessing your team’s current strengths and weaknesses. Identify areas where additional training could improve performance, such as:

  • Product knowledge: Ensuring your team thoroughly understands your catering offerings and can effectively communicate their value to prospects

  • Sales techniques: Teaching proven strategies for prospecting, qualifying leads, handling objections, and closing deals

  • Customer service: Emphasizing the importance of building strong relationships and providing exceptional service throughout the sales process

Developing Scripts and Templates

To support your sales team, develop scripts and templates that guide sales conversations and help overcome common objections. These resources should be flexible enough to allow for personalization while ensuring a consistent, professional approach.

Consider creating:

  • Phone and email scripts for initial outreach and follow-up

  • Proposal templates that clearly communicate your catering solutions and value proposition

  • Responses to common objections, such as pricing concerns or competition

Encouraging Knowledge Sharing and Best Practices

Encourage a culture of knowledge sharing and best practice implementation among your sales team. Create opportunities for team members to share success stories, lessons learned, and innovative ideas. This can be done through regular team meetings, an internal knowledge base, or a mentorship program pairing experienced salespeople with newer team members.

By fostering a collaborative, learning-focused environment, you’ll help your catering sales team continuously improve their skills and drive better results for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions About Catering Sales

What is catering sales?

Catering sales refers to the process of selling food and beverage services for events and occasions. This involves generating leads, managing client relationships, and closing sales for catering contracts. Catering sales professionals work with clients to understand their needs and preferences, and then create customized proposals that outline the menu, service style, and pricing for the event. Metrobi specializes in assisting these catering businesses by providing efficient delivery services for catering needs, ensuring a seamless experience for both the business and their clients.

Successful catering sales require a combination of culinary expertise, business acumen, and strong interpersonal skills. Catering sales professionals must be able to effectively communicate the value of their services and build trust with potential clients. They must also have a deep understanding of the catering industry and be able to adapt to changing trends and customer demands.

How do I price my catering services?

Pricing your catering services can be a complex process that requires careful consideration of several factors. First, you need to consider your food and labor costs, including the cost of ingredients, staff wages, and any equipment or supplies needed for the event. You should also factor in your overhead expenses, such as rent, utilities, and insurance.

Next, research competitor pricing and industry benchmarks to ensure that your prices are competitive and in line with market rates. Consider offering tiered pricing options and packages to cater to different budgets and event scales. For example, you could offer a basic package with fewer menu options and simpler service, as well as a premium package with more elaborate dishes and full-service staff.

Finally, consider your desired profit margins and make sure that your pricing allows for a reasonable return on investment. Don’t be afraid to adjust your prices as needed based on changes in your costs or market conditions.

How can I stand out from other catering companies?

In a crowded catering market, it’s important to differentiate yourself from competitors and offer unique value to potential clients. One way to do this is by developing a unique selling proposition (USP) that sets your catering services apart from others in the industry.

Your USP could be based on your culinary expertise, such as offering innovative menu options or specialized dietary accommodations. It could also be based on your exceptional customer service, such as providing personalized attention to each client or going above and beyond to ensure a flawless event experience.

Another way to stand out is by showcasing your creativity and expertise through stunning food presentations and memorable tasting event and experiences. Use high-quality photos and videos to showcase your work on your website and social media channels, and seek out opportunities to participate in industry events and competitions to gain recognition and exposure.

Generating leads and closing sales

To generate leads for your catering business, focus on building relationships with potential clients and referral sources. Attend industry events and networking functions to meet other professionals in the catering world event planning and hospitality industries. Offer complimentary tastings or consultations to showcase your services and build trust with potential clients. Metrobi facilitates catering businesses by offering delivery services across more than 20 US cities, including providing same-day delivery options in Chicago.

When it comes to closing sales, be prepared to address any objections or concerns that prospective clients may have. Use your expertise and experience to offer solutions and reassure clients that you can deliver a successful event. Follow up promptly with detailed proposals and contracts, and be responsive to any questions or requests from clients throughout the planning process.

By providing exceptional service and building strong relationships with clients, you can establish a reputation as a trusted and reliable catering provider and generate ongoing business through referrals and repeat clients.

Boost Your Catering Business Today

By implementing these 11 strategies, you can attract more customers, increase sales, and grow your catering business in 2024. Focus on creating a strong online presence, offering personalized experiences, and leveraging effective marketing techniques to stand out in a competitive market. Explore cutting-edge catering marketing strategies and ideas to further enhance your customer reach and elevate your business success.

Investing in your team, streamlining operations, and continuously analyzing your performance will help you optimize your sales funnel and achieve sustainable growth. Remember, understanding your target market and adapting to their evolving needs is key to long-term success.

Are you ready to take your catering business to the next level? Start by identifying one or two strategies from this list that you can implement immediately. Whether it’s revamping your website, introducing a new menu option, or launching a targeted marketing campaign, every step you take brings you closer to your goals.

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you – create them yourself. Embrace innovation, stay agile, and always prioritize exceptional customer service. With dedication and a strategic approach, your catering business will thrive in 2024 and beyond.

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