These six tips could help you grow your catering client list:
- Have a business plan in place
- Create a catering niche
- Develop your online presence
- Get easy access to your proof of insurance
- Encourage client referrals
- Partner with other companies
1. Have a business plan in place
Successful catering businesses are purposefully built. You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, and you shouldn’t start your catering business without a catering business plan.
A business plan acts as a roadmap on your journey to success. There are many details a caterer needs to take care of before they get their first client:
The list goes on. A business plan spells everything out so you won’t miss any details.
In addition, a business plan can help you get funding to start your business. Banks and investors will usually require you to present your business plan before they offer funding or a loan.
2. Create a catering niche
Clients seek out catering services for a specific purpose, such as boxed lunch sandwiches for the office, a taco truck for a street fair, or a five-course formal dinner for a wedding. When they search online for what they’re looking for, a specialized caterer will rank higher than a generalized business that cooks everything.
It may seem counterintuitive, but if you specialize in a specific type of food, you may actually increase your business. Your menu could offer your favorite food (chicken and waffles) or the cuisine you grew up with (Ethiopian). Or you could create your catering business around dietary needs, such as gluten-free, plant-based, Keto and so on.
3. Develop your online presence
These days, you need a strong online presence to give your business traction. Most clients, especially when you’re just starting out, will probably find you through online search. This means your business will need a Google Business Profile and a website.
Getting a Google Business Profile is free and easy and allows your business to show up on Google Maps. This also adds your business information to Google so people can easily find your website, phone number and address, and reward your business with reviews.
Your website should show off what your business does best with descriptions of your services and menus, quality photos of your food and contact information. But in addition to all that, ensure your catering company’s website aligns with the principles of search engine optimization (SEO). This means that when a potential client enters a search term that matches your business, such as “boxed lunch caterer near me,” your business website will appear in a search.
4. Get easy access to your proof of insurance
Insurance coverage shows clients that you’re professional, reliable and responsible. This can give clients peace of mind and more referrals to you.
A certificate of insurance (COI) proves you have insurance and states how much coverage you carry. It’s essential because many clients will only work with insured caterers. Anyone insured with NEXT can get 24/7 access to their COI via web or mobile app.
And even if insurance is not required for a job, it’s a good idea. When serving food to the public, anything can happen, including allergic reactions or food spoilage.