At Corporate Catering & Delicatessen Delivery, we would bring delicious breakfasts and lunch meals, buffet and individual to our customer’s offices and work places.
Our menu selections were similar to what you would find in a sit down restaurant. We were not only about flavor but also big on presentation. It helped us stand out from the pack!
This business-to-business service we offered changed the way our customers thought about lunchtime delivery food.
We gave them choices! They no longer had to settle for fast food and pizza. We offered 2 home-made soups a day one hot entrée special, one cold entrée special and one dessert special, besides what was on our regular menu.
That was back in 1991 and we started at the right time in the right location.
It didn’t happen by accident we planned it, it took about a year and two months.
We moved from western NY to Clearwater Florida and never looked back.
We rented an 800 square foot space, 4 walls and floor and our entrepreneur journey began.
Eighty percent of your customer base lives or works within a 10-minute drive of your location. This means you must market with in those boundaries in the beginning and grow your radius as the business is able to take on more customers.
Get yourself a map and begin searching those areas first. Let your target market know who you are and where you are!
Growing catering revenues requires professional business-to-business selling skills.
Getting the word out about our catering was a difficult task but my business partner had lots of sales experience.
She put together a packet of our lunch and catering menus, and references from our years of serving companies at our past businesses, and jobs along with some samples from our menu.
It didn’t take long before we had a few clients and walk-ins, testing our recipes and skills and the rest as they say is history.
Like any start-up venture, our strengths and weaknesses became more clearly defined as we embarked on this journey. At first, it was just the two of us. However, as our orders increased we were able to put great processes in place that we could train others to do as well.
Eight employees later and two years under our belts our business venture was thriving.
We got to know our customers and what they were wanting to eat, we did a great job on delivering and catering, they knew we were reliable and good at what we did. We also kept acquiring new fans!
We also were building our brand awareness among the businesses and offices from Midas Muffler, The Diamond Source, DANKA Industries to Transition Optical Corporation. As the days passed, we continued to look for ways to improve our operations. We worked very hard.
Our name could be deceiving, just limited to catering, so we decided to add the deli part so our customers would know we were not just in the business of catering.
We wanted them to know inside our four walls, was a small seating area, a take-out and a walk-in business and a trained CHEF and staff at their service.
Here are 5 catering TIPS that worked at Corporate Catering and Delicatessen.
I have continued to teach these to food industry owners over the years. I’m confident they will work for you as well.
1-Earn customer trust with predictable and reliable services every time. Customers will only order from restaurants that are not consistent-lunchtime is a short meal (30 minutes to an hour) no room for mistakes or re-makes.
2-Placing orders must be easy for customers. Your staff must be knowledgeable, friendly and professional when taking orders. They need to know what they are ordering will be what they have asked for, again lunchtime is a short meal (30 minutes- hour) no room for mistakes or remakes.
3-Create a “phone ordering specialists. Having a designated order person will ensure that your clients receive a consistent, controlled and positive experience. Ordering is the front line, if it starts with era’s it will only compound your problems the remainder of entire meal service. Trying to play catch-up in a small window of opportunity is a nightmare-trust me.
4-Follow up especially with large deliveries. Make sure your customer(s) are satisfied. They will be touched that you’re concerned with their feelings and tummies. Nothing speaks to a customer more about how much you care. It’s also a great way to ask for a reference!
5-Active Selling is key to growing a catering department. It will also help prevent slow times. Always make time for advertising and selling. Never think it’s not necessary! Businesses can come and go and leaving your eggs in one basket can be devastating. I know this first hand, it was not expected, it was a valuable lesson though. What ever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Active Selling!
If done correctly, these TIPS can help you score big points with new and existing customers.
These results changed the economics of our restaurant and I am certain that if you do these simple things each and every day, it will change yours as well.