Restaurant Catering Marketing and Promotion Ideas

Add Catering into your restaurant or bar for additional revenue streams

Erle Dardick provides helpful tips in growing catering in your restaurant, deli or bar.
••• Erle Dardick

I found this blog post from Erle Dardick a catering guru and founder of Monkey Media Software which I felt would be helpful to anyone who owns a bar, restaurant or deli and wants to grow sales through catering.

How we decided to add catering to our deli.

When I first started at Tony's Deli 16 years ago, the restaurant had a good loyal following among its hometown community in Vancouver, British Columbia. The deli was thriving and, as our business grew, many customers asked us if we could bring the "Tony's Experience" to their office. This was the start of our business-to-business catering service at Tony's Deli and with that we changed the name of our restaurant to "Tony's Deli & Catering Company."

Like any start-up venture, our strengths and weaknesses became more clearly defined as we embarked on this new sales channel of deli catering. At first, we took orders on a napkin! Yet, the wind would blow and we would lose the order; not a great start to our catering program. However, as our orders increased we were able to put great processes in place that enabled our new business venture to thrive.

It was during the ongoing development of our deli catering program that I began to understand the cross-pollination marketing opportunities between channels to help reach customers who had never heard of Tony's Deli.

These customers were new to us and if we did a great job on catering, we were acquiring new fans for the brand. We also were building our brand awareness among consumers. As the days passed, we continued to look for ways to improve our operations. We worked hard.

Growing corporate catering revenues requires professional business-to-business selling skills.

Of course, the consumption experience has to be great, but if your customers don't know you're in the business of catering, they will only think of your services as they are now, which might be limited to inside your four walls, your take-out program and/or your drive-thru operation.

Getting the word out about your deli catering program can be a difficult task. Your in-store employees may have little, if any, experience selling your catering services. But if done correctly, your brand's specific catering message will be used in every area of your business - making it easier for your employees to effectively communicate the differences between your service channels.

Eighty percent of your customer base lives or works within a 10-minute drive of your location and this means your store's physical environment is a key marketing tool for your catering business. Here are 10 catering tactics that worked at Tony's Deli & Catering Company. As I travel from company to company, these ideas continue to work for multiunit restaurant companies that have successfully layered catering on top of their existing business.

So how do you go about marketing catering at your deli or restaurant? Incorporate these 10 Tips into your marketing plan.

10 Restaurant Marketing Ideas and Catering Tactics that worked at Tony's Deli & Catering Company

  1. Earn customer confidence with predictable and reliable services every time, across all service channels for your brand. Customers expect consistency across all of your locations when ordering.
  2. Focus on a great experience. All of your customer touch points must make the ordering experience predictable and easy for your customers.
  3. For multi-unit restaurant operators, institute a centralized order entry point… which will ensure that your clients receive a consistent, controlled and positive experience from team members who know the subtleties of your catering offerings and services. Consider creating
  1. Hire "catering specialists" where possible. Order entry is the front line when it comes to catering orders.
  2. Follow up after each catering order with a call from your catering leader. Your customers will feel that you care about them. Any unresolved issues may be addressed and future business discussed.
  3. Conduct surveys and provide rewards to customers so they take the survey while the experience is fresh in their mind. Ongoing research will provide valuable in areas you may not know are not performing well.
  1. Engage your customers regularly. No one likes to feel like a number and staying in touch with your customers on a regular basis keeps your service in the front of their mind. Hire a catering sales team to maintain relationships and pursue new ones.
  2. Don't forget to look after sleepy clients. These customers order less than once per month. It can be easy to forget to touch base with them, but they will actually make up a good chunk of your revenue - especially around the holidays. You can contact them with special offers to entice them to order more frequently.
  1. Reward loyalty with a rewards program. B2B catering is big business and companies spend a lot of money on feeding their guests. Rewards lets them know they are valuable and this effort can sometimes be a determining factor when it comes to maintaining an ongoing relationship with your customers.
  2. Send hand-written thank you notes. Nothing speaks to a customer more about how much you care then when they receive a thank you card in the mail. Make sure you keep it personal and specific so it does not look "mass produced." Personal touches are key to making your catering customers feel special.

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    Edited by Susie Wyshak, December 2015