How to Grow Catering Sales With Free Samples – Quick Tips for Event Pros Video
If you run a catering business, then you already know that income from existing customers may keep the lights on, but without solid sales strategies for lead generation and prospecting, you will have a hard time growing your revenue.
And although that will require lots of sales calls and cold calling from your catering sales manager and team, it will also require setting smart sales goals and some clever marketing tactics.
In this episode of Quick Tips for Event Pros, we will look at one of these tactics for boosting food and beverage sales and adding more clients - namely, giving away free samples and meals to jump start your catering sales. So here are four ideas to generate more catering leads from freebies (and if you need more ideas, here's an article on top catering sales strategies, one on catering sales tips and one on how to find catering clients).
1. Host tasting events for targeted prospects
We live in a foodie culture where just the mention of free morsels of mouth-watering joy can attract a crowd of potential customers. So why not invite your most coveted potential clients to a tasting event that features your yummy cuisine?
As a catering business owner, catering sales manager or sales staff member, you probably already have a list of targeted businesses and organizations in your area that would make great clients (and if you don’t have this list, now is a great time to build it ... much easier if you already have catering software with a CRM). If you run a restaurant, this is as easy as inviting these people over to an exclusive event and clear out one of your rooms or an area of your restaurant so they can mingle, try your food and get a good glimpse at your catering menu.
If you run a catering company that specializes in off-site catering or delivery service, then now is a great time to partner with a venue (and possibly a local band or DJ) for this event. You could all donate something to the cause (the food from you, the space from the venue, the vibes from the entertainer) and all invite your clients and prospects for a larger pool for your respective sales managers to sell to.
2. Offer free meals to repeat clients or referral sources
More catering business and revenue growth doesn’t always come from new customers … it can also come from additional business from existing clients.
Maybe you have some customers who are infrequent buyers or who haven’t made a purchase in a while. So have your catering sales manager drop them a line and invite them over for a private sampling off your new menu. Or for off-site caterers, deliver it to them and have a nice lunch meeting while they experience your featured food offerings.
This same tactic works well with event, hospitality and catering industry referral sources like event planners and meeting planners. Not only will a personal tasting make them feel special, but they are more likely to direct their clients or contacts your way to place new catering orders.
3. Host a booth at a local event
If it seems like a lot of trouble generating catering sales by creating your own event, then why not attend an existing event that already has a large captive audience. This could be a chamber of commerce event, a local networking event or even a Meetup where your catering sales manager, director of catering or entire team could staff a table or booth where you hand out free samples of your food.
The great part about this idea is that these networking events probably have lots of vendors who aren’t in the catering business. And you know how the kitchen is always the most crowded room at a party? Well, same goes here, as you can expect to attract a crowd to your booth/table and possibly even pick up a few catering orders on site during the event. At the right event, it could even be like shooting fish in a barrel for your catering manager.
Oh, and don’t forget to bring your marketing materials and menus so people have something to take back and remember the experience by.
4. Send giveaway samples along with drivers making deliveries
Instead of having your catering sales managers and sales representatives run all over town to woo prospects, you could ask your drivers to do double duty and carry with them samples to provide to select business prospects near their delivery destinations.
Yes this might take more time for drivers who are already on a tight schedule and are often financially incentivized by making as many deliveries as they can during their shift. So reward them if their sample deliveries result in more catering sales.
Oh, and your drivers should always let your sales managers know when they drop off samples so they can exercise their well-honed communication skills and reach out to these prospects afterwards.
These are just a few ways that you can grow more catering sales jobs for your restaurant or off-site catering operation from free samples, so hopefully they got you thinking about other ways you can attract clients with freebies.