When running your catering business it is ideal if you are able to have a base of loyal customers. But first you have to consider how to find potential customers and indeed how to keep customers.
When starting your catering business you first need customers. It may be that you have moved from another company and have brought some customers with you but for most people there is a spell of wondering whether you have done the right thing or should have stayed in gainful employment. Advertising always sounds a good way to find potential customers; however, you have to advertise in the right way otherwise it is money down the drain. If your catering is aimed at outside events find the magazines and publications for people in this trade and enquire about advertising. It is possible to gain discounts for bulk advertising. Also point out that you are a new business and if the publication is keen to have new customers themselves they may give you an advert at a reduced rate.
Keep records of all your customers and also those that have made enquiries about your services. These days most people have internet access so arrange regular mail shots via email keeping customers abreast of your company’s services. If you cater for weddings, anniversaries and parties keep a record of your customer’s special dates and contact them nearing the event as they may be having another celebration or special birthday. Sending an anniversary card or Christmas card will also keep your name fresh in their minds and help you keep customers.
Keeping Customers Loyal
Loyal customers are a boon to any business but you must attempt to keep them loyal. This can be done by giving them a discount for any future business they may pass your way. A bonus or gift for introducing new, potential customers is also a good idea. If you have a stand or display at an exhibition invite customers along for a glass of wine on your stand and arrange free tickets to the event. You will be rewarded with more bookings and happy loyal customers. If you can keep customers it will also help when you come to sell your business as you can show that you have a loyal customer base that will generate future business and increase the turnover of the company.
Your business may be a seasonal affair, especially if you are involved in outside catering. For those that cater in the wedding business why not try and find corporate work for the quieter months. This could involve catering for Christmas events within the workplace or offering your services at venues for larger parties – even hiring out your staff and acting as an agency. Some of your wedding or party customers may have their own businesses. If you can keep these sort of details on your database they can be called upon for future bookings. If the father of the bride was pleased with your catering he may well hire you for his company’s corporate events. Loyal customers can keep you in work for years to come.