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3 Strategies for Running a Successful Catering Business

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Use these tips to make your operations more efficient.
By Maulik Suthar and Nishin Sura June 2017 Vendor Bylines

There is no denying that caterers are extremely busy. Due to the constant time crunch, there are several areas of business that are often ignored or overlooked. After sitting down and talking to leaders in the catering industry, as well as watching trends, we think finding a balance between organization, analytics, and marketing is the perfect recipe for success.

1. Organization

Whether it is messy, hand-written orders on a wrinkled piece of paper or a confusing Excel spreadsheet, caterers are often lacking organization. This absence of organization creates a huge time strain and causes simple tasks to take up an unnecessary amount of your day.

While the initial dive into creating an organized system may seem like it will eat up more of your time, in the end there is much more saved. Not only will the lives of you and your team be easier and more streamlined, but saved timed is profit earned. By freeing your schedule, you are able to focus on other business segments and provide better service to your clients. As a catering professional, your time should be spent cooking and creating one-of-a-kind experiences for your clients, not sorting through a spreadsheet. By making business operations smoother and more efficient with organization you really do get more time back.

2. Analytics

Numbers and data should drive your business decisions. When choosing where to expand or what recipe to focus on next, the choice should be rooted in data. Instead of investing in a part of your business and hoping it pays off, know beforehand that it is the most strategic option. The only way to truly ensure this is by knowing your numbers. If you are already using data on a day-to-day basis, continue using these metrics and look for more ways to correlate results to numbers. For those who rarely or never look at data, consider ways you can add analytics into your daily operations. By having actual numbers to back up your business strategies, you can be assured you are focusing and investing in the most important areas.

3. Marketing

This is a huge sector of business operations that caterers sometimes let fall to the back burner. Regardless of the size of your catering business, marketing can make or break your future success. Communicating with your customers is a key component to building lasting relationships. A balance between social media engagement and face-to-face marketing can connect you with new customers and maintain existing relationships.

Social media is the new way to communicate with consumers. It is something that is expected from any company and adds immediate credibility and legitimacy to a brand. However, simply posting on social media for the sake of posting is not an ideal way to communicate with clients. There must be thought and reason behind every post you share. People follow accounts because they add value to their feed. Therefore, planning social posts ahead and thinking through the content you are sharing is not a recommendation, it is a must.

In addition to creating social media content, face-to-face marketing helps you connect with new customers. While social media is a powerful tool in the digital age, connecting in-person with potential clients is still an important and relevant marketing method. By catering or providing samples at local events, you can spread your business name and create awareness of your services. People can’t resist free food samples, so take the opportunity to feed them and make a valuable, positive connection.

Within the catering space, professionals are busy and overworked, but taking a little time to invest in these three areas will pay off. By focusing on these aspects of your business, you will find yourself with better operations and improved results. At the end of the day, allocating resources to these segments will achieve your ultimate goal of creating the absolutely best experience for your customers. 

Maulik Suthar is a co-founder of Radial Connect, which recently launched caterfox, a software application for easier catering and customer management. Previously, he worked in marketing, business development, and engineering roles at other technology companies. When not working on the startup, Maulik spends time with his family, cooking, bicycling, and not long ago, he started doing triathlons.
Nishin Sura is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in product operations, product marketing, and channel sales. After his many years spent in the corporate world, he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and decided to start his own company. He co-founded Radial Connect, a software services company that develops applications for the culinary space. The company recently launched caterfox, which is an application to help catering companies manage their catering orders with ease and efficiency. He is an avid follower of college football, politics, and TV dramas.