Have you ever used http://www.localcatering.com/ or sites like it??? I just did a drop off this morning from a lead I purchased. It was pretty easy.
What are some of the other sites out there? What has been your experience using them?
Local Catering has worked for me in the past, not much repeat business though, generally somebody looking for "cheap".
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These catering websites have been around since the beginning of the internet. Clients that have alot of money spend, who cater frequently, do not use these sites. (like localcatering.com, directcatering.com) Usually people that use these sites have never had anything catered to them before, and absotutely know nothing about the catering process. People are suckered into these sites because these sites are the first ones that pop up when "caterer" is googled. If you are a caterer looking to get leads from these sites, chances are you are going to get real bottom-of-the-barrow clients, people who don't have much money to spend. My advise is to spend the money on getting your website on the first page of a search engine, it is money much better spent rather than giving it to these losers. There is nobody I know that has ever really snagged a good profitable gig of of one of these sites... and I 've been the catering busines for 20 years. Smarter clients with money look beyond these bloodsuckers and search out caterers with-out the middleman. So, my opinion,.... just spend the extra money and get a great website for yourself
And.... BTW, getting your own website positioned on the first page of the search engine in your geographic area is actually more affordable then many think.
Remember, you are only catering with-in a realistic 20 mile radius from your kitchen right?
I started with Local catering in 2003 got plenty of leads went back and now HUGE difference, could be the economy but like the last person stated not many referrals and they are looking for cheap as of 2011 I received about 3 real leads that came through other than that I am looking for another way/solution...
I too have been using these lead generators for about 10 years - since just after 9-11. It takes a while to learn how to "read" the forms and of course each potential client reads it and fills it out differently. It HAD been a lucrative source of income for us in the past. - We've gotten multiple jobs that were over 20K - up to 70K even - but that was then and this is now. It used to be that the clients would put in a price of 15-25 per guest and they wouldn't find anyone to do it at that price - now the ball game is different.
And I too have noticed that the # of requests has declined tremendously which means that Localcatering is not paying for SEO the way they used to (also I heard from an industry insider that they were using what google considers unethical cross linking - so they have lost their ranking - but who knows - just know the traffic has declined)
Thumbtack seems to be the new kid on the block for this sort of lead generating. Not very impressed with the quality of leads.
For now I am not spinning any wheels pursuing these jobs - most of them these days do seem to be tire kickers or I just don't have the energy to weed ... (by the way this has always been the complaint about lead generators and especially sites like thumbtack that encourage you to put in a bid without having direct contact with the client - which is KEY)
totally agree with you on both the Thumbtack and the L Cat,,
I even called the L C manager and he could not give me an answer as to why the leads dropped off so much,,
is there anyone out there that has a competent computer setup person that could organize a new catering site for us
obviously the need is there
I think from what I know of the local catering team, they are concentrating their efforts and google $$$$ (SEO) on their medical lead generator sites not on the local catering site, I barely get one led per month in my market from them and have given up with that path. Buy google ad words or figure out how to get your own SEO up there in your market.
Did you ever read "who moved my cheese"?
Each of us work in such different markets - there is no "one size fits all" answer.
A few caterers I know from my caterBuzz group have had good results in winning the "best of" or "top caterer" in their own cities - those contests run by newspapers and magazines require you get the ballots stuffed - use your social media contacts to get people to vote for you. Then when someone does an online search for "best caterer in LA" guess who pops up.
I use localcatering but don't get a thing from them. Thumbtack.com has just recently become the most consistent contributor of leads for websites of that sort for me. Another one that is pretty good for me is WedPlan.net. There is also GigSalad.com. Decidio.com used to send a lot of leads, not as much any more. Eventective.com has never done much for me.
Overall, I think all of them are worth putting profiles on. Getting your website on there helps with your search engine rankings and all the ones I mentioned above are "pay as you get", where you might have to pay a $50 fee to join, but you get the same credit towards purchasing leads. Most give me enough information about the leads up front that I can decide whether or not I want to bother to buy the contact info. The price with most are around $2 for contact info and $5 for exclusive rights to that info.
Ironically a few days after reading this post I went through my junk mail account where the lead generators now come into.
there were not a lot of leads but there was one with ...uh can't remember the name (not localcatering.com but something similar)... but have never got too many emails from them except we once got a 40K job off of this particular site for a private car collector, so the measly few hundred I may have spent over 8 or so years doesn't owe me anything.
Still had enough on the account to buy a lead for 300-400 corporate open house. Anyway this lead looks promising after talking to the executive admin and spinning the numbers and concepts. Lets hope the boss thinks so too. She shared w/me that our numbers were competitive and our offerings and presentation "way more classy". But she still has to sell her boss on spending the money. I put together a photo collage for each station we proposed - I almost always imbed photos in proposals but this format is "new" for me and I had fun with it. I have been using the photo collages in my recent blogging too if you want to take a peak, pm me.
I have the time.
Plus I imagine there are quite a few baby caterers out there who can prolly use whatever words of wisdom you have to spare...
Just HOW do you get quality gigs from the middle men?
Times are lean (more and more the customers are catering their own events) and I have been hearing rumblings from some local noobs in the biz that they are on the bare edge of hanging in there.
Unless the biz is entrenched (and well known) in an area with lots of yearly charity functions plus deb balls and weddings (or hold a permit to cook at The State Fair of Texas...those guys end up living large on what they pull in those few weeks every fall lol)
Trying to build a thriving catering concern on breakfast meetings and the odd wedding that falls in your lap is not nearly enuf.
I don't need your private class on how (use the internet) to find and land jobs... but there are surely lots of fledgling caterers out there reading this who would love to post some time on the books.
So expect loads of phone calls at inappropriate times of day.
When this happenes just remember you had that chance to explain it all in 10 easy min on a Chef Talk thread.