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Tips on growing a local catering business?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hey guys!


I just had a couple of questions.


For a little background, my mom has been running a catering/personal chef business for the past 3 or so years. Her clients include a few local businesses that she makes and delivers lunch to, and a few families she cooks dinner for. I help out with all the cooking I can, but I leave most of it to her as she has been through culinary school and has many, many more years of cooking experience under her belt. I still really want to help her out all I can though!


Anyways, she is wanting to expand her business a little bit to include some one-on-one cooking lessons. I was wondering if anyone has had any luck marketing a small catering business locally. I've been doing a bit of research the past week or so and come across a few marketing resources, but I thought I’d run it by some people that might actually have some practical experience in the cooking industry!


I’m already planning on making her a little blog and I’ve set her up with a facebook page and twitter account. I was also thinking about maybe buying her some signage to stick on her car, but I’m not really sure how effective things like that are. Has anyone had any luck with these kinds of things in the past?:


Sorry if this got a little long, but I don’t really know where to start with getting this going! Just wanting to surprise my mom for her birthday with a bunch of new things to help her out. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated!:chef:

post #2 of 9

Howdy @TxAshley,

I have used the magnetic signs and still do. I just didn't want to wrap our vans, that's pretty permanent.

A blog, facebook and twitter are all good. One thing I wanted to throw out there, I'm sure your mom is set up in a commercial kitchen. If she might be working out of the home I wouldn't go out on facebook and such. There is a big push on right now in Texas to expose the home kitchen. Some home baking is ok but they are cracking down on home food production with large fines. I'm in Dallas, where are you?

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'm actually in Dallas as well! And she began at home and moved into a real kitchen a little over a year ago I think it was. 

post #4 of 9


Stop by the bakery and mention ChefTalk to my wife Sophie and I'm sure there will be coffee and a sweet for you.:D

post #5 of 9
@TxAshley all of your advert ideas are standard marketing techniques ( the social media of course being new and the bang for the buck can really be great depending upon her target consumer)

Dallas is a very small town when it comes to growing a catering biz.
You have a handful of well established caterers with large multi room banquet halls (can juggle 3-4 weddings and other events at one time)

Then there are the largish companies that cater on site large volume events taking a big hunk of what is left.

Your mom needs something to set her apart from everyone else and IMO cooking classes just might be the thing.
Date nite classes or wedding/baby showers as well as corporate team building events seem to be pretty popular recently.
She will need a place with room enough for several stove tops and ovens, refrigerators , work space..... you get the idea.

Check out the Leisure Learning outfit.
Not sure if they have a Dallas location but would be worth the effort.
They are always looking for fresh faces.

post #6 of 9
All those words and I did'nt finish lol.
Have never attended a LLU cooking series but either they have facilities or can put you in touch with someone who does (think Central Market).
The benefit with this whole process is exposure.
That date nite couple could turn into a wedding couple lol.
Someone in the team building class may need someone to cook for the family when she/he is out of town.
You get the idea.

post #7 of 9

Of course word of mouth is always the best form of marketing, when I recieve a referral from a past client, usually is a slam dunk on landing the client for my business. I have used Google and Facebook ads and have been effective, you really do have to pay to play to use these online tools. Yelp is also powerful in when I do have a client that is interested in my services, they usually ask if I do have a yelp profile, which I do, has great reviews, and helps seal the deal.

post #8 of 9

How would you market a new catering company in Pittsburgh PA? I am trying to reach out to more people for a personal chef service here in and around Pittsburgh.


post #9 of 9

Last month, I attended a seminar related to restaurant business, one of chef/owner from spits n pieces, shared tips about this. 


First thing to do is focus on a single product or service, and then market it, sell it, promote it-do everything you can to increase sales of that one product or service. 


Second, try to expand your product line to offer complementary products or services.


Find ways to increase sales to your existing customers. He says it's a lot cheaper than finding new ones. Even if you can't expand your product line, you can boost revenues by selling more of your existing product or service to the clients you already have. 


See if you can hire someone to help you out-an employee, a freelancer, an intern, an independent contractor, even your kids.


And  to reach wide range of audience, create a Web site to advertise your company or sell products online and join forces with another business to promote your company. Know your target market. 


Also, find new and different ways to market your business through e-mail newsletters or by doing guest-speaking gigs or by teaching a class.

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