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01
 
Aug
 
2023
 - 
6
 Min Read

The 4 Steps to Building a Successful Catering Brand & Marketing Program

Boost your restaurant's revenue with our comprehensive guide on building a successful catering brand and marketing program, with advice from industry experts.

Nash
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Nash
Blogs
Catering
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Have you been nurturing your restaurant's catering program with the goal of making it a significant revenue stream? You've built your sales team and prepared your kitchen, but now it's time to shift gears. The focus now lies on branding and marketing, arguably the two most crucial aspects of your catering program's success.

In this article, we will share four concrete steps to not just build but master your catering brand and marketing program:

  • Laying the Foundation of Your Catering Brand Identity
  • In-Store Marketing: The “Four Walls” Approach
  • Expanding Beyond Your Four Walls
  • The Finishing Touches: Nurturing Your Catering Success

In creating this guide, we sought wisdom from seasoned professionals in the catering field: Jim Rand, who has led and built catering programs at Panera Bread, P.F. Chang’s, Act III Holdings, ezCater, and more—and Erle Dardick, founder of Off Premises Growth Academy. Their experience and insights lend depth to the strategies we'll discuss.

Embarking on this journey isn't a sprint—it's a marathon that requires a blueprint for success. Let’s dive into each step and learn how to transform your catering service from being just another revenue stream to a powerful, profitable arm of your operation.

Get more of Jim Rand’s valuable knowledge on building a profitable catering program at our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, August 15. Learn more and register here.

Step 1: Laying the Foundation of Your Catering Brand Identity

In the world of catering, particularly in the business-to-business (B2B) segment, success hinges on carving out a unique brand identity. Begin by asking yourself: what is it that sets your catering program apart? Do you serve healthy breakfast spreads that kickstart productive corporate meetings? Or perhaps you're the hero of high-pressure lunch situations, delivering diverse meals that fuel innovative brainstorming sessions. Your unique selling proposition could also hinge on serving specialty diets, providing a myriad of options for gluten-free, vegan, or health-focused clientele.

Once you've identified what makes your catering service unique, it's time to integrate this identity across all aspects of your brand. This goes beyond merely stating your mission—it's about infusing your unique personality into each touchpoint. Your website, your social media presence, menu design, delivery packaging, sales gift baskets, and even your team's uniforms should align with your brand identity.

Step 2: In-Store Marketing: The “Four Walls” Approach

Before we get into the specifics of in-store marketing, let's first understand the concept of the "Four Walls" approach. Coined by marketing expert Tom Feltenstein, this strategy emphasizes the importance of using the physical space within the "four walls" of your restaurant to its full advantage. The idea is to transform your establishment into a promotional tool, capitalizing on the visibility and foot traffic you already have to increase awareness and demand for your catering services.

Erle strongly advocates starting your catering marketing strategy with this approach. By organically integrating reminders of your catering offering into the in-store dining experience, you can effectively turn your restaurant into a living billboard for your catering program.

To make the most of this approach, consider these strategies:

  • Include a dedicated page on your menus for your catering offerings.
  • Use table tent cards to highlight catering promotions or customer testimonials.
  • Incorporate subtle messaging on napkin holders, encouraging customers to consider your catering services for their next office lunch or event.
  • Outfit your staff with aprons or pins featuring your catering program's logo or tagline to maintain a consistent brand image.
  • Display a chalkboard listing the day's catering orders, subtly reminding dine-in customers about your popular catering services.
  • Utilize in-store signage and digital screens to promote your catering service, showcasing images of your delicious catering dishes, and celebrating positive customer testimonials.
  • During slower hours, offer samples of catering menu items to customers. This not only entices them with a tasty bite but also provides a preview of your catering offerings.
  • Implementing these tactics can help create a buzz around your catering services and stimulate customer interest from within your own establishment.

Beyond the above tactics, your staff—servers, hosts, and even cooks—should be well-versed in your catering offerings. When a regular customer mentions an upcoming office meeting, your team should be ready to suggest your catering services as a solution. Brief conversations can lead to significant catering orders, provided your team has the knowledge and confidence to promote your services.

The Four Walls approach is about turning your restaurant into a friendly advertisement for your catering program. By focusing your marketing efforts within your own establishment, you can create awareness, stimulate word-of-mouth referrals, and tap into a pool of existing customers to help your catering business grow.

Step 3: Expanding Beyond Your Four Walls

Once you've fine-tuned your Four Walls marketing, consider expanding your catering services outreach. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to extend your catering brand beyond your restaurant:

  1. Local Outreach: Connect with nearby businesses, community centers, and office buildings. Offer to cater their events, forging strong local relationships.
  2. Gradual Expansion: After establishing local connections, expand your outreach within a “four-mile” radius. Use flyers and community bulletin boards to spread the word. Partnering with local events can also increase your visibility.
  3. Digital Marketing: Utilize social media platforms to showcase your catering services and engage with your audience. Share appealing photos and stories to create a sense of community.
  4. Targeted Advertising: Use paid ads on social media and search platforms to reach a specific demographic within your service area.
  5. Email Marketing: Send out newsletters to your email list to update them on services, new menu items, and exclusive deals. Ensure these emails are visually appealing and provide value to recipients.
  6. SEO and Online Presence: Improve your website's search engine optimization (SEO) to appear in search results when someone looks for catering services in your area.

As you expand beyond your restaurant's four walls, remember to tailor your strategies to the unique needs and characteristics of each community you reach. With persistent effort, creative marketing strategies, and consistent monitoring and adjustment, you can successfully broaden your catering program's reach and build a strong, expansive customer base.

Step 4: The Finishing Touches: Nurturing Your Catering Success

As you elevate your catering business, it's the finer details that can set you apart from the competition. Jim, for example, knows from experience: nurturing your catering program to success involves a keen focus on quality, smart use of technology, thoughtful investment in packaging, and a commitment to ongoing refinement based on customer feedback. 

  • Emphasize Quality Over Discounts: Despite the initial appeal, discounts may not always be the best strategy for your catering business. Prioritize accuracy, timeliness, and professionalism—these are values customers are willing to pay a premium for.
  • Leverage Technology: Utilize technology to streamline your catering service, improving operational efficiency and enhancing customer trust. Full-service delivery platforms like Nash can help you track your deliveries, streamline communications, and provide customers with real-time updates.
  • Invest in Packaging: Good packaging is more than just a container—it reflects your brand's image and ensures the food arrives in perfect condition. Remember, it's worth the investment.
  • Monitor and Refine: Keep a close eye on your catering program's performance and customer feedback. Use these insights to continually refine and improve your services and marketing strategies. Regularly test your services from a customer's perspective to guarantee a seamless experience from order to delivery.

Building a successful catering brand and marketing program is no easy feat. It takes time, effort, and a commitment to providing a top-tier experience. It also requires a solid catering delivery provider, which Nash would love to help with. Learn more here. 

With careful planning and execution, you can create a catering service that not only satisfies your customers' palate but also leaves a lasting impression that keeps them coming back for more. 

By following these four steps, you're well on your way to creating a catering brand and marketing program that stands out in a crowded marketplace. Good luck!

Deliver catering orders with confidence

Take control of your most complex, high-value catering orders with Nash. Tap into our global provider network for reliable delivery wherever you grow.

Learn More

Deliver catering orders with confidence

Take control of your most complex, high-value catering orders with Nash. Tap into our global provider network for reliable delivery wherever you grow.

Learn More

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