4 Thoughts on How to Sell Catering Services

How to Sell Catering Services 6
By: Happy Krissy

If you’re asking how to sell catering services, make sure you have your business set up to do catering.

You will want to have a catering menu that offers your selections and the services that you provide.  If you need help setting up or designing a catering menu we offer a free template design.

If you already have your catering menu in place, then it is time to sell!

Exposure Sells Catering Services

How to Sell Catering Services 2
By: caffesargenti

Make sure to let your customers know that you provide catering.  They are familiar with your product and would be the first ones to use your services.

When we first started offering catering, we had our catering menu developed and we got a counter display that had our catering menu accessible for our dining room clients to take it and look at it.

For those customers that placed take out orders, we made sure to put our catering menu in the bags with their food orders. The menu is the number one way to sell your catering services.

Other methods that work for exposing your catering services are:

  • Direct mail
  • Social media
  • Office visits that are in the form of “cookie drops”.
  • Bridal Expos
  • Business Expos
  • Presentations
  • Prospecting

Cookie Drops

How to Sell Catering Services 3
By: Steven Depolo

Cookie drops are finding potential customers (usually offices or places of business that place frequent lunch orders) that you want to know that your restaurant offers catering.

Get a map and draw a 3 mile radius around your restaurant. Within this circle you want to target businesses with at least 15 employees.

Then find an appropriate time to make a visit.  This can be tricky because you don’t want to be a burden or intrusive because that can have a negative effect.

We usually like the 3:00 – 4:00 hour because lunch time has passed and they are in the final stretch of the day.  We stop by with a basket of fresh baked cookies or other samples and our menus.

Our 70+ page eBook is packed with tips and resources to grow your catering sales!

We stop at the front counter and say, “ We were thinking that you might want an afternoon snack” also “We wanted to drop off some menus for you, is this alright?”.

Usually, they are excited by the gesture and by the menus! When you drop these samples and menus off try to get the contact information of the person who orders catering for the office.

Do this by acting like the first person you see is the one you wanted in the first place. As you explain yourself if you find out it might be someone else they will be more likely to help you out.

If they don’t order catering then maybe you have at least convinced a few of them to visit your restaurant. You may want to bring some coupons to hand out in this instance.

Collecting contact information is great for selling catering services because you can build a database.  Having a data base will take your operation to another level!

With a database you are able to market to those businesses and individuals.  You can let them know items that you are promoting, catering specials, and anything else you would like for them to know about what is happening with your business.


Another exposure method we have great success with is prospecting where we offer “Free Samplings”.

We contact businesses by direct mail and/or telephone marketing and let them know that we would like to provide free lunch for up to 12 people…no strings attached.

We don’t just call any business, you can buy a list of businesses in your are that includes sales data, number of employees and other contact information. You should try to target companies with at least 15 employees.

We have total faith in our product, so much that we are willing to give it to them for free so they can try it out for themselves. We have found this is the best way to get people to buy from us, let them try it for FREE.

This is a great time to include menus, business cards, and if they let you… a brief presentation of what you offer!

Bridal Expos

How to Sell Catering Services 4
By: Jennifer

Bridal expos are a great place to get your name out for catering services. Don’t go cheap here!

If you don’t have the experience to setup a nice booth pay your local rental company to do it. Remember the customers are judging not only your food but your appearance as well.

Don’t bring cheap food either. We usually bring a prime rib carving station (one prime rib will serve a couple hundred since you are serving bite sized samples) with other nice appetizers. This brings a crowd to your booth!

We also set out qualifier cards, these collect contact information by offering a $250 rehearsal dinner. Be sure to ask on the card what venue they have selected and if they have already selected a reception caterer. This lets you know who not to contact.

With weddings and large corporate events, they are usually shopping around and collecting quotes.  It is a great idea to offer a free consultation and menu tasting.  This is the chance to shine and seal the booking with you!

Offering free tastings has booked us thousands of dollars.  Be prepared to put your best foot forward and present well.

Get Involved to Sell More Catering Services

How to Sell Catering Services 5
By: Fruitnet.com

When it comes to selling our catering services we love to take part in community fundraisers, silent auctions, and expos!

These are great ways to expose your catering services and in most of these events they are for a great cause so you also show positive support and community involvement.

Usually, they include your time, product, and service for free but it is a great opportunity for the guest to see what you do and to get some information in their hands.

Also, get involved in your local chamber of commerce or similar groups and organizations.  Take advantage of networking opportunities that can help expose your catering services as well.

These types of events will bring client’s seeking catering to you!

Pricing, To Show or Not To Show?

When it comes to selling your catering services, we’ve had great success with showing our pricing.  Some would disagree because they want the client to call and get information from them.

In our experience, we know that most people want to get right down to business.  They want to know, “How much is this going to cost me”?

We eliminate wasting each others time and give them the information they desire.  Most people are ready to make a decision or they want the decision to be made easily for them.

Too many steps can be discouraging, boring, or too much effort.  By giving them pricing, they know how much it is and they can come to you with any questions they may have.

Basically you’re eliminating steps, additional legwork, and making it easier on the client.

Selling Your Catering Services

How to Sell Catering Services 6
By: Steven Depolo

To sell, it helps to have a good salesperson (or sales people)!  This person has to be passionate about catering…it really helps! 

Also, wanting to help the client and being sincere are some other great traits. If the salesperson loves the product and what they are doing, it makes them excited and passionate about it.

The customer loves this!  The salesperson sells themselves which makes the client want to do business because of them…and of course the product and services that you provide.

It is the overall experience.  If this experience is a positive one they will be repeat clientele, fans of your services, willing to give referrals, and positive reviews!


When determining how to sell catering services, be sure to have your menu(s) ready to show the selections you offer and provide pricing for the clients.

Advertise that you cater.  Expose your catering menu and make your customers aware that you offer catering.

Get involved and active in expos, community events, fundraisers, and marketing events.  Market to businesses and gain contact information.  Build and market to your database.

Have a salesperson that knows the products and loves catering so they can sell what you offer. Build relationships and give the client a positive experience, this will ensure repeat business.

Do a great job, build your reputation, and your catering services will sell themselves!

For even more advice on how to sell your catering services check out our eBook!


4 thoughts on “4 Thoughts on How to Sell Catering Services”

  1. Seems that offering catering is the next step for a restaurant. I particularly like the cookie drop option. You can get so much more custom that way. I also like you drawing a 3 mile radius around your restaurant. That’s a very good idea. I did wonder though how often you should do this? You will want to do this drop for one business every so often. Otherwise it will eat into your money. Hope that makes sense.

    1. Owain, thank you so much for commenting! We’ve had great success with the cookie drops! Usually with the cookie drops one visit tends to work, if you don’t get a response…I would wait 6 months before doing another one. The goal is to attempt to build a positive relationship so that they want to do business! Making too many visits or attempts can make them not want to use your business (the last thing you want to do is come off as overly persistent or as a pest)…if they choose not to do business after the 2nd cookie drop (6 months or so from the first one), it could mean a lot of things. They might have a caterer that they are happy with, they might not order out that much, or a number of other reasons…which doesn’t mean that they didn’t enjoy the gesture, the menus, or the cookies! The good thing is you tried, so continue your efforts with the other businesses and you will see great results! Thanks again!

  2. Great article, very professional and informative. Some great ideas on how to sell your business by going to expo’s and doing sample drops. Having the right people on your team is alway effective. Cheers Tracy 🙂

    1. Tracy, thank you so much for your feedback and kind words! We’ve had tremendous success with the expos and presentations! We recently did a presentation for a group of 15 people that work in different departments for the University of Florida, within weeks of our presentation we booked a 700 person catering, a 350 person catering, and a 500 person catering. That 1 presentation resulted in some great caterings (great money as well…lol..)and should lead to repeat business and referrals for new clients. Thanks for your comment!

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