Improving Your Catering Sales

As part of the Catering Institute Team, we’ve had many conversations with organizations that really want to empower their Franchisees to go after catering sales.

Last week someone asked me:  “If you had five top focus points for a Franchisee to work on to improve his catering sales, what would they be”?  

I’ve listed them below and will go into some detail of each.

  1. True Life Franchisee Catering Rock Stars
  2. Recognizing the catering customer needs
  3. Canvassing and qualification process
  4. Capturing the order
  5. Execution and follow up

True Life Franchisee Rock Stars

Who are the examples within your organization? Who is doing a consistent amount of catering? We need to capture their stories within a case study and share it with the rest of the community. How did they get started? What activities are they doing on a daily basis to drive catering sales? What resources are they using to manage the catering program?

Recognizing the Catering Customer’s Needs

The retail and catering customer have two very different value perspectives and this really needs to be taught and understood throughout the Franchisee community. After we know what the catering customer values we need to be able to speak to those needs when they are in our restaurants.  What does a pharmaceutical rep need? What do they look like? How do our employees approach them? What POP do we have in our restaurants that speak to the catering customer’s needs?

Canvassing and Qualification Process

What is canvassing and how is it performed? How do we qualify a catering customer? The four questions that let us know if a customer is a good catering prospect are as follows:

  • Does your company ever bring in food for meetings or special events?
  • How often do you order in for groups?
  • How many people do you typically order for?
  • Who is usually in charge of placing the orders?

At this point we will have all of the information we need to decide if this is a catering prospect or not. The other thing the Franchisees struggle with is how to talk to offices while they are out in the field.  The best way to teach this is to show them through some kind of blitz activity or training class.

Capturing the Order

We are firm believers in centralized services, meaning that we think catering orders should be captured either on-line and/or through some kind of toll free phone number.  It’s very hard for the restaurants to manage catering orders along with their retail customers. At some point, if you’re lucky, there becomes a competition for resources. Most of the time the phone just doesn’t get answered because of various reasons…the store is busy, there are language barriers, or the person who answers the phone just isn’t trained to take catering orders.  If there isn’t an option for centralized services, then it’s imperative that once the Franchisee starts marketing his catering offerings that there is a dedicated line that someone is responsible for answering from 9am-6pm and an answering service that can take messages throughout the night.

Execution and Follow Up

Once an order leaves the store, we lose visibility.  We aren’t sure if it was on time, if everything was there, if it was set up and ultimately if the customer was happy without applying execution business processes and following up with the customer. We also suggest trying to do weekly on-site quality assurance checks.  Showing up when the delivery is expected and seeing the order executed from the customer perspective is priceless and typically very eye-opening.

To inquire about Franchisee sales training classes, please feel free to: