Holiday Catering Sales Success

Holiday Catering Sales

To expand on the topic of the holidays, I wanted to address a question we get asked regularly by catering sales professionals: “How do I attack holiday sales?  Who do I go after, when and how?”

As a Catering Sales Manager (CSM) in my former life, the holiday season (November and December) was a crazy time of year, but really rewarding because it is so busy! In today’s world, the holiday season has become increasingly stressful and challenging. Finding time to plan and execute a company or family holiday gathering has become a daunting task for many people. Customers need a simple solution, and it’s not just about the food, it is an event – a catering experience.  Solve for those needs and you will succeed.

First and foremost when it comes to the holidays – have a plan. Have your sales projections and goals clearly defined and look at previous year’s holiday sales, this year’s fluctuation in overall sales (year-to-date), staffing, etc. to determine your numbers week by week.

Along with simply making your sales goals during the holiday season, ask yourself, “What results do I want to achieve?” Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Meet and exceed sales plan
  2. Max out on sales bonus
  3. Create and solidify ongoing catering business for next year, following this year’s holiday orders
  4. Maintain current customer base and relationships
  5. Successful time management
  6. 98% or above successful catering execution
  7. Maintain strong driver pool
  8. Offer store level catering sales support

Second, determine where your holiday sales will come from. For this, you might want to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool or other form of client data retention to pull some of the following information:

  1. Calls and quotes for previous two year’s holiday clients to close repeat business – start with largest orders and work down
  2. Calls to new B2B accounts created this year – potential first time holiday customers
  3. Networking with current customers for leads and referrals
  4. Holiday canvassing / sales blitz activity focusing on Big Box Retailers for Brown Thursday, Black Friday and miscellaneous holiday meal needs. Retailers are so busy during the holidays that they often feed employees to keep them onsite. Orders can be in the 100+ range for each request and many need multiple orders per day (see outline attached)
  5. Research customers in other markets
  6. Store crew and driver sales efforts / lead generation
  7. Marketing
  8. Inbound inquiries

Next, outline your sales tactics – what is your plan of attack?

  1. Begin the sales process early. The early bird gets the worm. Start in September and press hard all the way through the holiday season. Many companies plan early, while other customers procrastinate and need last minute solutions
  2. Time is of the essence – create a sense of urgency. Holiday space is limited and you want to make sure you get them on the books and serviced well
  3. Create a sense of calm and ease of ordering / planning for the customer
  4. Provide value – menu, quality, service, peace of mind
  5. Network and penetrate all account opportunities
  6. Timely customer response and service creates trust
  7. Weekly communication and progress report with team – discuss results, successes, obstacles, leads, sales efforts, execution needs, and support needs
  8. Time management – plan and prioritize each day’s activities and time allotment for each activity
  9. Utilize and support internal resources to grow sales – store management, crew and drivers

Remember: Service is selling and selling is service. Be the ultimate service provider during the holidays, simplify the stress that the holidays cause and create a wonderful catered event experience for your guests. One successful holiday event can lead to many more throughout the following year.

Click HERE for the following resources to help you this season:

  • Sales Blitz Outline
  • Big Box Retail Contacts

You can also call me directly at 1-877-6-MONKEY x. 127 for more advice and resources.

Happy Selling!

Tracy Avolio - VP, Client Services, MMS Catering Institute