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How Upselling Strategies Can Get You Through Difficult Times

Are you still grappling with the financial repercussions of the pandemic? Have you had to get creative to make ends meet in the past year? It’s safe to say most catering, and event pros have faced similar challenges. Although business is starting to pick up again (and rapidly!), most are still struggling with cash flow uncertainties that jeopardize their annual revenue goals.

Pair that with a market that is now eager to gather but hesitant to commit, and you’ve got yourself a tricky combination. For every client that is quick to sign their contract, there are a handful that are cautiously biding their time and sitting on your first invoice.

While their concerns are certainly justified, it doesn’t make life any easier for the business owners that need their business! But, the reality is that you don’t have to book more to earn more. With a strategic upselling plan, you can increase profit margins for each client — so revenue can still increase even if you have several leads who are still sitting on their hands.

Yet, upselling must be done properly. Otherwise, your clients will start to feel like you’re trying to squeeze out every last penny from them. Here’s what you need to know to effectively earn more per client without much effort on your part.

Introduce it on your proposal.

If you have add-ons or enhancements for an extra charge, make sure that you include them in your proposal. A client might not bite on it from the start, but planting the seed in their brain can make them ready to pull the trigger later in the process. Plus, laying them out early on prevents it from seeming like you’re dropping “money grabs” down the line. These are products and services that have always been available to your clients, so they just need to say when!

Develop a check-in strategy.

The average process with a catering and events client spans over many months, which should include several touchpoints along the way. Make the most of those emails and meetings to upsell! You might be checking in on a client’s progress, but maybe you have a service that would make their lives easier in the long run. Don’t be afraid to “resell” offerings that you’ve already pitched. Their minds can change over the course of the planning process!

Make sure it’s a valuable addition for them.

People are willing to buy things that feel valuable to them. It’s all about perception rather than the actual dollar amount. Maybe it doesn’t have a monetary value attached, but it will save them hours of their time! Or, perhaps it will improve their experience and give them something to brag about to their friends! Money isn’t the sole motivation in a client’s mind, so make sure that you push products and services that provide them with an incentive.

Choose cost-effective enhancements.

The point of upselling is to increase profit margins, so it can’t end up costing you more in the long run. Great products to upsell are things you already have in your inventory or can be easily sourced at a low cost. Great services to upsell are those that you already do in-house that take minimal time or can be outsourced at a low cost. Remember: A client’s perception is what matters most, so give it a reasonable dollar value and do a hard sell on the benefits. How will their lives improve if they choose to upgrade?

In a period of time where making money is a make-it-or-break-it priority for many catering and event businesses, upselling is a natural solution to increasing profits without stretching yourself too thin. As long as you are smart about your offerings, you can make hundreds—even thousands—more with each client, helping you to bridge the gap until business levels out after we advance past the recovery stages of the pandemic.

Meryl Snow

Owner, Feastivities Events, Philadelphia, PA and Senior Consultant, Certified Catering Consultants

With nearly 30 years in the special event and catering industry, Meryl Snow is the co-founder of Feastivities Events and the creator of The Triangle Method.  As a Senior Consultant for Certified Catering Consultants, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design and branding to help businesses get on their own path to success.She is the author of Booked It! and Cha-CHING!

Meryl Snow

Catersource Advisory Council Member

Founder of