‘Tis the season for engagements! The holidays are prime time for proposals, what with dazzling rings photos filling up social media timelines. For catering and event companies, this also entails a busy booking season in Q1 as newly engaged couples get a head start on wedding planning.
As the year winds down, it’s wise to spend some time tightening up your processes and ensuring everything is in place for the new year. Once the inquiries start flowing in, there won’t be time to adjust your onboarding experience or familiarize yourself with the latest industry trends.
So before switching to your 2023 calendar, focus on these areas of your catering business to ensure everything is up to snuff in time for engagement season.
Research up-and-coming trends
We’ve seen culinary trends influence the special events industry year after year, so don’t go into the 2023 season without looking ahead at what’s to come. Get to know the flavors and ingredients on the rise, and find out if they’re accessible in your market. What are your competitors doing with them?
Likewise, collect inspiration for innovative serving styles and how you can add a creative twist to your menu unlike anyone else. It also helps to explore broader industry trends, as design and décor preferences can influence catering requests—think grazing tables and doughnut walls, which add experiential elements to food and beverages.
Freshen up your website
Your website is often the first line for prospective customers, providing them with the information and inspiration to pick up the phone (or send an email). So if your website is full of outdated details or poorly-shot photos, it may send fewer inquiries than expected. Set aside time to update information on services, swap in new pictures, and confirm the accuracy of your contact details.
Content aside, audit your website’s usability for mobile and desktop users. How easy is it to navigate from page to page? Is there a logical flow that guides visitors through an immersive buyer’s journey? Are there broken links or 404s that need removal? Even the best website content is useless if inaccessible.
Give your catering proposals a facelift
Every event is unique, so proposals shouldn’t feel like a “rinse and repeat” part of your sales process. Instead, skip the canned proposals and opt for a customized bid for each prospect. Remember that you’re actively competing against other caterers—your proposal must stand out from the rest. Consider it your opportunity to lay out your plan and impress your potential clients. Make it irresistible!
Avoid using too much boilerplate that makes it feel dry and stuffy. Instead, make your proposals feel like a sensory experience with rich visual elements and references to personal details about the client. Use it as an opportunity to set expectations, and don’t forget to include all necessary precautions and clauses. Also, be mindful to maintain an organized flow that is easy to use and demonstrates the ease of working with you.
Revisit your client experience
The key to booking more business, a winning client experience makes people feel like they’re the only client in your business. When prospects feel nurtured and appreciated in the sales process, they are more likely to boo—and when provided the same experience as clients, they are more inclined to become repeat customers and refer your services to others. It’s a win-win, and all it takes is a bit of intentionality and care.
Sit down and write down your current client experience. Start with your first touchpoint—typically an inquiry—and work through the sales, booking, and onboarding processes. Then, look at the planning and execution stages. Are these processes as seamless as possible? Do you have surprise-and-delight elements sprinkled throughout? How do you prioritize client care? Small-but-meaningful gestures like a thoughtful welcome gift or a day-of enhancement can make all the difference!
As the wedding and events boom shows signs of slowing down in 2023, generating more leads and ramping up sales should be a top priority for industry businesses. And with a few timely updates to your company’s sales process, you can start the new year off on a bright—and profitable—note!
Lead photo courtesy Tailored Twig