Tastings: the Basics

Tastings are one the best ways to gain new business accounts. Well-executed tastings are extremely important to the growth of your corporate catering division. They take practice—lots of practice. You want to convey a sense of your company, food, and services. Most importantly, you want to convey what sets your company apart from others.

Well-executed tastings are extremely important to the growth of your corporate catering division. They take a great deal of practice. You want to convey a sense of what your company is about, the food you deliver, the services you provide. And what is different, unique, or better that sets you apart from others.

Your target should be companies that order from caterers regularly, but have not ordered from you. As a general rule of thumb, a regular customer is someone who orders at least twice a month.

What to bring to the tasting

In addition to food, there are a few essentials that you want to bring on a tasting:

• Outline of presentation

• Menus

• Account information forms

• Pens

• W-9 Tax ID form

• Order forms

To schedule tastings, your business will need to make cold calls. If the thought of cold calling makes you break out in a sweat, consider using a person within your organization or hiring someone to exclusively schedule and execute tastings. It does not need to be a full-time position. If you or your designated representatives have little or no experience making sales calls, it can be intimidating at first. In the beginning it is helpful to use a custom-tailored tasting script.

If possible, the owner, manager, or director of the catering operation should be onsite during the tasting. The more time this person spends with prospective customers, the better. It is very important that this person give 100% of their attention to the potential client at the tastings. This means turning off cell phones and focusing into the mission.

If you are invited to eat with the company, eat with them. Always remember, it is not about you—it is all about demonstrating to the customers how your food and service will benefit them, while actively engaging in relationship building. You want to be thought of as someone they can count on to make them look good and come through in a pinch.

Michael Rosman is the CEO of www.thecorporatecaterer.com. If you need more tips, please visit his website or email him.


Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman

Owner/Founder, The Corporate Caterer, Boston, MA

Michael Rosman has over three decades of experience in the catering and restaurant industry. His career began in the management-training program with Creative Gourmets in Boston, where he spent five years working in different corporate dining facilities and catering venues throughout the city. He then purchased an existing café in Boston’s financial district and eventually took ownership of a nearby pizzeria. During this time he began creating the infrastructure for a corporate drop-off catering operation and five years later, he sold his client list to the largest independent catering company in the city.

As Director of Corporate Catering with Via Lago Café and Catering in Lexington, MA, he built an almost two million...