Client retention is an effective business strategy, but one that can be particularly challenging in the events industry. For many clients, events are few and far between. Celebrations like weddings, quinceañeras, and bar mitzvahs are one-time occasions, so it can be tricky to find a customer who will stick with you for life.
With that said, it may be challenging but it certainly isn’t impossible—especially in the catering industry.
Sell your other services passively
Even if you’re only working with a client for a one-time event, you can still let them know all of the other ways you are available for service. A couple may never plan a wedding again, but that’s not to say that they’ll never need a caterer again.
For example, say you are working with an engaged couple and they’re very satisfied with your menu development and the quality of your food. If a bride works in a corporate office, mention your experience catering for professional meetings. Or, if she mentions that her father is turning 60 the following year, show her a photo of a milestone birthday party that you catered.
Photo courtesy Feastivities Events
Make a memorable impact
More than anything, you need to make it so that your clients won’t forget you. You need to win them with a mix of great customer service and delicious food. Otherwise, they won’t hesitate to go back to Google the next time they need a caterer.
Providing an excellent customer experience comes with the added bonus of family and friend referrals. If you’re consistently impressing your clients and their guests, you’ll earn free word-of-mouth marketing, which is invaluable. After a client sings your praises following an event, reach out and ask if they know any friends that would like your services. If they say yes, request an email introduction. This is a powerful technique, as people genuinely like to help others and your name will carry more weight when referred by a friend.
Plus, if a client regularly refers you to their network, you can bet that you’ll be the first one they call when they need a caterer.
Stay in touch
The best way to stay top-of-mind is simply to keep in touch with your clients, even after their event is over. Follow them on social media and engage with their posts. Go the extra mile and send them a holiday card each year or, if it’s a wedding client, send them an anniversary card.
You can also share their event photos every now and then to show that you’re thinking about them. Tag them in the post with a reminder of how wonderful their celebration was. Building a personal relationship and staying in touch with a client after their event takes effort—rest assured it will not go unnoticed.
Don’t feel discouraged by the challenges of client retention in our industry. Instead, get empowered to change that in your business. Place your clients first and continue nurturing those relationships throughout their planning process and beyond.
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