If you’re just starting out in the catering industry, your reputation is paramount to ensure a steady flow of clients. Your business’s good name is reliant on the positive experiences and reviews of your clients, so it’s advisable to live by the old adage: “the customer is always right” – even when they’re not! In a client-facing industry, it is important that you remain personable and approachable whatever the situation may be. You will need to learn clever ways of giving your clients what they want, whilst also managing their expectations. Here are 5 savvy tips to help you maintain the reputation and profitability of your catering business.
- Respond Promptly
The first step towards gaining your clients’ trust is to prove your worth. By responding promptly to requests for quotes or information, you can demonstrate to the client that you are attentive and reliable. This goes a long way towards securing your first gig.
- Play Your Cards Close
Play your cards close to your chest in the early stages by gaining as much information from the client about their event, whilst at the same time refraining from offering any specific figures from your end. Be wary of providing a quote before you’ve had chance to do your research, as failure to do this is likely to result in either under-quoting and losing money, or over-quoting and losing your client. You will need to go away and calculate exactly how much it is realistically going to cost before you put any figures on the table.
- Make Clever Gains
If you have more than one event in the pipeline, why not reduce costs for yourself and your clients by considering your events in unison. With some careful planning, you can get discounted rates by purchasing wholesale catering supplies. You can pass some of the gains of ordering in bulk onto your clients – after all, everyone loves a discount!
- Lock Down the Deal
Once you are in agreement about costs, you should ask your client to sign a contract and pay a proportion of the costs up front. Fifty percent is a reasonable amount to ask, and is enough to ensure that your client won’t back out and leave you high and dry.
- Under Promise, Over Deliver
Once your client is secured, your best approach is to under promise and over deliver. Whilst you should remain positive and encouraging of all your client’s requests, you shouldn’t promise anything until you are sure you can make it happen. Neither should you speculate on what you might be able to do unless you are positive it can be made a reality, as this will only foster unrealistic hopes in your client. By cleverly managing your client’s expectations, you can make small gains into celebrated victories, securing their belief in your abilities.
The client-facing industries can be challenging at times, especially in the high-pressure environment that is the events industry. A little give and take goes a long way, and by learning these clever techniques to manage your clients’ expectations, you are sure to secure a happy client-base.