6 Tips for Increasing Catering Referral Business

John Cohen | August 11, 2017

In the catering and events industry, the majority of businesses rely on referral business.  Referrals are a wonderful tool because they come pre-qualified from your trusted clients and business partners. With social media and other apps, people are highly influenced by word of mouth recommendations from family, friends, and other businesses.  Here are a few ways to help you increase your referrals.

Put in your full effort

Be active in your local area.  Attend networking events and offer your services locally whenever possible.  Give every event you service your full attention and full effort; your hard work will not go unnoticed.  Become friends with other vendors you are working events with.  Genuine bonds that are formed during networking and events often result in the best referrals.  Be active on social media.  Respond to client’s comments, concerns, complaints, and praise.

Be persistent

Developing relationships and nurturing those relationships are important for people to remember you, your work, and help you gain recognition.  Consistently putting effort into your referral business is something you will need to do to maximize your return.  Call your referrals and build relationships with them by actively listening to their needs. Become more than just a catering business relationship with them.

Know when to ask

The best referrals come after a client has had the opportunity to experience your amazing catering services. If you have had a bad customer service day or missed the mark on food quality during a particular event, that’s probably not a great time to ask for a referral.  When everything goes well, and you have impressed your client as you are wrapping up the day, go ahead and ask your client how they felt about your services and if there is anyone they would like to refer.

Start a monthly client newsletter

Keeping yourself top of mind with your clients is important.  Ask your potential and current clients if they would like to be notified of any news you may have, upcoming events, public parties, updates, special offers, recipes of your best dish, or just about anything you feel would be of interest to them.  Create a monthly client newsletter to help keep clients up to date.  Touching base with clients will strengthen your relationship with them, and you will position yourself as an expert.  Creating this memorable, strong relationship with your clients makes them more likely to repeat business as well as forwarding your newsletters to others creating more referrals. Your catering software will help you manage the details of who are the potential and current clients.

Use links in emails and web pages

A 2011 Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study indicates that the average consumer will engage in at least ten pieces of content before making a buying decision. Blogs, emails, white papers, and more all add to marketing your business.  Your potential and current clients are a great resource in getting you more qualified leads just by adding a simple “Share With a Friend” link on emails, blogs, and offer pages.  This step also makes referring an easy task, perfect for our busy clients.

Say ‘Thank You’

Clients and industry peers referring you are a wonderful gesture, make sure to express your gratitude.  Send a thank you note to anyone who is sending business your way.  Hand written thank you notes are typically the best way to go as it shows that you have taken the time to truly appreciate what has been done.  Another great way to thank someone for a referral is to send referrals their way as well!  In addition to saying thank you, keep the referrer up to date on the results of the referral they passed along.  Most will be excited to hear that their referral worked out well for you.

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