What’s on Your Delivery Menu: Determining Which Services to Provide

John Cohen | December 7, 2016

We’re not talking about takeout here. This delivery is more about your services, less about food showing up at someone’s door. The decision of what services you can and should deliver to your clients is a strategic business choice. Your focus as a caterer is of course the food, but catering can be so much more than that.

Determining what services you provide might be determined by the type of clients you book and what your business is like at the core. A question clients often ask “is (insert item here) included in that cost?”. This item could be anything from linens, to servers, to plates and cutlery. So how do you decide what additional items to provide outside of the actual food?

Ask yourself these three questions:

Do I have the ability?
Having the ability to provide a service is very important. If a client asks you, “do you provide servers,” your answer is reliant on your financial ability and your ability to manage a staff. If you are a husband and wife team that is able to keep your catering costs low because you like serving more casual events that don’t require staff, you may not be able to add staff to your catering services menu without raising your costs. Be clear with clients what additional skills your company has – event design, rentals, staff, etc., and the costs associated with them. Don’t stretch yourself to serve up a skill you can’t comfortably fill.

catering-business-options

Is it worth my time?
A standard catering question for large scale events, such as weddings, is “are linens included?”. Linens are a great example of providing a service that cost time to provide. This time is spent in meetings with couples looking at color palettes and fabrics, finding linens to purchase for your company or communicating with a third party vendor about your linen needs, and then caring for and cleaning the linens after the event. In addition to a monetary commitment, linens cost you time. If you love spending time with clients and working through these details then linens (or china, tables, glassware or anything else) may be worth it to provide as a service. If you want to focus on your food and leave the mood boards and fabric selections to someone else, then you may want to invest your time in finding a rental partner to work with instead.

Do I want to?
Most people would say that “want” is a relative term and shouldn’t be used for making business decisions. Clients can tell when you want to be somewhere or want to be helping, though. If you don’t want to manage a group of servers and don’t find choosing linens enjoyable it may be best to stick to providing a great culinary experience.

Providing one outstanding service is better than providing several mediocre ones. If you feel like there are gaps in your service abilities find great partners in your area to help you fill them. Building lasting partnerships can take your business just as far as providing everything a client needs or requests yourself.

Do you provide additional services? How did you work them into your business?

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