The Importance of Building Your Business through Catering and Event Partnerships

Customers aren’t the only thing you should be focusing on when it comes to building your business. Customers are important, of course, because they are the ones ordering and eating your food. However, if you really want to give your business a shot in the arm, build your business through catering and event partnerships.

Partners that could be good for your business may include vineyards, breweries, museums, bakeries, botanical gardens, tourist attractions… and the list goes on and on. Basically, anyone who doesn’t have their own on-site catering staff, which means they can refer you as a caterer.

Likewise, you can then refer your clients to these partners when they are looking for a venue and other things you can’t provide for them. (After all, when it comes to business and networking, you have to give to get!)

These partners can help build your business just as well as customers who come straight to you. In fact, they may actually bring you more business. Many times, the first thing people planning an event do is choose their venue first, usually looking to figure out if they have to find a caterer at all or if the venue provides one. People who click with a venue’s event planner will likely listen to their suggestion on caterers. They value the venue’s expertise. By building partnerships with these establishments you can become top of mind as a catering option. People who may have otherwise never heard of you and had to rely on internet searches hear firsthand from a trusted source that you are the caterer they should have.

Building these partnerships can be a little tricky. With the following catering tips, learn how to build and foster business relationships. First, you should establish if you are a good fit for the venue. If you are a high-end caterer serving $15 a piece hor d’oeuvres you may not be the best fit for a laid back beer garden with picnic tables and polished concrete floors. You may look more into museums, historic plantations, or vineyards. Now, here’s the tricky part; once you’ve established that you would be a good fit for that particular venue you can do one of two things – go the casual route or the business route. Depending on the venue you can casually go into on your own on a Tuesday in a I’m-totally-not-here-on-business kind of way to have a glass of wine or browse the paintings. On your way out ask to speak to someone for event management. This way you can: A. Make sure you do have the same style. B. You can say that you enjoyed your visit and would be interested in working with them in the future on an event. If you get the chance to speak with someone, keep it short, offer your business card and ask if you could have a more formal meeting another time.

If you have a connection to the venue you can go the more business route. Ask for an introduction from a friend if that’s a possibility. If you’ve previously met the event manager you can put in a friendly phone call or send an email to request a formal meeting to speak more in depth about opportunities to work together. Upon your meeting, provide them with price sheets for your services; let them know what your expertise is in (barbeque, high end catering, southern, seafood, etc.). This approach is more direct but can still be friendly.

Our greatest tip for building partnerships is to be friendly and genuine. To establish long partnerships you have to establish solid relationships. Being reliable, professional, and friendly will take you a long way in building your partnerships. These people can help grow your business if you develop a positive, reliable relationship. Go forth and find friends, or at least good business partners.