6 ways to build a catering sales culture inside your restaurant

| by Erle Dardick
6 ways to build a catering sales culture inside your restaurant

A strong sales culture in any company creates an environment where everyone’s in sales. I have always maintained that in any successful business there is "sales" and "sales support." Developing a catering sales culture within a restaurant brand is crucial to catering sales success. This is because running a successful restaurant catering operation involves active selling of your products and services at all levels and touch points of the organization.

A great sales culture helps organizations to improve results. It encompasses specific beliefs and behaviors that can revolutionize your ability to connect with your prospects and clients. Catering is no different; developing a strong catering sales culture within your restaurants will create profitable transparency and break down silos in your organization.

Consider sales training for GMs, FOH, BOH, delivery drivers, catering sales managers and catering specialists.  Don’t be afraid to teach those hourly employees how to sell more catering. The more we can engage our team to talk up our catering business, the more opportunities we will uncover.  The more opportunities we uncover, the more catering sales will grow.

Here are 6 things that you can do today to help build a catering sales culture:

  1. Set catering sales expectations at the restaurant level and clearly communicate those expectations to all restaurant stakeholders.  This includes every person on the team.  When everyone understands expectations properly, you are more likely to succeed.  Measure your catering sales daily and set monthly goals.
  2. Ensure that your team is speaking a common language when it comes to catering sales.  Profit? Gross Margin? Takeout vs. catering?  Delivery vs. pickup? These subtleties in language matter a lot.
  3. Make sure that all managers involved in sales are focused on the same outcome.  Compensate them as a group for good performance.
  4. Goals, missions and values must be well communicated and aligned.  This is key to making sure your team owns the goals and values.  Involve team members in making the core values theirs.
  5. Teach your team to be pulling in the same direction when it comes to catering. In order to hit the goals and values, you have to be talking about it constantly in everyday conversations.
  6. Be consistent. Language is very important when it comes to building a successful catering sales culture.

Here are a few more tactical ideas that you can try today so that your brand build upon your sales culture.

  • Once your team has identified a qualified sales lead, call that person over the phone and introduce your brand and its catering service. This will work to connect your catering sales representatives to potential clients.
  • If the lead is a business-to-business customer, arrange for a time to deliver a free promotional sampling of your menu to their office. Make sure everyone gets the same thing, and make sure the sample is sent to the person in the office, who will place most of the catering orders.
  • Give your sample platter a name, and make sure the platter is consistent every time it is delivered.
  • Make sure all of your marketing and packaging materials are included when delivering your promotional sample. Do not forget to include a business card or other contact information in what you present.
  • Have the promotional item(s) delivered during off-peak hours. There is no sense competing with the real dollars available at breakfast and lunch, or any other day-part that you might already be preparing for catering orders.
  • Have your catering leader or another member of your sales team follow-up with a phone call. During the call they should ask about the overall experience and inquire about any future event that might require your brand's catering services. The call should be viewed as an additional way to build the relationship between your catering sales team and your business-to-business client.
  • Keep the relationship going by using both task-based follow-ups and targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Teach your in-store team members to ask patrons if they use catering.  Ask for business cards, and then pass those leads on to your catering sales team. In-store team members should be prospecting for qualified leads all day long.

If you can execute these tasks, your catering sales teams will be positioned to solidify the sales culture within your organization. As restaurant operators you can take on the responsibility to define the lines between your catering business and in-store operation. Each experience is very distinct in terms of what the sales conversation is about at the service level. With the right methodologies in place, you can begin to create a unique and successful catering sales culture within your restaurant brand.

Let's talk catering!


Topics: Catering



Erle Dardick
Erle Dardick is a 15-year catering veteran, business turn-around expert and author, and is best known for helping multi-unit restaurant executives create successful catering revenue channels. Erle founded MonkeyMedia Software to provide catering solutions to multi-unit restaurant operators. He also is the author of “Get Catering and Grow Sales! One Monkey’s Perspective: Catering Defined for the Multi-Unit Restaurant Executive.” wwwView Erle Dardick's profile on LinkedIn

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