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The Ultimate Playbook For How To Get Catering Clients

Marcel DeerAuthor

After a significant slowdown during the pandemic, the catering market in the US is projected to show a compound annual growth rate of 6.2% in the next eight years. More growth also means more competition. If you thought you could simply apply the “build it and they will come” philosophy to your catering business, think again.

To keep your business operating successfully, you’ll need a constant stream of new clients as well as a healthy amount of repeat business from existing ones. The trick is to figure out how to get catering clients and keep them happy so that they become repeat customers. Luckily, we have some great ideas for attracting catering clients that you can start using to help you build your business today. 

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • the importance of securing catering clients for business success

  • where to market your business to attract clients

  • how to keep clients happy to encourage referrals


Opening a Catering Business Checklist

So many things go into opening a catering business. With this free PDF checklist, you'll set your new business up for success.


How to Get Catering Clients: Effective Strategies for Strong Performance

Every catering business needs to attract clients. While you may have some contracts and a wide-ranging social network, you can’t depend on just that to keep your business afloat over the long term. Instead, you’ll need effective concrete strategies to bring people through your proverbial doors.

Establishing a Strong Online Presence

These days, if you don’t have an online presence, you may as well be invisible. Here are some of the best ways to help your clients connect with your real business through the virtual world.

Importance of website optimization

If your website is a core component of your sales funnel, you better guarantee it’s optimized. Optimizing your website means experimenting with its structure to improve its performance, drive traffic, and increase conversions for your business. You can do this by improving organic search rankings, incorporating relevant keywords, and providing valuable content for potential clients so that they stay on your site longer.

Local SEO

If your catering business is in Cincinnati, getting traffic to your website from Austin, Seattle, or even Tokyo isn’t going to help you much. As a local business, you will need to focus on local and regional traffic. However, you can target local clients by optimizing your Google My Business listing and ensuring accurate information, gathering positive reviews, and utilizing local directories. Instead of broad, highly-competitive terms like “catering,” you should focus on phrases that reflect your location, like “Cincinnati catering” and “Hamilton County caterers.”

Leveraging social media

Utilize platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to showcase your catering services, engage with potential clients, and share captivating content. YouTube videos of your food, catered events, or even chefs’ cooking tips can be shared on your profiles, which can be great ways to attract online audiences.

Paid advertising

In the past, caterers would advertise in local newspapers and magazines. Today, you can still reach your target audience by leveraging smart advertising technologies. Invest in targeted online advertising campaigns using platforms such as Google Ads or social media ads to help you garner a wider audience.

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Networking and Building Relationships

There’s more to getting the word out about your business than just advertising. In catering, word-of-mouth is still critical, meaning you’ll need to do consistent outreach and make contacts across the board.

Participate in industry events

One great way to connect with clients is to show that you’re a competitor in the local catering industry. Attend trade shows, conferences, or networking events to connect with potential clients, build relationships, and showcase your expertise. In doing so, you will want to focus on getting across your unique value proposition to let people know what makes you stand out from the competition.

Collaborate with industry partners

People use caterers for big events. Therefore, a great way to find a bounty of business is to connect with the people who organize these events. Establish partnerships with event planners, wedding venues, and other professionals in the industry to receive referrals and expand your client base. When you show yourself to be a reliable, high-quality caterer, these professionals will be happy to continue using your services to satisfy their clients.

Join local business organizations

If you’re new in town and have few professional connections, consider joining your local business organizations. By becoming a member of local business associations and chambers of commerce, you will gain opportunities to network with fellow business owners and increase exposure for your business.

Targeted Marketing Strategies

High-quality messaging can help you get the word out about your business. Here are some of the best ways you can influence and meet the needs of your target customers efficiently and effectively (which should definitely be in your business plan!)

Email marketing campaigns

Build a mailing list and send regular newsletters highlighting your catering services, special offers, and upcoming events to keep clients engaged. Ensure your content is up-to-date, relevant, and interesting to keep their attention.

Content marketing

To attract potential clients, you can create valuable website content through blog posts or videos showcasing culinary expertise, event tips, and industry trends. Research what your customers are most interested in and provide content that matches.

Influencer marketing

Collaborating with influential individuals or organizations in your local area to promote your catering services to their follower base can help you reach a wider audience. Just be sure to choose influencers whose content is appropriate and whose followers are in your target market. 

Referral programs

If you want to know how to get catering clients, word-of-mouth is what it’s all about. You can take advantage of this phenomenon when you encourage satisfied clients to refer your services to others by offering incentives or discounts for successful referrals. You give great service, making them already inclined to spread the news. A referral program takes action by incentivizing your clients to put in that extra effort. 


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Providing Exceptional Service 

The best way to keep your customers returning is to guarantee they’re satisfied. Attentive, personalized service goes a long way to keeping repeat customers happy.

Quality and consistency

If you want clients to return, you must focus on delivering exceptional culinary experiences and reliable, consistent service. Foods and beverages must be served on time, at the right temperature, and in a beautifully appealing and accessible way. Offer specialties that no one else is providing to help you stand out from the pack. All of this will create loyal clients who will recommend your business to others.


As much as you can, work to tailor your catering services to each client's preferences and dietary requirements, ensuring a memorable experience that exceeds expectations. Being flexible will help you win over demanding clients that other caterers can’t or won’t provide for.

Prompt and responsive communication

The importance of excellent communication with clients can’t be stressed enough. Replying promptly to inquiries, clarifying details, and providing timely updates and information throughout the planning and execution of events will cement your reputation for service excellence.

How to Get Catering Clients and Keep Them Coming Back

It’s one thing to plan and prepare your own catering business. It’s quite another to ensure its lasting success by attracting great clients and turning them into happy repeat customers.

By growing a strong online presence, networking, fostering professional relationships, and using targeted marketing, you will be able to bring in valuable customers from your local area. Then, by providing attentive, personalized, professional, and consistent service, you can keep them satisfied so they not only become repeat customers but also refer you to their contacts. This approach will build your customer base and keep consistent clients coming so that your catering business sees enduring success.


Catering Menu Templates

Use these catering menu templates as a starting point for your menu design or to give your menu a refresh.


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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.