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Catering Menu Ideas That Sell Your Service

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Sample catering menu design.

Image © flickr.com/2bsquaredesigns

When it comes to selling clients on event venues and services, there are two elements that make the biggest impact on sales. The first is of course price. There is such a wide range of pricing options in this industry that customers spend a lot of time simply searching for choices that fit their budget. The second major sales influencer is perception. Can potential clients visualize themselves hosting the perfect event with you?

Now there are several different angles to addressing these sales triggers, but at the center of any strategy should be your catering menu. Here are some great ideas for making your menu stand out in the sales process.

Expand Your Market
Every client has different needs and expectations, and you don’t want to fall short in any particular area that might appeal to them. Special cultural and dietary needs are good examples of things you should represent in your catering guide. While these items may not necessarily be top sellers, the fact that you include a small selection of them shows a genuine interest in serving that market.

Encourage Visualization
It is absolutely essential for your catering menu to trigger imagery in your client’s mind. You want their mouth’s to water and their eyes to gloss over as they imagine what their special day will be like. Okay, so that might be a little too much to ask for, but the point remains. Every word, picture and page element should be dissected for maximum impact. Just remember though, you must be able to meet the expectations you create with your menu descriptions.

Embrace Local Heritage
If you cater to out-of-town clients then you definitely want to feature local favorites on your menu. And even if the majority of your clients are from the area, there is a distinct advantage to offering regional cuisine. For starters, it adds an element of pride and distinction for your company. You’ll also find that local menu items provide a good conversation topic for both guests and planners. And if you want to take “local pride” to the next level, try incorporating farmers and other specialty suppliers from your area.

Famous Favorites
Every catering operation should have a “can’t miss” item. Whether that is a dinner entrée or unique dessert, you want to be able to point out at least one offering as your specialty. Keep in mind that the number one question you’ll get from clients is: What would you recommend? This is a critical moment because they are essentially asking you to impress them. What will you have to offer when this question is asked?

Affordable to Eloquent
Your lowest priced offerings are going to outsell your high end products by at least 10 to 1. So what’s the point of including Dom Perignon and crab legs on the menu? The answer lies in perception. Most people like to be associated with quality, even if they can’t afford to be immersed in it. Your catering menu should represent a complete range of price tiers because it implies value across the board. Associate your products with a best-in-class mentality in order to maximize their perceived value.

A good catering guide that delivers on all the points above will take several days, if not weeks, to assemble and edit. You might consider posting prices on a separate sheet to avoid having to reprint the entire menu each time prices change. The ultimate goal here is to create a menu that also serves as a sales tool. Most of your prospective clients will walk away from their first meeting without signing a contract. This makes your catering menu a key representative in closing the sale after your face-to-face meeting ends.

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