Sample Catering for Business Development

Published on December 12, 2013

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I was having a conversation with a Franchisee today about how much to budget for sales meeting sample tastings. I thought this was a very encouraging question for two reasons.

First, it told me that the Franchisee understood how important it was to take food off-premise to prospective clients for them to taste and see the catering product offerings.

Second, it allowed us to have the conversation around face-to-face, off-premise meetings, what those should entail and why they’re important.

To answer his question we needed to talk about the business development strategy he wanted to implement.

I asked him, “How many meetings can you commit to conducting on a weekly basis?”

The Franchisee said, “I can’t do any, but I just hired a sales person that I want out selling and setting meetings up.”

“That’s great! Is he or she a full time sales person?” I asked, and he replied that she was.

“If she is solely focused on business development, I would recommend that she strive to conduct three face-to-face meetings per week. The meetings should be done for companies that have big opportunities in terms of the amount of catering they order on a monthly/annual basis. At the same time, she should take the time to make sure all of the decision makers from different departments attend that meeting so she gets the most possible out of her time investment.”

The Franchisee asked me, “How does she know she’s going out on meetings that are worth her time?”

“She needs to qualify them during her cold call or however she initiates the relationship.”

“How many people is each meeting for? I don’t want to give away a ton of food every time she has a meeting!” said the Franchisee.

“The best way to manage this is to construct a sample offering of some kind. It should give the prospect a good idea about the quality of your product as well as the presentation and convenience you offer. This is not a full sized portion per person, it’s just a tasting.”

“So, you’re suggesting I put together a “comped” offering that is just available for sales meetings?” he asked.

I confirmed, “Correct. It should be something that can be ordered for as few as five people and for as many twenty people.”

“OK, so it seems like it would be counterproductive to limit her meetings with a monetary budget. I think I should put the focus on how many meetings I want her to have and the quality of those meetings.”

I said, “Exactly! I would budget for her to have three meetings per week with an average size of ten people per meeting. Once you have your “sample” product cost, you will know how much it will cost you in food per meeting. Of course you will have to figure out how to manage her success so you know that your investment of sample platters is providing a return in the form of a new customer.”

After we were done with the conversation, the Franchisee started working on what that sample product was going to consist of and how much each would cost him to feed thirty decision makers each week.


Erle Dardick
Erle Dardick is a 15-year catering veteran, business turn-around expert, 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,” and is founder of the MMS Catering Institute.

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