A Wedding Caterer's Best Friends - 3 Partnerships You Need to Build, Now!
Perhaps you’ve heard it said that catering is where the money is when it comes to running a successful food experience company. If you have heard it said, the person who said it was right!
Catering is a great opportunity to make a real profit because everything is predictable. You know the number of guests you’re serving. You know the exact menu they will be eating. You even know the price you will be getting paid.
Let me tell another little gem about catering - weddings are where the big money is!
You have all the perks of catering (minimal waste, buying in bulk, streamlined prep) in an environment where you can charge more for your services because of the uniqueness and exclusivity of the event.
So how do you get in on this lucrative catering scene? One of the best ways is to build partnerships with other wedding professionals. The whole wedding service scene is a tight knit community where all the service providers understand the challenges you face. From dealing with “bridezillas” to making sure all the details are nailed down before the big day, the wedding gig is a thing unto itself.
Here are three partnerships you need to build to book more weddings:
1) Wedding Photographers
Wedding photographers are one of the first things a bride looks for once she gets engaged. Why? Because most photographers are working for and by themselves. So, once they’re booked, they’re booked.
When you think of a catering company, you think of service staff and a commercial kitchen not necessarily a Chef. A photographer is the talent. Although there is certainly a “recipe” to follow to get great pictures, the perception is that you are hiring a “person” and not a company to take pictures.
Seek out a couple photographers in your area that you would like to photograph your food. You want to match your food vibe with a similar feeling from a photographers pictures. This will help ensure you’re getting calls from brides that will appreciate what you do and resonate with your food. We partnered with a local company called Caitlin’s Living Photography - her style appeals to the types of brides that like our food.
We’ve also put together styled shoots with Caitlin and other photographers to feature our little wedding service provider community in Southwest PA.
2) Wedding Venues
Right around the same time that a bride is seeking out a photographer, they will be looking for a venue. There are all types of venues out there and not every one will fit with your ideal bride so approach this partnership the same way you do the photographer.
Here in Fayette County Pennsylvania, a very traditional wedding reception venue is our local fire halls. Folks who book weddings at these venues typically have a large guest list - think 250 or more people. Most brides aren’t going to be willing to pay over $50 per person just for the food when there’s that many guests coming. If your ideal price is more in the $18 - $25 range, then this type of venue might be great for you.
Our ideal venue has become some local barns and retreats. We specialize in boutique weddings where the bride wants their guests to remember the food. And the guest list rarely gets higher than 125 people.
Odds are, you’ll have to give up a percentage of your food sales to the venue for them to add you as a preferred or exclusive caterer but it’s well worth it to be one of the first caterer’s considered by a bride when they’re booking.
3) Wedding Planners
This one seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many caterers don’t have any event planner or wedding planner partnerships. A lot of the venues that you partner with have event planners already on staff. But there are plenty of independent planners that represent multiple venues and find ways to attract brides outside of their own venue partnerships.
Wedding planners are a great partnership to have because brides hire them so that they have someone they can trust to get things done. And I’ve never met a bride that didn’t trust the recommendation of their wedding planner on which catering company to choose (unless they tried the food and it was terrible which is a whole other issue that you need to deal with).
I mentioned in the open of this piece that weddings are profitable because of their uniqueness and exclusivity. That’s the same reason wedding planners are necessary. Not many people have multiple large weddings to plan in their lifetime so a wedding planner offers a special expertise necessary to make the event memorable for all the right reasons.
You’re going to trust the recommendation of a person who has extensive experience in a field where you have little to no knowledge.
Just like wedding venues, an independent wedding planner will probably require a percentage of the food sales from the event for the recommendation. Of course, you’re not worried about that because you can plan for it and price accordingly.
If you want to realize all the benefits of catering weddings, it’s time to start making some new friends!