You have one shot at responding to inquiries from prospective clients. One poorly thought-out email is all it takes to instantly eliminate you from a high-dollar catered event. To ensure you are considered for $5,000- to $10,000-plus catered events, you must respond to your prospective clients in a timely manner and with a professional message.
First, what is considered a timely response? You just spoke to a prospective new client, they thought you were a company they would like to work with and are excited about receiving your response immediately. Your goal should be to send them follow-up information within two hours but end of day would also suffice. Waiting 24 hours to respond? Nope! That is lost business.
Next, what do you send them in a follow-up message? This could be your only opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition. When sending an email, any materials you send should look clean, crisp and updated. They should also be easy to access or download. Great photos are a must. If the photos are of poor quality, prospective clients will automatically equate that low quality with your food. The information you send should be easy to read and not lengthy. Do not send out 20 pages of information. The client will be overwhelmed and move on. Also, do not refer them to your website for information. Believe it or not, there are still some people who do not do well in downloading information or finding information on a website. Do not take the chance that your prospective client is not computer-savvy.
If you really wish to impress, I encourage you to go above and beyond. Skip the email and courier printed materials the very day you speak with them and accompany the information with a small sample of your food. If this is an event you really want, go after it! I can assure you your competition is probably not taking the extra steps to impress the client with same-day printed information. If you do send them a sample of food, make it simple but attractively presented. Cookies in a small cellophane bag with a branded or an attractive ribbon and branded label are a fun treat and show your style. Don’t send anything in Styrofoam or on a deli-style black plastic tray. That’s boring and will not impress. The client will interpret that to mean you and your food are boring.
This part is critical: If you are sending information by courier, always attach a handwritten note that you were so glad to talk with them and you look forward to setting up a meeting very soon. Follow up with a phone call (not a text, not an email) within 24 hours to set up a meeting with the client. In our current world of “looking down” and not “looking up,” a handwritten note is an anomaly. Use it to your benefit.
My catering company also sends out a short video with our initial information for a prospective large event. It’s a game changer! No one sends a video “showing off” their catering company. Your clients will take notice.
A single email is the difference between getting a job and losing a job. The difference between $0 and $5,000. That seems like a message worth considering!