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How to drive catering through your website

How to drive catering through your website

Have a great case study to share? How about ways you maximized your online catering menu? Please share your comments below on how you attracted more catering orders through your website. • See more Marketing articles

With the explosion of Internet and smart phone use, your customers have come to expect and take advantage of the ability to place their restaurant orders online and receive them quickly. While you may offer online and mobile ordering for your regular diners, have you given your catering options top billing?

If not, it’s time to hone and simplify the catering order process for your customers. Being able to place catering orders online is a significant step up from having to call in or stop by to place their order. Capture catering orders through your website, offer great service and superb food, and you’ll have customers for life. Let’s discuss some ways to attract more catering orders through your restaurant’s website.

1. Add a catering link to your navigation. Make it easy to find your catering information. Give prominence to your catering pages. Add a catering link to your navigation bar. This helps in two ways. First, people looking for catering have easy access to the page. Second, regular diners have a visual memory of your catering options and may remember you the next time they need to cater an event.

2. Offer a catering menu online. Just like your regular online ordering options, offer your full catering menu online. Don’t use a pdf for this, especially if you are offering online ordering options. Place your menu online with ordering buttons. This makes it easier for your catering customer to navigate and much easier for you to update.

Use high-quality, enticing photos of each available catering menu option. Consider grouping items into categories, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, boxed meals, appetizers, desserts, etc. If you offer preset lunch and dinner options, make sure these are easily understandable for your website visitors.

3. Include a frequently asked questions page. Make sure your online catering process is as simple as possible for your website visitor. Remember, you are saving them time by eliminating the step of coming to your business or calling in to order. Plus, you are saving valuable staff time by answering many questions online.

Step back and think about all the questions your customers ask. Filter them, write them down, and then compose your answers. These should go in your frequently asked questions section.

Some FAQs to include:
• Specify whether your catering is offered for pickup or delivery and the requirements for each.
• Tell your customer the minimum and maximum number of people you’ll cater for and the minimum dollar amount of their order.
• Explain how many days or hours in advance they should place the order.
• Note how you deal with special requests.
• Describe your delivery and/or pick-up process.

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4. Create a customizable order form.  Create an online form for catering orders. Don’t overwhelm your customer with too many form fields. Include the following items on your catering order form:

• Button for how they’d like to receive their order: pickup or delivery
• Type of delivery location: business or residence
• Name, address, phone and email
• Special instructions for delivery driver
• How many people
• Date of event
• Delivery time

5. Include a photo gallery and case studies. Show your expertise. Highlight photos of your past catering events. Consider focusing on specific events with case studies.

For example, explain how you catered that 50th birthday party. Start with a great picture. Then, using descriptive words, talk about the events leading up to and including the birthday party. Feature anecdotes and humorous bits. If there were issues, describe how you conquered them.

Include case studies from several types of events: weddings, birthdays—adult and child, anniversaries, office parties, etc.

6. Use reviews and testimonials. Consumers trust reviews placed online. Sprinkle reviews throughout your catering pages, with each case study and with each menu item.

These are vitally important to your catering success. They add the social proof. You are proving your worth as a caterer through the words of your customers. Testimonials are an invaluable component to attracting more catering orders through your website as they validate your service.

7. Maximize social media. Drive traffic to your catering pages. Announce your online catering options through your social media channels.

Provide links to your catering menu, catering information, catering case studies and reviews pages. Highlight a new case study every few days. Let your followers know you are an experienced caterer offering a delicious catering menu.

To conclude, make sure your online catering ordering process is simple and straightforward. Make it easy for your customer to find your catering info and your catering menu. You’ll attract more catering orders on your website if you anticipate your customer’s needs and provide easy access to info and ordering.

Brian Casel is the founder of Restaurant Engine, a website design solution for restaurants. For more advice on how to win more customers from the web, visit the Restaurant Engine blog.

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