The catering industry is steadily growing each year, which means there’s always new competition. You need to make sure you follow the right catering ideas that help you provide amazing experiences to your guests and make your business stand apart.
Instead of just sticking to the same old formula, it's important that your business is open to new ideas and new areas of business development. This could help you find new ways to generate revenue and offer unforgettable catering experiences.
To help you achieve greater success, here are some of the best catering ideas your business could consider.
Top 14 Catering Ideas
Offer Customizable Menu Items
When it comes to finding catering ideas to attract more customers, a little creativity goes a long way.
Consider offering customizable menu items, such as DIY smores, customizable drinks and food stations, assemble-it-yourself desserts, build-your-own pizza or taco bars, and more. This is a great way to get creative and innovative with your menu while offering a fun experience for guests.
Customizable catering menu ideas can also help you appeal to a larger audience, as all guests at the event can have their food the way they want it. Ultimately, this leads to more happy customers.
Start a Loyalty Program
Why only focus on acquiring new customers if you can get repeat business from your existing ones? This is a lot more affordable and will help you generate far greater customer lifetime value (LTV) from each client.
For example, you could offer loyalty discounts to event planners. Each time they book you for a catered event, they get special rates.
Offering this kind of loyalty program can help your catering business secure a lot more bookings, bringing back loyal customers again and again. This is important for developing a sustainable business that customers appreciate and trust.
Consider Food Trucks
Using food trucks is one of the best catering ideas out there.
If you run a unique venue with multiple spaces, then food trucks can help you use that venue in many different ways. You can park the truck in different areas, and offer a completely different event experience.
Offering mobile catering services also means you can cater a wider range of events in different locations. This helps you attract more business.
Although food trucks are small, you can still use them to cater to large groups. Plus, they’re a budget-friendly and predictable way of being able to run your business from a mobile kitchen - instead of setting up a kitchen site at each location.
Beyond this, offering a food truck is fun. They can help to leave a lasting impression on guests and offer a unique experience that can be matched to casual or luxury events.
Partner With Local Businesses
One of the best catering ideas to help you generate more business and book more events is to establish a network of partners.
You could work with people like wedding planners or photographers, offering exclusive discounts or special offers to these businesses. You could also partner with businesses like alcohol brands or specific food suppliers, with the promise that you’ll use their products at your next catering event. This could help you get better deals on inventory.
With a strategic partnership in place, your catering business comes recommended by trusted partners in the events industry. This is a great way to become the go-to catering option, helping you secure more bookings.
Partnering with local businesses also offers valuable cross-promotional opportunities. For example, you could run co-hosted giveaways and each benefit from each other’s following. This is a great way to make your business visible to a new customer base.
Looking for catering ideas that bring in additional revenue? Consider offering classes.
This is a fun way to promote your catering business and open up a new avenue for generating income. You could offer cooking classes, teaching people how to cook your most popular menu items.
Not only does this offer room for expanding your business, but it also shows off your skills in the kitchen and helps to build community support. This is key for developing a stringer name in the catering and events industry.
Partner With Local Suppliers
As a catering company, local, seasonal ingredients are always going to be attractive to your clients.
Consider partnering up with local suppliers, where you can put fresh local produce at the forefront of your menu. This approach helps you deliver delicious catering, but it also adds a unique value proposition that your audience will be interested in.
Having exclusive local partnerships can help to keep your food costs low, as you could come up with special deals with your suppliers. This approach also helps to keep your menu exciting, as you can change your menu items regularly as the available produce changes.
Be Clear On Your Value Proposition
This isn’t a unique catering idea as much as it’s an essential step in starting a catering business. However, it’s something that many catering business owners get wrong.
Far too many caterers offer too much, being keen to meet each client's specific requests. While this is certainly important, it’s also important that you bring your unique skill or area of value to each corporate event or wedding reception you cater.
Narrowing down your area of expertise can be a great way to find a very targeted customer base, and to make your catering business more memorable.
For example, you could choose to focus on dairy-free catering, gluten-free catering, or catering to other specific dietary restrictions. Maybe you specialize in plated dinners, finger foods, and small bites, or you’re an expert at fried chicken.
Whatever the case, try to establish something that makes your business unique and helps you stand out from the competition.
You can always be flexible to your client's needs, but offering unique menu items or a unique approach to events is a great way to make your catering business more memorable.
Offer Boxed Lunches
Another great way to expand your catering options is to offer boxed lunches to corporate clients.
There are loads of offices that are always looking for simple, fresh, and convenient lunch options. You could keep this simple by offering things like sandwiches, a Caesar salad, wraps, yogurt bars, and any other simple lunch dishes.
Offering office lunches is a great way to get repeat business. In fact, many caterers work with rolling orders from offices, helping them secure a more sustainable and predictable source of income.
Caterers could also join on-demand catering platforms to make it easier to secure these kinds of corporate clients.
Not only does this open up a new avenue for your catering business, but it could cement your name in businesses’ minds and help you get booked for their next company event.
Cater to Kids
One of the most overlooked catering ideas is being child-friendly. Far too many caterers are focused on fancy wedding dinners or cocktail parties, forgetting that there’s also room for child caterers.
Children can be picky eaters, so offering simple comfort food, like pizza and colorful desserts is a good idea. You could also specialize in offering a family-style meal that clients can take home for their kids.
There are plenty of events out there that require child-friendly catering, so specializing in this could help your business stand out.
Offer Tasting Events
The events and catering industry can be highly competitive. How do you get an edge over other businesses and secure more clients? Offering tastings is one of the best ways to do this.
Offering tasting events to potential clients will get people to taste how good your food is, making your business more memorable. This also helps them get a feel for what their event will look like, which is important for building trust in your business.
You could offer tastings at your catering headquarters, or even set up tasting stands at local markets or conventions. Offer as much food as you want, as long as everyone gets a strong idea of what your catering business has to offer.
Create Holiday Menus
People are always looking for caterers over big holiday dates. Offering limited-time, special holiday menus can be a great way to secure more customers during these times.
You could offer a range of different menus, from holiday menus for corporate events to family gatherings. Tailor these menus to special days to get people interested in what you offer and excited to make the day special.
Use the Right Software
Of all the catering ideas on this list, few will help your business as much as this one. Investing in the right catering software is essential for running your business more efficiently, saving time and effort, and providing better customer experiences.
Catering software could help you minimize food waste, find the perfect event venue, know how much food you need to prepare for each event, and more.
You can use catering software tools to manage staff and inventory, manage finances and invoicing, generate recipes and inventory lists, and even help with marketing your catering business. You’ll also need a solid catering POS system to manage your transactions.
Gone are the days of relying on spreadsheets and manual calculations. Instead, many catering software tools can automate time-consuming processes for you - giving you more time to focus on your food and customers.
Offer Pop-Up Experiences
As a catering business, you don’t have to wait to get booked if you want to run an event. Instead, you can offer your own events - such as pop-up dining events in unique locations.
Partner with different venues and offer dining experiences that your customers won’t forget. For example, you could run special events in art galleries, rooftops, or gardens. This is a fun way to showcase what your catering business can do while providing unique and exclusive experiences for your guests.
Provide a Food Delivery Option
One of the best catering ideas you can apply to get more business is to offer food deliveries. While this doesn’t work for all catering companies, it can be a great way to add something new to your offering besides events.
Let people order via your website or through a third-party app, and you can deliver catered meals to them on demand. This is ideal for office lunches (as mentioned earlier), but could also be applied to small events and gatherings.
Before catering your next event, consider trying some of these ideas. They could help you attract more customers and improve each event’s catering.
You’ll also need to use the right software if you’re going to run your business smoothly. If you run an event venue, then investing in the right event management software will make your life a lot easier, while improving your business outcomes. Try Perfect Venue for free to see how the all-in-one platform can improve your business operations in a big way.