The Perfect List For Your Catering Software CRM

Michael Attias Jan 29, 2014
Michael Attias
Monday night I held a webinar for over two hundred attendees about The 4-Hour Marketing Week. The day after, one of my clients sent me the following email:

Michael - Thanks for the free webinar.  It was informative and a good reminder of what I should be working to get from my RCS system.  You are always very motivating and I enjoy your marketing wisdom.

I have looked online and seen sales list from various companies, some look more reputable than others, but I would like some advise on what to look for specifically.  Having never used one, I don't want to spend a bunch of time learning the hard way about this part.  

And most importantly, how do I know it’s current info?  What should I expect to pay?
Thank you for your time and help!


Dear Steve…

I feel like Dear Abby. Before I get to Steve’s specific question, let’s discuss the most valuable, profitable list of all…your prospect and client list. Half of my job in building a million dollar a year catering profit center was staying top of mind with my customers and prospects. The CRM in Restaurant Catering Systems is simple, yet powerful enough, to keep up with this valuable list.
A few problems I see:

  1. Not having a database. You must look at each prospect and customer as a hundred dollar bill. Would you let your staff flush hundreds down the drain? Then why aren’t you insisting on a database?
  2. Wrong case. ALL CAPS or all lowercase is not the way to enter info. If you were entering my name and company it would look like this: Michael Attias, Restaurant Catering Systems.
  3. Incomplete info. I know it takes an extra minute to get the complete mailing address, email and phone number, but that’s where the profit is. You must stay in front of your list at least once a month. Relying solely on email is foolish. With email open rates at 6% on average, it’s pure suicide.
  4. Not communicating monthly with your list

Now back to Steve’s question. If Steve is looking to rent a very targeted list like the names of parents of high school seniors who live in the three zip codes around his restaurant, then he will need to use a reputable list broker. Their job is to find you lists like this. Specialized lists are more expensive than general lists. You may pay a dollar a name for such a list.

You need to find a list broker. The list broker I work with personally only works with large list rentals, so you’ll have to do some research to find a good one. Start by asking around your community for the most reputable mailing house. They’ll either have a list broker in house or know of one to send you to.

I think Steve was asking about renting a general business list. This is called a compiled list. The two players in this universe are InfoUSA and Hoover’s, who bought Dun and Bradstreet. These companies each have a database of every business in America. They are always updating their lists and adding new contacts.

Just like we humans, these companies are less than perfect with their lists. For example, I have rented a list of every BBQ restaurant in America. If I just used the business code for BBQ restaurants, I would have missed a lot of BBQ restaurants. After years of list rental, I know a few tricks.

Even with a more targeted list, I have found that wing restaurants are on their list. I guess they don’t deserve their own category. So, I had to go through each record and delete Wing restaurants.
My telemarketers then call to get me a decision maker and verify full contact info. It is not cheap or quick, but it’s what must be done. Many phone numbers are busy, go to voice mail or show out of business.

Out of a list of 10,000 names, I may end up with 5,000 good names.
If Steve rents a list of 5,000 local businesses, he may only end up with 1,750 he can market to.

There is no such thing as a perfect list. A list goes bad to the tune of 5% a month or so.
Steve can also assemble his own list. When I targeted major retailers for my Black Friday promotion, I wouldn’t be able to get a list broker to talk to me for a list rental of 45 names.

I built the list myself through grunt work. I drove to the five major shopping areas of Nashville and literally wrote down the name of all the big box stores. I then went through the Yellow Pages (before the internet) and created my own list. It required phone calls to get decision maker names.
Don’t bother with a mailer addressed to “Catering Decision Maker” or President/General Manager. It’ll end up in the trash.

These smaller, highly targeted lists proved to be my most profitable.

As another example, attending a bridal show to get the names of engaged women in your area is another great way to build a list of qualified catering prospects. There are more catering niches than I can mention in this article.

The key is to get your list and put it into your CRM or catering software. Market, market, market. Over time this will yield a payoff.

If you’re looking for a get rich quick scheme, set your alarm for 3am and find an infomercial. If it was super easy, everyone would be doing it.

I sold a million dollars a year in catering, because I was willing to do what none of my competitors would…even knowing my plan. Many of them bought my Catering Magic System.
SAVINGS DEADLINE: Jon Wool and I will be conducting a full day catering workshop in St. Louis, Missouri on Tuesday, February 11, 2014. It is called:

How To Turbo Charge Your Catering Sales:

The Ultimate Catering Sales & Marketing Plan Revealed

January 31st is the deadline to receive an early bird discount.
I’ve created a website with complete details. Just go to

Well That’s All For This Issue!

Michael Attias
Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

P.P.S. – Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

See more posts about: catering software, catering marketing, catering business

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