Why Do My Catering Sales Suck?

Michael Attias Aug 19, 2015
Michael Attias

Are you ever honest with yourself; brutally honest?

If your catering sales look like a flat liner in the emergency room, you must have asked yourself this question at some point, “Why do my catering sales suck?”

Let’s examine a few of the basic building blocks and head to what I believe to be the underlying problem. At its core, building a successful catering profit center is all about repeat catering sales and referrals. There’s not enough business to make it from one shot catering jobs in the corporate arena.

  1. Your Food: How good is your food? Do people ooh and aah over it? Being objective about your food is very difficult. It’s like a parent admitting their kid may be dumb or ugly. The good thing is that your food need not be stellar, just a high perceived value for what you charge. I have clients successfully selling Subway catering and others selling very high end corporate drop off at three to four times the price. There’s a market for all types, you just need to find the right niches. After all, Ford, Honda and Lexus all do very well.
  2. Your Service: This is one of the biggest factors in catering success. From how your staff is dressed to showing up on time, service breaks all ties. The real sign of a caterer who understands and wins the service game is what happens when something goes wrong. Early on I had a pharm rep who ordered lunch for a doctor’s office. The food was late, and she kept calling me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get hold of the courier. After about thirty minutes, I made a duplicate order and delivered it myself. Of course, the courier showed up a little before me. I ended up not charging her for her order, so there were two sets of food I paid for with zero revenue. To keep her business, I knew I would have to do better, so I picked up the cost of her next order for free. I begged her for a chance to show her we wouldn’t drop the ball again. Thankfully, she gave us another shot and ended up spending thousands a month with us and singing our praises to her other pharm rep friends. Three large orders for no revenue sucked. But sometimes you have to go overboard to salvage a relationship. I learned a very valuable lesson and earned the trust of an entire niche. 

So assuming you can deliver the food and the service, what’s the determining factor?

It all boils down to sales and marketing. The restaurants and caterers I work with who are the most successful, all put sales and marketing at the top of their priority list.

About an hour ago, I was on consult call with a gentleman just starting to grow his catering sales. He has tried repeatedly to hire someone to sell catering with no luck. In just a few minutes I realized he was the best candidate to sell catering. He had been a headhunter in a previous life, so he understood sales.

His goal after our call was to hire more help in the restaurant to free him up to sell. In the long run, he will make way more money.

I also have some clients who hire a catering sales rep. I can tell pretty quickly the winners from the losers. Farmers want to “service” the catering book of business, but are very resistant to go out and sell. They lack the “hunter” gene.

Whenever I get pushback from a client that our system isn’t working, I dig a little deeper and discover there’s a sales rep in the background whispering in their ear, “This is too much to do.”

When someone is accountable for following a Sales Tempo, having their calls recorded and their performance judged, the whiners come out. Sales winners aren’t afraid to be accountable and follow a sales process.

They know how to crush it!

Without a doubt, the answer to why your catering sales may suck lies within your culture.

When I was having lunch with Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank, he told me that in each of his companies the highest paid people are his salespeople. Why? Because nothing happens until you sell something.

Even on the franchise/chain level, the ones who are the most successful invest in sales.

I would like to claim I have special powers or am qualified to be the Wizard of OZ. I am not. I am a mere mortal…a mortal who has embraced, studied and perfected sales and marketing to grow all of my businesses. The same process I teach is the same one I use. 

Because at the end of the day I want to influence my future. I don’t want to be aimlessly bobbing in the ocean rudderless. 

It’s time to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do you want to be a victim or a victor?”

To the victor goes the spoils.  

To learn how you can get more than your fair share of the catering spoils in your market, then make plans to attend an upcoming seminar in Louisville, KY, on Monday, October 12, 2015.

You can get complete details at: 

Spots are limited, so register today.

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

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.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at

P.P.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 sales, catering marketing

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