When considering the many things your business cannot afford to be without, you’d be remiss to not include a catering CRM at the top of that list. Why? Because the right CRM will help you create and implement processes to encourage efficiency within your company, ultimately saving you time and money.
In this post:
- How to Choose the Best Catering CRM
- Catering CRM Tools for Today’s Tech-Forward Caterer
- Creative CRM Hacks for Caterers
How to Choose the Best Catering CRM for Your Business
If you’ve never purchased a catering CRM before or you’re having trouble narrowing down your options just follow these steps.
- Step 1: Create a one page snapshot of where your business is now and where you’d like it to be one year, five years, and ten years from now. List things like revenue, types of clients you’d like to work with, how many hours or days you’d ideally work per week, and what events you’d like to cater.
- Step 2: Make a wish list of must have CRM features (for caterers, this often includes things like standing order notes and automated event feedback surveys). Then make a separate list of features that would be nice to have (even though your business could live without branded invoice templating, it’d save you some time and make a better impression on clients).
- Step 3: Read reviews on sites like Software Advice, Capterra, and G2. Look for CRMs that users say helped them achieve the goals you listed on your snapshot. Then narrow down your options to just the ones that possess all your must have features.
- Step 4: Do a side by side comparison of any remaining catering CRMs. Price is usually a top buying decision but keep in mind that it might be worth it to pay a little extra if it means getting all your must haves and nice to haves in a single, integrated program.
- Step 5: Triple check that your final options can integrate with your existing tools. Invoicing, menu building, and payment processing are often included in catering CRMs but if you already have an app or program you know and love, simplify your workflow by choosing a software that plays nice with it. It will help eliminate duplicate entries, manual record updates, and a whole lot more busy work.
Up next, explore the top Sales & Catering CRM tools perfect for the tech-forward hotel caterer.
See 5 Catering CRM Tools for Today’s Tech-Forward Caterer:
This is an affordable, easy-to-learn Sales & Catering CRM that optimizes and tracks sales performance. This CRM automatically aggregates information from customer and prospect files into one simple dashboard. You can monitor open leads, open bookings, upcoming events, and review tasks automatically listed in order by importance and deadline.
This CRM also makes workflow management and optimization much simpler. Visual tools such as reports and booking charts help take complicated data sets and lay them out in terms your entire team can navigate. You can also see who is responsible for what and when everything is due, so following up with other team members is both more productive and more enjoyable.
A few of Social Tables’ features include:
- Create and customize critical sales reports
- Streamline and improve catering sales operations with cloud-based software you can access from anywhere
- Enjoy simple, intuitive design that helps you get new users up to speed fast
- Manage catering seamlessly by automating your catering processes, including contracting and BEOs
- Social Tables will migrate data from your existing system to Sales & Catering CRM, so that all your leads and customers are available from day one
Caterease was designed with your busy workdays in mind. You’ll find that aside from the frequent and free updates to their software, newsletters, weekly tips, and the ability to export your upcoming events to Google Calendar, Caterease will increase your overall productivity while preventing pricey mistakes.
A few of Caterease’s features include:
- A detailed dashboard and event calendar
- The ability to instantly edit client information
- Web leads with the option to process in real-time
Caterers everywhere understand the challenges that go along with managing the business side of things while simultaneously focusing on customers, which is what makes Catertrax so great. Built by caterers themselves, Catertrax knows exactly what caterers needs, resulting in an app that offers solutions for everyone, including those catering to Sports & Entertainment, Education, Business & Industry, and Healthcare.
Best of all, you can eliminate chaos while gaining the clarity you need in order to better plan upcoming events!
A few of CaterTrax’s features include:
- Customer online ordering
- Manage basic size menus for small to large groups
- Create an upsell opportunity associated to any sale
- Customers can see their accounts to check the status of their orders
- Customers can place multiple orders within one order
- A secure check out process for customers
How perfect would it be to have a catering CRM that helps you through the entire event process? From your very first meeting with your client to sending a thank you note once you’ve successfully completed the event order, ReServe Interactive is with you every step of the way.
A few of ReServe Interactive’s features include:
- Drag & Drop Multi-View Calendar and Event Book
- Multi-Device Accessibility
- Online Inquiry Accessibility and Document Creation
- Customer Relationship Management
- Event Reporting and Change Auditing
- E-Payment Capability
The takeaway? You’ll find yourself creating proposals and closing deals, building both stronger and long-term relationships, and ensuring all parties involved (i.e. your client and team) are on the same page at all times.
The first step in establishing a solid business plan is understanding your company’s needs. With Total Party Planner, you have a team of people known as the Client Care team to help you create and implement a plan around your needs, as well as software to help create proposals, invoices, and operational reports.
Some features of Total Party Planner include:
- Credit Card Processing
- Automating Leads
- Capturing Signatures
- Custom Reports
- Core Functionality Updates
If these pros aren’t enough to sway you, they also have a blog covering an array of topics to help boost your online presence and grow your business.
Discover 14 Creative CRM Hacks for Caterers:
Once you’ve picked the best catering CRM, get the most out of your investment with these out-of-the-box ideas.
1. Streamline lead collection.
Catering website chatbots (like the ones in this article) can automatically save new lead information to your CRM. Plus, they’re great for answering frequently asked questions and making your visitors feel welcomed by your brand.
2. Encourage employee contributions.
For example, the host of your event might mention to someone on the wait staff that the shrimp puffs are an absolute hit. Using their own login, that waiter or waitress can update the client profile from their phones or a shared business tablet. When this client books again in a year or two, you’ll know to suggest this particular dish along with similar or complementary menu items.
3. Standardize data entry.
Whether you prefer bulleted or numbered lists or phone numbers with or without brackets, having a style guide for your catering CRM will help keep things organized and easier to quickly reference. Keep these guidelines as a virtual sticky note on your computer desktop for data entry reference. You can also keep a fake contact entry in your CRM to use as an example of how all other client files should look.
4. Tap into client networks.
If you’ve had repeat business from this past year, offer them a friends and family referral using the information in their specific profile. For example, if you know Mrs. Johnson works out at Equinox, suggest that for every gym buddy she refers to your health conscious catering business she gets 5% off her next party invoice.
5. Save pictures and videos.
For every client event you participate in, make sure you take photos of your food, staff, and decor. Then add these to their profile for future reference. That way if they ask you about using those fancy food markers from three years ago, you can quickly pull up a photo of them and verify that those are the ones they’re looking for.
6. Link social media.
Your catering CRM might already help you link to individual client social media profiles within their contact. But there are lots of ways to integrate your CRM into your social media strategy too.
7. Build custom landing pages.
In your CRM, you should be able to use reporting features to identify your most lucrative target audiences. Gather that information and use it to create a landing page for each different type of client. Tailor the content, special offers, and menu examples on landing page to suit the needs and wants of that ideal customer.
8. Discover local ad opportunities.
With all your past and present client profiles in one place, you can start to identify major patterns, like where they primarily live or work. For example, through your CRM data, you may find that you have more customers in Northeast Ohio than Southeast Ohio. Which means you can laser focus on that region rather than trying to rank for SEO as a top caterer for all of Ohio. This will help dictate your marketing and sales efforts moving forward.
9. Answer FAQs.
Whenever a customer asks a question through a form submission, email, or phone call, make sure your CRM captures this data. You can use these questions to develop blog posts, social media content, and videos that boost your marketing in the future. If you don’t have that many questions saved yet, try sending out a customer survey with questions like these.
10. Automate client check ins.
Adjust your CRM settings to send out an automated email to every client you haven’t contacted in 3-4 months. It will help you touch base with cold accounts and continue to remind them of your services for upcoming occasions without requiring any extra time on your end. These re engagement email campaign examples can help you create your own template.
11. Offer early bird specials.
If you can afford to offer a discount for advanced bookings on things like holiday party catering, use your CRM to identify past holiday party clients. Then, take a look at clients who have booked events with you at the discounted rate and add them to the list as well. In a matter of minutes your CRM has helped you create a targeted campaign list for your upcoming promotion.
12. Use a data enrichment app.
A CRM data enrichment app automatically crawls the internet for updated information on things like client phone numbers, job titles, and home addresses. Once it finds new information, it will update the contact data for you, which is a big time saver if you have a lot of accounts. Here’s a great list of suggested CRM data enrichment apps to get you started.
13. Create a new client acquisition strategy.
You can use your CRM to compare your target customer profile to your actual customer profiles. Both the similarities and differences can help you regroup and strategize for the next quarter.\
14. Expand your network.
Your CRM is a great place for storing information on vendors, event sponsors, event planners, and even bartenders whose work you loved. Keep in touch with them over time (every six months is best) and look for opportunities to collaborate or refer their work. It’s a simple and easy way to expand your circle of influence and find even more clients while also helping out a fellow industry professional.
Now you’re ready to build better customer relationships!
Curious to learn more about how you can grow your hotel business with easy technology? Check out the essential guide to S&C CRM software. And while you’re at it, here are some more ideas on making your brand new catering company a success along with even more actionable marketing strategies.
Still have questions about catering CRM tools?
The Social Tables S&C CRM is the best catering-specific CRM software available for hotels.
Sales & catering is a hospitality industry concept that encompasses group business, especially when it relates to catering and billing.