How to Reverse Engineer Restaurant & Catering Success

publication date: Apr 1, 2019
author/source: Michael Attias


How can you use reverse engineering to build your restaurant & catering sales?

Years ago when starting out I realized success leaves clues. Niche marketing is the ultimate reverse engineering tactic.

I think the epiphany started in 1993. I remember getting a large drop-off catering on Black Friday from a large retailer at the mall. Being a dude, I had no idea what Black Friday was. I called the contact at the retailer and received an education.

This is what goes through my mind and the formula you should use to reverse engineer catering sales:

  1. I just catered a ________ type of event for _____________. (Black Friday for a major retailer).


  2. Are there other ___________ ordering caterings like this? (retailers)


  3. If so, who do I target and when?


  4. Create a marketing letter/strategy to get more catered events from this niche.

So in the example above, I figured out other retailers catered in meals for their hard working associates on Black Friday. I knew I could drive around each major mall/shopping center in Nashville and build my own list to target. This was pre-internet.

I surmised the decision maker was either the HR director of the store (department stores) or the store manager.

That first year I sent letters to 45 major retailers.

I sent the letter out about a month before Black Friday, and then called each store to follow up. Yes. Some times I had to make multiple calls and was asked to follow up. Other times I was sent to an assistant manager or key admin.

I saw a large opportunity that took about $45 in mailing costs and some time on the the afternoon during my down time. Unless you are a one man hot dog cart, you have an hour each afternoon to unplug, leave your store and market.

The bottom line was $6,000 in drop-off catering sales for that Black Friday. I have had many other members use this strategy with success.

I used this reverse engineering strategy to get a ton of pharm rep business. Playing detective led me to discover there was a Middle Tennessee Pharm Reps Association. I sponsored their calendar. It had a listing of all the members. I sponsored a meeting and fed them all and gave them beer to drink.

They in turn indirectly contributed to my kids' college fund.

Niches are everywhere. It is the low hanging fruit of building catering sales.

Does it take work? Does it require more energy than watching Family Guy? Yes and yes.

It beats the alternative...sitting, waiting for customers to grace your dining room with their presence.

There is no excuse in this country for not succeeding. Opportunities abound.

Will this article be a bitter tasting lemon or a tool to make sell to construction workers on a hot July day?

The ocean cares not whether you show up with a thimble or bucket to take it away.

Which will you use?

Michael AttiasMichael Attias is the founder of Restaurant Catering Systems and a former partner and operator of a restaurant that sold over $1,000,000 a year in catering out of a 104 seat location. After he sold his interest in the restaurant, he dedicated his resources to the creation of the first web based catering software for restaurants. You can download his eBook: "Cater or Die! A Step-by-Step Plan For Doubling Your Catering Profits" at his site.

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