Web sites have never got me incredible business, some orders but no good solid clients. I firmly believe in old school pounding the phones, setting up tastings with corporate clients and a very informative and personable sales person.
I stick to word of mouth and website referrals. Advertising gets you responses from people looking for bargains in my experience. Build your clientelle slowly and stick to your strengths. Don't try to make everyone happy.
I am an alcohol catering type company, check out <spam>
I provide exquisite bar services, professional mixologists or master bartenders, with high end cocktails with all natural/organic ingredients. We specialize in custom beverages, the newest raves on liquor, etc. We have also provided interesting attire depending on the party (we painted latex outfits on our female bartenders).
The Wine Not? llc, provides certified sommeliers for tastings and socials. We have imported some of the finest wines to the basic well known goodies. We have also served the wine from the cellar of a client giving expert knowledge on food pairings, etc.
This is a new venture for society, an alcohol catering business, there are some out there but we have a unique style, high end drinks to the basics, and bring excitement with bar flare, costumes, decor, etc.
These catering websites have been around since the beginning of the internet. Clients that have alot of money spend, who cater frequently, do not use these sites. (like localcatering.com, directcatering.com) Usually people that use these sites have never had anything catered to them before, and absotutely know nothing about the catering process. People are suckered into these sites because these sites are the first ones that pop up when "caterer" is googled. If you are a caterer looking to get leads from these sites, chances are you are going to get real bottom-of-the-barrow clients, people who don't have much money to spend. My advise is to spend the money on getting your website on the first page of a search engine, it is money much better spent rather than giving it to these losers. There is nobody I know that has ever really snagged a good profitable gig of of one of these sites... and I 've been the catering busines for 20 years. Smarter clients with money look beyond these bloodsuckers and search out caterers with-out the middleman. So, my opinion,.... just spend the extra money and get a great website for yourself
I started with Local catering in 2003 got plenty of leads went back and now HUGE difference, could be the economy but like the last person stated not many referrals and they are looking for cheap as of 2011 I received about 3 real leads that came through other than that I am looking for another way/solution...
I have been with localcatering.com since '04 and they used to generate 20 plus leads a day, but for the last year if they have 10 a month your lucky. And as a previous commentor said all the leads now want a deal at unrealistic prices. Customers have lost their minds in this economy!!
I too have been using these lead generators for about 10 years - since just after 9-11. It takes a while to learn how to "read" the forms and of course each potential client reads it and fills it out differently. It HAD been a lucrative source of income for us in the past. - We've gotten multiple jobs that were over 20K - up to 70K even - but that was then and this is now. It used to be that the clients would put in a price of 15-25 per guest and they wouldn't find anyone to do it at that price - now the ball game is different.
And I too have noticed that the # of requests has declined tremendously which means that Localcatering is not paying for SEO the way they used to (also I heard from an industry insider that they were using what google considers unethical cross linking - so they have lost their ranking - but who knows - just know the traffic has declined)
Thumbtack seems to be the new kid on the block for this sort of lead generating. Not very impressed with the quality of leads.
For now I am not spinning any wheels pursuing these jobs - most of them these days do seem to be tire kickers or I just don't have the energy to weed ... (by the way this has always been the complaint about lead generators and especially sites like thumbtack that encourage you to put in a bid without having direct contact with the client - which is KEY)
I think from what I know of the local catering team, they are concentrating their efforts and google $$$$ (SEO) on their medical lead generator sites not on the local catering site, I barely get one led per month in my market from them and have given up with that path. Buy google ad words or figure out how to get your own SEO up there in your market.
Did you ever read "who moved my cheese"?
Each of us work in such different markets - there is no "one size fits all" answer.
A few caterers I know from my caterBuzz group have had good results in winning the "best of" or "top caterer" in their own cities - those contests run by newspapers and magazines require you get the ballots stuffed - use your social media contacts to get people to vote for you. Then when someone does an online search for "best caterer in LA" guess who pops up.
I use localcatering but don't get a thing from them. Thumbtack.com has just recently become the most consistent contributor of leads for websites of that sort for me. Another one that is pretty good for me is WedPlan.net. There is also GigSalad.com. Decidio.com used to send a lot of leads, not as much any more. Eventective.com has never done much for me.
Overall, I think all of them are worth putting profiles on. Getting your website on there helps with your search engine rankings and all the ones I mentioned above are "pay as you get", where you might have to pay a $50 fee to join, but you get the same credit towards purchasing leads. Most give me enough information about the leads up front that I can decide whether or not I want to bother to buy the contact info. The price with most are around $2 for contact info and $5 for exclusive rights to that info.