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Tables of Content Catering:
Increasing Clientele
Research conducted for:
Linda Barck
Owner, Tables of Content Catering
November 28, 2009
Research conducted by:
Robert Morris
Evelyn Ozburn
Braulio Soto
Linda Barck is the owner of Tables of Content Catering, Boston’s premier caterer since 1992. Linda is
looking to increase and attract more clients for her company. This report will discuss the research that
was preformed to help Linda with her problem. The procedure, results, limitations and
recommendations will be discussed thoroughly.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Problem ............................................................................... 3
Chapter 2: Literature Review .................................................................... 3
Chapter 3: Procedures .................................................................................. 4
Chapter 4: Results ........................................................................................... 4
Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions & Implications ........................... 5
Chapter 1: The Problem
Business has been very good since the opening of Tables of Content Catering, but in the recent years
due to the economy business has somewhat declined. Linda is convinced that her revenue is not
anywhere near the level that it should be today. She is looking to increase and attract more clientele,
more specifically corporate clients. She also wants to keep her current clientele and increase repeat
business with these clients and all of her future clients.
After discussing the problem that Linda Barck is facing, two research questions emerged:
1st Research Question: How do catering companies attract and increase their clientele, more
specifically their corporate clientele?
2nd Research Question: What are the ways to increase repeat business?
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Linda Barck is the owner of Tables of Content Catering, Boston’s premier caterer since 1992. Tables of
Content Catering is a high-end catering service that caters to any event, weddings, fundraisers, social
and corporate events, cocktail parties etc. They are even a Food Service caterer.
Currently Tables of Content Catering’s advertising strategy consists of:
- Email blasting
- Sending out a news letter with their fall menu
- Advertising in Boston Business Journal & Boston Magazine
- Working with Citysearch & Yelp
- Displaying food & menus at the Event Planners Trade Show
There are 135 caterers located in the Greater Boston Area. Out of these 135 caterers there about ten
high-end caterers in the Boston area. Of those ten high-end caterers Linda considers these six her
biggest competition:
Gourmet Catering
East Meets West
Cusine Chez Vous
Domenic & Anthony
The Catered Affair
The United States catering industry is a five billion a year industry that consists of about 10,000 catering
companies. The industry’s revenue comes mostly from corporate profits and the income of consumers.
The primary services consist of on and off premise catering. On-premise catering is catering where the
food is prepared and served at the same site. Off-premise catering is catering where the food is
prepared in a different location from where it is served. Forty-five percent of the catering market is off3
premise catering, forty percent is on-premise catering, and the other fifteen percent of the market is
represented by alcohol sales and venue rentals.
The biggest factors to becoming a successful catering company is controlling the cost of your product
and services, as well as being capable of sufficiently marketing your company. There are a handful of
ways that catering companies advertise their business, the most proficient way is usually by word-ofmouth. These referrals are from past and current clients, the venues you work with, and other
companies in the industry. The internet is not a big advertising factor in the catering industry. Websites
typically talk about the owners and chefs, lists clients and gives a look at a food menu.
Chapter 3: Procedures
In order to accomplish the objective of this project, we collected data answering how corporate clients
choose their caterers and how caterers can get their foot in the door with these corporate companies.
To get this information, we developed a questionnaire that was simple and direct. The questionnaire
was divided up in to three sections: screening questions, selection factors, and classification questions.
The first section was the screening questions. The screening questions were made up of two multiple
choice questions and two yes or no questions. The second section was the selection factors. In this
section there was a list of seven factors that many people consider before they choose what caterer
they want to hire. The respondent was asked to rank factors from 1 to 7, 7 being the most important
reason for hiring the caterer and 1 being the least important reason. Each factor had to be ranked with a
different number to ensure that there were no ties. The final section consisted of the classification
questions. The classification questions were made up of two multiple choice questions that pertained to
the company the respondent worked for.
Once we finished drafting the questionnaire, we called up thirty of the major corporate companies in
the Greater Boston area and administered it. The questionnaire only took the respondents a couple of
minutes to complete. Afterwards we took the answers to the questionnaire and analyzed the
information that was given to us.
Chapter 4: Results
First of all, of the thirty companies that we contacted to take our questionnaire, only five completed it
and gave us information to analyze. Since only five out of thirty companies completed the questionnaire
we weren’t capable of compelling much statistical information. With that being said, the results that we
did receive were very interesting to see.
When the respondents were asked if they used a catering service when hosting events, each of the five
companies said yes they do use a catering service when hosting events.
When asked how many times a year they used a catering service, each of the five companies admitted
that they use a catering service more than 30 times a year. This means that out of these five companies,
each company approximately uses a catering service three times a month.
It was also interesting to see that each company did have an annual entertainment budget that they
used for catering services.
The results that we got for the selection factors were the most interesting to see. It was surprising to see
that out of the seven factors (price, quality of service, food quality, food variety, presentation of food,
availability and venue) all of the companies chose availability and price as the number one and number
two most important factors that they consider when choosing what caterer they are going to hire.
Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions & Implications
The research that is described in this report addresses the two questions stated in chapter one. They
regard the explanation of increasing and attracting clientele for a catering company. Through the
research that we have done we have discovered what companies look for in a catering company. We
have also learned about some of the similar trends that companies have concerning the use of a
catering company. With that being said we can make a couple of recommendations.
Corporate companies are not looking for a caterer to provide them with the most amazing and greatest
food that they have ever had tasted. They are looking for a catering company that is available when
needed and a caterer that is not too pricy. So we would suggest to Linda that she cut costs where ever
she can to lower the price of her services. She could do this by using more generic food brands.
We should note several limitations that we ran into when performing the research. First off our sample
size, as we told you in chapter four we were only able to get five companies out of the thirty that we
called to answer our questionnaire. If we could have gotten more companies to answer the survey we
would have been able to get some more statistical data. Emailing or even giving the questionnaire in
person could have resulted in getting more companies to answer our survey.
Second, the questionnaire was limited for ease. The questionnaire was pretty small. A longer
questionnaire may have allowed for a better determination of how to increase clientele, what
companies are looking for, and what factors are going to attract more business. Also the questions that
were used in the questionnaire didn’t create enough valuable information. If we changed around or
even took out the selection factor question with an open ending question asking the company what they
looked for in a caterer. If we did that we would have been able to hear exactly what the company
wanted from a catering service. Also if we followed up by asking exactly how much of the company’s
annual entertainment budget went to a company, we would have been to able collect some more
statistical information. Also adding a question asking the company how they came in contact with the
caterers that they use, would have been more beneficial to our research than knowing how many times
a year they use a caterer. Finally instead of only having one questionnaire that concentrated on
companies that could be potential customers, we could have created another questionnaire the catering
companies that Linda considers her competition. The questionnaire could have had questions pertaining
to how they attract their clientele. This would let us see what they are doing differently than Linda and
what they are doing similarly. It would also provide us with more suggestions for Linda and Tables of
Content Catering.
Future Research
Some data suggests that future research needs to be conducted. Why is availability and price more
important than food quality and variety? This might have to do with the economy being so bad right
now. Would price be such a big deal if the economy was flourishing? These studies might provide us
with awareness that our study could not. Also these studies could give us better recommendations as
well as more recommendations. With that being said we would suggest that before moving on to other
studies, the information collected from this study be looked at more closely.