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The Nationwide Caterers Association

Marketing Tips for Caterers

Delicious food and great service is all very well and good. But if no one knows your food is available, how are you going to make money?

Marketing your mobile catering business

Marketing matters.

How are you going to stand out from your competition? How will you pull in a constant stream of new customers? How will you keep the old ones coming back? Through great marketing, that’s how.

There are loads of different ways to market a business, all with varied levels of success. But before you can even begin to think about your different marketing options, you need to think about who your customers are.

Know your customers.

A restaurant’s marketing should differ wildly from a street food trader’s because their customers are likely to be from completely different demographics. They show up in different places, they're looking for different types of food and they can be reached by marketing materials in different places.

Be consistent.

Hopefully you love your business’s brand, so you won’t mind making sure that all your marketing platforms capture your brand consistently. Don’t confuse customers before you’ve even served them by having a different logo or different fonts on your website and your unit.

Invest in good photography.

The simplest way to make a potential customer think that they want your food is to show them photos of your offering. If photos of your food don't look appertising, or are blurry or a bit dark, you're missing an oppotunity to sell your product.

Take a look any successful fixed site's website and you'll see that the photos make them look good. You might even think, "Mmm I want to try that" - and that's exactly how you should be making your customers feel when they see photos of your food.

Use your website.

Your own website is the best place you can keep customers informed about opening times, offers, news and your menu.

If you don’t have a website yet, don’t panic. These days you can create a great-looking website at a low cost. A quick Google search for ‘website builder’ is a good place to start.

If you’re not overly creative yourself, why not ask your friends if they can help? You’ll keep costs low and can be really closely involved in the website design to make sure it’s exactly what you want.

Online website builders such as are incredibly easy to use. It's worth getting someone with a creative talent to get you started but once it's built you should be able to maintain and update it yourself. Remember, it's all about the imagery, layout and functionality. Make sure it looks good, is easy to use and answers all of the questions your audience will have. If you tick those boxes, you can't go wrong.

Get on social media.

There are loads of different platforms available to you – among the most popular are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you’re not using them to promote your food business, you’re wasting a precious resource. A FREE resource in fact.

Catering businesses use Twitter more and more to communicate with customers; it’s a very interactive tool. If you’ve already got a profile, make sure it reflects your brand visually, then get tweeting! Let your followers know your news, funny stuff that's happened, when you’ve run out of certain dishes, foodie jokes – anything!

And don’t forget to #hashtag! If you haven’t got Twitter yet, sign up straight away at

Use social media to reach new customers

You might not be able to respond to every single tweet you receive, but your followers will know that you care if you reply to them every time you get the chance. Remember to follow @NCASS_UK too ;)

Make a special effort.

Special marketing promotions can give sales a huge boost on days when you’re just not getting enough custom. If you’ve got enough staff on shift, send one or two of them out with some free samples and get them to show customers where to come.

Or, run a special offer to lighten up a quiet hour. Tell passers-by that food is half price for the next half hour – it’s better to sell at a lower price than to waste food.

If your business is in a busy spot and you're lucky enough to grab a good share of the lunch hour action, consider using a loyalty scheme to keep customers coming back regularly (and, more importantly, to stop them from visiting your competitors!). A simple ‘buy 9 meals, get the 10th free’ card can work wonders for customer loyalty.

You can make great use of social media if you’re running special promotions too. Tweet or write a Facebook post to tell your customers about a competition you’re running, and ask them to share the post to get more exposure for your promotion.

Ask NCASS for more advice.

We love chatting to our members and helping them to improve their marketing and increase profits. And if you're not a member, we want to do that for you too. Visit the membership page to join or give us a call on 0121 603 2524 for your first piece of marketing advice as a member!

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Latest News

Caterers challenged to revamp trolley into fully functional street food business

by Sophie Haigh | Jul 24, 2019

Mobile caterers with a keen eye for innovation have been set a challenge; to create the smallest street food vehicle based on the design of a shopping trolley.

Dubbed ‘The Street Food Trolley Challenge,’ the concept is the brainchild of Dolly, the UK’s smallest, most versatile food truck, whose owner launched the exciting competition to get people to ‘use every corner of your imagination.’ The challenge has been described as a mix between MasterChef and Scraphead Challenge.

The competition officially launched on 17th July, with competitors invited to register at In round one of the challenge, competitors will create their chosen design using the plans of the trolley and must take into account the fact that the four wheeled ‘vehicle’ should be able to function as a street food operator – serving up any kind of food or drink. Food hygiene is also a major consideration when designing the trolley vendor.

A group of judges will then pick their favourite designs to go forward to round two, where each competitor will receive a refurbished trolley to develop and run as a street food operation at an exclusive street food event in London in September. Round three will then see the winner being selected and rewarded with a trip to Sweden to attend the European Street Food Awards, as well as £500 in cash.

Dolly's Creative Director, Andrew Mellon, said: “There are three things Dolly is particularly obsessed with. Fantastic food – that always comes first; recycling and refurbishment – she’s a great example of this herself; and trolleys! She has a pair of retro Monarch Airline trolleys that are perfect for so many uses, especially holding her gin. So this competition is something very close to her heart.”

Dolly, a 1986 Dolly model 2CV, was transformed into a state-of-the-art food truck and concept bar in 2018 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 2CV. She now operates as a fully functional, retractable kitchen, incorporating a series of exchangeable units for serving up food and drink, as well as the option to take her doors and wings off to allow her to slip through a double door. She has made appearances at the British Street Food Awards, the Portsmouth Seafood Festival, London Food Tech Week and most recently, served 100 VIPs at L’Etape Tour de France.

Anyone residing in the UK is eligible to participate but must register and complete the first challenge by 6th August. Each trolley will be judged on the following: 

  • Quality and creativity of food
  • Trolley appearance
  • Branding and style
  • Overall idea
  • How well everything works
  • Service Cleanliness and food hygiene
  • Eco-friendliness

If you fancy a challenge and the opportunity to serve up your own menu at the exclusive foodie event in London, click here to register. Good luck!

Did you know...

When you join the association we ask you to write a bit about your business and provide some photos.

You can share the link to your customers and get them to leave you reviews and impress future customers! There's plenty of other reasons to become a member which you can find here, but we want you to know we've got your back when it comes to marketing too!

> Find out more

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