Marketing Tips for the Personal Chef
Personal chefs, like caterers, will have to market themselves, even if they join a professional association like the American Personal and Private Chef Association, which matches clients to chefs. The most successful entrepreneurs market their business through a variety of means, so they have several ways of reaching customers.
Reserving a Domain
Many people will ask if you have a Web site. It's easy to design one and get it up and running, and it will be an invaluable marketing and sales tool. The first thing you'll need to do is find a domain, or a place for your site on the World Wide Web. The domain should match your business name exactly. A dot-com (.com) ending for a domain is the most popular. The “com” stands for “commercial,” indicating a for-profit business.
After you have your domain reserved and your e-mail set up, you can build a simple Web site using specialized software like Page Maker or the online software that companies like Network Solutions provide for their clients. You can build a standard five-page Web site in just a few hours, and you can post photos, cooking history, menus, pricing, and service information all for a couple of hundred dollars a year.
Make sure to include specific words in the Search Engine Optimization area when building a Web site, so that search engines like Yahoo and Google will list your site high in their results. Include terms like “personal chef,” “hire your own chef,” and “meal delivery service.” If you specialize in meals for diabetics, or low-fat meals, include those terms too.
Targeting the Right Customers
Good targets for your service are working women and successful single moms. Many working moms with kids and a demanding career would love to hire a personal chef if they could find one that was reliable and reasonably priced. Offer to speak at local women's groups.
Market your services to personal financial planners at local Merrill Lynch and Fidelity branch offices. High-net-worth people who use financial planners generally don't want to spend time on daily chores like grocery shopping and meal preparation and are a great source of potential business for personal chefs.
If you know of any local celebrities, try contacting their personal assistants. Research the professional athletes who live in your area, and contact them through the team's main office. If there are big companies in your area, target the senior managers from the firm's annual report. Call the company and ask to talk to their secretaries. Tell them what you do and send information to them. Many people don't use personal chefs simply because they're unaware that chefs are locally available, easy to use, and reasonably priced.
Solicit Recommendation Letters
Ask clients for recommendation letters. If you don't yet have any clients, see if you can find a small neighborhood event to cater, or ask a colleague if she'll use you to cater her son's graduation party. Even if you work at a discounted rate, it will be good experience, and you can get some solid recommendation letters for your Web site.
After you've cooked for them, ask a few clients if they'd be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. Some people will write their own, while others will ask you to draft one for them. Ask clients who write their own to type them and print them on their letterhead, if at all possible. For clients who want you to draft a letter, e-mail it to them and ask them to sign it and print it on their letterhead. Once you have a few letters, scan them into PDF format so that you can email them to prospective clients and post them on your Web site.