Caterers are looking for advice in depot

Before we establish how to communicate with independent caterers we first need to understand whether caterers want to be communicated with, to gauge whether they are receptive to advice and information from wholesalers and suppliers. Do they want information? Do they seek it? And most importantly do they act on it?

Information sources

him! has spoken to more than 3,000 independent caterers while they are shopping in cash and carries throughout the UK and the good news is that 41% of them say they do want advice and information from wholesalers and suppliers.

Having established that a good proportion of caterers are seeking advice, the next step is to find out how they want to receive it – in other words where do they currently seek or notice it?

Seventy two per cent say that they read a trade magazine regularly, 37% say they have picked up a leaflet from the cash and carry where they were interviewed, and 22% say they have received leaflets from the cash and carry. Eighteen per cent say they receive information from supplier sales reps, 14% from the cash and carry’s website and 14% from the supplier’s website. Only 2% say they received information and advice from the cash and carry’s business development manager.

Comments from caterers about where they received information and advice from included, “profit on return information at cash and carries – I look for items that will give me the greatest margins from my original outlay”, “I get ideas from the trade press as well as information on top sellers” and “suppliers websites inform me on what to stock for the next month”.

Information hotspots

When caterers are in the cash and carry it is also important to establish where they notice POS and other information. Table 1 (above) shows the highest recall of POS is in the reception area of the cash and carries, so this is where we should be making the greatest impact. Could we make more of reception POS as this is the best place to communicate?

It is a great place to catch caterers before they are in shopping mode. Could we get the receptionist to up-sell and hand out leaflets to create more buzz in this area?

However, 41% of caterers didn’t see any POS. They are not as promotionally driven as retailers – only 18% of caterers are at the cash and carry planning on buying an item on promotion versus 31% of retailers – but they still have higher POS recall than consumers.

Launching NPD

With new products most caterers tend to learn about them from leaflets, backed up with POS in the cash and carry, so we need to make sure this is available for all NPD launches.

It is also important to note that sales reps and word of mouth/shoppers asking for it were also highly mentioned, so sales reps need to be well briefed and correctly utilised. There is a real opportunity here.

For suppliers this shows the opportunity of having sales representatives in the cash and carry reception area. Could sales representatives give out vouchers for NPD to redeem at cash and carry to drive in footfall and awareness?

What do caterers want advice about?

Caterers tell him! they would welcome advice on menu and recipe ideas. Their menu choices are influenced mainly by customer demand so you may think there is not much room to influence caterers, but they also say they are interested in seasonal produce so we can use seasons or events to communicate seasonal ideas to them.

Next is general business advice, such as how to improve their offer and build a business for the future. They would also welcome information on the top sellers. Price is way down the list of importances for caterers even in the current climate. It has fallen since 2008 so we need to do more than talk about price. It is quality and the benefits that caterers will be looking for.

So in summary, when we are focusing on communicating to caterers we need to offer advice via trade press and leaflets, and focus on POS in the cash and carry reception. When communicating NPD it needs to be on leaflets and backed up with POS. Recipe ideas (especially a focus on seasonal), and help with business advice and top sellers, are the way to a caterer’s heart.

Each year him! speaks to 6,000 retailers and caterers while they are shopping in a cash and carry. For more information on him!’s Cash Carry Retailer and Caterer Tracking Programmes please contact 07912 717567 or visit

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