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The Catch-y Caterer
This is part one of my series with Staples and how they help small businesses do #MoreThisHoliday season. For this series, I’m teaming up with the local catering company The Catch-Y Caterer as the owner launches her first retail store. With the help of Staples, we will showcase how a small business can rely on Staples this holiday season – for not only tech and office supply needs, but also for printing holiday menus or finding restaurant service supplies. Follow along with me this holiday season!
It’s a catchy name. In talking with Erin Cacciabaudo, owner of a local catering company in New Jersey, I realize that the business name is the tip of the iceberg. We meet at her yet-to-be-launched retail location. There are painters, electricians, an accountant and her chef all with their heads down working at a feverish pace. It makes me feel like I’m watching a movie at 4x speed. Erin looks at her watch and then to me “Ok, I have 20 minutes. Let’s grab lunch and talk business.” Welcome to the world of a successful caterer getting ready for the holidays.
Brian Moran: What’s the background on your business? How did it all start?
Erin Cacciabaudo: I went to the Institute of Culinary Education. After graduating, I spent two-plus years as a personal chef in NYC. While I loved my work, I wanted to start a catering business. I’ve always loved organizing things, and doing event planning. Food was the vehicle I chose to help me combine all my loves.
Brian: You have an incredible amount of energy. Were you always this passionate about food and business?
Erin: No! As the youngest of five children, the only “alone” time I could get with my mother was at the supermarket. I never passed up a chance to go with her. The increased energy level came when I went to college. I played lacrosse at Princeton University which meant I had two full-time jobs. I needed the higher energy level just to keep up with my studies and playing lacrosse; there was no downtime. When I started my company, I also had a young family (Erin has four children ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade). It felt like an extension of the two jobs I had in college. I knew the commitment level that was necessary in order to be successful in both endeavors.
Brian: Your company is now 11 years old and expanding as we talk today. To what do you attribute your success?
Erin: I finally learned to delegate! I enjoy leading by example, and letting my employees know that I’m confident in the direction I’ve chosen for my business. That said, I also let them know that I’m open to them taking leadership positions on projects. I want them to play an integral role in our success. When we win, we win as a team.
Brian: There have been seismic changes to the business landscape since 2004. Let’s focus on marketing—how are you marketing your business today versus in 2004?
Erin: In 2004, the majority of our marketing efforts were focused on word-of-mouth. As the business grew and we learned how to better use technology, we created email campaigns to market our services. Today, our email newsletters are the workhorse and we are learning to use social media more with our Facebook page.
Brian: Tomorrow, you and I are going to Staples to pick out items that will help your business for the upcoming holidays. What’s on your shopping list?
Erin: What’s NOT on my list (she says with a laugh)! We are HUGE fans of Staples. We use them to print our menus, flyers, and business cards. We buy all our office supplies from them—pens, pads, whiteboards, labels, etc. We also shop Staples online – they have a great section on restaurant and food service supplies. And as we get ready to open our retail location, I need to look at a new computer and a printer.
Brian: Staples does make it easy for small business owners to do more for less every day. I really like the UPS shipping counter in their stores. Next question–What’s been the biggest surprise for you since you started your company?
Erin: The biggest surprise has probably been training my employees. I underestimated how hard it would be to get nine people to work in lock-step together. When we are at a catering job, timing and precision are critical to success. Thankfully, I’m blessed with a great group of employees. My head chef Maureen is a mentor to me having owned her own catering company for years. Together we will analyze every job to see if there was anything we could have done better.
Brian: I know there are more surprises coming from the catch-y caterer. In part II of my blog post series for Staples, we will talk about catchy. (yes, with a period at the end of the name), Erin’s new retail location launching in early December.
This post is sponsored by Staples. Staples helps small business do #MoreThisHoliday for less. Now thru Nov. 21, check out their Small Business Savings Event with amazing deals on core business products: www.staples.com/dailydeals.