One of my family’s earliest food businesses was a Personal Chef Business ran from home.
We started our Personal Chef Business in 2005 with just one customer. We built our Personal Chef Business into something much larger that now totally supports our family from the comfort of our home-based food business.
I can’t wait to share how we did it.
The 10 Ways To Get Personal Chef Customers
I’m going to organize these strategies to get new Personal Chef Clients in the order that new Personal Chef Businesses will use them. We’ll go from ways to get your very first customers to how to grow your business beyond a few customers a day.
The first two tactics are for brand new Personal Chef Businesses and they don’t have much profit margin, but read them carefully before discarding the ideas.
The value you gain from these first steps is going to build the foundation of success for your new business.
#1 At Cost Family And Friends
When starting a brand new Personal Chef Business you are going to need to practice the new skills that Personal Chef Needs.
This isn’t the article to deep dive into these new skills, but let’s make sure that you’re away of the most important skills you’ll need to practice.
Main Skills Needed To Run A Personal Chef Business
- Frozen Meal Recipe Design
- Menu Planning
- Grocery Shopping
- Packing & Transporting Cooking Equipment
- Packaging Of Meals
The first few times that you have a work-day as a Personal Chef, no matter how well you prepare, you are going to have a few problems. I did, and you will too.
The best place to face those learning moments (problems) is in the home of someone who knows you and loves you. Better yet, someone who knows that they are helping you out and getting a great deal at the same time.
When we started our Personal Chef Business, the first three cook-days were for either family or dear friends who agreed to help us work the kinks out of our new business.
They basically agreed to be our beta-test clients, and still cover the cost of their own groceries while we tossed in our time for free.
We approached each potential beta-test client we said something like this:
“We’re starting a Personal Chef Business, where we do all the menu planing, all the grocery shopping, and all the cooking…then we clean up the mess. All our clients are left with is healthy home-cooked meals in their refrigerator and freezer. But we need to practice. Would you be willing to let us cook for you in your kitchen? All it will cost you is the actual cost of the ingredients, and a testimonial that we can use in marketing.”
Everyone we asked said yes, because they know us and love us.
The experience and feedback that we received was invaluable and become the foundation of our new business.
The testimonials were used in nearly every other marketing effort for our new Personal Chef Bussiness.
The investment of our time in these first cook-days had a huge return-on-investment (ROI), and I encourage you to start the same way.
P.S. When we started in 2005, we just asked for testimonials in writing. In the current world, I’d start asking for a written testimonial, but if it felt right I’d ask for a picture to share with the testimonial. If you think there is a chance, you should also ask for a video testimonial. A video is powerful!
#2 Half Price Friends of Friends
The next step to getting new customers is to ask the family and friends from your first cook days (your beta-test clients) to think about two friends who might be interested in trying your new Personal Chef Business with a discount for first-time early customers.
Then, very politely ask your beta-testers to mention your business to their friends in the coming days and weeks.
Each time someone says they are willing to try your new small business for first-time customer discount, have your beta-tester get their phone number to you and you’ll contact them personally.
Don’t be afraid to frame this request as a continuation of their help launching your new small business. People love to be part of a small business story, and especially people who know you and love you.
#3 Brochures & Word Of Mouth
Now it’s time to build your first Personal Chef brochure.
After cooking for your beta-testers and first discounted customers, you now have the bits that you need for a quality brochure.
- Pictures Of Happy Customers
- Pictures of You Working
- Pictures of Your Food
You can design your brochures yourself, or hire a designer. When first starting, I’d suggest that you do them yourself.
Many of the online print shops have tools where you can design your brochure online with a drag and drop interface.
Keep in mind that at this point in your Personal Chef Startup, people know you are a local small business. They don’t expect your marketing material to look like that of a Fortune 500 company.
Don’t spend too much time or money on this…good enough is just right. If it’s not polished, just make sure it’s charming and authentic.
You can do this.
#4 Local Press Release
You are going to be surprised how much traction a local press release can get for your new small business. Local media loves feel-good local small business stories.
Be sure to send it to all of your local media outlets and business organization. These include:
- TV Stations
- Radio Stations
- Chamber of Commerce
Send your press release to the generic ‘news’ email address for each outlet, but also send it directly to anyone who you personally know who works for those organizations.
Find reporters or talk show hosts who cover stories like yours and send it directly to those folks too. Radio talk show hosts are always looking for good local stories…help them out by letting them help you out!
#5 Facebook Page
A Business Page on Facebook is free, and that’s the perfect price point for a brand new business.
Most of us spend time (probably too much time) on Facebook.
On Facebook you can share items that let strangers in your area get to know you and love you just like your earliest customers did.
By sharing your story, how your potential clients fit into your story, and how your customers will thrive with your service, you’ll get more clients and friends.
Things you might share on your Personal Chef Page on Facebook:
- Pictures of your food.
- Pictures from the grocery store.
- Testimonials from customers.
- Polls for new menu items to tease existing and new customers to order soon.
- News stories that share your world view of food: organic, local, wholefood, keto, vegan, etc? Your clients choose you because they share your basic food views…they want you to help them learn more about their own food views.
- Funny foodstuff.
- Personal stories about you and your family. People want to be your friend because you’re cool.
Once your page on Facebook is set up, you’ll invite family and friends. Then you’ll ask each of them to invite their friends and family.
#6 Facebook Ads
The coolest thing about a business page on Facebook is that they have really targeting advertising available.
Once your Personal Chef Business Page is up and running, for just a few dollars a week you can start advertising to people in your local area.
We advertise on Facebook nearly every week, even after being in business for over 15 years. We target people within 15 miles of our location (we deliver meals now as a Prepared Meal Solutions Business) who are 25 or older.
If you want, you can get even more targeted on Facebook. Want to target ads at only people interested in weight loss…no problem. Mothers? Easy. Only women. Sure.
#7 Google Local Business Listing
A Google Local Business Listing for your Personal Chef Business is also free; remember that’s the perfect price point for a new business.
When people are looking for a personal chef, most of them are going to pick up their phone and say “Hey Google, Personal Chef Near Me”. Google is going to show them information that answers their question, but they are going to start with information from their own sources.
In this case, Google’s own source is Google Local Business Listings.
You must be on their listings, and you need to take time to completely fill out your listing.
Take your time and do it right.
#8 Personal Chef Business Website
Ok, now we are beyond the perfect price point of free. A website is going to cost you money, but not a lot.
When people find you on Facebook or Google, they are going to look to see if you have a website. If you don’t, they are going to hesitate while they wonder if you are a ‘real’ Personal Chef.
Don’t give potential clients a reason to not contact you.
Once you are up and running you need a website, even it’s just a few pages of information and pictures. A video of you talking about your service is a bonus.
Take a look at my Recommended Tools to figure out how I recommend new business owners build their website.
#9 Local Google Ads
Now that you have a full presence on the web, you can take advantage of Google AdSense.
Google offers amazing ads and an affordable cost. They are very targeted, in that you can target exact searches.
If someone in your local area searches for “Prepared Meals in My City”, you can bid to be the #1 business that they see in the search results.
We spend hundreds every month on Google Adsense, and the ROI is a great. It’s the best marketing money we spend because we are advertising only to people who are actively looking for a food business like ours.
#10 Grow From Personal Chef To Delivered Meals
I told you before that we began as Personal Chefs, but in time we had so many clients that we couldn’t serve them in that business model any more.
That’s when we purchased our dream home in the country and installed a licensed commercial kitchen in the basement of our home.
Now we serve many of the same customers that we did as a Personal Chef Service, but instead of cooking in our clients homes we cook in our own home.
Now, instead of cooking for 5 to 9 clients a week, we cook for 25 to 40 a week. And we charge the same per meal as we did as Personal Chefs. You do the math.
Please don’t think I’m trying to discourage you starting a home-based Personal Chef Business…I AM NOT!
A Personal Chef Business is a great way to support your family with little overhead or risk.
If you follow these steps, you’ll add more customers every month until you are faced with the wonderful dilemma of either raising your prices or finding a way to cook for more people.
When we reach that dilemma after about 18 months of working as personal chefs, we first choose to raise our prices. That eliminated a few customers, but we were still working a lot because we’re not very good at saying “NO” when someone offers to give us money for work.
So then we decided to find a way to cook for more people in the same amount of work hours.
You might follow the same path, or you might decide to stay with a Personal Chef Business Model. Or you might create something else…and if you do I hope you contact me and tell me all about it!
There is no one right way.