Hess’s Barbecue Catering

Hess’s was unhappy with their outdated, templated website and wanted a professional website that helped drive more bookings for their wedding catering. Within two years of launching their brand new, custom website they saw an astounding 475% increase in wedding bookings, and the business is continuing to grow!


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Case Study for Hess’s Barbecue Catering

Hess’s Barbecue Catering case study

475% increase in wedding bookings
within two years by leveraging professional website design.


Meet the Client

Lloyd Hess, owner of Hess’s BBQ Catering, considers himself a visionary. Back in 1978, he and his brother Paul transformed vision into reality when they turned their small family butcher shop into a barbecue catering business. Over the past 40 years, the business has evolved into a highly recognized name in Lancaster County.
Lloyd’s latest vision was to expand beyond the corporate side of the catering business and tackle weddings. He was looking for professionalism and a way to grow his wedding business and differentiate it from his ongoing corporate events. Lloyd reached out to EZMarketing to help take their business to the next level.


The Challenge

In the early years of their catering business, the Hess brothers focused mainly on large corporate picnics. But when the recession hit in 2008, companies stopped spending on parties and events, and they knew they needed to adapt. They started doing weddings.

Fast forward to 2016, and Hess’s was delivering deliciousness to about 12 weddings each year. Lloyd knew they could do better, especially when it came to their website design. Lloyd realized that brides were shopping for catering online and that if they didn’t like what they saw on his website, they’d be on to his competitors without ever giving him a chance.

lloyd hess quote

He knew that having a good website design was important for his business. While their existing web design was bringing them some leads, it was a templated site that didn’t differentiate their wedding business or reflect the professionalism of their brand.

The Solution

One of the hallmarks of Hess’s Barbecue is, of course, their award-winning food. So in redesigning their website, we kept their mouthwatering BBQ front and center, while giving it a modern, vibrant new look to draw in visitors.

hess bbq site on a laptop

Most importantly, Lloyd wanted this new website design to drive more wedding bookings for his business.

Lloyd needed brides-to-be to realize that Hess’s does a lot more than just BBQ, so we helped him brand the wedding section of his website with its own look, feel, and logo. The old website design didn’t include any pictures of their wedding events, which was a huge loss, since brides spend months, if not years imaging what their wedding should look like. We made sure to include pictures from their wedding events, including their specialty: rustic, barn-style.

weddings by hess site on screens

Talking to Lloyd, we knew our job was to get brides to book tasting appointments and let the Hess’s team take care of the rest. They request a $500 retainer to hold the bride’s date, but offer a refund if she doesn’t like the food after the tasting. “It’s never happened,” Lloyd told us.

To do this, we wanted to make the site easy for brides to use. Our website designer created highly visual callouts on the homepage to help direct future brides to the wedding section of the site. Once there, we focused on clear calls to actions like “Contact Us” and “Book Your Planning Session” to drive more appointment requests. Plus, we made sure to include all menus and pricing with easy download links.

The Results

wedding venueWithin 1 year after launching their new website design, Hess’s went from 12 wedding bookings per year to 34 in 2017 – a 183% increase. In 2018, they doubled their growth again, catering a whopping 69 events (that’s a 475% increase over 2 years!). They’re on track to do even more in 2019 and already have bookings into 2020.

Most of their wedding inquiries come through the website, which sees plenty of traffic. The wedding section is now the 2nd most visited page on the site, after the homepage. The clear information and calls to action help drive visitors to the wedding contact page, which boasts a strong 10.8% conversion rate.

In addition to their wedding business, Hess’s regular catering work is still running strong. On the corporate side, they cater about 30 events every week, including large-scale special events. For a recent PA Livestock show, they served 48K sandwiches in only 8 days!

From their humble beginnings, the booming business has helped grow their staff to 35 full-time employees, plus part-time help. Recently, they were even named the #1 Caterer in Lancaster County by Lancaster Newspaper.

Lloyd knows the importance recognizes the team at EZMarketing for bringing fresh ideas and expertise to create a site that attracts new customers to his business. “I give the website a lot of credit,” Lloyd said, “It shows we’re a professional company who knows what we’re doing.”


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