Saturday, May 14, 2011

Caterer Lon Lane's Team Raises $66,000 For Charity!

Below is an email that I am publishing with permission - it is a wonderful concept that gets community awareness of your brand and helps others.

You will appreciate this.
Every year we donate a dinner for 12 at our facility to Wayside Waifs annual fund raising auction.
Historically, over the past 6 or 7 years, the dinner  has generally sold for $20,000 to $25,000 and one year we sold it twice raising $42,000 for the shelter.  Last year it sold twice raising over $50,000.
This year our dinner sold for $ 22,000 and they sold it three (3) times ......we raised $66,000 for the shelter in less than 10 minutes.
1,000 people witnessed this event and it is the talk of the town.  Lon Lane's Inspired Occasions is the single largest auction donor  for the shelter.
It will cost us about $3,500 in hard cash to produce these three dinners but isn't it amazing that $3,500 can be leveraged into $66,000.????????

I could never put that $3,500 in to PR or Advertsing that would bring such success and in front of 1,000 of our core target audience.!!!!!!!!!

We are honored and basically overwhelmed by this experience.  (As you can probably imagine).
I thought you would love this story.
Lon Lane
Chairman-International Caterers Association Educational Foundation

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Command Center

This is where I spend a major part of my day writing, answering phones and watching the news. I have a Mac-Mini, 20 inch matte cinema display, Apple Airport Extreme Wireless Hub, but still use a wired mouse.

If you look carefully you can see the framed quotation on my right wall that was given to me many years ago from a friend. "Enthusiasm is a catalyst: When added to wisdom and experience, it can produce small miracles.

So, the next time you call me you now know what is in front of me!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Soy Milk?

OK, I realize that I'm not part of the "now" generation, but today I ordered a milk shake at a "Epic Burger" chain and was asked:

"Do you wish yogurt or ice cream?"
I said "Ice Cream please."
"Do you wish skim, soy or whole milk"
I answered "Whole please".

I did look around the restaurant and quickly realized I was the only "baby-boomer" there. Oh well...

Michigan Caterer Up 36% Over Last Year...

but, still behind 2007/2008 pre-recession bookings. "Overall this is good to great news that our bookings are moving ahead which shows confidence on the part of our shoppers". says John Forte of Forte-Belanger Catering in Troy, Michigan. Additionally, John reports that events are starting to be booked six to eight months in advance which is a welcomed change over the short bookings of the last few years.

Kitchen Evaluation #1 - Watching The Back Door

How are the kitchen leaders sitting? 

Is anyone facing the back door? Is anyone sitting close to the back door to watch what comes in and out of the kitchen? Minding the entry and exit doors are important to eliminate losses from stealing and to catch errors before they happen.

Keeping an eye on the "back" door catches mistakes such as the wrong pack of linen being loaded on the truck or a vendor's delivery person who happened to pick-up by accident a pound coffee packet as they were leaving. These things really do happen and while it is great to "trust" in everyone, it probably isn't the wisest.

Remember, in most large hotels, staff are required to enter and exit through a doorway that is monitored by security staff that can subject staff to search of person and bags. 

Monday, May 9, 2011


This might be more of a competition rather than a contest - but, what the heck it should be some fun and helpful for other blog readers.

The Prize: My very cool script book If You Don't Sell It, You Can't Cook It.

How to win one of five free copies of this money-making book? Simple, just be one of the first five readers who make intelligent comment responses to ten (10) of my blog posts. Once you have reached the goal of ten comments to ten different posts, then email me at to let me know you have completed the task.

I will then review your posts to decide if you were "serious" or if you were just "pulling my leg" so to speak. I will notify our readers of the winners and when the contest is over.

Good luck!

Phones Need To Be Answered

At least during business hours. Please forgive me if I seem irritated. I just finished making eighteen calls to caterers to find those that would like to be interviewed by our editor Linda Picone for an upcoming magazine article. Out of the eighteen, I only got a human being answering, or the ability of getting to a human being by pressing 1, four times!

My simple point is that a shopper of catering who is calling caterers can't buy unless someone answers when they call. The thought of them leaving a name and number to call back makes me cringe. I realize that being busy and concern for budgets often makes it hard to answer phones, but this is the basic way we make many of our catering sales. This is how we pay the bills. Caterers need to solve this problem.

Don’t Lead Every Meeting

Ask another team member, including other managers and regular staff, to lead a future company meeting instead of you doing it all the time. Ask them several weeks in advance and then work with them on planning the topics and flow for the meeting. I can assure you that you will be amazed by the interesting results that arise from this simple change in the “predictability” of your meetings. In my view, predictability sucks and leads to a comfort zone that limits staff sharpness and creativity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Basic Qualification Script

After the phone rings, here is the basic script to follow to insure you get your presentation and relationship off to a proper start:

If I may ask you just a few questions, I’ll be able to serve you better or place you with the right person. Please tell me, what date you are you looking to reserve for your catering?”

“For approximately how many guests?”

“And what type of event will it be?”

“Thank you. Please let me check our reservation book to make sure that June 25 is still available for your wedding of 125 guests. May I place you on hold?”

Assuming they answer your questions, you now can move forward in a professional manner.

Note: This post was taken directly from my book If You Don’t Sell It, You Can’t Cook It!

Taking Your Time

“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken” is part of most management cultures, but the hard part is deciding just what “broken” means. Owners often think something is broken based on their emotions rather than the facts. Getting a complaint from a customer that your deposit policy is unfair may result in an emotional reaction—no one likes to hear complaints. But that’s not the same as getting six complaints that your deposit policy is unfair in the same week. Even then, when it seems likely you have a problem, you shouldn’t rush to fix it. Take time to analyze and discuss changes you might make; make sure your solution doesn’t lead to even more complaints.

With the exception of safety issues, most quick decisions to fix things that might be broken are unwise. If a fire extinguisher system above your stoves is broken, the decision to fix it should be immediate. If you are one person short in the office, rushing to hire a new employee isn’t wise. When you need to change, repair, adjust or get rid of anything that costs money or affects your ability to make money, you need to take time to look at the pros and cons of the fix.

Running a catering business is a constant battle between knowing when to take quick action versus postponing action until a review of the situation and potential reactions to the decision are determined. I’ve always taught my consulting clients that the answer to most management questions is two simple words: “It depends.” There is also a one-word answer that works just as well:
“Maybe.” Using these words can give you the time you need to carefully consider possible solutions to problems, immediate and long-term.

Note: I’ve taken this directly from my newest book Secrets Of Catering Management. It’s a very cool book.