What someone else says about the quality of a catering company is far more believable to a shopper than what the catering company says about itself. For most people, buying catering is a new and scary situation filled with high anxiety. Unlike restaurants, there are very few “rating” services on catering businesses for shoppers to gain confidence in a caterer’s quality or level of service before they buy. Many shoppers also are convinced that salespeople and marketing pitches are often unreliable.
Catering is a major purchase for most people or corporations. A lot of money is spent without any real assurance that the catering will be as it’s promised to be. This is why testimonials from previous users are extremely crucial for the success of any caterer especially when buyers fear making a mistake that they might regret.
Testimonials are important to shoppers because they gain confidence to buy and then are able to assess blame to others, either intellectually or really, if something goes wrong with the event by saying “One of the reasons I chose to use the caterer was because I read all the great comments and testimonials that their past customers sent them”.
Interesting isn’t it? Think about why you ask others for recommendations before you buy or don’t buy an expensive or important product or service i.e. doctors, dentists, autos, painters, and lawyers. We ask because we are in search of the good, bad or inside tips on the product or service we are seeking and to gain a safety net of being able to blame others.
Here are some ways to generate and use testimonials:
a. If prospects come to your office, you should have your walls flooded with framed letters and notes from happy clients. Take time to talk about these testimonials or take one down from the wall for the prospect to read before you start your sales presentation. Also, don’t be afraid to place testimonials you received via email on the wall for all to see.
b. If you use a large photo album with images of your past events for the prospects to view, don’t hesitate to place testimonials in this album in such a way that they will see them as prospects turn the pages in the photo album. In other words, don’t put them in a special section in the back of the album. Mix them in with the photos. Also, take time to talk about them in the same way as you do about the photos. Every testimonial has a story behind it.
c. Place testimonials throughout your website, not just in a special separate section. Intersperse them with the other content. If possible add a photo from the event the happy client is referring to and label it as such.
d. Create a “music on hold” message that actually has prerecorded testimonials from the actual happy clients. When prospects hear “Hi, my name is Bob Smith from Hanover Supply. ABC Catering did a fantastic job on our annual event. The food and service were super and they now cater all our functions. I highly recommend them”. You have just received a huge advantage over your competition. By the way, everyone who caters always has a few clients who would just love to do this type of recording!
e. Inexpensive software now exists for you add audio clip testimonial attachments to your email. Imagine how powerful this would be in creating a positive feeling in the mind of the buyer.
f. Form a Customer Advisory Board of past clients whose names you will, with permission, place on all your letterhead, email, website and marketing pieces to make all potential clients understand quickly that you are a major player in the marketplace. Prospects would be able to see the names, company names, and locations of your Customer Advisory Board members. All caterers have people they could ask to be on the board that would jump at the idea. By the way, have meetings with these people to let them help you grow your business with their ideas and expertise. Reward your board members with a 5% discount on their catering for the period they are on the board.
g. Don’t forget about your own testimonial. As you speak with prospects, offer the reasons why you chose to work with your company. Discuss openly and frankly demonstrating your passion for your company. Here is a possible script:
“Jim and Mary, I always like to share with my clients the reasons why I decided to work with ABC Catering. When I was interviewing with the major caterers in town to determine who I wanted to work with, I quickly realized that ABC had a dedication to customer service and an amazing culinary team that stood out over all the other companies I meet with. Also, I found …”