Saturday, June 18, 2011

Testimonials Make Sales

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 …”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Meryl & Andy Snow's "Private Life" Exposed!

 OK - did I get you? This is a look into the private life of two outstanding caterers - yes? These are uncensored photos - maybe? It is fun to see them.

The refrigerator below is located in the Snow's second home on the Jersey Shore in Sea Isle. They visit, except for longer vacations, between two to three days each month. The home, with four bedrooms, has housed groups of twenty-eight guests and is also used for company business retreats during the year. (more below)

According to Meryl "Andy (Meryl's husband) cooks dinner every weeknight and I do the dishes." Andy shops each day for their evening meal which they eat between 7 PM and 9 PM. A little gossip... "Andy makes a mess when he cooks at home because he knows I will be cleaning up" stated Meryl. The Snows enjoy eating at either their Philadelphia area home or Jersey Shore summer home but do go out to dinner, time permitting, on weekends.

What I found interesting in the photos is that some of the shelves have LABELS on them - once a caterer always a caterer! Notice the homemade blueberry jam!

NOTE: I thank Meryl for sending me the photos of her refrigerator and invite other readers to do the same. I will have a surprise for anyone who does. Send them to mikeroman@catersource or call me to discuss at 800-932-3632.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mike's Audio: Caterers Are Very Special (3:38)

Mike Roman's view on why caterers are so very special and lucky at the same time!

What I'm Thinking Of Teaching at CS 2012

Here's the educational sessions I'm thinking of teaching next February at the 2012 Catersource Conference & Tradeshow. The titles are self-explanatory, so if you wish to give me your thoughts through Facebook, phone (800) 932-3632 or email please know I will appreciate it!

The Roman Report 2012
Evaluating Yourself As A Salesperson
Dealing With Lower Priced Caterers
Roman's Guide To Kitchen Management
Being A Better Manager

I'm open to any and all suggestions! Please let me know your thoughts!


Here's What Some Caterers Put In Their Contract/Agreements


A. The number of persons listed on this contract shall be guaranteed by the customer, even if the number of guests served is lower than the guarantee given.

B. All costs are based on the guarantee given. However, a customer may reduce the given guarantee by up to 10%, as long as the customer notifies ABC Catering of the reduction more than 72 hours before the event.

C. Caterer has extensive experience in determining and preparing the correct amount for each menu item for the guaranteed group size. It is our custom to prepare enough extra to cover groups that eat above normal amounts of foods. However, in no case, are we required to have extra food for numbers higher than the guarantee given.

D. Customer agrees that they will pay additional, at the agreed per guest price, for any guests that increase the guarantee... even if the food is available.

E. If the final guest count is 10% greater than the guarantee, an additional 10% service charge will be paid by customer to cover the extra burden placed on the staff at the event by being shorthanded.

F. Customer agrees that the caterer will retain all foods and beverages, remaining at the conclusion of the event, that have been brought by the caterer.

G. The final count, or guarantee, is due 7 business days in advance of the event. Following the final count, the number may not be lowered, but may be raised. A 15% surcharge may be added to cover additional last minute expenses of getting the added food and beverages for the additional guests.

A. Customer understands that once a contract is signed, the caterer may decline other profit-making opportunities for that day. Accordingly, the client will be responsible for the entire contract cost even if the event is cancelled.

B. Customer understands that as the event date comes closer, the caterer has hired event staff, purchased foods and beverages, and contracted for kitchen labor. Accordingly, the client will be responsible for the entire contract cost even if the event is cancelled.

C. If the client notifies the caterer in ample time, the caterer will make every effort to rebook the date or lower the amount of the loss. In this case, these savings will be passed along to the client.

D. If the client’s guest count drops more than 50% from original guarantee, the caterer has the right to cancel the contract unless a higher price is negotiated to offset the loss of profit.

E. In the event that a client cancels the function with not less than 2 weeks prior to the date, 50% of the deposit will be retained by the caterer. If the event is cancelled with less than 1 week notice, the client will be responsible for the entire amount due.

A. Customer understands that all property brought to the event location, including but not limited to all serving equipment, floral arrangements, skirting and linens, non-floral centerpieces, and all other property belonging to caterer, shall be removed by caterer at conclusion of the event.

B. In the event that any of the caterer’s property delivered to the event location is broken, stolen, or missing, whether due to actions of customer, their own staff, or guests, the customer will be responsible for replacement cost of any such property. In the event that such loss is due to the caterer, the client will not be liable for replacement.

C. Client understands that all of the caterer’s property will be removed at the end of the event. If the customer requires, or asks, for any of this property to be left behind, the client shall be charged an appropriate fee for use of this property.