Tuesday, December 25, 2012

BACK ON JANUARY 2, 2013!!!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Putting Prices On Bids

You will either like this or not. It deals with the problem of clients lowering their guest count guarantees as the event day gets closer. When they booked and gave a deposit they may have guaranteed 135 guests, but one week before the event date (sometimes only a day ahead) they call and drop the guarantee by 45 guests!

So, my suggestion is to use the "three price upfront" solution. In writing, on the bid/proposal the prospect receives, the caterer gives a solution upfront (before they sign the contract) of what the final price will be based on the final number of guests in their final guarantee.

For example: If the client's first guarantee is 135 guests, then the three price solutions below are placed on the bid/proposal as you see it below. The first price solution of $38.60 per guest is created by adding ten guests more and ten guests less to the client's 135 guarantee. The $36.25 price solution is offered to show the client that the caterer will "happily" lower the final price if the final guarantee is over 145 guests.

Lastly, and the reason we are doing this, a price solution is given of $42.30 if the final guest count drops below 125 guests. In this way the caterer creates some extra dollars to make up for the last minute loss of profit from the last minute guarantee lowering by the client.The $450, or more, added volume helps sooth the unhappiness of the caterer.

Here's how it would look on the bid/proposal:

38.60 per guest for 125 to 145 Guests
36.25 per guest for 146 or more Guests
42.30 per guest for fewer than 125 Guests

Why not test this concept to see if it works for you?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Business Builder That Works Even Though It Is Scary!

Here’s an idea that is not for the faint of heart. I don’t expect most caterers to either embrace it or even “test” it to see if it increases business. That’s OK. My task, however, is to continually present “cutting-edge” ideas that at first often appear to be “silly” or “impractical” to some caterers.

That being said, I have done this myself when I was a caterer and several of my consulting clients have tried it with great success. It has backfired only once that I know of. On the other hand, this bold idea has secured sales that would have gone elsewhere. Additionally, I have found that prospects will pay a higher price for their catering to get the guaranteed refund opportunity.

The copy below is sent to a person who has agreed to become a client for signature and a deposit, or it is just signed at the end of a “live” sales presentation just before the prospect gives you a deposit payment.

Enclosed please find our payment of $8,500 to confirm our wish for ABC Catering to provide food, staff, equipment and other services for our event on Monday, (DATE) at Grace Temple. This payment will be refunded in full, with no questions asked, if our plans change and if we wish to cancel our catering anytime preceding 60 days of (DATE). Refunds will not be given is cancellation comes with less than 60 days of the event date. The balance will be due in full at the conclusion of the event on (DATE).

Mr. Jim Doe

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Short & Sweet Control Concept

Below is a phrase with just thirty-five (35) words that should be placed at the end of every bid/proposal you send out to prospects. By using this phrase, you will be asserting a measure of professional control over the prospect that will establish the fact that you need to be treated with respect. I suggest that you give them between three weeks and five weeks to finalize your bid.

"We will be pleased to hold a tentative reservation for your event date, and guarantee the above prices until (Deadline DATE). If not confirmed with your deposit by this date, availability and prices will need to be renegotiated."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Maybe A New Idea: Labor-Saving Menu Items

Sometimes, the best way to sell up is to sell down. I wish to share with you an idea that I’ve shared with caterers from time to time over the last 10 years. When most caterers hear it for the first time, they usually think it is absolutely silly and certainly something they would never do.
But, since I can’t think of a time when buyers of catering have been more actively searching for value in their decision of which caterer to choose, I’ve decided that now is another great time to bring it up.
So, here goes. This marketing/pricing idea is only launched whenever a prospect is aggressively seeking lower prices. In this script, which explains my concept, the shopper has been haggling with the salesperson to achieve a lower price. The salesperson responds:

“Mrs. Smith, I might have a simple solution for your request to lower menu cost. Let me explain. The price I’ve given you for the menu we’ve just reviewed reflects our labor-intensive, ‘from scratch’ culinary preparation. If our chefs create the menu using high-quality, ‘laborsaving’ foods, we can lower the cost while still pleasing your guests. Would you want me to explain this further?”

During the explanation of the labor-saving menus, the client learns of the many high-quality foods available that offer lower prices since they eliminate costly kitchen labor. The shopper learns that menu items like Chicken Skewers, Duck Confit and many varieties of hors d’oeuvre, to name just a few, are all available pre-made and/or precooked for their menus.
Another benefit is that most shoppers who listen to an explanation of labor-saving menus welcome the discussion as a customer-friendly gesture. Many buyers will embrace your less costly menus, while others will still stick with your from-scratch and more costly ones after the explanation.
It does remind buyers that you have the ability to create menus that have different levels of price that still have great impact on the guests. Shoppers believe that the salesperson’s main goal is to always sell the most expensive items. They are amazed when a salesperson actually makes the case for buying less expensive catering. In my view, now is the time to relax our buyers and try to make a sale no matter what the price level is as long as it is profitable. It has always been my view that the best way to sell up is to sell down. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Consider Ranking Clients By Importance

If you really believe that all clients are equally important, you will have difficulty maximizing your profitability. Of course, all clients are important, but some contribute more to the bottom line than others. Some are slow at paying and demand more than they are willing to pay for. Some are easy to work with; others are always seeking ways to get a refund. Some buy just one of your product lines; others buy both drop-off catering and larger holiday events from you.
There are certain clients that you just must say “yes” to, no matter what type or size of order they request. When the mayor’s office or an old friend or family member calls, you probably need to respond favorably to their catering requests. There are always exceptions.
Your entire staff needs to understand who spends the most money. Chances are you already know the two or three clients who spend the greatest amount of dollars with you, but do you know the sixth, seventh and eighth largest clients in your customer list? Track sales data for your clients to find your top 20 best buyers. The names on the list need to be on the desks of your staff so everyone knows them.


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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Explain Payment Policies in Advance

It is a caterer’s right to be paid in a manner, method and time period that they desire. A caterer can have whatever rules they wish as long as they are legal and ethical. Whatever your policies or wishes on payment happen to be, just make sure buyers understand and fully agree with them. You also need to be aware of what competitor’s policies are when establishing or adjusting your own policies.

You should explain and review your deposit policy and final payment policy in conversation with your clients, but you also need to provide them to the buyers in writing. In addition, have the clients verify that they received the policies and that they agree to follow them. Offer to further explain them to the buyer and to answer any questions. Make sure clients understand fully how, when and what they need to pay the caterer and other services or vendors.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scripts: The Frozen Shopper

A “decision freeze” can be expected in most selling situations. In many cases, it comes up because the buyer can’t find a reason to make a quick decision. The customer wants your catering, but you have to give a reason they need to buy it today.

This is a great time to remind your buyer of the advantages your catering holds for them — remind them that they need to make a quick decision because others are also looking to book for the same date. Creating urgency can help you overcome the “decision freeze.”

“Sarah, it’s natural for you to think about what you want to do before you make a decision. However, I’d like to suggest some important things to consider that might show you why postponing your decision might not be the best step to take.”

“Ms. Weaver, I understand that deciding what caterer to use is a very big concern for you. The majority of my clients have had the same concerns that you now have. With your permission, I’d like to share with you what I’ve told other clients about what I call “decision freeze.” In this way, you might get a better understanding of what others have done when they found themselves in the same situation that you now find yourself.”

“Ms. Weaver, as I mentioned earlier, you are free to hold off your decision, but I need to make it clear that our ballroom may not be available much longer.”

During a “decision freeze,” you can help the buyer—and yourself—understand what the hesitation is all about. It’s your job to make the buyer aware of their real concerns.

“Ms. Weaver, let’s take a moment and discuss what some of your concerns might be. This way we both might be able to better understand what information I need to give you so you can make a final decision.”

As you listen to your buyer, be sure to note anything that might be considered positive. If they mention your “good food,” that’s positive. If they mention the beautiful new carpets in your banquet space, that’s positive. If they mention your professional concern, that’s positive.

Now take those positive thoughts and bring them back to the table. Get your buyer to realize that the opportunity to capture them for the guests (and for the buyer’s peace of mind) is now.
Selling catering is selling handholding and the avoidance of embarrassment. It’s selling your concern, love and skills to the buyer.

Overcome “decision freeze” with your enthusiasm and by understanding the buyer’s emotions.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Scripts: Dealing With Rumors

The customer may be concerned about your company in particular, based on an experience someone else has had, a rumor about your company—or perhaps their own experience in the past. Or the customer may have had a bad experience with another caterer and is now suspicious of all catering companies. In any of these cases, you need to address the concern directly. Comments like these can start that conversation:

“Catering companies are difficult places to run.”

“Let me tell you about a problem I had with a catering company recently.”

“What would it take to renew your confidence in using catering companies?”

“Did the catering company that caused you the problem give you an adjustment?”

Friday, December 7, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect. Baseball spring training gives players an opportunity to practice their skills and hone new techniques before the real season starts. Expectant parents practice all sorts of prenatal skills before the blessed event happens. Actors practice by rehearsing their lines and blocking their moves before the director says “action.”
Unlike other professionals, most caterers don’t practice. They believe in on-the-job training and practicing while they are working with real clients. It just doesn’t seem logical to these caterers to practice and rehearse without being paid for the opportunity to practice for a client.
Imagine if airline pilots and surgeons followed the same logic and practiced and rehearsed only on paying clients for their on-the-job training. Would you wish to fly with pilots that hadn’t practiced landings and take-offs in flight simulators or be treated by surgeons who hadn’t practiced their scalpel skills on cadavers in pre-med?
Caterers need to institute some non-on-the-job practice sessions for their culinary, sales and operations professionals. Company “classroom” time needs to be dedicated for teaching proper skills to new staff, while providing new techniques to regular staff in the pursuit of enhanced company image and customer service. It is wiser to teach the “tactics” of catering before entering the battle itself.
In addition, hands-on rehearsals need to be offered by proficient trainers that permit staff to get that “flight simulator” experience needed to overcome any shortcomings and to build confidence. It is wiser to demonstrate the building of a buffet station to staff watching firsthand than to explain it on paper, even if you have photos of what it should look like.
It is scary to watch a plate-served dish-up for 350 guests when some of the staff doing the dish-up have never done it before. Packing a van for the first time without any how-to training leads to unhappy results. Asking a prospect for a deposit check without using a proven selling script loses sales. Prior training and practice is required in these and other situations.
Management owes staff the improved and outstanding performance that practice, training and rehearsal create. The opportunity for personal growth is the foundation of creating better staff. With practice will come better customer service and the additional sales that result from better catering performances.
By embracing practice as a company mission, a caterer gains the ability to separate themselves from those caterers who still only do on-the-job training. Your marketing and salespeople can proudly explain how your team is put through rigorous training in your “catering simulator” before they are ever allowed to work in real-life catering situations.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Questions To Ask About Your Marketing

An effective marketing campaign needs information before, during and after its development and launch. Questions to ask and answer include:
·         What types of people purchase from my company already?
·         How do these buyers feel about our catering?
·         What are the steps buyers take to purchase from us?
·         How many different groups buy from us?
·         Am I aware of my competitor’s marketing?
·         Do we maintain a database of our buyers and update it continually?
·         What foods, styles of service and trends are really in?
·         What parts of the catering are expensive in the mind of the buyer?
·         What parts of my business are looked upon as “added value”?
·         Do I know what other caterers say about our catering?
·         Do I know the strengths and weaknesses of our kitchen?
·         Am I aware of past and present advertising and marketing statements?
·         Do I know the story behind the start of my company?
·         Do I really know how our food tastes?
·         Have I spent time talking to others about our products & services?
·         Do I really understand and know about my company’s product lines?
·         Do I understand what my company’s guarantee policy is?

Did you know that I am now working with nuphorIQ Media/Marketing as a consultant? I am ready to help anyone for free who has any marketing questions or actually with developing a complete marketing program for you.... (773) 549-7210