Friday, January 13, 2012

Discussion Points For Yourself or Meetings

Think and analyze these thoughts -

1. Not hearing what you are about to say is the enemy of successful selling.

2. Think, listen, and watch like a salesperson.

3. Never lose sight that successful selling begins with you.

4. It’s about the event – not you.

5. Selling needs composure.

6. When selling, certain things are “married” together – humor and learning, listening and note-taking. Etc.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Last-Minute Orders And Events Are Here To Stay

Many catering buyers wait until they’re very close to the event date before making a decision to hire a caterer. It’s not uncommon for a person or company planning a wedding or corporate event to make contact with a caterer less than 60 days in advance.
It used to be that prospects would think of caterers as they do hot restaurants, which prompted them to call as early as possible to book a date. Today’s procrastination to book stems from a reluctance to commit and then part with money. On top of this, many buyers of catering believe that most caterers are always available. Many buyers also believe that the longer they wait to book, the lower the price will become, just like it is in many retail situations. They think that the caterer will be desperate to get a last-minute booking.
Whenever possible, try to put into your marketing that last-minute events are possible with your company. In your letters thanking your clients for their just-completed event, mention that as a regular customer, they now qualify for your last-minute-event hot line. Some caterers even give a special number to clients for these last-minute events.

All this marketing for last-minute events does not apply to drop-off corporate catering. Last-minute or same-day drop-off orders can be destructive to some caterers. But even in this case, you can market a special last-minute menu selection that may be used for orders that are placed with less than 24 to 48 hours.

Might as well try to embrace this niche or not... the decision is yours?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thoughts and Tips On Voicemail

Smaller caterers use voicemail because they just can’t handle every call coming into their offices. Larger caterers use voicemail because the volume of calls is overwhelming. Answering systems and voicemail should be used by all caterers during what would be considered non-business hours, such as before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
The real question is whether you use answering systems and voicemail during what are considered normal business hours, and to what level. Some caterers rely on technology to handle all incoming phone calls. The caller is greeted with a prerecorded message and is asked to either leave a message in the general mailbox, offered a chance to find a specific extension number from a directory for the person they are calling, or asked to press a number that corresponds to the department or person they are trying to reach.
After hours, all of these methods are proper, but overall sales results can be hurt if a “live” person isn’t available to answer incoming calls during normal business hours. Catering is a service business. It is also a business where shoppers and clients call with important requests or changes and absolutely wish to speak with someone. They don’t want to hear, “Push one for customer service.”
How important are the phones in your catering business? Are they as important as your stoves? Nothing is more important to the success of a catering company than the phone. Nothing. If you don’t sell it, your chefs can’t cook it. Staff that answer the phones are the front line of your business. They need to be well trained and sound pleasant. They have your future in their hands—and words. They give callers the first impression of your business.
Staff answering the phones need to have well written and well rehearsed scripts that help them secure information from callers to direct them to the right people or departments. How your staff handles the first 90 seconds of an incoming call establishes the foundation for the success or failure that follows. Some caterers rotate their salespeople on a phone-time schedule that requires each salesperson to be responsible for answering the phone several hours each day; others hire staff to do nothing but answer the phones.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Culinary Mercenaries - Guest Opinion from Jon Wool & Melanie Spratford


                      Guest Opinion by: Jon Wool and Melanie Spratford, 
                                         Finesse Catering and Events

I came across a recent article titled Culinary Mercenaries” that describes chefs as temperamental, egotistical, rootless,and unreliableMany of you will vehemently argue against the article but some of you may recognize the traits of your chefs in these descriptions (or, worse, maybe you recognize yourself?!).  To be fair, for every chef depicted in thearticle, there is at least one non-culinary boss who may bedescribed as having similar poor management skills. It is no secret that the tensions between employer and employee can sometimes resemble a battlefield more than a workplace, and it’s easy to imagine chefs as soldiers-for-hire, willing to pack up their knives at the slightest provocation.

During a recent consulting assignment, the troubled owner of a popular catering company complained that his company had burned through yet another chef. reflected on my own HR successes and failures. I also thought aboutthe noted companies that manage to retain employees for upwards of 25 years. Why are these companies successful and others not?

I shared with my client that the success of these companiesseems to begin with the leadership style and behavior of theperson in charge. In these models, the leaders set an example of stellar and consistent behavior. They work tocreate a strong culture and a safe, stimulating work environment. They compensate employees fairly and encourage a mutual trustThey also refused to tolerateemployees who fail to follow their leadership cues.

My client took time to consider this and ways that he might adjust his mindset and actions. In tandem, we created a program with which to evaluate the competencies,qualities, and skills of each current employee and new hire.Will these efforts pay off?  Time will tell but he and I are both optimistic.  

Ultimately, we cannot dictate how employees behave.  We can hire smartly, set a fine example, hold employees accountable, and terminate the bad ones.  There will always be workers who hop from gig to gig like soldiers-for-hire but, as owners and managers, it is our job to run our companies as businesses and avoid being dragged down into the trenches.

Hotel Pricing Concepts That Work

Hotels make money by understanding how pricing of their rooms can be used to gain proper or extra profitability. Caterers can use some of what hotels have learned about pricing to enhance their own profitability. Three simple, yet powerful, pricing concepts used by hotels that will help caterers:

• Projecting volume. Hotels understand that when the Super Bowl comes to their town, prices need to be raised dramatically to take advantage of the guaranteed demand for their sleeping rooms. While the actual physical specs of a room never change, the cost to the user depends on outside influences that create high, low or medium demand.

• Action: Like hotels, caterers should charge more when demand for their services increases. In general, Saturday catering should be priced higher than the same type of event on a Wednesday. Prices for weddings should be higher during the most requested and busiest months.

•  Challenge: Caterers usually live by the rule of “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” To most caterers, the thought of not booking an event at a lower or normal price in lieu of waiting to book it at a higher price as the date gets closer, is unthinkable. This is making a decision on emotion rather than on business logic. It is scary to most caterers. Maximum profitability eludes caterers who sell too early and resist pricing their services on expected or projected high demand.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vacation In Florida...

Well, Bernice and I are in Florida and having some good times with friends and family! My problem is that today my new MacBook Air blew a "logic board" and the Apple store in Boca Raton sent it back to California for repair. It will be returned in about five days to one of my vacation hotels while I'm still on vacation.

So, all of the cool photos and other stuff I've wanted to share with you will have to wait till I get my computer back... sorry. Till then I'll keep posting some good things for you to review each day. I don't wish to miss a weekday. I'm trying hard to make sure I post each and every weekday.

Keep watching for my food and travel photos as soon as I get my  computer back. I am using David Zylstra's (Imaginations Catering) laptop for posting this weeks stuff to the blog.


Refer To Marketing Materials Over The Phone

During phone conversations with shoppers, salespeople need to target some of the company’s latest marketing offers.

“Are you aware of the tenth anniversary rebate promotion that we announced this month? Please let me explain how it works and how it will benefit you. “
Marketing starts the selling process, but the salesperson makes the sale happen. If salespeople embrace and incorporate their company’s marketing messages into their presentations, sales will come more frequently. Your shoppers can get their catering from lots of different places; you need to strive to create marketing that helps the shopper understand that your company offers the greatest opportunity for their event’s success.