Friday, January 27, 2012

Oval Banquet Tables

Oval banquet tables are popular in the midwest. My consulting client this week Philip Switz of Catered Elegance in Bedford, Ohio uses them. They are able to seat ten (10) guests and do create a unique feeling for guests. By the way, Philip won two days of my consulting as he was the winner of the early registration contest for Alumni at Catersource. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Leadership For Managers

Owners tend to spend hours thinking and rethinking their business. At the top of the list of concerns is the need to create sales that result in proper profitability, followed by anything and everything that deals with staff.
Profitability and staff are the heart of all successful companies. You can add in timing, location and a lot of luck, but the real leadership targets are dollars and people.

You’ve probably heard that old saying “Sales cure everything.” This is not necessarily true. A catering company can have lots of sales volume and at the same time, lots of unhappiness because of staff problems. I once asked a client, “What is more important to you—making money or having less tension with your staff?” My client answered quickly, “Having staff who are competent and understand what they are supposed to do.”

Staff members have good days and bad days—but customers expect every day to be a good day. Two of the most important elements of a manager’s daily activities are providing direction and providing support the team needs. There can be no bad days for managers. Well, hopefully that is!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Off-Premise vs. On-Premise Catering

Most off-premise caterers would like to have an on-premise venue they can call their own, but most on-premise caterers have little desire to become involved in off-premise catering. It’s more complex, filled with exceptions and much, much harder work. In an on-premise banquet facility, the owner knows where the circuit breakers are when the lights go out. 
On-premise caterers are steps away from their walk-in coolers and other supplies. On-premise caterers don’t need directions to get to the event! Off-premise caterers always play away games, while on-premise caterers are always the home team. On-premise catering isn’t boring because everything is familiar and runs smoothly. On-premise banquet facilities have their own challenges and need constant oversight by managers.
Both on- and off-premise caterers can make vast amounts of money from their efforts. Shoppers calling an on-premise caterer are looking to buy a location, event space and a specific time period more than food. It’s not that the food isn’t important, it’s just that the other things are more important. Shoppers calling an off-premise caterer are looking mainly for food. Shoppers first ask on-premise caterers if they are available, while they ask off-premise caterers what their price is. Off-premise caterers often have difficulty obtaining deposits and final payments, while on-premise caterers get money much more easily. No money, no guaranteed hold on the event space.
On-premise banquet facilities sell romance, photo ops, fountains, fireplaces, gazebos, bride’s rooms, built-in bars, beautiful views from windows, tree lined lawns, dance floors and menus. On-premise shoppers will pay more for a facility that permits guests to exit their cars under overhangs that prevent them from getting wet. Off-premise caterers mainly sell menus and service. Off-premise shoppers want to haggle down the price. The exception would be when an off-premise caterer is on a list of approved caterers at a public or private venue or when they have an exclusive venue. 
Overall, however, shoppers are looking for different things when they buy from off- or on-premise caterers. In most cases, shoppers give more respect to the on-premise caterer. Sometimes after an off-premise caterer spends hours working with a shopper, the shopper won’t even answer the caterers follow-up phone calls or emails.
Shoppers of off-premise catering will not give a deposit check until the menu is determined and approved, while on-premise caterers receive deposits to hold the date and space with the menu not being selected until a short time before the event date.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don’t Act Like Other Caterers

The average prospect calls between three and five caterers to get information for the event they are planning. This means they are, more than likely, hearing the same questions from each of these caterers: “What is your budget?” or “How did you hear about us?” and other routine statements. It also means the chances are high that the responses they have received either by phone or email from the caterers they called have been very similar and may have left them with a bad feeling.
Why? Many caterers tend to pay little attention to incoming information requests. Most caterers put their most inexperienced or newest staff on the phones and these inexperienced staff often give the wrong first impression to the caller. When people call four caterers, they soon learn that they all sound and act alike.
Anything you do to sound different, more caring and more professional is good. Your positive attitude will jump out and grab the callers. A prospect who has called four other caterers opens his call by telling the caterer that they are looking for information on a wedding. All they get is some qualification question like, “What is your budget?” When they call you, the first thing you say to them is, “Well a wedding, that means that your family is going through an exciting time right now!” Do you see the difference?
A caterer stands out from the rest through handholding, caring, empathy, truthfulness—and using scripts that make it easier for the prospect to become involved in the selling process.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm So Sorry... I just had to do this!

What can I say? After all the talk in the news media about the makers of Ding-Dongs and Twinkie going out of business I just had to take this photo. So many memories! For better or worse, I've done first-hand research on the entire product line of Hostess since pre-school days.