Friday, March 9, 2012

Monitor Your Company’s Hospitality Commitment

Hospitality means different things to different buyers. Most foodservice professionals, when asked, will say they provide high hospitality levels to their clients. Yet, these same professionals probably couldn’t list the types of hospitality they are giving.
Hospitality is in everything you do with clients. It also is in everything that clients see, touch, hear and feel about your company. It just isn’t being “nice” to people. It is a total commitment from a your entire team towards anything and everything that touches the client and their guests.
Preplanning, discussions, checklists, procedures, scripts and rehearsal are all required to establish and continue a meaningful hospitality effort that affects your company in a positive manner. The answers to a few questions will help you understand what hospitality in catering involves:

·   Do prospects and clients get called back in a timely manner?
·   Does the staff look sharp from a buyer’s point of view?
·   Are the best people answering the phones?
·   Are valid qualification scripts being used, or are staff just winging it?
·   Do proposals get out in a timely manner?
·   Is helpful information being given to callers?
·   Do prospects feel that they are being “handled” or do they feel “loved”?
·   Are callers being talked “at” or are they listened to?
·   Is the team speaking proudly about the company at all times?
·   Is the facility clean?
·   Are clients receiving the exact same thank-you letter after their second event as they got after the first?
·   Do clients really feel that you are excited when they say, “yes” to buying?
·   Do all your clients get the same respect?
·   Do clients who buy more than others get more attention?
·   Do your best clients have a special or exclusive telephone number or other way to get in touch with you?
·   Are all thank-you letters typed or are some handwritten?
·   Do you take your best clients out to lunch?
·   Have you ever had a disagreement with a client or are you a “yes” seller?
·   What is company policy when “bad” letter, or call, is received from a client, do you hide it or discuss it openly?
·   Does the company have a procedure to turn over a shopper to another salesperson because the first salesperson wasn’t getting the proper responses?
·   Do individual team members get excited when a sale is made?
·   Are you promising less than you deliver?
·   How long does it take you to call a client after an event?
·   Do you keep asking your best buyers for their basic information each time they call, i.e address, phone, etc.?


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Evaluate Potential Sales Before Booking Them

Being selective about which events you take and which you pass on assumes that you will not book every order that comes along. But most caterers can’t bear the thought of letting a job go to another caterer, which is where the problem arises.
You must think before saying “yes” to any event, no matter its size or type. This includes both full-service and drop-off catering. Sadly, most caterers believe that all orders are wonderful and that, in the end, everything will be fine. So they just keep booking orders while knowing in their hearts that some may not be right for the company. The assumption is that these unwise orders will be propped up by those orders that are correct.
A caterer may take an order that clearly shouldn’t be taken, simply because it gets the company’s catering “in the door” of a new customer. So, the thinking goes, the new customer will fall in love with their catering and buy more in the near future. Even if the order is improperly priced or too small in guest count or difficult to deliver, it’s still taken. Caterers often justify this by chalking the order up to “marketing.” Sometimes this kind of booking works just the way you hope, but in general it leads to erratic profitability and even to bankruptcy.
It is more important to book business that is properly priced than to book as many orders as you can. In no circumstance should the number of orders taken for a single day exceed the ability of a catering kitchen to produce them in a normal eight-hour shift. This eliminates any chance of overtime pay for the staff, which usually lowers whatever profitability is possible.
This statement is the basis of tremendous problems for caterers: “I need to keep taking orders even if they are not the best for us or my staff will leave me for lack of hours.” Yes, this might happen. If business is slow elsewhere as well, where are they going to go?
The question you have to ask yourself is: “Is my business a charitable organization or is it a business that needs to work for proper profitability?” When a caterer does a day with only a few orders, just to keep the staff busy, the caterer loses money from not having enough orders to cover the staff’s wages. In fact, when a caterer takes a few orders just to keep their staff busy, they usually lose more money than they would if they actually had their staff stay at home with a paid holiday.
Bonus Tip: Caterers make their profit based on all the orders that go through their kitchen on any given day. Often the actual profit in dollars on a day with only six orders ends up being more than a day that had nine orders. One or more of the three additional orders actually may have messed up the profit ratios for the day! Don’t take an order without first thinking about how it fits into the day with respect to pricing, size, delivery destination, degree of production and execution difficulties, overtime pay and who the actual client really is. Catering businesses go bankrupt not because of a bad year, but because of a few bad days.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Roman's Discussion Points!

Consider putting these concepts on the meeting agenda for discussions:
1. Rank your clients by importance, then put more time and concern into those at the top of the list.

2. Sell down to sell up by showing the client that you are not afraid to offer them menus that cost less as you show them your middle and higher priced ones. In other words, you just want them happy on their important day.

3. Ordinary salespeople let the buyer buy what they think they want.  Great salespeople sell the client what they “really” wish!

4. A great sales manager makes every selling situation a lesson!  Training must be ongoing and never ending.

5. When a shopper buys a camera, they take the camera with them and use it immediately. However, when someone buys a wedding, they don’t take it home with them. They need to wait a long time before seeing what they bought. This makes the sale a complex and more difficult one to make.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Market To The Security Concerns Of Corporations

Corporations can get catering from lots of places, but they worry about more than just the menu when selecting a caterer. They worry about food-borne illnesses, outside contractors getting injured while they are on their property, industrial spying and even terrorism.
In order to demonstrate your awareness of these corporate concerns you need to make buyers aware that you understand and agree with their concerns:
·       During your conversation, or written into your bid, inform the buyer about your Action Plan For Eliminating Food-borne Illness. Don’t think that this is talking negative. Salmonella and other problems associated with incorrect use of raw materials or handling of food is common knowledge and is definitely on the mind of corporate buyers who don’t want to lose their workforce to an illness they could have eliminated. Put a section on the Safe Temperature Zone right into your bid for all to read. If you are the only caterer that offers such information, then you will probably gain an advantage over the competition.
·      Add the fact that your event staff are covered by Workman’s Compensation laws because they are employees of your company and not independent contractors to all your sales presentations or written bids. Explain that if event staff get hurt at the event, the host is covered by a limit of liability from injuries; independent contractors are not.
·      Make your shoppers realize that you know and have checked out references on the event staff that will be working at the event. This is important if the company shopping for an event is concerned about having strangers or unaccounted for people inside their operations.
·      Issue standard format photo identification cards to all your event staff. Show one of these IDs to your corporate buyers and tell them that your staff wears these during events to insure that no one sneaks into the event that shouldn’t be there. Seems strange the first time you think about this, but it really is a big thing to many corporations. Kinkos is an inexpensive source for photo IDs.
Extra Tip #1: Corporations are used to seeing their vendors in uniforms such as the UPS or FedEx driver. Your delivery people should have and wear uniforms when they do their jobs. It is the professional thing to do—and they often give the first impression of your company that a client or guest sees.
Extra Tip #2: Paper Direct ( sells blank door hangers, like the ones hotels use that say “Do Not Disturb.” You can run them through your printers to personalize them. Place your logo on them and explain to your corporate buyers that your staff is trained to never enter any door that has one hanging on the doorknob. Your corporate buyers will love this once they realize that they are the ones who select the doorknobs.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Back And On The Move Again!

Good day everyone! Well, I'm back from our 20th Anniversary Catersource Conference & Tradeshow in what appears to be one piece! Now, I'm off to the airport to attend the GROWCO Inc. Magazine business growth conference in New Orleans. I promise to get back to normal on blog education and information starting tomorrow!

Stay well and I will fill you in on the conference happenings soon.