Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guest Article: How to Succeed in Business Like Ozzy Osbourne by Jon Wool, Finesse Catering & Events

Lollapalooza recently announced Black Sabbath as a headliner at this summer’s music festival. A news program covering the story cut to concert footage of the band playing “Iron Man.” The hard rock and wild electric guitar riffs brought me right back to my early teen years when I tested the patience of my parents and neighbors by turning the speakers of my record player out the windows and blasting Sabbath’s songs. I began to reflect on the longevity of the careers of the band and its founder. Say what you will about the crazed and dazed Ozzy Osbourne but, over 40 years after the inception of Black Sabbath, they are going stronger than ever. In fact they have sold millions of albums and have won just about every music award possible. It stands to reason that such durability is no accident.

It’s the kind of durability that we in the catering and hospitality industry crave. Osbourne and mates are shining examples of building a business around established systems. One of the most important tasks in business is creating internal systems that generate predictable results. Once you have solid systems in place, you can weather any change-over in personnel. Sabbath has had over 20 musicians join, quit, and return over the years. Regardless of this “revolving door” model of employee retention, the band’s concept, format, and methods have stayed the same.

If rowdy and outlandish hard rockers can instinctively follow these business principles, why do we struggle to do so in hospitality? Our chefs want to cook “their” food rather than menus requested by the client. Or, a cook wants to riff rather than follow recipes. Sales people hunger for big-name galas at the expense of profitable margins. Or they burden the kitchen with impossible demands like scheduling tastings on the busiest weekends. When pressed for time and under pressure, ops people are tempted to cut a corner or two. Worst of all is when owners are afraid to ruffle employees’ feathers by drawing clear lines. Employers justify their failure to formulate protocol by saying “it is a lot of work” or “there’s never enough time” or “the staff won’t buy into a new process.” These are all excuses that hold companies back from reaching and maintaining excellence over the years.

If we catering and hospitality professionals cannot step back and create reliable systems at every level of our companies, we are not likely to experience the sustained success enjoyed by Black Sabbath. Where will your company be in 40 years?

Rock on!
Jon Wool

Wednesday, April 25, 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, April 24, 2012

Winning Power Phrases To Increase Your Sales 5

From the moment shoppers first call for information to the moment of their decision, let them hear you say, or let them read, a variety of the scripts below. These phrases are important because they highlight certain benefits you can offer.
The great advantage . . .
. . . of ABC Catering is . . .
. . . of our chef is her dedication to perfection.
. . . of our guarantee is . . .
Tip: The single most powerful phrase is “unlike most caterers.”
Unlike most caterers . . .
. . . the professional staff we send you will be very happy to handle all your guests requests.
. . . we offer value-impact menus with a range of prices.
. . . our chef uses only the freshest ingredients available.