Friday, August 17, 2012

Common Elements Shared By Great Salespeople - Part 1

You can’t be sure what characteristics determine who will be the better salesperson. Nothing takes the place of talent, timing and luck when it comes to making sales. However, many of the better catering salespeople have and use these characteristics:

Uses time properly and isn’t afraid to stop a selling situation to move on to someone else. This is a rather advanced concept. Very few catering salespeople are willing to stop a sales presentation because they have decided the buyers in front of them are not likely to result in a successful sale. The ability to take this action will result in increased sales volume and prevent burnout in the salesperson.

Is always honest and user-friendly to the buyer and those influencing the purchase. When a salesperson realizes that buyers are looking for honesty, magical things happen. This is especially true when the honesty is in direct response to a question from the buyers. User-friendly means more than just being happy or getting coffee for them. It means the salesperson, after deciding what the buyer’s hot buttons are, makes it clear that the client’s wants will be met and fears will be avoided.

Speaks clearly and precisely at all times, particularly during a selling interview. This may seem obvious, but I’ve often watched salespeople who really don’t understand how they sound to the buyers. To understand how you sound, tape some presentations. Do it while speaking over the phone or during a real selling situation with buyers present, then critique how you sound when you replay the tape.

Understands why the sale was missed. The best salespeople never think they “lost” a sale. Instead, they believe that they “missed” something that permitted the buyer to select the competition over them. They think about what they said to the buyers and what the buyers said to them during the missed sale. In many ways, it’s like football players watching the tapes of last week’s game.

Plans sales calls in advance and makes a plan for each day. This is one I watch for when determining if a particular salesperson is great. Anyone can react to callers who come to them, but great talents are proactive and go after sales before they come into the company’s system. These great talents know whom they are going to call and whom they are going to see long before they actually do it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More Tips On Kitchens

Over a period of a couple of weeks, call each member of your kitchen team, one at a time, into your office, or other space away from the kitchen, for a private interview. Your purpose is to seek information about the attitude and atmosphere in the kitchen. Ask questions like:

·   What is your job in the kitchen?
·   Have you received enough training for your job?
·   Are you happy with your job?
·   What do you think of our food?
·   Who do you most like to work with in the kitchen?
·   Who is the hardest worker in the kitchen—other than yourself?
·   Who isn’t carrying their load in the kitchen?
·   If you could press a magic button, what equipment would you want to have in the kitchen that would help you do a better job?
If these interviews are done properly, you will soon learn whom, if anyone, should be trained better, or removed from your kitchen staff. You will learn about what the staff feels about their work and your company. Check with your human resources department to insure that the questions you are going to ask are within legal limits in your locale.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Costs That Determine Price

Proper price cannot be achieved unless caterers themselves understand all the costs that need to go into the price. Much more than the food and labor needs to be considered when creating a fair price for an event, including:
Food cost. Everything that goes into the food production for an event needs to be tallied to create the final price. It is a mistake to take into account the meat but forget the half box of parsley you’re sending. Parsley costs money!

Labor cost. This is usually considered to be the wages of kitchen staff that prepares the menus. These usually are hourly wages.

Operational cost. These usually are the fixed costs of your business or the costs of being in business. Rent, truck payments and other fixed costs tend to get into this section.

Cost of sale. This might be as simple as the commission to a salesperson or advertising. This is a wide-open category. Some caterers place their plastic wrap, fuel and other disposables into this category. If you know that you will need to give gratuities to security guards etc., this is where you can include it.

Delivery. The wages of the delivery staff, gas, maintenance, etc., go into this category.

Set-up cost. Often there are costs in setting up an event that seem to be missing from the price. This could be wages for staff who physically set up the event or charges by a rental dealer for doing the same.

Pre-party cost. Food samplings, parking fees, gas for salespeople going to and from a client’s location, are a few examples of pre-party costs. Some caterers also assign a cost to the production and delivery of the proposal.

Insurance. Some portion of your premium needs to be placed into each and every price you build. Some caterers add a line item to the invoice for insurance coverage. In some cases they are charging 3 percent for insurance coverage on all invoices. The client can eliminate this by giving the caterer a certificate of insurance that makes the caterers the primary beneficiary of the client’s policy.

Degree-of-difficulty penalty. Caterers are learning to add just a little bit for the more difficult kinds of events or for more demanding clients. Tent events are a good example of events for which the caterer should charge a little more.

Extra meals. The client should pay for all extra meals that will be needed to feed the band, DJ, valet parkers, photographer, etc. Often caterers will put into this section only the actual food cost instead of the retail price of the food expected to be consumed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Discussion & Thinking Points

Your thoughts....

1. A great salesperson plans ahead. They make that plan based on what they want to accomplish with the shopper and they do some research about a corporate prospect's company before they arrive for the appointment.

2. A caterer's refund, deposit, and cancellation policies play a big roll in their success. The more user-friendly the are, the more sales will be made.

3. Aggressive, but not necessarily expensive, marketing is a must for caterers.   

4. The Mystery of catering is what makes it so exciting! 

5. There are no retirement homes for caterers ... a caterer needs to create their own retirement fund. 

6.  Be sales driven... not culinary driven. Salespeople are the ones who know the client’s wants and fears best.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Roman's Guide To Evaluating Your Kitchen

A catering kitchen is either out of control or working well. There seems to be no middle ground. The symptoms of being out of control in the kitchen are: lack of inventory controls, tardy staff, lack of written recipes and procedures, poor sanitation, sending too much food, orders that are mispacked, food and equipment not leaving for events on time and a chef, or kitchen leader, who is not cooperative with the entire culinary, sales and management team.
An official kitchen evaluation begins with a rather simple action: Someone sits in the kitchen and does nothing but observe. What do you watch for? Just use your common sense and measure your kitchen against the out-of-control symptoms listed.
Many owner/managers believe that it just isn’t cool to sit and watch their kitchen at work. Often the owners think, “My staff will think that I don’t trust them.” During an evaluation, trust is not the issue. What would happen if the airlines felt it wasn’t cool to evaluate pilots?
Walk around from time to time and get close to the action. Taste some of the food being prepared. Just the way your staff gets you the food samples tells you a lot about how they respect their food and their sanitation level. For example, if they simply get a kitchen utensil, load the sample onto the utensil and then give it to you, you know that they are not as concerned about style and sanitation than they would be if they put the sample onto a disposable or china plate (or other container) and gave you a normal piece of metal or disposable flatware to use. This is what evaluating is all about; you need to look at the small details and past the obvious.
Things to watch for in your kitchen evaluation include:
·   How are the kitchen leaders sitting? Is anyone facing the back door? Is anyone sitting close to the back door to watch what comes in and out of the kitchen? Minding the entry and exit doors are important to eliminate losses from stealing and to catch errors before they happen.
·   Do your chefs kick the oven door closed, or otherwise roughhouse your equipment? Kicking the door closed is a culinary sin; it causes damage to some parts of the stove, like the gas safety, that can require a costly repair. Is your equipment really clean?
·   Does your staff sample freely from foods being prepared? Do they eat while they are working? A professional kitchen doesn’t permit eating while working. It is unsanitary and dangerous. Imagine eating a sandwich while slicing meat on the slicer. A separate area in the kitchen should be used for eating during breaks.
·   Are there signs of staff smoking in the kitchen? It’s unlawful and creates a liability.
·   Does your hand sink work? Are there soap and towels at the sink? Some caterers have all staff stop what they are doing and wash their hands every hour on the hour. Handwashing comes with the job in the kitchen! Even if rubber gloves are used, handwashing is a must; dirty hands are the culprit in many food-borne illnesses.
·   In the walk-in cooler, are like foods shelved together or are there flats of strawberries here, there and over there? Organization is crucial in any cooler storage system. Use a first-in, first-out process.
·   After a can or package has been used and put into the garbage take it out and shake it, scrape it and look inside. Is all of the food out of it? You may find peas still stuck at the bottom of package of frozen peas. There may be some baked beans at the bottom of the can. When things start moving fast in a kitchen, culinary staff sometimes overlook things and take shortcuts.
·   Take a pan of food from an order ready to go and check to see if the food is in the same amount as requested on the order or packing list. If the order calls for 42 chicken breasts, how many are really going? Too many or too few, either is a problem.
·   See if anyone fails to wash their knives every time they move from one food group to another. Do the culinary staff have thermometers in their pockets? Are they using them? Do your staff clean their workstations as they go?
·   Try to determine whether there is fear of asking questions in your kitchen.
·   Moving fast in a kitchen is a good thing, but it also can signal that the timing is not correct. A quality kitchen makes mistakes. The question is how many and when are they caught and corrected.