Friday, October 19, 2012

Testimonials Make Sales... They Really Do!

What someone else says about the quality of a catering company is far more believable to a shopper than what the catering company says about itself. For most people, buying catering is a new and scary situation filled with high anxiety. Unlike restaurants, there are very few “rating” services on catering businesses for shoppers to gain confidence in a caterer’s quality or level of service before they buy. Many shoppers also are convinced that salespeople and marketing pitches are often unreliable.

Catering is a major purchase for most people or corporations. A lot of money is spent without any real assurance that the catering will be as it’s promised to be. This is why testimonials from previous users are extremely crucial for the success of any caterer especially when buyers fear making a mistake that they might regret.

Testimonials are important to shoppers because they gain confidence to buy and then are able to assess blame to others, either intellectually or really, if something goes wrong with the event by saying “One of the reasons I chose to use the caterer was because I read all the great comments and testimonials that their past customers sent them”.

Interesting isn’t it? Think about why you ask others for recommendations before you buy or don’t buy an expensive or important product or service i.e. doctors, dentists, autos, painters, and lawyers. We ask because we are in search of the good, bad or inside tips on the product or service we are seeking and to gain a safety net of being able to blame others.

Here are some ways to generate and use testimonials:

a. If prospects come to your office, you should have your walls flooded with framed letters and notes from happy clients. Take time to talk about these testimonials or take one down from the wall for the prospect to read before you start your sales presentation. Also, don’t be afraid to place testimonials you received via email on the wall for all to see.

b. If you use a large photo album with images of your past events for the prospects to view, don’t hesitate to place testimonials in this album in such a way that they will see them as prospects turn the pages in the photo album. In other words, don’t put them in a special section in the back of the album. Mix them in with the photos. Also, take time to talk about them in the same way as you do about the photos. Every testimonial has a story behind it.

c. Place testimonials throughout your website, not just in a special separate section. Intersperse them with the other content. If possible add a photo from the event the happy client is referring to and label it as such.

d. Create a “music on hold” message that actually has prerecorded testimonials from the actual happy clients. When prospects hear “Hi, my name is Bob Smith from Hanover Supply. ABC Catering did a fantastic job on our annual event. The food and service were super and they now cater all our functions. I highly recommend them”. You have just received a huge advantage over your competition.  By the way, everyone who caters always has a few clients who would just love to do this type of recording!

e. Create some YouTube testimonials and add the link to all your emails and from you website. This is a very cool and powerful concept.

Testimonials are your way to shout-out how great people think your catering is, while it giving shoppers confidence.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Questions Shoppers Are Hesitant To Ask

There are certain questions that are on the mind of all buyers when they first approach a caterer. Shoppers tend to be reluctant to ask the salesperson the questions below because they are kind of “intense”. Imagine how you would feel if a friend asked, “Did you brush your teeth today?” The questions that many shoppers really want to ask, but are afraid or embarrassed to ask the salesperson include:

·   Is the food good?
·   Will the caterer let me participate in the planning?
·   Will they ask me difficult questions?
·   What does the staff look like? Are they honest? Will they steal something?
·   Will the caterer embarrass me?
·   How much extra food do they bring?
·   Have they ever run out of food?
·   Will they show up on time?
·   Is the kitchen where they make the food clean?
·   Has anyone gotten ill eating their food?
·   Will they still be in business on event day?
·   Who else has bought from them?
·   What are the things that might go wrong?
·   How will our place look after they leave?
·   What happens to my money if I need to cancel?
·   What will it cost me?
The more of these questions you answer for your shopper without them asking first, the greater your chance of a sale becomes. While they can be answered anytime during your time with the shopper, the sooner you answer them the better. The easiest way to begin the process is by saying, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, please let me take a moment to answer some of the questions that by best clients have asked before using us for the first time.”

“I’m always asked about our kitchen and our level of professionalism. There is no question that our culinary team keeps the kitchen spotless. They follow all the established health department rules and exceed all sanitation requirements. Our kitchen is inspected by our city’s health department on an ongoing basis.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Marketing: Buffet of Buffets

I find this Caesar's marketing promotion to be "brilliant" and creative... I really do.

Simply put - book a room at any of the eight (8) Harrah's properties in Las Vegas and you get TWO of what they call ALL DAY PASS which permits two people to eat at ANY of the Harrah's hotel buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner as many times as you wish in a twenty-four hour period.

To be clear, you can book at the Imperial Palace for a published rate of $53 or Paris for $103 and go to any or all of the eight buffets in any of the hotels of your choice.

I do believe that the "in your face" creativity of this promotion will work. It is something that has never been done before and is probably something that most marketers wouldn't have the nerve to try.

One more very neat aspect to this marketing - they also are offering the ALL DAY PASS for $49.99 only if you don't wish to stay at one of their hotels. This establishes value in a big way. Many of our readers would happily eat at the Rio Buffet, Paris Buffet, or the Caesars Buffet with no problem. The $44.99 is the cost of one and a half buffets, so if one puts in two other meals the value is huge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rules For Your Marketing Program

1. You sell more catering when your marketing energy demonstrates to the buyer what the catering will do for them and their situation.
2. The marketing must overcome the false and true beliefs that they have about catering.
3. Catering marketing must take the risk out of decision making for the buyer!
4. Remember: Most people buy the most familiar brand.
5. Most people buy by simply choosing ... catering marketing needs to permit buyers to decide to buy from you rather than from the most familiar.
6. To keep a client loyal, your marketing must continually remind them that they are with the best already!
7. To take buyers from another caterer you need to give them a chance to use you just once... not forever!!
8. Effective catering marketing demonstrates the downside of the alternatives to catering.
9. Higher prices are not defended in catering marketing. They are explained by showing how they provide less disaster (or more success) over the competition's lower prices.
10. Catering marketing needs to show that in catering you get what you pay for!

It’s really quite simple, you can’t grow a company faster without quality marketing to new and past clients.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hiring The "Right" Person

How do you, the owner or highly placed manager of a catering organization, know if a candidate you’re interviewing will be a positive, neutral or negative addition to the company culture? How will this person, if hired, react to your management style? Will the new hire add to the growth of your business, or crash and burn because of preexisting flaws, hidden agendas or incompatibile personality.

I recommend that catering companies of any size actively seek the answers to the above questions by hiring trained psychologists during the process of selecting new key staff for their companies. I think most owners agree that the normal hiring interview process doesn’t always give you answers to many important compatibility questions.

While consulting, I’ve seen that often the people in charge of hiring key staff are themselves flawed. When I say that they are flawed, I don’t mean that they aren’t fine managers and owners, just that they don’t have the kind of training that will help them identify which candidates are most likely to succeed on the job. When it comes to hiring managers or chefs, those doing the hiring need to realize that the number one reason for the failure of these new hires will be simple incompatibility between the new hire and the existing culture or beliefs of the company, staff and management.

Caterers have often told me that a new hire didn’t work out because the person just changed his or her attitudes once hired, or because the new employee just wouldn’t “fit in with the way I run my business.” I don’t believe these new employees changed—they had the same attitude all the time but the owner didn’t pick it up during the interview process. These kinds of attitudes lay hidden and need the skills of a trained psychologist to uncover.

Several of my consulting clients have increased their success in hiring winners by using a professional psychologist to do an interview with a key candidate before a final decision is made. The psychologist is able to probe deeper into the thinking and attitudes of the candidate, uncovering any incompatibilities that will adversely affect your business. Hiring a professional also takes a lot of pressure off the interviewer.

When it comes to hiring key catering leaders, getting the opinion of a psychologist helps pave the way for long-range success and growth. It just makes sense: Caterers should spend their time doing what they know best—not becoming their company’s Dr. Phil!