Friday, November 16, 2012

Why Objections Arise From Shoppers

There are many reasons a customer ma raise objections. It may be as simple as the customer not understanding something, or as complicated as the customer fearing that he or she can’t afford your services, but being embarrassed to say so. Some of the reasons a customer may raise objections are:

• Normal hesitancy.
• Loyalty to their current catering company.
• Fear of making a mistake.
• Not convinced by your sales pitch.
• Don’t have the money (objections are
a way to avoid embarrassment).
• Have the money, but have other priorities.
• Private.
• Don’t like you.
• Don’t trust you.
• Being confused (maybe because you didn’t present the information clearly).
• You’ve highlighted the wrong benefits.
• You waited too long for the close.
• You used the wrong examples or “war stories.”
• Don’t sense your enthusiasm while you’re selling.

I suggest that in your next sales meeting you discuss these points and try to discover others!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Everyone Is Important!

Recently, I gave a speech to a group of foodservice professionals about action steps to become a better company team member and employee. I was part of a panel of five, so I only had twenty minutes. It was an interesting audience for me because, unlike when I speak at our annual catersource Conference, many of these foodservice professionals had not heard me sing the praises of the hospitality industry before.
When I speak to groups that have never heard me before, I need to remind myself to start a little slower than I do when speaking to professionals who are Roman “alumni.” I began by asking them, “Who owns your company?”
After a brief pause, so they could take time to hear their answer to my question in their own minds, I shared my thoughts. Here is a summary:
To become a better team member or staffer, you need to realize that no matter what position or duty you are responsible for in a company, that one single job is crucial to the success of the business. An executive chef is no more important than a person who packs orders or loads trucks, even though one is paid more than the other.
All of the work of the executive chef—or the whole culinary team for that matter—can be negated quickly if the wrong stuff is packed for an event. In fact, team members with lower pay often are the more dominant reason for a company’s success or failure; a team is as strong as its weakest member.
As I came nearer to the end of my speech, I started to pump up my energy and focus. I don’t know why, but when I forcefully told the audience that they, not the actual owners, were the true owners of their company, I could see a change in their eyes. Evidently, I had just presented a new idea that took them by surprise.
I explained that they didn’t just have a job description or duties to fulfill, they also needed to think about what they did and didn’t do on a daily basis as an owner would. Taking ownership is the only way to gain an upper hand on their contributions to the business.
I left them with this simple concept: If you actively take ownership of your role in a company, the company will experience new and renewed success. In addition, by taking ownership and responsibility for your job, you are able to take ownership of your own future.
I asked them to remember that the real owners of the company will identify clearly those team members who are thinking, acting and responding as owners would. In the hospitality industry, you can’t hide the good or not-so-good performance of any employee.
n all my years of speaking, I’ve never had so many audience members visit with me immediately after the speech to tell me how much they were affected by the ideas I’d just presented. Whether you are a real owner, or a “staff owner,” you may want to consider opening a discussion like this with your team.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Catering Needs To Be A Win-Win.

There is little that surpasses the feeling a caterer gets after walking into an empty venue, after they create an amazing catered event in less than ninety minutes of set-up time. Or, the rush a caterer feels when a bride seeks them out before leaving her reception just to give the caterer a final thank you and a kiss on the cheek for making her day so special. Or, the happiness and pride a catering team feels when they have just solved an unforeseen crisis that the event’s guests didn’t even know was happening. These are all the simple joys of catering.
However, the profession of catering is also a complex one. Caterers face a constant battle between pleasing customers and running a profitable business. Sometimes these two goals don’t necessarily go hand in hand. The problem rests in the fact that caterers are very nice people. They truly enjoy helping customers experience total satisfaction with any catering order whether it is a simple box lunch or a corporate gala. On the other hand, some caterers, in their quest to please customers and their guests, often place making a proper profit lower down on their list of priorities.
Profit is an important part of any successful business. My concern is that some caterers, as business people, tend to think with their hearts a little too much.
Sometimes caterers worry so much about customer satisfaction that they forget about creating a win-win relationship between themselves and the customer. Caterers tend to overcorrect on situations where there might be a chance for unhappy hosts. In fact, some caterers feel a sense of guilt if they make too much profit, so they are always willing to put some of an event’s projected profit back into the event just to make sure nothing will go wrong.
While many businesses and professions are becoming less personal with respect to customer contact, catering remains intensely personal. Caterers share the joys and worries of their customers from the first contact to the event’s end. They become part of the customer’s family or corporation clocking in countless hours of pre-event assistance. Therefore, I believe caterers should make the money they deserve. There are no retirement homes offering free rent for those caterers who put pleasing others ahead of also making some profit along the way. 
Make a sign for your desk to assure a win-win: Our Goal Is A Happy Customer and Proper Profits.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Scripts: Postponing The Decision

The customer may want to consult with someone else—or may say that in order to postpone having to make a decision. Respond to the customer’s desire to talk it over with someone else with comments like these:

“That’s a great idea; let me step out while you use my phone to call them.”

“Let me arrange for you to use a desk in one of the conference rooms to make your calls.”

“Great. Let’s decide now what you want to ask them so that I can make sure that I’ve given you all of the answers that you require.”

Monday, November 12, 2012

Your Difference Is Your Differences

Remember that old saying, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.” The phrase deals with the perceptions that people have about what they believe to be true. Sometimes, however, the perception becomes muddled and may lead to incorrect conclusions.

Caterers can significantly increase their business success by understanding how this phrase applies to shoppers seeking a caterer. If we simply reword the phrase above to read, “If it walks like a caterer and quacks like a caterer, it must be a caterer,” we can discover some interesting concepts that will help us.
Shoppers of catering are constantly exposed to the public perception of what a caterer and catering is. When a shopper calls five different caterers for information, they often get similar, if not exactly the same menus, formats and rules from each of them. In other words, most caterers in a particular area tend to copy what the other caterers do, so shoppers are hearing the same “quacks” from each caterer whether it’s menu pricing, staff charges, guest guarantee deadlines or deposit and cancellation policies.
These “me-too” concepts that many caterers follow lead the shoppers to a false perception that all caterers are just ducks, that one caterer is the same as all other caterers. Since they’ve not met any “me-different” caterers, the only thing that many shoppers are seeking is lower price. In truth, these me-too caterers set themselves up unwittingly as a commodity when the real goal is to create a win-win buyer/seller relationship.
This leads me to my suggestion to our subscribers who wish to pick up business. Concentrate on not being perceived as a me-too company. Create your own, different set of rules. You just need to sound unique and to offer the shopper the chance to realize that you are a company that transcends the perception that caterers are all the same. Your goal is to clearly make the shopper understand that with your company, they have finally met a caterer who not like the other caterers.
You need to be viewed as the company that offers different and alternative solutions for corporate and social clients shopping for a team of professionals to assist with their food and event needs. To do this you need to present your information in a more “buyer-friendly” format, making sure that your rules and procedures do not mimic those of your competitors. Your company must become the clear choice in the shopper’s mind as the company that is totally unlike the other ones they have talked with.
Don’t quack at the shopper; envelop them with your differences!