Saturday, December 15, 2012

Short & Sweet Control Concept

Below is a phrase with just thirty-five (35) words that should be placed at the end of every bid/proposal you send out to prospects. By using this phrase, you will be asserting a measure of professional control over the prospect that will establish the fact that you need to be treated with respect. I suggest that you give them between three weeks and five weeks to finalize your bid.

"We will be pleased to hold a tentative reservation for your event date, and guarantee the above prices until (Deadline DATE). If not confirmed with your deposit by this date, availability and prices will need to be renegotiated."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Maybe A New Idea: Labor-Saving Menu Items

Sometimes, the best way to sell up is to sell down. I wish to share with you an idea that I’ve shared with caterers from time to time over the last 10 years. When most caterers hear it for the first time, they usually think it is absolutely silly and certainly something they would never do.
But, since I can’t think of a time when buyers of catering have been more actively searching for value in their decision of which caterer to choose, I’ve decided that now is another great time to bring it up.
So, here goes. This marketing/pricing idea is only launched whenever a prospect is aggressively seeking lower prices. In this script, which explains my concept, the shopper has been haggling with the salesperson to achieve a lower price. The salesperson responds:

“Mrs. Smith, I might have a simple solution for your request to lower menu cost. Let me explain. The price I’ve given you for the menu we’ve just reviewed reflects our labor-intensive, ‘from scratch’ culinary preparation. If our chefs create the menu using high-quality, ‘laborsaving’ foods, we can lower the cost while still pleasing your guests. Would you want me to explain this further?”

During the explanation of the labor-saving menus, the client learns of the many high-quality foods available that offer lower prices since they eliminate costly kitchen labor. The shopper learns that menu items like Chicken Skewers, Duck Confit and many varieties of hors d’oeuvre, to name just a few, are all available pre-made and/or precooked for their menus.
Another benefit is that most shoppers who listen to an explanation of labor-saving menus welcome the discussion as a customer-friendly gesture. Many buyers will embrace your less costly menus, while others will still stick with your from-scratch and more costly ones after the explanation.
It does remind buyers that you have the ability to create menus that have different levels of price that still have great impact on the guests. Shoppers believe that the salesperson’s main goal is to always sell the most expensive items. They are amazed when a salesperson actually makes the case for buying less expensive catering. In my view, now is the time to relax our buyers and try to make a sale no matter what the price level is as long as it is profitable. It has always been my view that the best way to sell up is to sell down. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Consider Ranking Clients By Importance

If you really believe that all clients are equally important, you will have difficulty maximizing your profitability. Of course, all clients are important, but some contribute more to the bottom line than others. Some are slow at paying and demand more than they are willing to pay for. Some are easy to work with; others are always seeking ways to get a refund. Some buy just one of your product lines; others buy both drop-off catering and larger holiday events from you.
There are certain clients that you just must say “yes” to, no matter what type or size of order they request. When the mayor’s office or an old friend or family member calls, you probably need to respond favorably to their catering requests. There are always exceptions.
Your entire staff needs to understand who spends the most money. Chances are you already know the two or three clients who spend the greatest amount of dollars with you, but do you know the sixth, seventh and eighth largest clients in your customer list? Track sales data for your clients to find your top 20 best buyers. The names on the list need to be on the desks of your staff so everyone knows them.


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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Explain Payment Policies in Advance

It is a caterer’s right to be paid in a manner, method and time period that they desire. A caterer can have whatever rules they wish as long as they are legal and ethical. Whatever your policies or wishes on payment happen to be, just make sure buyers understand and fully agree with them. You also need to be aware of what competitor’s policies are when establishing or adjusting your own policies.

You should explain and review your deposit policy and final payment policy in conversation with your clients, but you also need to provide them to the buyers in writing. In addition, have the clients verify that they received the policies and that they agree to follow them. Offer to further explain them to the buyer and to answer any questions. Make sure clients understand fully how, when and what they need to pay the caterer and other services or vendors.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scripts: The Frozen Shopper

A “decision freeze” can be expected in most selling situations. In many cases, it comes up because the buyer can’t find a reason to make a quick decision. The customer wants your catering, but you have to give a reason they need to buy it today.

This is a great time to remind your buyer of the advantages your catering holds for them — remind them that they need to make a quick decision because others are also looking to book for the same date. Creating urgency can help you overcome the “decision freeze.”

“Sarah, it’s natural for you to think about what you want to do before you make a decision. However, I’d like to suggest some important things to consider that might show you why postponing your decision might not be the best step to take.”

“Ms. Weaver, I understand that deciding what caterer to use is a very big concern for you. The majority of my clients have had the same concerns that you now have. With your permission, I’d like to share with you what I’ve told other clients about what I call “decision freeze.” In this way, you might get a better understanding of what others have done when they found themselves in the same situation that you now find yourself.”

“Ms. Weaver, as I mentioned earlier, you are free to hold off your decision, but I need to make it clear that our ballroom may not be available much longer.”

During a “decision freeze,” you can help the buyer—and yourself—understand what the hesitation is all about. It’s your job to make the buyer aware of their real concerns.

“Ms. Weaver, let’s take a moment and discuss what some of your concerns might be. This way we both might be able to better understand what information I need to give you so you can make a final decision.”

As you listen to your buyer, be sure to note anything that might be considered positive. If they mention your “good food,” that’s positive. If they mention the beautiful new carpets in your banquet space, that’s positive. If they mention your professional concern, that’s positive.

Now take those positive thoughts and bring them back to the table. Get your buyer to realize that the opportunity to capture them for the guests (and for the buyer’s peace of mind) is now.
Selling catering is selling handholding and the avoidance of embarrassment. It’s selling your concern, love and skills to the buyer.

Overcome “decision freeze” with your enthusiasm and by understanding the buyer’s emotions.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Scripts: Dealing With Rumors

The customer may be concerned about your company in particular, based on an experience someone else has had, a rumor about your company—or perhaps their own experience in the past. Or the customer may have had a bad experience with another caterer and is now suspicious of all catering companies. In any of these cases, you need to address the concern directly. Comments like these can start that conversation:

“Catering companies are difficult places to run.”

“Let me tell you about a problem I had with a catering company recently.”

“What would it take to renew your confidence in using catering companies?”

“Did the catering company that caused you the problem give you an adjustment?”