Thursday, March 7, 2013

We're Moving!

Please visit our new website and blog.  Don't miss the latest announcements about our services and Jon's speaking engagements!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Save the Date!

Is your New Year off to a busy start?  

In addition to consulting for several caterers and restaurants, I'm happy to report that my speaking schedule is also full.  If you are attending any of these conferences, please stop and say hello!

The Special Event Show 2013 (January 15-18, McCormick Place, Chicago) 
Mindflow Group Lunch & Learn (January 29, Lemont, IL)
Catersource Conference (March 10-13, Las Vegas)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sales Horror or Sales Hurrah?

Many friends and clients have requested we revisit this post from last year. We hope it resonates with you as it did with them!

Everyone in the hospitality industry works tirelessly throughout the holiday season: planning, cooking, trouble shooting, and managing hard-to-please clients. This is followed by a race to close the books before finally enjoying a well-deserved holiday break. Two scenarios are likely to follow:

Scenario 1: The Horror, the Horror!
  • Many hard-earned kudos and pats on the back for a job well done.
  • Down time from December 20th until a few days after New Year's.
  • A January filled with a belated office party, extra time chillin' in the break room, cleaning the file drawers, and posting pics of your holiday successes.
  • Snow day!  Stay home with hot chocolate and good movies.
  • A last minute getaway over Valentine's Day weekend.
  • Commerce hasn't stopped but you sure have....
  • No revenue in the sales pipeline.
Do the math. In this scenario, your company may have missed out on 2-3 months (that’s 15-25%) of the sales calendar! You missed the chance to beat the previous year’s numbers. You handed your competitors a big head start.

Small businesses must sell hard all year long and there is a way to do it:

Scenario 2: A Sales Hurrah!
  • Enjoy a much-needed rest and family festivities over the Christmas and New Year's weekends.  Even attach an extra day off on either end.
  • Consider the week between Christmas and New Year's a prime selling time.
  • Get on the phone and reach out to business owners (decision makers) directly. (Note: the executive staffs of many small businesses are in their offices during this week, working to get a jump start on the new year.  Therefore, they are accessible, have fewer pressing deadlines, and there are no gate keepers to hinder your sales efforts!)
  • Create aggressive sales activity quotas to kick off your new year.  Start a contest to reward the salesperson with the best first quarter sales.
  • Contact your holiday clients and inspire for referrals.  Offer them an incentive program.
  • Anticipate the flood of bridal inquiries that arrive at the first of the year.
  • Host intimate open houses for new brides, planners, and key clients - now that the holiday hubbub has died down, they'll be happy for a night on the town.
  • Prepare your specialty menus and marketing plans for the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Passover, etc.
  • Offer to speak at local business and entrepreneurial groups.
  • Fill your sales pipeline.
Everyone in our industry knows to anticipate a robust fourth quarter but that’s no reason to snooze through the first couple months of the year. The smart approach is to ramp up sales throughout the first quarter. This will set a pace for the entire year and, rather than the horrifying loss of 2-3 months of sales time, you can be well on your way to a meaningful increase over last year’s numbers.

That’s definitely a reason to cheer “Hurrah!”

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Morning After

For caterers, the frenzy of holiday planning is at its pinnacle. It’s all we can do to corral clients for last moment selections, secure rental and decor orders, fulfill staffing assignments, and ensure that, with a few deep breaths, a wipe of the brow, and many sleepless nights, parties go off without a hitch. But before popping the champagne in celebration of having survived the holidays, remember that the job continues until well after the last gingerbread man is served.

All too often, attentive customer service ends when the event ends. However, a proactive post-event strategy is as important as your pre-event sales process. It is a key to developing ongoing business and client trust. Here is a post event step-by-step strategy: 
  • Call client the next day to say "thank you" and include  a short event debrief.  For more involved events, schedule a conference call or meeting.
  • Call venue contact to review execution of the event.
  • Hand write a Thank You to the client.
  • Review event reports from Sales Executive, Chef and Supervisor.
  • Generate a P&L.
  • Create client/venue/vendor information files noting their preferences.
  • Evaluate the client using a grading system based on criteria for your Best Fit Clients.  Grading should be based on event revenue, profitability, frequency of events, ease of function, and client's willingness to promote your company.
  • Request a client testimonial.
Following these steps after each event will help nurture your relationships with clients and venue managers. You will quickly find that a proactive and comprehensive post-event program leaves the sweetest taste and wraps up each event with the prettiest bow.