The Catering Software Corner Blog

Killing Your Catering Competition With The Uber Factor

Posted by Michael Attias on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 @ 10:07 AM

I think it was two to three years ago a forward thinking, techie friend of mine starting talking up Uber. He parked his expensive Jaguar and started using Uber to take him to work and out and about.

At the time I thought he was perfectly nuts to sideline his Jag. Today I get it.

For those of you not familiar with Uber, it is a ride sharing app that connects users with individuals willing to give you a ride for a fee; most of the time less expensive than a cab.

After about six months of listening to my buddy go on and on about Uber, I decided to skip the expensive parking garages for a Predators game and Uber it there; allowing me to have one too many without fear of a DUI.

At first blush, you would think a lower cost alternative to a cab is what launched them, Nope. During peak times their rates can be more expensive.

What about the friendly drivers? Maybe.

But what caused Uber to disrupt the cab business and turn the industry upside down was their technology.

Frankly, being able to summon an Uber or a taxi from my iPhone does not excite me. What excites me is the GPS integration with their app.

Before I even request an Uber to pick me up, I can see all of the cars on my cell phone driving around town. They give me an estimate of how long it will take the car I call to get to my front door.

I can see the car moving down the road and turning down my block.

In my opinion the Uber Factor that disrupted the industry was the fact that finally, I can call for an Uber (cab) and know for sure:

  1. The car is on its way
  2. The exact time it will arrive.

Unless catching a cab at the airport or at a hotel cab stand, I NEVER called a taxi. The anxiety of wondering whether they would show was not worth any benefit.

Uber addressed what keeps people up at night.

So how can you use the Uber Factor to crush your catering competition?

If you have done more than ten caterings, then you have received the dreaded call…

“Where is my order? I am checking to make sure it left. When will they be here?” The customer is worried and you get worried.

The second issue is…did everything get dropped off? Your catering clients are scared to death that they have hot food for twenty-five but you forgot the serving utensils.

Any time you can address a client’s biggest fears you crush the competition. Just look at Uber. They are a billion-dollar company and own zero cars.

I have written about our new Delivery Manager and Delivery Driver Smart Phone Interface before. We debuted it at Caterpalooza and the response has been overwhelming.

Though we are still working on the full blown app that works like Uber, showing you and your catering client where their delivery driver is at all times, it currently allows the driver to notify the client via email and text that they are on their way and when they have arrived.

The built in checklists add a double check to make sure everything has been loaded and delivered.

It is one thing to talk a good game, but showing catering clients and prospective catering clients that you use a system like ours allows you to disrupt the market. This is an advantage you want to jump on.

Technology like this will help you win over new clients unhappy with their current caterer. You will turn your current catering clients into raving fans.

The catering game is about strong, long-term relationships.

NOTE: To see a video of the Delivery Manager and Delivery Driver Interface in action, click here: https://youtu.be/bqvhK8dmcy8

 

Finally, let me encourage you to a join a new Facebook group I created for our industry: Restaurants That Cater. It is open to clients and non-clients alike. Please post your successes and challenges and share your knowledge with our community. There are groups and associations for caterers and for restaurants, but none for restaurants that cater…a very important group that is grossly underrepresented. Click on the link below and request to join:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/168019626917869/

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering delivery, catering operations, catering business, restaurant, catering delivery drivers, catering delivery mapping program

How Surfing Can Boost Your Catering Business

Posted by Michael Attias on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 @ 11:01 AM

The yearning for travel and an unrestricted lifestyle has always been encoded in my DNA. Maybe it is the fact my parents emigrated to America when I was just two.

Twice in college I backpacked my way through Europe with barely two nickels to rub together. I was so broke that I spent every other night on a train to keep my lodging costs down.

In college, I remember someone telling me about all the Americans moving down to Costa Rica to retire to paradise on a budget. I daydreamed of retiring at a young age to the Costa Rican paradise; beaches and rainforests and the laid back life!

After months of planning and two long days of Caterpalooza, I treated myself to a trip to Costa Rica. This country operates on island time. Yes, I know it’s not an island but with the Caribbean on the eastern coast and the Pacific on the western coast, it is definitely the island vibe.

We stayed in Playa Hermosa, a sleepy little beach town with a handful of restaurants and one small grocery store. Massages on the beach, monkeys in the trees and the best frozen mojitos, ceviche and fish tacos at Aqua Sport was my routine.

Costa Rica is known for its surfing. I decided to take lessons. My goal was just to ride a single wave.

DSCF0306.jpg

Funny thing was that walking across piping hot sand in bare feet was the toughest part of the day. Oh did I mention the wind whipped my surfboard out of the water and smacked me square in my left ear? It threw me for a loop, but I refused to quit.

Though not gracefully, I was able to ride three waves. See the YouTube video below to watch me. (No laughing please). If the video is not embedded, please click on this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFmVkts2gNg

So what does surfing have to do with boosting your catering business?  I know it may seem farfetched, but please follow.

We are all guilty of falling into the same routine. You wake up, you get to work, you come home and go to bed. I know many of you have hobbies or do  more than I have outlined, but when was the last time you did something outside your comfort zone?

In surfing you must be on the lookout for the perfect wave. In business you are on the lookout for business opportunities. Like surfing, you must decide which ones to pursue and which ones to pass on.

Getting up on the board is akin to committing to action. You can’t half commit to a wave. In business you can’t half commit to an idea or initiative. You’d be shocked how many people I talk to each week with a desire to build a large catering business like I did, but can’t commit any time or financial resources to the pursuit.

I have yet to start or run a business that did not require action. The more action I took, the more successful I became.

Now riding the wave is symbolic to the commitment you must have in business. Once you find that perfect wave or catering marketing initiative, hold on and ride it to the shore (of profits).

And once you ride the wave to completion, relish in your accomplishment and go back and find another one to own!

So whether you adopt my practical lessons of surfing or choose to stretch outside of your comfort zone, there is true value in pushing your boundaries. Even if you can’t afford to hop a plane to Costa Rica this weekend, what can you do in your backyard that’s different than your daily grind?

Go to the symphony, picnic in the park, go hiking, biking or visit a museum. Heck! Go find a place to sit down and do some people watching, which in Nashville is Opry Mills Mall. That’ll keep you entertained!

A few notes:

  1. If you travel internationally and want access to Wi-Fi without spending a fortune with your cell carrier, you need to get hold of a SkyRoam mobile hot spot. They contract out with cell carriers around the globe to offer 24 hours of Wi-Fi from their small device for as little as $8 a day. The device is less than a hundred bucks and comes with some credits on it. One trip pays for it. Here’s the link:

http://skyroaminc.refr.cc/9KXSPNQ

  1. We have heard from many clients and followers that they wish they could have attended Caterpalooza. Many of you are putting it on your “must do list” for 2017. Though a date has not been picked, I wanted to share the pics with you:

http://caterpalooza.com/caterpalooza2016pics

Hopefully, we will see you at Caterpalooza 2017!

  1. Finally, let me encourage you to a join a new Facebook group I created for our industry: Restaurants That Cater. It is open to clients and non-clients alike. Please post your successes and challenges and share your knowledge with our community. There are groups and associations for caterers and for restaurants, but none for restaurants that cater…a very important group that is grossly underrepresented. Click on the link below and request to join:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/168019626917869/

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering business, catering strategy, restaurant, catering groups

Doubling Perceived Catering Value For Only A Buck

Posted by Michael Attias on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 @ 07:45 AM

Gene is in his 90’s, barely has a high school degree, yet is wiser than 99% of us. Gene learned through the school of hard knocks and by picking the brains of the successful.

His first business venture was owner of a winter gear company. Listening to Gene tell me stories of how he ran that company is like listening to your grandfather tell tales of walking to school in the olden days.

I love business and the hours over my life listening to Gene’s stories. He figured out how to build a factory for less than the going rate by incorporating efficiencies he discovered.

He bought a restaurant once for fun. To save money, he had his cooks make the biscuits square to not waste dough.

After selling his company for a sum that would let anyone retire in style, he decided to build houses for a hobby. That hobby led him to become the largest builder in Maury county; selling a third of the new homes.

I remember him telling me that by investing a thousand dollars more in upgraded fixtures, he was able to give his houses a ten thousand dollar higher perceived value.

America buys on value; not price. If it was all price, then we would all drive Yugo’s, shop at Wal-Mart, dine at McDonald’s and get our hair done at Super Cuts.

Last week’s article was recap of my mystery shopping presentation at Caterpalooza of three different delis.

We purposely had each catering order set up on a plain table (see pic below).

Caterpalooza2016-40.jpg

 

Aside from the variety of packaging, you will notice each table scape is very bland.

Now how can you double the perceived value of your catering for a buck?

Though I would love to take credit for this, the hero of this story is Frank D’Antona owner of Cantina Mamma Lucia. Frank was the first guy to use our catering software and has been following me since 2003 with incredible results.

I have been to Baltimore twice to do a catering seminar with him. Both times he was generous enough to share how he runs his hugely successful catering profit center.

One thing Frank does is brings out a plain white table cloth to put on his client’s table before setting out his food. 

At my presentation, we took the food off a plain table and added a disposable table cloth that you can buy at the dollar store for a buck. It may cost you two bucks to have it delivered from your vendor. Either way it is a bargain.

Just look at the table after the cloth is added (see below):

Caterpalooza2016-42.jpg

This is like one of those makeover shows.

Another thing Frank does is bring out a plastic bowl for ice when drinks are ordered. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.

Only one of our mystery shopped caterers brought an ice bowl with a spoon.

As I write this, in less than twenty-four hours I am headed for Costa Rica to do some R&D and get some much needed R&R from Caterpalooza.

I wasn’t sure how our first Caterpalooza: An Extraordinary Catering Conference For Restaurants would do.

We more than doubled our goal for attendance. I realized Restaurant Catering Systems is “the home” for restaurants that cater. Restaurant catering represents the largest catering niche, yet has no voice.

Based on the recommendation of a Caterpalooza attendee and client, I have created a private Facebook group called “Restaurants That Cater”. Please ask to join. I will welcome you. I kept it private to prevent spammers.

I know together we can all go further!

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering delivery, catering business, catering strategy, restaruant, catering packaging, catering set up

Competition Proof Catering Sales

Posted by Michael Attias on Wed, Mar 16, 2016 @ 09:47 AM

Yesterday one of my good friends Rhonda asked me about my competition.

I know my answer came off as arrogant, “I don’t have any competition!”

In the broad sense I do. There are many places you can go to find catering software, but a closer look will reveal why we operate competition free.

We are the only catering software company that focuses on restaurants that cater. We are on the only catering software company that provides systems and tools to find new catering clients and keep them coming back. And we are the only catering software company that provides a system to operate your catering profit more effectively; saving time and making more money…like with online ordering and our new Delivery Manager that allows drivers to handle their orders via smart phone).

So how can you make your catering business competition free?

Last week my team and I at Restaurant Catering Systems threw a two-day event called Caterpalooza. The room was packed out and the attendees heard from some great speakers with ideas to build their restaurant catering sales.

One of the more eye-opening presentations was called: The Art and Science of Having A Competition Proof Catering Business.

I had my Business Development Manager call three different caterers and order in lunch. She called an independent deli, a national chain deli/sandwich restaurant and a catering aggregator; someone who resells catering from multiple concepts to a client.

They all had their challenges on the phone, but to no surprise to me, the independent deli offered the best food by far, but the worst performance over the phone.

Let’s be clear. The phone is often your weakest link. If you can’t fix that, then you will never be competition proof.

I learned this lesson, when I opened my restaurant in 1992. I mystery shopped four of my barbecue competitors in town and played catering prospect. What I learned transformed how I conducted my catering business.

So now back to our independent deli.

First Call: When my team member called to place an order, she was given the name and number of their catering sales person and told to contact her.

No, no, no, no, NO!!!! We are in the hospitality business; not the make the customer do more work business.

Here’s the script that their employee should have used, “Our catering sales person is Sue Smith. She is away from the restaurant right now taking care of one of our catering clients. May I get your name and number, so I can get it to her right away? Would you like her contact information for your records? By the way, have you been to our website to see our catering menu? I would suggest you start there, until you hear back from Sue in a few hours. Just go to www.IndieDeli.com

Which scenario sounds better to you?

Ping Pong Calls: The next couple of calls were the catering sales rep leaving a message and back and forth a few times.

Order Taking Call: If I told you what happened on this call, you wouldn’t believe me. The catering sales rep started off by complaining about how much stuff she was doing: taking orders, making orders, delivering orders…

She then asked my team member if she had been to the website, as they usually want you to go online first and email them the information. She didn’t even know her prices.

If I wanted to work to place an order, I would walk in Costco and pick up a tray of sandwiches and bag of chips.

Excuse me. You are selling a product 20% more expensive than your competitors. The product is worth the price, but the service sucked!

Do not tell me your rules or what you want me to do. You have a client willing to give you a credit card, and for all you know could become a regular, do not make me jump through hoops. Your competitors who attended Caterpalooza know better and will steal me away!

Besides listening to the recordings, we actually had all three caterers deliver and set up the food live during my presentation. We critiqued every facet of the catering from delivery to portion size to packaging to set up.

One attendee told me this presentation alone was worth the entire cost of the conference.

As soon as our videographer gets us the DVD’s, we will be making them available for sale.

Hopefully, you can make plans to attend Caterpalooza 2017!

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering sales, catering business, catering strategy, catering mystery shopping, restaruant

The Best $975 Delivery Mistake I Ever Made

Posted by Michael Attias on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 @ 12:38 PM

 

“Where in the world is my catering order?”

…words you never want to hear from a catering client.

In the spring of 1993, less than six months after I opened Corky’s, I received a call from a pharmaceutical rep inquiring about her order. At the time, cell phones weren’t as common place as they are now.

I had absolutely no idea where the driver was with this lady’s $325 catering order for a very important doctor.

UGH!!!! I absolutely hate looking bad. I asked her to call me back in ten minutes.

Ten minutes later the order was fifteen minutes late, and I had one very pissed off catering client on my hands. I had a split second to make the call.

“I am truly sorry. Let me put together another order and bring it out personally,” I replied.

By the time I showed up, she was now sitting on two orders. I could tell she was still upset and needed me to make things right.

I didn’t charge her for her order, or her re-make I delivered, and offered her the next order for free.

All told; a $975 delivery mistake. Was I upset? Absolutely. But it was not her fault.

IIn business, you must consider the lifetime value of a customer and the lifetime value of their referrals.

Because I went above and beyond, I became her new best friend that would do whatever it took to make her look like a hero. I was rewarded with one to two thousand dollars a month in catering orders for the next few years she stayed in Nashville.

Had I not made things right, she would have bad mouthed me to every pharm rep in the city. The opposite happened. She referred me to her colleagues and even introduced me into the inner sanctum of pharm reps: The Middle Tennessee Pharmaceutical Reps Association.

We sponsored their calendar and threw them a big party once a year.

That $975 screw up helped put us on the map.

Sometimes, you have to go above and beyond to the point of pain for the long term gain.

At Restaurant Catering Systems, we work on creating systems to help our clients look like heroes with their customers.

Today we launched the second version of our Delivery Driver Module. It will be showcased at Caterpalooza.

So here is what it will do to help you avoid calls like the one I just mentioned above:

  1. Route All Your Deliveries On A Map: You can see each delivery for the day and create routes. Each route is assigned to a driver with as many stops as you want to make.
  2. Driver Interface: Once a driver is assigned a route(s), they log in from their smart phones.
  3. View Orders: The driver has a copy of the ticket on his phone along with what time to leave.
  4. Load Out Check List: The driver can pull up a list of items ordered or the prep list and mark off that each item is in the vehicle ready to go out.
  5. On My Way: The driver selects this button and the catering client is notified via email and/or text that the driver is headed to them. The driver’s picture is sent with the email.
  6. Mapping: The driver can choose from a variety of mapping apps like Waze and Google Maps.
  7. I’ve Arrived: When the driver pulls up, he hits this button to notify the catering client that the driver is on premise.
  8. Set Up Check List: The driver pulls up his checklist of catering items and checks them off on his screen once delivered and set up.
  9. Finalize Order: The client is handed the smart phone and can approve the order, leave a tip and sign the check.
  10. Emailing Ticket/Invoice: If requested, the driver can email a copy of the invoice and/or catering ticket to the client from their phone.
  11. I’m Done: This button notifies the restaurant that the driver has completed the delivery.

This system is very thorough and will give all of your clients the utmost confidence you will show up on time.

Remember. You are dealing with professionals at these corporations who order in catering. They appreciate working with companies who employ the latest technologies to get the job done. It is far more impressive than hand written tickets and having no idea when your order may arrive.

If you are interested in a demo of this system, please email Nicole in my office at Nicole@RCSMailBox.com

She can set a time for us to do a Go To Meeting and walk through it together.

If you would like to see the system live at Caterpalooza: An Extraordinary Catering Conference for Restaurants, then please make plans on attending.

You will walk away with sales, marketing and operational systems and learn lessons based on in-the-trenches experiences.

This two-day catering conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, March 7th & 8th, 2016. I expect this event to fill up.

We are getting filled up, so make plans to attend with your team.

Just go to www.Caterpalooza.com/register

My team and I hope to see you in Nashville!

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering business, catering strategy, restaurant

Confessions of A Self-Poclaimed Lazy Loser

Posted by Michael Attias on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 09:43 AM

Hello. My name is Michael Attias, and I am a self-proclaimed lazy loser and damn proud of it. Feel free to call me “L Squared”.

Throughout my entire life I have worn the “Lazy Loser” badge with pride. While my friends were working twenty-hour a week minimum wage jobs in high school, I chose to spend two hours a week cutting lawns that yielded me the same wage.

I spent the other eighteen hours playing tennis, swimming and goofing off.

When I graduated college, I spent a year floundering trying to find a big boy job. Out of boredom and lack of direction, I joined my friend Jeff Levine in taking the law school admittance test. Thankfully I did poorly.

The thought of having to work an hour to make an hour’s wage, if even over two hundred an hour, sends chills down my spine. My ADD prevents me from long bouts of focused work.

As a result, I have had to embrace my inner lazy. All through my career, I relied on systems to keep me from doing the work. My first system was opening and closing checklists for our restaurant to make sure it was done properly each and every time.

My next systems project was coming up with a system to take daily inventory on our major meats and comparing it to items sold in our daily PLU report. This simple system kept our food cost in line.

Fast forward to owning a software company and our entire company is run by systems.

What problems constantly rear their ugly head in your business? As opposed to a repeat of Ground’s Hog Day, develop a system to solve it.

Let me give you a very simple problem with a $5 cure. I spend about a quarter of my time conducting consults and demos about our software and catering systems via Go To Meeting.

For years, this was the scenario via email:

ME: Prospect. Please email me 3 dates/times (in your time zone) you are available for a consult call.

PROSPECT: I am available any time. You pick.

OR…. Monday at 2pm. Tuesday at 8am or 2pm.

ME: What time zone?

PROSPECT: Pacific.

ME: Sorry. My calendar is booked at that time.

PROSPECT: Never gets back with me…or we play this game of email ping pong a few more times.

The solution was simple. I subscribed to Schedule Once; a software service that links to my Google calendar and lets people book time with me that works for them. They choose their time zone, so there is no mix up on getting times right.

This has saved me a few hours a week and increased booked demos and consults; all worth the five bucks a month. The problem is solved.

As many of you know, RCS recently updated the look of our software. As a result, we are examining each support ticket and looking for patterns. When identified, we are getting our programmers to change words, workflows and processes, to eliminate the problem.

You want a company dependent on processes; not personalities.

I am getting my team on the bandwagon. They are encouraged to find bottlenecks and solve them. Jillian, our Marketing Director and person responsible for managing our clients’ design projects like websites and menu creation, identified she is spending a great deal of time checking in with clients for project updates.

Together we collaborated with our lead engineer to integrate text message notifications into our project management solution; Basecamp. And did I mention we went to Basecamp, because an Excel spreadsheet just wasn’t cutting it.

Net result: Jillian is hearing from clients in a timelier basis, as they prefer and appreciate text message communication.

Don’t let your team bring you problems. Demand they solve them. Better yet; demand they come up with a better system.

My goal is for my business to run without me.

Now let’s talk about being a loser. Most people dread failure. I embrace it. It is the loop from which we learn and grow.

As babies we learned from failure. I start to walk. I fall into the coffee table. It hurts like heck. I will now avoid the coffee table.

In marketing we call it testing. If you test a marketing campaign and it works keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, tweak it. If it still doesn’t work, scrap it.

Throughout my life I have had a ton of failures. So what? Fail fast, Learn quickly, and move on.

My son read one of my emails and commented about my grammatical errors. He is a straight A student at Vanderbilt and a National Merit Finalist. I barely made it through college.

My response to him, “How many people are sending you money for your perfectly written emails?”

Sometimes it is all about speed. You have to get something out. I would rather something be 90% right than toss and toil seeking perfection caught in a labyrinth of paralysis.

Now you have an opportunity to join me and other Lazy Losers at Caterpalooza: An Extraordinary Catering Conference for Restaurants.

You will walk away with sales, marketing and operational systems and learn lessons based on failures.

This two-day catering conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, March 7th & 8th, 2016. I expect this event to fill up.

We are getting filled up, so make plans to attend with your team.

Just go to www.Caterpalooza.com/register

My team and I hope to see you in Nashville!

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering business, catering strategy, restaurant

Where Are They Now?

Posted by Michael Attias on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 @ 11:39 AM

Sunday night I went around the corner to Edley’s, a popular Nashville barbecue restaurant to get take-out dinner for some friends. We are planning a Costa Rican vacation the week after Caterpalooza.

As I was waiting for my order to be prepped, I asked the guy bagging the order behind the line if I could get a box. He enthusiastically said yes, went into the back and emerged with a box. There was something about his voice and mannerisms that seemed rather familiar.

As I did a double take, I blurted out, “Kenny?”

He turned around and looked at me in bewilderment.

“It’s Michael Attias,” I said so he could make the connection.

You see I hired Kenny Hudson, when I first opened my restaurant in 1992. He worked the line, the pit and catered. Kenny was one of my favorite guys. I sold my white VW Fox from college to him.

Kenny was and still is an incredibly hard worker and super nice guy.

As we played catch up, I learned he does plumbing during the day. We reminisced about the early days of Corky’s and some of our co-workers/characters.

It was truly the high point of my day to run into Kenny.

If someone were talking about you from the good old days and asked, “Where is he now?” What would people say about you.

I think most of us have a desire, need or drive to constantly improve. I would die without the constant challenge to make things better, improve and grow.

As I once heard asked, do you have ten years of experience or one year of experience ten times?

It is a major difference between people who seem to spin their wheels and people who make things happen.

I don’t remember who said it, but an hour a day dedicated to the study of a subject will make you an expert in a year. What’s the last book you read, podcast you listened to, seminar you attended or consultant you worked with?   

Those people who learn that my personal coach is more expensive than my house note are shocked I spend so much. I consider it an investment that has paid back in spades.

Even if you are dead broke, the internet is a treasure chest of free advice and education. Don’t own a computer? The public library will let you use theirs to search.

Whatever good or bad thoughts the people whose paths I have crossed over the years have, I hope they all say I have never stopped growing.

If you want the mental fertilizer to grow in 2016 and beyond, please make plans to send you and your team to Caterpalooza: An Extraordinary Catering Conference for Restaurants.

This two-day catering conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, March 7th & 8th, 2016. I expect this event to fill up.

We have early bird savings going on until Friday, January 29th.

Just go to www.Caterpalooza.com/register

My team and I hope to see you in Nashville!

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering sales, restaurant, catering sales strategy

Observations For A Killer 2016

Posted by Michael Attias on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 @ 09:19 AM

Napoleon Hill, author of the business classic, “Think And Grow Rich”, introduced me to the concept of the mastermind. By surrounding yourself with sharp, ambitious people and helping each other, you will go much further than going it alone.

For the last six years I have been part of a mastermind comprised of business owners in the Nashville area. We get together once a month for a formal meeting and another time during the month for an informal breakfast.

I consider myself very lucky to be part of such a talented and gifted group of highly successful business owners.

One of my fellow members, Robert Hartline is president/founder of a software company called Call Proof and is a very successful Sprint dealer with many stores. This serial entrepreneur and I mastermind separately on a much more frequent basis sharing sales, marketing and lead generation ideas.

Recently Robert posted his observations on Facebook. I think they are worth sharing. I know you’ll pick up some ideas to lead you to a killer 2016.

Here are a few things I learned in 2015…

TIME

I learned that time is a resource you can acquire. But there are only 24 hours in a day, right?

False! You can manufacture time! You can exchange other people’s time to work on your dreams in exchange for either money or experience. The best use of my time is thinking, leading and learning. Bad uses of my time are selling, cleaning, driving, drinking, arguing, shopping, waiting and sleeping.

MONEY

Money isn’t a mystery. I’ve spent years trying to figure out how to make it and worrying about losing it. The fact is, how to make money is very well documented. I’ve given money too much credit.

Money does nothing in a bank. Money should always be invested; in people, in great food, in assets that grow, in your business and experiences that put a smile on your face. Buying stuff for stuff’s sake is dumb. Buying stuff that can be used to make more time or generate more income is smart.

KNOWLEDGE

No one is smarter than you. If you know how to get the information you need with your phone, you can be the smartest person in the room. This fact alone leads me to believe everyone has the potential to acquire success. But knowledge alone doesn’t make you successful. It’s your motivation that allows you to use knowledge to get what you want. Podcasts and audio books should be listened to daily while doing low level activities. Masterminds and experience share with highly successful people are likely the absolute best use of your time.

BAD NEWS

I received some bad news in 2015… As much as I might stress about bad news in the beginning, in hindsight it’s turned out to be great news. I just had to let time pass for the blessing to reveal itself.

Sometimes when what we fear most actually happens and we survive, we realize the fear was unjustified.

FAMILY

My family is all I truly really have. And all that other stuff is totally irrelevant without it.

2016 is going to be the year where I use what I learned to leave a dent in this universe.

Well said Robert: Time, Money, Knowledge, Bad News and Family.

If you want to be equipped for a stellar 2016, you need to learn and mastermind with the best. Make plans to send you and your team to Caterpalooza: An Extraordinary Catering Conference for Restaurants.

This two-day catering conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, March 7th & 8th, 2016. I expect this event to fill up.

We have early bird savings going on until January 15th.

Just go to www.Caterpalooza.com/register

My team and I hope to see you in Nashville!

NOTE: For those of you wanting to get your 2016 catering sales off to a great start, I am putting on a webinar on Monday, January 11, 2016 entitled:

Catering Clinic

The Prescription for Killer Sales in 2016

Complete details and registration at www.FreeCateringWebinar.com

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

 

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering software, catering sales, restaurant, catering sales strategy

Catering Sales Strategy from One of The Shark’s Companies

Posted by Michael Attias on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 @ 08:42 AM

Shark Tank is one of the most popular television shows today for entrepreneurs and their families. Since day one, I have been a big fan.

Like major league sports, everyone has their favorite shark. I have a couple and Robert Herjavec tops my list. Is it the fact that he races Ferraris or dates Dancing With The Stars dancers? No, but that doesn’t hurt.

I have met Robert a few times via my good friend, Robin Robins, founder of Technology Marketing Toolkit. She brings in business super stars like Robert to speak at her high level coaching meetings.

Last week she brought in Robert’s co-founder in The Herjavec Group, his Senior VP of Sales, George Frempong. George has taken The Herjavec Group, a cyber security firm, from zero to $150 million dollars a year in sales with his forty person sales team.

Regardless of what you’re selling, $150 million dollars is a lot of sales.

From the minute I met George in the hall before his presentation, I was impressed. He is very well spoken, looks you in the eye and dresses like he popped out of the pages of GQ.

So what can you learn about selling more catering from a $150 million dollar a year cyber security company? Hint: Every successful company or businessperson has lessons you can apply to catering. You just have to be on the lookout and ask yourself how to apply the lessons.

The first takeaway was the size of company The Herjavec Group targeted with their services. They sell to companies with a thousand or more computer terminals. In other words, they are running with the big boys. I know many tech companies targeting the ten to one hundred PC market, but a thousand terminals are big leagues.

When I first set out to build my catering sales, I targeted the hundred largest employers in my market. Within nine months, I had booked over $45,000 in catering, and that was in 1996. My members have access to a collection of letters and templates to target the “Top 100” at our members-only website www.RestaurantProfitPoint.com

My sharpest clients have used the Top 100 strategy with even greater success than me. Let’s face it. It takes no more effort to land a company picnic for a thousand guests than one for a hundred. You could argue it’s easier.

The second big takeaway is your brand or positioning. I’m not going to candy coat it here. I am referring to how you look, dress and speak. Whether you want to accept it or not, everyone is prejudiced. We judge people before the first word is uttered.

How does their marketing make us feel (menus, email signature lines, website, etc)? Do you feel you’re dealing with a mom and pop or a company you have confidence in to do the job?

If I compare George to all of the people in the audience at Robin’s event, he stands out as a Fortune 1000 salesperson. He has the image, walk and talk down right. A thousand-dollar suit may not be a fit for most of Robin’s clients or for you selling catering, but you know how you need to dress to impress catering prospects.

What you say and how you say it is equally important. Are you a good listener and problem solver? Do you instill confidence in your prospects?

My last takeaway from George was a big one for the tech companies in the audience. When the Herjavec Group started, they had a large Rolodex of contacts from a company Robert Herjavec had just sold.

Their first year revenue goal was five million dollars. They ended up doing just four hundred thousand. It was a major disappointment.

It turned out they approached their prospects with pretty much the identical service offered at the company that was just sold. Most of them were happy with their solution.

They decided to re-engineer their market strategy. They decided to re-approach their connections with a different cyber security product/service.

That opened a lot more doors. Once they were in with a company, they went back and cross sold them other services.

So how can that help you? You may not win the chance to cater the company holiday party for seven hundred employees, but maybe you can get your foot in the door with drop off catering.

If you’re good at closing larger events, you may have an opportunity to go in and sell them on using you for other large events or even their day-to-day corporate drop-off.

The final lesson from George? It’s all about selling.

George doesn’t even know about using direct mail or multi-step prospecting like we offer in our Sales Tempo tool. His sales team just wears out the phones. They focus on selling first, then servicing.

If you want to be a million-dollar caterer, you must give selling a place at the adult table.
In fact, a good first step is to make plans to send you and your team to Caterpalooza: An Extraordinary Catering Conference for Restaurants.

This two day catering conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, March 7th & 8th, 2016. I expect this event to fill up.

We have early bird savings going on until January 15th.

Just go to www.Caterpalooza.com/register

We will also be crowning our RCS Catering Spokesperson. If you are a current RCS client and interested in competing, please check out this link for all of the info:

http://caterpalooza.com/contest

My team and I hope to see you in Nashville!

NOTE: For those of you wanting to get your 2016 catering sales off to a great start, I am putting on a webinar called:

Catering Clinic

The Prescription for Killer Sales in 2016

Complete details and registration at www.FreeCateringWebinar.com

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session 

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering software, catering sales, restaurant, catering sales strategy

Using Direct Mail To Book More Catering

Posted by Michael Attias on Wed, Dec 9, 2015 @ 08:02 AM

Though many consider direct mail dead, I think you’d be hasty to send a condolence card.

Dollar for dollar direct mail, done properly, is one of the best ways to book more catering business. In fact, direct mail was a very important contributing factor to me taking my restaurant from zero to over a million dollars a year in catering sales.

The first question you must ask before creating a direct mail campaign is, “What’s your goal?”

Though I have directly sold catering from direct mail letters (usually mailed to targeted niches at the time they are buying like retailers for Black Friday), I predominately use direct mail as a door opener.

Think of selling like a vacuum salesman, going door to door facing a day full of slammed door rejection. A good direct mail piece makes you a welcome guest, when you call.

For instance, I once designed and printed out an 11”x17” giant slab of ribs and laminated them. I attached a see through envelope to the back for my sales letter and mailed them to the hundred largest companies in my market.

Every time I called and let the receptionist know to tell the catering decision maker, “Just her know the guy who mailed the giant slab of ribs is on the phone.”…I was put through.

My x-ray mailer targeted to hospitals cost me about twenty bucks to mail out, but brought in over $17,000 worth of catering.

I want to share with you a low cost direct mail strategy, with a slight twist, to get your mail opened. It is called sneak up mail. I used this strategy for my three-step catering lead generation direct mail program and received an appointment rate of 20-40% with qualified catering decision makers. Keep in mind that a 2% response rate to direct mail is considered phenomenal.

You want to use a plain white #10 envelope to send your letter. You will want to hand write the name and address of the recipient and your return address. I recommend using blue ink. Do not put your company name or personal name on the return address.    

You must also use a real stamp. I think the special edition stamps really stand out.

If you think about it, a hand addressed letter usually comes from someone we know. We have a gut reaction to open the letter.

See example of sample envelope received by a friend of mine below:

Envelope_Pic.jpg

Once you get the envelope opened, you better be able to deliver the goods. Otherwise the recipient will feel duped. Our members-only website, RestaurantProfitPoint.com has over 500 sales letters to use.

I have found the best letters offer a big benefit or solve a major problem for the recipient. It must also be well targeted. For instance, sending parents of high school seniors a letter in early April to solicit catering for graduation parties is likely to get a far greater response rate than a generic “We Cater For All Occasions” letter mailed to everyone in your Chamber of Commerce.

The letter below is an example that adds a very clever twist to the direct mail package, but sorely misses the mark on being relevant.

Letter_Pic.jpg

The sender of this direct mail crumpled then flattened out the letter and placed it into the envelope. The headline, “This Letter Has Been Pre-Crumpled For Your Convenience!!” gets you to take notice. We all know too well that most sales letters end up in the waste basket.

I have used a variation of this strategy. I sent the same letter out a second time crumpled in a ball and mailed in a mini trash can. Now that gets attention and your phone calls answered.

Using a hand addressed #10 envelope mailed out with a crumpled piece of paper, but with a much better letter below the headline will get your catering letters opened and your calls answered.

After all, cold calling sucks! Use direct mail to be the guy that gives your catering prospects a chuckle and a way for your foot to get in the door.

NOTE: In the spirit of working to help our community of RCS Catering Software clients (and future clients), we are putting together an extraordinary catering conference for restaurants called Caterpalooza!

This two day catering conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, March 7th & 8th, 2016. I expect this event to fill up.

Though the complete website is not completed and some of the speaking slots are to be filled, I encourage you to grab a spot or two.

Just go to www.Caterpalooza.com

We will also be crowning our RCS Catering Spokesperson. If you are a current RCS client and interested in competing, please check out this link for all of the info:

http://caterpalooza.com/contest

My team and I hope to see you in Nashville! 

Well, that’s all for this issue.

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success,

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

 

Topics: catering, catering software, catering sales, catering marketing, restaurant, catering direct mail

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