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How You May Be Rejecting Catering Business

Michael Attias Nov 20, 2013

Last week, one of our Diamond Members from Atlanta was in Nashville for business, so Somers, his Marketing Concierge from RestaurantCateringSoftware.com, my girlfriend and I met him out for dinner.

He’s been in the restaurant industry for years. He went to work for the owner of a Greek restaurant and was brought in to help run it like a business. He also spent some time owning his own insurance agency. This member has a lot of selling and business experience in the restaurant and non-restaurant business world.

Currently he owns two restaurants. We are helping him with his Greek concept in Atlanta.

Though it’s not very often, I do enjoy getting to know our members. Each one has a different tale to share of how they entered the business and plenty of war stories.

I always walk away with great new insight and ideas.

As we were reviewing his catering menu and discussing tweaks, he mentioned how his manager was handling incoming calls from catering prospects. His manager was sending them to the Catering Lead Generation Website we created for him to view their catering menu and call back with questions or an order.

At first glance, that sounds like the right thing to do and easy for the prospect, as just about everyone has access to the internet.

Personally, I think that has the potential to turn away catering business or make a prospect feel rejected.

Let me explain. One of the most expensive costs in your catering profit center is acquiring a new customer. It takes four walls marketing, advertising, selling and word of mouth to get the phone to ring.

Once you have a live, red hot catering prospect on the phone, you want to take them over the finish line into the land of catering customer. Leaving someone to their own devices on the web is dangerous.

They may never get to your site. They probably won’t write down your website address, but Google it instead. You have zero control of what all will show up organically or in the paid searches. I would hate for my catering prospect to accidentally end up on a competitor’s website.

Even if said with love and care, sending someone away to do something amounts to some feelings of rejection.

So what should you do?

Offer to personally take them to your menu: “Mrs. Jones. Are you in front of a computer? Good. Let me personally walk you through getting to our catering menu and highlight a few things that will help you.” (Get them to your menu: PDF and online version). As you can see, we have three catering packages designed to make ordering from us simple, yet give you plenty of variety, etc., etc.”

Your job is to try to make a sale or create a quote that leads to a catering sale. You can best accomplish this by working with the prospect, not sending them off to do work.

Your catering prospects want it done for them!

If they don’t have time to be walked through the menu, offer to email them a link.

Do whatever you can to capture their contact information. Enter them into your database or CRM, like we include in our catering software.

Maybe schedule a time to call them back. At minimum communicate with them on a regular basis.

If you are in the middle of a rush and absolutely can’t spend time with them, let them know and schedule a time to call them back.

Here’s a sample script: “Mrs. Jones. I would love to personally spend time with you getting to know more about your event and helping you choose the right menu, but unfortunately I am slammed with my lunch rush at the minute. Can I call you back at two o’clock, when I have uninterrupted time to give you?”

In the grand scheme of life, my member did nothing majorly wrong. By adopting what I just suggested, more prospects will become catering clients. How they are treated on their first interaction sets the tone for a large lifetime value to your restaurant.

Let me illustrate with a non-catering personal example.

Last weekend my girlfriend and I flew to Chicago to hang out.

She is a healthy eater and only eats vegetarian and seafood.

We did a Google search and found a great vegetarian restaurant called Mana Food Bar about fifteen minutes from downtown. It was a Friday night around six, so we called to make reservations.

Mikhail answered the phone in a very professional and prideful manner. He was incredibly nice and welcoming. Though they didn’t take reservations, he offered to add my name to his wait list. He just asked that I call him on our way down.

He even went on to further help us with the following, “When you get down here, I can give you a few suggestions in the neighborhood to grab a drink while you wait.”

His restaurant is a shoebox with no bar or waiting area.

The wait lasted longer than expected, when we returned from a tapas place he recommended, he gave us two free glasses of wine. We decided it would be easier to just grab some takeout from his menu and return to the hotel.

In the time it took us to scope out what takeout we wanted, he miraculously found us two seats.

He told us he really wanted us to dine in.

He brought us out a complimentary bowl of pumpkin soup and two sakes.

Here we are from out of town, may not come back for a year or more, and we’re being treated like the President and First Lady.

By the way, he had no idea who I was or what I did for a living.

The food was incredible, as was his entire staff.

I will go back next time I’m in Chicago.

Thousands of people who read my blog will now know to try out Manna Food Bar. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, you’ll love the food. The pumpkin goat cheese filled tamale was my favorite.

I did find out Mikhail spent years working for the late, legendary Chef Charlie Trotter. I was fortunate enough to eat at his flagship restaurant in Chicago and another in Vegas.

Mikhail was trained by one of the best.

Mikhail turned what we thought would be a simple cab ride to get my girlfriend vegetarian into a very memorable evening…and it all started with how he made me feel when I called to inquire about a reservation.

I felt like I was important and my business mattered to him. It did.

Please don’t underestimate the power you and your team have on the phone!     

Well That’s All For This Issue!

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.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, michael attias, catering customer service, catering marketing, restaurant advertising

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