Tag Archives: Catering

Eliminate Complacency To Build A Thriving Catering Business

Complacency

Like any business, over time, a restaurant’s takeout, delivery and catering operation can grow inefficient. This is especially true if profitability has been high and cash flow is positive. When a business lacks urgency, it can suffer. Even in large multinational companies, at the divisional level, there needs to be urgency for the enterprise to thrive.

The most efficient place for a business to operate is just above break-even. If your enterprise is thriving above break even, then please don’t leave excess operating cash in your bank account. Not ever! Too much cash creates complacency in a business. If your catering operation is generating cash, then take the cash out and either reinvest it in the operations, pay down debt or simply put it away for another day. If you leave the cash in your business account, complacency will creep in. It will destroy your momentum.

When complacency sets in, your people will get tired, stressed and lose their sense of purpose. Many of the behaviors that made you successful in the earlier and hungrier days may disappear. When complacency sets in, it is time for change. And change is hard for everyone. But change is necessary to keep your business efficient.

In fact, change is essential in order to grow.  People, products, markets, customers and processes are dynamic and must change in order to adapt and grow. Nothing stays the same forever and if it does, it can easily lose its relevance and complacency will settle in. It’s just human nature.

We have all heard the terms before. Reorganize, downsize and streamline are all words that are common in business and is part of the dynamic and organic nature of an organization. And while these words are often discussed in business matters, they do serve a purpose.

My father used to tell me that every once in awhile, a person needs to get a haircut to grow healthier hair. And even more so, if your hair is getting out of control or wild, “don’t worry, it always grows back,” he said.

If your restaurant takeout, delivery and catering business is struggling, or if you just can’t seem to meet your budget expectations, I’d recommend a “haircut.” We’ve all been there, and as hard as it is, your business will grow again when you are on the other side of it. Take your operations down to the most common denominator and go from there.

Reorganize at the executive and divisional level. Downsize your expenses and personnel if necessary and streamline your operational processes. These steps are not easy, but they are important for keeping your business and your people on track. Don’t be afraid to raise your prices, renegotiate your supplies and leases and most important, reset the expectations for your team members. Yes, you can renegotiate their compensation packages. Put some urgency back into their day. It will serve them well.

Within my own organization I am sometimes reminded of my father’s words. And when that happens I quickly look to myself and my team to make sure complacency hasn’t set in. If it has, we work together to figure out how we got there and how we can move in a more positive direction. We change things. That’s what we do.

I’ve been in business for more than 30 years and I can attest to the fact that “haircuts” are needed even when we don’t think they are. My intuition usually tells me when it’s time to “shake it up.” I can promise you that I’ve always come out on the other side with a stronger sense of purpose for the business and the team members that are resilient enough to change follow along.

If you need to make a change In your restaurant’s takeout, delivery and catering operation, don’t wait until complacency creeps in. Just do it!  Your whole organization will grow just like you originally intended. Oh, and one more thing, remind everyone that it won’t be the last time because change is good and is essential to surviving in any business.

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Erle’s Catering Sales Tip#345 – ABC

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My team at the Catering Institute is working hard in the field today, as they do every day.  We spend all our time in restaurants helping them to grow sales and increase profits by educating them to be experts at feeding their customers where they Live, Work & Play.

One of the key elements that we get asked about every single day is how to sell more products and services in the business to business (B2B) channel.

Well, I have learned that in order to sell more off premise products and services into companies, we have to really focus on active selling.  We have to become professional selling organizations, every single day.  This is not for the light hearted.  It takes organizational resilience to really be selling at all levels of a restaurant company.

One idea that I like to focus on with all of our clients is on the “ABC’s” of selling.

Always Be Closing!

It is amazing to see how many of us experience an uptick in sales when we just start focusing on the basics of asking for business.

Here are 5 ideas that you can implement tomorrow to help you grow more sales.

1.  Ask for the order 3 times

2. Be persistent every single day.  If a prospect says no to you, it’s not that they are really saying no.  They are not buying for another reason and it is your job to find out.

3.  Know when to Cut Your Losses and Move on To Another Prospect.  This is part of the qualification process.  Are they qualified to purchase your products and services.

4.  Learn to Isolate Objections.  Make sure you ask your prospect “Besides {put objection here}, is there any other reason you won’t buy from me today?”

5.  Once Isolated, ask the Prospect, “If {put objection here} was not an issue, would you buy then?  Then solve for their objection.

Let’s sell more catering together!

 

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Our community is confused about restaurant takeout & catering – Segment Markets

blog-marketsegment1-150110I’m flying at 35,000 feet enjoying the modern miracle of Wifi on airplanes. I just spent the last week of my life visiting restaurant companies in the Northeast corner of the US.  I feel honoured to be called upon by some of the biggest restaurant companies in the world to help them with their catering and off premise business operations.  I am very lucky to do the work that comes with my job as Founder & CEO at MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute.

I have been thinking deeply about catering & takeout out of restaurants for the last two decades.  I’ve written about it, made videos about it, presented at conferences about it and have been evangelizing to our community that our consumers will continue to demand services for our restaurant brands  where they Live, Work & Play.  The off premise business opportunity for restaurants will continue to grow and increase in complexity.

In my world, I see complex manufacturing dynamics in all of the restaurants I spend time in.  The way I see it, when it comes to feeding our customers where they Live, Work and Play, there are only two core service channels. (Takeout and Catering).

Now, to be clear, what I am proposing is a framework for every restaurant to consider when it comes to segmenting it’s markets, so that our operations can adapt to the complexity of order entry, conversation, manufacturing and distribution.  Depending on the service channel for off-premise restaurant services & products, our operations will react and behave differently based on the occasion and order dynamics.  Saying that, here’s the rub…. Our customers are not experts!  We are!  The look to us to tell them what to order when.  And so, we will only succeed with flawless execution and our customers expect us to know our business better than them.  And so, as experts, we have to recommend the right things, for the right occasion, every single time.

There is a lot to discuss here, and I am going to self publish and essay on this topic where it will be available at the Catering Institute, because I think this is the single biggest challenge that our restaurant community faces when it comes to maximizing transaction volume for our off-premise sales opportunities.

Here is what I want to say…… Language matters!  And it matters a lot.  If our operations are unclear on how to direct our guests based on their service demand and feeding occasion, then can you imagine how confused our guests are going to be when they place their orders?  I can tell you that serving multiple markets out of a single restaurant is absolutely daunting.  But, it’s also absolutely possible!

So, as you open the doors to your restaurant(s) tomorrow, I want you to think about segmenting your takeout and catering opportunities based on the market and consumer demand for more products & services for your brand.

Dine In, Takeout, Delivery, Curbside, Catering, Event Catering, Food Trucks, Online Ordering, and Group Ordering are all examples of market segmentations and the use of language.  There are probably 100’s more that we have not thought about yet!  Now you can see the complexity here!  To many things going on at once, and not enough team members inside our organizations that understand the dynamics.  This lack of understanding leads to chaos inside our organizations.  We have to work on this together.

To me, it’s about feeding your customers where they Live, Work & Play.  It’s about getting your customers to spend more money with your brand more often.  It’s about making your brand loyalists aware of these horizontal services and getting them to think of you at the right time, for the right occasion.

Takeout and Catering are closely related cousins.  Both can be available for pickup or delivery.  Both of these order types can be placed online, through mobile devices, through kiosks, in-store or on the telephone.

So, I ask you, how are you segmenting those services in your restaurants and what are the best practices for the order to cash cycle of each type of transaction?  I can tell you, if you don’t frame the conversation properly for your customers, they are going to walk away with a negative experience.

From what I see every single day in the field, few brands, if any are doing a good job at explaining this to their internal teams or to their customers.  And so, the result is confusing and less than stellar.

Until we take the time to properly segment our markets, and develop language internally and externally that makes sense, we will continue to make it hard on ourselves.

I am going to spend some time thinking more about what I can do to help our community frame this dynamic properly so that we can set ourselves up for success and grow the off-premise sales channel for restaurants.

I’d love to hear from you on this topic.

 

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