Tag Archives: Restaurant catering

Catering Sales Tactics you should try tomorrow!

All Proceeds of the Book Go To Share Our Strength

When we talk about the 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant Catering at the MMS Catering Institute, active selling is the one pillar of focus that has the power to truly lead your restaurant catering business forward. To properly service your catering customers, your catering sales team needs to become very good at business-to-business selling. You will need to build key relationships within your community and its corporate sector, and you will need to become experts at feeding your customers where they live, work and play.

Every day, in every city across North America, people are having meetings, celebrations, seminars and many other types of events that require catering services. To reach these potential catering opportunities, your sales team(s) must understand the following key catering sales tactics that are designed to showcase your team as brand ambassadors for your catering products and services throughout the communities you serve.

1. Sample selling: The Promo Package. Being in the food business, the best way for people to get to know your products and services is to provide tasting samples to those you are trying to sell to. This can be done through your delivery drivers, who are already out in the community canvassing for leads while they are looking for new businesses to sell to.

Your sample offering should be in a fixed package and should be consistent each and every time. Keep in mind that the objective of this sales effort is not to buy your prospects breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is simply to introduce them to your products and services. Deliver these sample packages at off-peak hours and establish policies and procedures for your sample-selling program. Promotional packages should always be scheduled around your main meal times and the package you send should be standardized across all your restaurants.

If you do a good job of packaging your sampler product, you will get your prospects to think of your brand the next time they need catering services. When this happens, make sure your internal catering team members are experts at taking catering orders and executing those orders in a way that leaves your customers satisfied and happy.

2. Cold calling and telephone work. While cold calling is an old-school method of sales, in the case of selling catering services it really works. If you have a well-known brand in your community, cold calling can be an effective and powerful tool for lead generation and market awareness. Train your catering sales team on the art of cold calling and give them a sales script they can follow. If you’re an operator with 100+ units, consider outsourcing your cold calling services to a lead generation company. There are many to choose from.

Cold calls and traditional telephone work are great ways to find out information about your potential catering clients. Telephone work is also a great way to keep up with your current customer database. This serves a different purpose than cold calls because it’s about rewarding your customers who are already using your catering services. For example, if you reach out to a customer who hasn’t ordered from you for a while, you can find out why and whether or not they had a bad experience from you or perhaps they moved to another company. If the catering client has moved on, find out who the new person is and re-start the connection by offering them a promotional sample package. Additionally, you can now call your previous contact with the aim of re-establishing the relationship as well, at their new place of employment.

Keeping on top of these changes takes ongoing effort, but I cannot say enough about the positive benefits you will receive by being diligent and consistent on the phone. The telephone remains an important tool for your brand and you should not be afraid to use it.

3. Traditional Advertising. This medium is being utilized more and more by major brands looking to increase the visibility of their off-premise catering programs. If you already have a successful brand, you know about all of the avenues of traditional advertising available to you. Use billboard, radio and/or television ads to deliver a strong brand message surrounding your restaurant’s catering program. Make sure each ad has a direct call to action and watch the top-line sales of your catering program grow.

4. Walk-in catering sales. While your walk-in catering customers have the potential to disrupt the flow of your in-store operation, you don’t want to lose out on this customer opportunity. To make sure your walk-in catering clients are well serviced, you need to make a decision on how to best handle these sales at the store-level.

The best model when this happens is to direct your customers to an in-store catering specialist who is trained and able to handle these customers with care and accuracy. By redirecting walk-in catering clients to a single point of contact within your 4 walls, you will substantially raise the catering service bar and will have a much better chance at providing a predictable, consistent and scalable catering process. This leads to more trust, which is a key component toward closing a catering sale.

5. Referrals. In many cases, word of mouth is the No. 1 sales tool when it comes to acquiring new catering customers. It is simple to acquire referrals and is extremely effective when prospecting for new customers. As part of your standard customer service process, make a follow-up call for every catering order that is delivered. Ask for more business, and more importantly; ask them to send you a referral!

The goal of this call is to thank your catering customer for their order and to find out if there are any issues that need to be addressed. If the customer is satisfied with the services that your company provided, take the next step and ask for referrals. And if the referral turns into a relationship, take the time to thank your original customer and then give them some kind of compensation for the business. This will encourage them to let others know how great your brand is and creates another opportunity for cross-pollinating your retail business with your catering operations. If you compensate them with a gift card for your retail locations, you continue the sales cycle and drive more traffic into your stores.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

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The 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant Catering: A New Commitment for 2015

Get Catering and Grow Sales Books going out the door.

Get Catering and Grow Sales Books going out the door.

It’s been almost four years since I wrote my book, Get Catering and Grow Sales: A strategic perspective for the multi-unit restaurant executive.

I remember how much I disliked it after I wrote it!  I thought to myself that I could have done so much better.  If not for one of my team members at MonkeyMedia Software who grabbed the manuscript and hired an editor to help finish it, I never would have published it.  It’s amazing how we are always hardest on ourselves.  Our own worst critic!

To my good fortune, turns out that the book is pretty popular with the restaurant community.  10,000 copies in print and distributed is not a bad run.

As we begin 2015, I am reflecting on what it is that I need to focus on this year.  So much is going on, and business is brisk both at MonkeyMedia Software, the Catering Institute and our new media division, Catering Insights.  These divisions are all focused on catering and off-premise sales in our foodservice community.  There is so much for all of us to learn in this part of the restaurant business.  I am committed to try and provide more leadership in this area as best I can.

Since writing the book, I have continued to develop an organizational framework that I call the 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant CateringTM.  This framework is meant to provide a working model for restaurant brands to use as a compass while considering their takeout, delivery and catering business strategies.  I have come to learn that without these pillars, there is little hope for our community to succeed in this business channel.

And so, 2015 is the year that I will renew my commitment to the restaurant community to further develop the concepts of the 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant CateringTM.  I plan on writing more and making videos to help educate our community on these concepts.

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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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