Just Ask

The greatest thing a salesperson can do is understand the mind of their customer. This means understanding what they are looking for including how and when they will buy.  The salesperson must provide all the resources needed for the customer to make the eventual “purchase”.  

Food and beverage buyers have been trained since youth on the four parts of the “bill” … Food, Beverage, Tax and Gratuity. We have been going to restaurants our entire lives. As caterers, we often feel the need (because of our catering systems and our own internal processes) to break out additional prices for everything we provide. We feel good because we are being “transparent”. Sure, that’s great and some clients love it. I sold this way my entire career and was successful. However, I am sure I lost a lot of business also, because I thought it was the only way to show my pricing. Think differently. ASK your customer how they would like their catering pricing to be presented to them. Mix it up and be flexible.

You should also know who you are bidding against and how they show their pricing. Educating your client on the variances in how Caterer X vs. Caterer Y prices their proposals makes you more knowledgeable and memorable. Do not hesitate to ask the customer who they are receiving other bids from. “Mrs. Smith, if you are comparing my proposal to Caterer X, I can tell you that they do not include the service knockdown time in their staffing fees. That is an additional charge after the event.”

Lastly, once you send the proposal and pricing in the style the customer has requested, you have to ask what more information do they need to make a decision? This is a crucial step to closing the deal. Just ask for it! You have spent so much time putting the proposal together, value your time spent and ask for the business.

Understanding how the client wants to buy and when they want to buy should save you at least one revision. Isn’t that worth asking the question alone?


Eat. Drink. Inspire.

I was shopping for a hotel in Miami. I was going on a business trip for two nights and will be working non-stop from morning until evening. I will not even pack a bathing suit. I found a rate that seemed reasonable for the area for $225 per night plus tax. Ok. Wait? On “Confirm Booking”, the rate increased by nearly $30 plus tax per night. What happened?

Amenity Fee.  A $30 per night amenity fee was added including the following: Valet Parking (no need), access to outdoor pool and hot tub (regrettably not using), daily newspaper (people still read paper copies?), fitness center access (no comment) and daily bottled water (okay–good). So I am essentially paying $30 for one bottle of water a day.

I would rather have been quoted $255 per night plus tax. I would have booked it. Now I feel nickel and dime’d for things I do not want and will not use. Why pay for that? I booked another hotel without amenity fees. Guess who won? Me. Don’t you be the loser with an easy sale.