Catering sales consultants should always be nice. Customers mostly buy from people that are pleasant. Sales consultants should also be just as nice and considerate to the backbone of the catering business; the warehouse, operations and culinary department team members at their own company. This “back of house” core team is the reason we are in business. Spend time getting to know these important and talented people that make what you sell so wonderful. Stop being so “front of house”. Show them a lot of appreciation for their hard work and thank them.
Recognize the value of relationships with each department member and what you can learn from them. Have you ever thought that your food delivery drivers have the most frequent interaction with your actual customers? Ask them how your customers respond and react to your products. Consider the reality that off-site venue representatives probably have better relationships with your service captains than you. Why? Because they spend long event hours together and develop that special bond.
Get out of your comfort zone and ask for feedback from department leaders on what you can do to make your production paperwork better for them. Learn from them and ask for advice. If you are nice to them, they will be honest and give you what you need. If they do not consider you as an ally, they will just think it’s a waste of their time.
We all have closed dates. What about your competition? You never know how and when you will need them. Be nice to them too! I have referred business in the past to my competitors and have received business in return. I truly would not be in business today if I had not been nice to my competition. The support they have provided me in my first two years of business consulting has been immense. I am grateful to all of them. Remember, what goes around comes around. It pays to be nice.
Every Monday at 11:00 am my Dad stands outside his garage door waiting to hear the sound of the engine revving from a big truck turning the corner. Then he sees the big green box coming toward him honking furiously and sees two arms waving out the window. The garbage men have arrived for the weekly pickup. The garbage men are my Dad’s new friends.
I love their relationship. It started a year ago when my parents moved into their new home. They moved because the new place has an attached garage that their previous place did not. My Dad is a master of several crafts, with woodworking being his most adept. He spends 8 hours a day working in that garage, designing bookshelves, building rocking horses, creating chicken coop egg-separators; you name it, he will figure out how to make it for you. He is very passionate about this hobby. If you are lucky to receive one of his creations, you can see the love he puts into each piece.
One hot Monday, Dad was working in the garage when the garbage truck arrived for pickup. Dad offered each garbage man a cold bottle of flavored water. The guys were so pleasantly surprised and grateful for this simple gesture. They said, “Nobody is ever this nice. Thank you”. After they thanked Dad, they said they would see him next week. They also rolled his regular trash and recyclable bins to his garage door. The rest of the neighbors bins were tossed at the end of their driveways without a thought to which way they landed. The garbage men honked that day as they drove away.
Since that day, Dad gives them different flavored waters to try each Monday. They love it. They are now pals. They talk about what’s new. The guys ask what new project Dad is working on. They get out of their truck to admire his woodworking projects. At Christmas, Dad gave each of them a bottle of wine and homemade pizzelles (thin Italian cookies). They still always honk as they drive away.
On Mondays when Dad and Mom are not home, they leave the bins at the end of the driveway. Dad doesn’t get to see his friends and give them cold drinks. It doesn’t matter. The guys are still always gentle with Dad’s bins. When they get home from their errands or activities, the bins are placed at the top of their driveway, lined up near the garage door. For just a little act of kindness, Dad now has the best garbage service in the neighborhood.