When Does Age Become a Problem?

Our Director, Melanie Spratford, shares her thoughts on when it's OK to talk about your (company's) age.

I’d like to suggest an experiment for all caterers: pull up the front page of your company website. Now open the site of the local company you consider your fiercest competitor. Let’s also look at the homepage of a local company you think is inferior to yours. Just for fun, pull up the sites of a few caterers in other parts of the country, too.

If my observations are correct, the majority of those sites mention a variation of the following statement (usually within the first couple sentences on the site):
  • For 30 years, XYZ Caterers has been serving Anytown, USA.... 
  • Founded 20 years ago, ABC Catering is proud to be a part of.... 
  • In 1987, Chef John Smith started Smith Catering....
Almost every caterer uses the first lines of their website to state the age of their company. It’s a terrible trend. It does nothing to educate customers about your services and, unless you are the oldest or youngest company in your market, it does nothing to distinguish you from your competitors.

I understand the instinct to “tell the story” of our companies. Catering companies are families, each with its own interesting history. As caterers, we pour so much effort into this all-consuming profession, and it’s natural to want to explain how dedicated we are. Plus, you have every right to be proud of your longevity. This is a grueling business and, let’s be honest, the past 10 years haven’t exactly been the easiest.

Trumpeting your company’s age, however, doesn’t address the primary interests of people visiting your website. Customers are interested in themselves. They want to know how your company can tend to their needs. That you’ve been in business since Reagan was President doesn’t necessarily reassure a bride that you can successfully cater her wedding. Don’t assume that a client knows the value of your years of experience. You need to connect the dots for her: “Our 3 decades in business have given us the operational expertise to create an event you will be proud to remember for just as long.”

It’s a subtle difference but one that will help a client understand how your years of experience have given you the skills needed to deliver consistently incredible catering. Simply telling visitors to your website how long you’ve been in business isn’t enough. You need to explain to them how those years set you apart from all the other caterers. Once you’ve done that, your website will stand out from the crowd.

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