Thu

02

Apr

2015

Dear Jon Letters...

JHW Hospitality Dear Jon Letters





 

A series for clients and colleagues who are seeking support, asking for advice, and hoping to reignite their passion for hospitality.

Dear Jon,

I’ve seen you recommend that sales people need to track their activities and I want to start doing this with my employees. I know they are going to resist the change. Can you please give me some reasons to help convince them this is a good idea?    –J.G., Des Moines, IA

 

Dear J.G.

Good for you! Implementing an activity tracking system is a great way to start improving your sales. I’m a firm believer in the old adage “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

 

Unfortunately, I also know that sales teams who have “self-managed” for a long time can be quite resistant to a new tracking system. It will be important for you to present this change in a way that reassures them that you aren’t attacking or critiquing their work. As their manager, it is your goal to supervise them, but you should avoid micro-management. This is about accountability and setting up reliable systems, not uncovering your weakest employee through some kind of Hunger Games competition. That’s why you need to stress your role as a support for your team.

 

I suggest you emphasize the way activity tracking will help your company standardize how you do things. Developing client relationships and moving them through your sales pipeline is key to sustained success. Once you have a protocol for tracking how your company does this, you’ll see more reliable sales growth. As your company grows, it will be easier to train new sales people in your system. And in the unfortunate event that one of your existing sales people is called away unexpectedly (e.g., because of an illness or family emergency), you or someone else on your sales team will be able to step in and cover for them. Even the most contrary of sales people should recognize that these are all positive benefits for the team!

 

Having a sales activity tracking system will also help you help your employees. If someone on your team isn’t delivering the results your company wants, you need to be able to review where he needs support. Is he losing business to competitors because of his slow response-time? Does he not follow-up after sending proposals? Does he reach out to enough new contacts? Identifying his areas of weakness gives you both the opportunity to target specific skills that need strengthening. If you make this an opportunity for learning and development, your team won’t feel threatened. In fact, they may come to recognize the tracking system as the career-enhancing tool it can be!

 

Good luck, J.G.! Let us know how your team responds.


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14 Comments

Fri

31

Oct

2014

Dear Jon Letters...

 

 

 

 

 

A series for clients and colleagues who are seeking support, asking for advice, and hoping to reignite their passion for hospitality.

 

 

Dear Jon:

When my company sends proposals, we include a total price for all our equipment rentals. Recently a potential client demanded to see the itemized list of all the equipment. I decided not to send this and she ended up not hiring us. Should I have given her the list as she asked?  –S.M., Chicago

It’s understandable that a host would want to feel confident that every detail is being properly managed. That said... (Click here to read Jon's complete answer.)


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5 Comments

Wed

10

Sep

2014

Dear Jon Letters...

Dear Jon Letters

 

 

 

 

 

A series for clients and colleagues who are seeking support, asking for advice, and hoping to reignite their passion for hospitality.

Dear Jon:

We get so many requests for donations. How can I balance my charitable instincts with the realities of running my business?  - L.S., Chicago


Dear L.S.:

I commend your instinct for generosity. Sharing the wealth produced by your company is one of the proudest moments a business owner can experience, and helping support vital charities is a noble and necessary activity. Sadly, the needs are so great that many in the hospitality industry receive dozens if not hundreds of donation requests per year. Even the wealthiest and most generous caterers could not afford to accommodate every request.  Click here to read my full response including specific suggestions for handling donation requests.

 

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1 Comments

Thu

07

Aug

2014

Dear Jon Letters...

 

 

 

 

 

A series for clients and colleagues who are seeking support, asking for advice, and hoping to reignite their passion for hospitality.

Dear Jon:

My Sales Manager tells us to "up-sell" but I feel pushy when I do. Do you have any suggestions?  –L.P., Atlanta

 

Dear L.P.:

I understand the reluctance you’re feeling. “Up-selling” is, indeed, an unsettling term and nobody appreciates being pushed to buy extra things. Let me try to reframe how you think about the sales process.

 

As a catering salesperson, it is your business responsibility to create revenue for your company. In order to meet your sales goals, you need to maximize revenue per guest whenever appropriate. The good news is that there are creative ways to do this that won’t feel like your focus is only on increasing check averages. I suggest you think about ways to give clients the best possible event. What will “WOW!” their guests? Is it a specialty cocktail the color of their corporate logo? Is it a late-night snack as guests are leaving? Is it a customized dessert inspired by the bride and groom’s favorite vacation destination? Whatever you suggest, you should collaborate with clients on ways to enhance their guests’ experience.

 

Try to start suggesting special items or additional services as early as possible in the planning stage. Long before the contract is on the table or the proposal has been sent, you’re setting a tone that says you and your company want to create the best possible event. By working with the client on incorporating these enhancements into their plans, you’ll avoid suddenly pitching add-ons. You’ll feel less like a sleazy, “up-selling,” shark but you’ll still be maximizing revenue and creating unforgettable experiences for your clients. 

 

Good luck and please let us know how this perspective works for you!

 

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2 Comments

Fri

11

Jul

2014

Dear Jon Letters...

Dear Jon Letters

 

 

 

 

 

A series for clients and colleagues who are seeking support, asking for advice, and hoping to reignite their passion for hospitality.

Dear Jon:

What can I do about the constant fighting between my Chef and the front of the house staff? -K.C., Boston

 

Dear K.C.:

This can be a tricky problem because you may be tempted to “take sides” in the arguments between your staff. Remember to address interpersonal problems as business challenges. This distinction will help you focus on your professional objectives.

 

Infighting can be hugely detrimental to a restaurant or catering company. While your Chef and FOH staff are bickering and placing blame, who’s taking care of the customers?! As a hospitality company, everyone’s goal should be to satisfy your clients and guests. You can make sure your team is on the same page by clarifying your company expectations. Take time at every training session, production meeting, and pre-shift dinner to remind all staff that their attention needs to be focused on the guests.

 

Because we all come from different backgrounds and had different training, your Chef and FOH staff probably have different levels of experience and communication styles. Some hands-on training will give each member of your team a greater understanding of what their colleagues do. Assign your Chef to join a salesperson on a day of challenging sales calls, tight deadlines surrounding their load of admin work, and conversations with demanding and unyielding clients. In turn, instruct the salesperson to work alongside the Chef during a particularly long and grueling day to experience a hot kitchen, scalding pots and pans, loading and unloading trucks, and last minute changes to menus and guest counts. Your Chef and salesperson may not end up best buddies, but at the very least they’ll have a new appreciation for the challenges their colleagues face.

 

Good luck and let us know how things turn out!

 

Do you have a question for Jon? Ask in the comments or send us an email. We may answer your letter next!

 

0 Comments

Tue

01

Jul

2014

Dear Jon Letters...

Dear Jon Letters

 

 

 

 

 

A series for clients and colleagues who are seeking support, asking for advice, and hoping to reignite their passion for hospitality.

Dear Jon:

How should I handle clients who continually ignore our guest count deadline? The last-minute additions (and subtractions!) are driving me crazy!  -C.H., Chicago

 

Dear C.H.:

A caterer’s policy on receiving an accurate guest count is one of the most important sections of your Terms & Conditions. A correct guest count affects every aspect of your deliverables and finances. As you have probably discovered, last minute changes can result in a hectic kitchen, a scramble for additional staff and equipment, wasted product, and out-of-pocket expenses. It can also lead to client dissatisfaction. That’s never good for your business!

 

The solution to your problem starts long before the event. First, engage your attorney to review your contract template. Your guest count policy must be clear and should use language your clients can easily understand. Each contract should specify the exact day and date the event’s guest count is due. It should also indicate what price increases clients should expect as a result of any last minute changes. Then, when the client confirms the event, verbally remind them of the deadline. By directing the client’s attention to the deadline well in advance, you’re emphasizing how important this information is to you. This will almost always hedge against any problems and will allow all to focus on and enjoy a great experience on event day.

 

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!

 

Do you have a question for Jon? Ask in the comments or send us an email. We may answer your letter next!

 

2 Comments