When a client contacts you for a quote, they are shopping! At this very moment they have decided to start shopping and are looking to make a decision and ultimately buy!
You or your company needs to be ready to assist them as fast as possible. Later I will show you the template I use to follow up with our prospective clients, after we have already sent them a quotation.
Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. When you are shopping and ready to buy, you need a vendor ready to sell. If they are not ready, you move to a vendor that is.
Why? Because you have chosen the time that works for you to move forward with this purchase. You’re not trying to buy later, you are trying to buy now!
Those that are first to respond, usually get the business. We have had a lot of success just because we were available or because we responded quicker than our competition. In fact our competitors have lost a lot of business to us because they didn’t respond in a timely manner…or even respond at all!
Quote follow up procedure
For the catering end of our business, we have a catering sales associate. It is this person’s job to answer our catering line Monday thru Friday 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Also, this staff member answers any emails submissions, continues correspondence, and even makes marketing calls for continued catering growth. For Saturday and Sunday telephone calls we rotate those calls directly to our cell phones so we don’t miss a potential sale. When they call, they are shopping!
If you take anything away from this article it should be this, be available and respond quickly to customers reaching out to you…this is the difference between making the sale or losing it!
When responding to a client be sure to use the method in which they are contacting you. If they call you respond with a telephone call. If they email you respond to them by email. If they contact you through social media then respond through social media. If they request to meet in person, then arrange a time to meet. Use the same method of communication initially that works and is convenient for them.
Since everything doesn’t always happen immediately, you may need to follow-up with the client. You should outline a procedure to make sure you follow up on quotes that you have sent out. Following up with the client is crucial! A lot of sales can happen just by following up.
You may submit a quote to a customer and then not hear from them. They might not respond due to a number of reasons. They could be shopping around, they possibly forgot to respond or didn’t get around to it, they may have questions, or your quote could possibly be out of their budget. If you don’t follow up with the client, this quote could be lost.
Following up with them not only helps the flow of communication but it allows you to address the needs of the client. If they are shopping around, you following up may lead you to seal the deal with them because you care enough to communicate. You are making yourself available to answer their questions.
The follow up email may have reminded them that they need to get your service booked. The follow up letter might give them the opportunity to tell you that the quote is out of their budget or they have other ideas that can at least give you the opportunity to work with them more and submit another quote.
Following up is a method of customer service. It is continued communication. It is also work, so with that in mind some of your competitors may be too lazy or too busy to put in this work…all the more reason for you to do it. When you do what your competitors don’t, you start separating yourself from the competition.
Following up with a customer like most things is a balancing act. It is so important to follow up in a timely manner, but you also have to find the balance between good communication and pestering the client. Too much follow up or following up way too quickly before the client has a chance to think about it can cast a negative effect on your positive intentions. Find that balance of when and how to follow up that is most effective for you.
Typically, when I send a proposal it is usually by email. In my email I make sure to thank them for giving me the opportunity to prepare the quote. I let them know that it is important to me that they are considering us for the job. I’m sure to let them know to please contact me if they have any questions or if they need for me to make any adjustments to the quote.
It is important that you have some flexibility and use those quote as the drawing board. That it is alright for the customer to go back and forth with you to find that balance of budget and needs.
This doesn’t mean that you have to change your pricing, it may mean that you need to change a menu item or reduce a service, or add to the quote. Once the quote has been submitted. I like to give the client 2 business days or if the quote was done at the end of the week, I’ll wait until Monday or Tuesday to follow up.
Follow up email to client after sending quotation
When I follow up, I keep it short and sweet. I usually write something like:
Hello Jane Doe,
Thanks again for the opportunity to meet you. I just wanted to make sure you were able to open the quote I sent or see if you had any questions.
It is that easy! If a few days go by and I haven’t received a response, then I may follow up one more time. Often the second follow up may be a telephone call.
Regardless of if it is an email or telephone call, if I am unable to contact the person I leave a friendly message thanking them and letting them know that I’m available to them. After that I tend to back off and let them choose their route.
Sometimes client’s choose a different direction than your company and they might not be able to break it to you that they are…so sometimes they choose to do nothing by not communicating. If so, let it be…you did your job. You gave them the information in a timely matter, you followed up with them making yourself available, and you provided good customer service. As much as you would like to book them all you have to accept that somebody is cheaper, faster, or a better fit for them.
Thank you letter after closing the sale
This leads me to my next form of follow-up, the thank you letter after closing the sale. Once they book with you, understand that many people will be in their ear telling them why they shouldn’t have chosen you. This has nothing to do with you as much as it has to do with an individual’s opinion.
People ask, who is your caterer? Then they may respond, “you should have chosen “so and so”, they did my sister’s wedding for so cheap”..or something like that. You don’t want your client having buyers remorse or feel that they may have possibly made the wrong decision.
What I do is once they have booked with us, I send them a thank you! This thank you list some key points on why they made the right decision of going with your business. You are putting them at ease as well as giving them ammo to defend their decision among their peers. Here is an example of the Thank You Follow-Up I send:
Thank you so much for choosing David’s Catering!!
We are extremely honored to get to cater such a special event for you and your families! We know that there are many options out there for you to pick from, we are happy that you chose us! By choosing us you can expect:
Your event is unique! We do not treat your catering as another catering event. We treat it as your catering event! We are excited, honored, and looking forward to catering this event!
We will work hard and provide excellent service for you & your guests!
We are here for you! We are available all along the way to answer emails, telephone calls, any questions that you may have, changes that need to made, meeting up to visit venues and/or to discuss any details that need to be covered.
We are here to help! If you need any advice, we work with many of the vendors in the area. We can help you in that area. We can also help with any rentals or other needs when it comes to your special day!
You made the right choice! We will work hard for you before, during, & even after your event.
Thank you again for choosing David’s Catering! Our reputation and the job we do for you means the world to us! It is a special time for you, and it is special for us to be part of it! Contact us anytime along the way with any questions you may have.
Remember, the big picture you have for yourself and the company. You want to grow your business and grow your reputation. This is done by providing great service and a great product.
It starts with the customer service. Be available and ready to assist shopping clients. Answer them quickly and in a timely manner. Provide them with the answers about what you offer. Follow up with them and be available for them to answer any questions and to make adjustments.
Follow Up Email Template to Potential Wedding Client was last modified: December 9th, 2016 by Jeremy
Wedding Caterings have taken our catering operation to exponential growth! A big part of booking this wedding business is by offering wedding food and menu tastings.
What should you expect during these catering food tastings?
Doing these tastings gives us the chance to:
Meet the client
The client the chance to meet us
Learn about their special day
The needs they have
Discuss & show linen samples, place settings, and of course they get to try out our delicious product.
This is the very best opportunity to put your best foot forward and make a great impression. For us, this is our best selling tool. We have above a 90% closing rate by doing these, more than 9 out of every 10 couples we meet with book with us due to these consultations and menu tastings.
There is no secret method to this. I will tell you what it takes. You should have a knowledgeable representative to meet with the couples. This person needs to bring the excitement and the sincerity to this meeting.
This person will need to sell themselves and create a like-able factor for the clients that will make them want to book with the company. Being prepared, knowledgeable, and have a love for catering will show the clients you enjoy what you do and deliver when it comes to their special event.
Catering Tasting Policy
To be prepared, you must set a catering tasting policy for the consultation and menu tasting. This is the form that we have created in doing so
This form has wedding tasting questions that lets the clients know what to expect as well as lays out the guidelines and etiquette on how we do these.
We prefer to do our tastings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays. Primarily since most of our bigger catering business is done on Fridays & Saturdays. In some occurrences, exceptions and flexibility may have to be made.
Wedding Tasting Cost
Whether you want to charge for the wedding tasting will be up to you. We don’t charge for this unless they are bringing more than 4 guests.
We feel that this enables us to book more tasting which in turn, helps us book more weddings overall. However, there are many companies that charge for this.
Another thing you could do is a group tasting. Maybe designate one or two days of the month where you invite all your prospects who you are working with. This would be more efficient but maybe not as effective because it would lose the personal touch.
The Wedding Food Tasting
Once you get the date set and know what foods are being prepared, the next step is preparing for the consultation. For this we use a couple tools.
We use a questionnaire
Pictures from past events that show our work
The questionnaire that we use is to gather information on the event to help us get the client the most accurate quote. First, we gather the basics…names, contact information, event times, location, how many guests, etc.
We also like to ask how they heard about our services. This help us to track how they know about us (expos, word of mouth, reputation, referrals, etc.). As we get deeper into the questionnaire we want to learn about the clients and the feel of their wedding. We ask about wedding colors, the theme, the overall look, information on centerpieces…we want to know their vision.
Next, we move into their needs beyond the menu. Do they need tables and chairs? Do they need linens? Would they like for us to provide a quote on those needs? We also ask them about additional services such as bar-tending, bar-ware, mixer packages, and coffee service.
We try and offer many services for different reasons. One reason is to make things easier on the client by being all inclusive. This means they can deal with far less vendors. Another reason is the more services you offer the more money you can make on the job itself.
This is where pictures and samples come into play. With these consultations and menu tastings you are trying to appeal to the senses of the guests. I like for them to be able to look at pictures and items, touch the plates & glassware, smell the food, & taste the food. If you can hit on all the senses, then you are giving the guest a very well rounded experience.
Once we determine these needs, we discuss the possible menu and the thoughts they have in that area. During this meeting, we have a cook preparing their menu selections. As we get towards the end of the questionnaire the cook starts presenting the appetizers to the guest and then brings out their dinner plates. While they eat, our representative excuses themselves for 15-20 minutes to give the guest some privacy to discuss their meal.
We encourage questions and comments, so we leave a pen and a blank sheet of paper for them to write anything down that they like.
After about 20 minutes or so. Our representative will follow up with the guests to ask them about the meal. Typically going over their likes, dislikes, or any questions they may have. From that moment, we can secure a menu for their quote.
The best thing you can do is build a positive relationship and give them an experience that your competitors won’t. We aim to separate ourselves from the pack with these.
If they do another consultation and/ or a menu tasting, we want them thinking about how much better ours was. It takes the right individual and a good product to succeed in this process. It also takes time and money to do this for your potential clients. Spending 50-100 dollars in food and labor is totally worth booking a wedding catering from $4000 – $15000.
Wedding Food Tasting – What To Expect? was last modified: November 30th, 2016 by Chris
Everyone is online. OK well not everyone but for all intents and purposes of this post, everyone is online. They are also increasing just using their phone to be online. So if all of your customers are online, where do you think you need to be? On the radio? TV? Nope…online!
As an independent restaurateur, we are always trying to find resources that can help us improve our operation. However, we don’t always have the time needed or wanted to search for these resources. So I thought I would share some of the resources we regularly follow to save you some time.
While you can spend hours scouring pages of Google results, start with these right here. There is plenty of information to keep you busy for a while. These top 10 restaurant marketing blogs can be great resources, that is, if you have some spare time to read them!
These are going to be listed in alphabetical order as not to show favoritism, they each are great in their own way. Many of these blog owners are consultants who have spent many years in the restaurant business. “They have seen it all” sort to speak.
You should subscribe to these blogs as you don’t want to miss what they have to say!
Aaron Allen & Associates are a global restaurant consulting firm serving customers in over 100 different countries. However, Aaron Allen spent his time focusing on marketing after working in several high volume operations.
He started his consulting in 2001 and by 2008 had reached over 10,000 clients! Many of these were very large well known chains. Now he is one of the most sought after sources for the industry and lecturer as well.
Best Restaurant Blogs is different from the rest of these. They let their readers (other restaurant professionals) share stories that they have found. They have several categories including our favorite, restaurant marketing!
Check it out and see what others are sharing or if you find something of value you can submit the article to the site.
Paul Barron is the founder of this site and he also wrote a book called the Chipotle Effect which is a great read. On the fast casual blog you can find articles written on all kinds of topics about restaurants including catering & marketing. They also have good information on different suppliers you might need for different aspects of your business.
Of course we have to mention ourselves! As you may or may not know we like to focus on using catering and direct marketing to grow your overall restaurant sales. Check out our free eBook for over 70 pages of useful information.
Michael Hartzell specializes in inbound marketing for his clients. Focusing on low cost ways to grow sales. On his blog you will find not only hundreds of articles about restaurant marketing, but dozens of free forms that you can use in your restaurant business.
Brandon Hull founded this website with a focus on digital marketing including social media, email, mobile and even optimizing your website. This website has over 300 articles to keep you up late at night as well as a free digital marketing guide.
Brandon O’Dell is an industry veteran growing up in food service since he was 14. His blog has a pretty strong following and has many articles in regards to restaurant operations as well as marketing. He also has a download store with many helpful documents and spreadsheets for nominal charges.
David Scott Peters is the restaurant expert! He has a history of turning around restaurants and growing sales. His websites free resources offer valuable information for both operations and marketing. We even took advantage of a free report one time and just that alone was great!
OK so this isn’t technically a blog but a podcast but rules are meant to be broken right? Eric Cacciatore is the host of this show and he is constantly interviewing industry veterans so you can learn from their stories, check these out when you have a long drive in front of you or maybe when you are in the gym.
OK, so now you have plenty of homework to do! There should be enough reading, watching and listening here to keep you busy for months.
Just make sure you take action on these tips and advice. It is one thing to read about these ideas and it is another to actually put them into practice. You will be glad you did.
Top 10 Restaurant Marketing Blogs to Follow in 2016 was last modified: October 31st, 2016 by Jeremy
Flyers are great for cheaply getting the word out about your catering program to potential customers. We started a catering business out of our existing restaurant business so one of the first things we did to promote it was print some flyers and pass them out to every customer in the restaurant!
Six years ago we were doing some catering, and every time we had a lot of catering our numbers always looked great. We knew we had to get more catering sales but how? We had no idea how to market a catering business.
Let’s face it, we get in a rut sometimes, we get comfortable and find ourselves stuck doing the same old things year after year. Eventually the newness wears off of your marketing promotions as well as their effectiveness.