One thing we like to do with prospects and clients is to visualize and critique competitors as well as their own operations. So often we think we know what our catering looks like when it leaves our doors, we know what impression our delivery experience leaves, know how our drivers interact with clients, etc.
What looks great, efficient and professional on paper may not always be the reality. It’s so important to get in the field and see what your customer sees.
An example: I took some prospects into the field to see a delivery executed by their own company. The team members had never seen a delivery first hand – they had only put together the policies and procedures at the corporate office. The reason for this exercise was to see the catering experience objectively, from the viewpoint of the customer.
Some eye-opening things to note during this exercise:
- Was the delivery driver on time? If not, how did he/she handle the situation? We all know late orders can kill your catering business.
- Was the delivery driver dressed professionally, and in company uniform? Would customers immediately know they are from your establishment? He should be a walking billboard for your brand.
- Was the delivery driver personable, polite and customer service oriented in conversation? Drivers are one of your best sales assets.
- How was the delivery brought in? Was it in professional delivery equipment or cardboard boxes? Did it look like a professional catered delivery, or simply look like retail food delivered any way possible? Did your program give the impression of a well-designed catering program?
- When displayed, did the meal look attractive? Was the packaging/food appealing? We eat with our eyes first.
- When the delivery driver left and the lids on the packaging were removed, did everyone know the meal came from your restaurant? Was the meal highly branded and colorful?
- Was there any promotional material left with the catering order, such as menus or bounce back coupons? The person ordering the food may be the only one at the event that knows you cater. Every person in the room is a future potential catering customer.
It’s often an eye-opening exercise that can help you gain objective insight into your catering operations….and allow you to improve and surpass the competition.
It’s a good idea to have your Area Managers and Catering Sales Managers conduct these visits on a regular basis and then review the findings with the area leadership and store management.
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