More to the Story

Once upon a time a customer placed an order with a local caterer, the order was filled to specifications, and then the bill was paid on time. If you’re a caterer, that may sound like the perfect fairytale, but is that the end of the story? On the surface it’s got everything you need: a customer, an order, customer satisfaction, and payment. But is that all you want?

The problem with the story is that it’s too generic. We don’t know what the customer needs or how this particular caterer can meet that need. The story can repeat itself over and over, but the part of the caterer can be recast again and again.

A role to remember

In the hospitality industry there is more to consider than the quality of your goods. To create a memorable experience, foodservice professionals must simultaneously focus on the food they prepare and serve as well as the customer’s needs and perceptions. Satisfying their needs while exceeding their expectations will increase the chances of appearing in the next chapter. The key is to tie a customer-centric approach with the products and services you sell.

Become a major character

When customers think caterer, you want to be the caterer that comes to mind. When the story begins again and they need to cater a meeting, picnic, or wedding you want to be cast as the caterer. Rather than hope they come to you again, start preparing to be top of their mind.

What can you give them that another caterer can’t? Obviously your menu and the items you’re known for are at the top of the list, but don’t forget to create value for your customers. To do this, you’ll need to do a bit of research. Identify buying trends, best sellers, and top customers. With this information you can plan for seasonal volume increases, plan a menu that highlights key items, and keep in touch with big spenders and repeat customers.

Inspire a sequel

Once you’ve researched your part, you can set the stage for a repeat performance. Create promotions that give them a reason to come back. Two great ways to do that are coupons and loyalty programs. If you send out coupons for discounts on items that complement their favorites at the right time of year, you’ve given your customer excellent incentive to order from you again. And, if you award loyalty points with every purchase, knowing they’re progressing toward a reward will make them more likely to order in the future. These are just two ways you can use customer information and promotional tools to build value for your customers, but you get the idea.

The element you want to add to the fairytale is a reason to repeat it. After all, increasing the frequency of purchase is one of the key drivers of growth—and that’s the real happily ever after. By fleshing out your part in the story and proving you understand the main character (your customer), you can drive sales and increase profits.

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