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Coffee, Brides, and Catering to Your Customers

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Coffee, Brides, and Catering to Your Customers

By Pat Flynn on

Catering to your CustomersA quick story, with an ending that never happened:

The other day I was sitting in a cafe with a cup of coffee catching up on some reading, when I noticed two young women sitting at the table next to me with a laptop and a ton of paperwork strewn about.

They owned a local catering company and were in the middle of calling back leads who had left their names and phone numbers with them at a recent bridal bazaar – one I remember hearing about on the radio not too long ago.

I tried not to be rude, but I couldn’t help but listen to one side of the conversation during the repeated phone calls that were being made to potential clients, which all started the same way:

“Hi [Name]! This is [Name] from [Company Name]. I was wondering if you were still interested in allowing us to cater your wedding?”

While I was there, none of the 20 or so leads I sat through seemed to convert into anything to get excited about, and although some of the calls were messages, with that particular intro I wouldn’t be surprised if none of the messages were ever returned.

Being Me

I’m very business-minded. When I walk through malls or inside stores, I’m always asking myself things like:

  • Why and how did this catch my attention?
  • Why was this put here?
  • How could this be improved?
  • What’s the purpose of this?
  • What are the marketing people who work for this company trying to tell me?

Back in November of 2009 I wrote one of my favorite posts ever, Shadows of Marketing – Are You Paying Attention?  In this post I talk about how marketing is everywhere and I give specific examples of how you can educate yourself and improve your business if you just keep your eyes and ears open.

I definitely recommend reading it, if anything – to learn about why casinos don’t photograph pretty people.


So, being me, while I was sitting in the cafe and hearing what was going on next to me in the cafe, I couldn’t help but think:

“What would be a better way to start these calls?”

It really just comes down to one basic thing – something that’s going to sound very obvious, but it’s something that obviously not everyone does:

Always make it about your customer. 

…or reader or subscriber or client – whatever. Always make it about them.

In the wedding industry, especially, the bride should always be the center of attention. I know this from my experience helping my wife to plan our own wedding together, and all the episodes of Bridezilla I watched – no correlation between the two.

(Luv ya honey!)

But, when dissecting the original phone call, you can see that very little of it actually has to do with the bride. Most of it is centered around helping the company instead:

“Hi [Name]! This is [Name] from [Company Name]. I was wondering if you were still interested in allowing us to cater your wedding?”

Here are a few things that stood out to me:

  1. Asking if someone is “interested” is not going to do any good. Someone can be “interested” in something but that doesn’t mean they’ll go that direction.
  2. Asking for “allowance” is like asking for permission, or a favor. A client owes you no favors, especially before anything happens.
  3. Even without tone, you can get a sense that this is a timid approach –  sort of like a shy kid who asks a girl out and hopes they’ll say yes.
  4. Where’s the benefit? What’s in it for them?
  5. Most people will probably be on the fence. What’s one thing that could get them off of it?

With all this in mind, here’s what I would say, and since Pat is an ambiguous name I’ll just use it anyways…lol.

“Hi [Name] this is Pat from Pat’s Catering! We met at the bridal bazaar last week and I hope the wedding planning is going well! How are you today?”

“I just wanted to take 15 seconds to see if I could make your life easier and take care of all of the food and beverage for you and your guests on your special day.

I would love to go out of my way to make sure everything on the catering side of things is perfect for you. And you don’t even need to make a decision now, but I would love to setup a time for you and your husband to come by and sample some of our dishes – totally free – just let us know what you want and we’ll set it up for you.

So, can I put you in the calendar sometime in the next week or two so we can help you out?”

What do you think, much better?

Let’s break it down…

In the first part, not only do I say who I am, but I quickly remind the bride where we’ve met by mentioning the bridal bazaar. Also, I try to connect with the bride by mentioning wedding planning, which could also trigger all of those things that are left to do before the big day, and I’m here to share how I can lighten that load for her.

I also ask “how are you” which is important because once that initial response has been made, they are more likely to keep listening. It’s a quick connection or small transaction that can lead to much bigger ones.

In the second part, I start by sharing that I will only take 15 seconds of their time, which most people will give to hear someone out. Next, it’s all about the bride and the benefits – making her life easier, making sure everything is taken care of for them, and how I would personally go out of my way for her to make sure it’s all perfect, which is exactly what a bride wants – a perfect wedding.

Finally, I finish up with a free offer to sample some of the dishes, which I learned that all wedding catering companies do. It would be crazy not to use that as incentive when making calls to prospective clients, and again, I phrase it to focus on the bride.

Lastly, I finish up with a clear question: “Can I put you in the calendar sometime in the next week or two so we can help you out?” – This is much more directional than “are you interested?”.

I’m not an expert copywriter or salesman, but my experience tells me that catering to the customer is exactly what you have to do. They should always be the focus in all parts of your marketing, from phone calls, to sales copy even down to the product or service you have to offer.

Sure, this story is about a catering company, but the same ideas can be applied to anywhere online where you’re trying to get people to make any kind of decision, whether it’s signup for a newsletter, purchase a product, or even just click on a link.

In the end…

Of course, I thought about sharing this info with the two young women next to me, but I didn’t.

I’m not sure if it was right of me to do so, or it would have been considered rude because then it would be obvious I was listening.

Looking back, maybe I should have said something – I don’t know.

What I do know is that these girls were hustling like mad and it was very inspiring. I love seeing people do things like this on their own and I always want to help – at least online.

What would you do?

How would you structure and phrase the phone call to the brides, and why? Also, if you were in my shoes, would you have said something?

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