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Your Questions, Answered

Have you ever noticed we often make references to time passing?

“I can’t believe summer is over.”

“It seems like yesterday my child was starting junior high school; next week she leaves for college.”

“I can’t believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner.”

Despite how quickly or slowly it can feel, time moves at the speed of time. A minute is a minute; a week is a week; a year is a year. However, if the 2018 Catersource Conference and Tradeshow feels like it’s sneaking up, it is. Traditionally held in mid-March, the 2018 show is February 18–21. After a one-year hiatus in The Big Easy, we are headed back to Las Vegas.

While it may be a little early to start packing your bags, it is the right time to get your early-bird ticket specials and book your “reserved for Catersource” hotel rooms (they always sell out). It’s not too soon to begin thinking about (maybe even writing down) some of those nagging questions about your business that you want to have answered.

As a regular speaker at the Catersource conference, it feels as if there is never enough time at the end of a session to address all those wanting to ask questions during the customary Q&A at the end. As soon as that first hand shoots up in the air, it begins to look like “The Wave” from the podium. Here’s an idea: to help get the juices flowing, these are a few questions I was asked (and my responses), from the last couple of years.

Q: Can you suggest any creative, inexpensive advertising ideas?

A: Put your company name/logo and phone number/website on the roof of your delivery vehicles as well as the sides. Anyone looking thru the windows of a high-rise building onto the street will see you.

Q: We have had the same catering menu for years. It works, and we are making money. Can we take the “if it ain’t broke, don't fix it attitude? Or should we shake things up occasionally?

A: Studies have shown the word "New" is the biggest contributor to menu items selling.

If repeat business is an important part of your success, absolutely offer new items. Seasonal specials are an excellent way to infuse a feeling of freshness and life into your menu.

Also, note items that just are not selling and remove them. You may think that Aunt Gertrude's recipe for Boston Cream Pie is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but if you have only sold a few slices in six months, well, tell Aunt Gertrude you still love her.

Stay current with dietary trends, allergy issues, and cutting-edge foods. Read industry magazines, surf the internet for recipe ideas, and go to trade shows and conferences, especially Catersource.

Q: When is an order big enough that two people are required for delivery and setup?

A: It depends. You could have an order for 100 people, but if it’s only for coffee and dessert, one person should be able to handle it. A full lunch for 100 people it could be a different story. If the order is a hundred box lunches, it’s still possible one person could handle the delivery, but if the lunch is hot food with chafing dishes, clearly a second (in some cases a third) person will be needed. In general, with larger orders, I suggest playing it safe rather than sorry.

Another strategy is to have two people go together in the same vehicle. Unload the big order and bring in into the company together. Delivery person #1 stays and sets-up, while delivery person #2 makes other deliveries in the area—and then circles back to pick up delivery person #1.

Q: Do you drop off the order at the reception desk, get the invoice signed, and go? Or do you need to set up the order?

A: Setting up is a service we offer and plug on our Tastings. So, we always ask the client if they would like the order to be set up. This includes, if they’d like, unwrapping, laying out all the paper goods and serving utensils, and lining up the beverages neatly, with all labels facing forward. I instruct our delivery people, “Set up enthusiastically. Never make a customer feel like you are rushed and need to get to your next delivery. The customer you are dealing with is always the most important customer of the day.

Q: Does your sales staff handle both full-service catering and for drop-off catering?

A: If you have more than one salesperson, I suggest keeping it separate. Chances are each person has a stronger background in one area or the other, and the hand-holding process is much longer for full-service events. If a customer likes a particular salesperson, they prefer to order from that person. However, when it’s busy, and the phones are ringing—I expect the team to help each other out. The phrase, “It’s not my job” is not part of our culture.

So, there is a taste (pun intended) of the Q&A part of one of my Catersource sessions. We are looking forward to seeing everyone in February in Las Vegas. A word to the wise, when it’s time for Q&As, “Get your hands up early!”

See Michael Rosman at #catersource 2018

Michael Rosman will be teaching “The Game-Changing 60-second Sales Script” at Catersource 2018, as well as a small group “Candid Discussion” the same day for additional follow up questions. Click here to view his bio and session descriptions.

Michael Rosman is the owner of The Corporate Caterer, a coaching, consulting, and leads program service

Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman

Owner/Founder, The Corporate Caterer, Boston, MA

Michael Rosman has over three decades of experience in the catering and restaurant industry. His career began in the management-training program with Creative Gourmets in Boston, where he spent five years working in different corporate dining facilities and catering venues throughout the city. He then purchased an existing café in Boston’s financial district and eventually took ownership of a nearby pizzeria. During this time he began creating the infrastructure for a corporate drop-off catering operation and five years later, he sold his client list to the largest independent catering company in the city.

As Director of Corporate Catering with Via Lago Café and Catering in Lexington, MA, he built an almost two million...


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