This morning I listened to the audio recording from my March 2017 Gather Around the Campfire session at Catersource in New Orleans. Kathleen Stoehr, the Catersource director of education and my editor, provided it to me, suggesting I might get some fodder for an article out of it.
Bill Hansen in his Gather Around the Campfire session at Catersource 2017
I hate hearing my own voice (so believe me, it was quite a chore to listen to the tape), but I managed to get through it…and then my computer shut down—really! I think it had heard enough of my voice, which it is exposed to most days from sun up to sun down. Thank you, Lord! It did restart!
The Campfire session was a great way to gather with conference attendees and have them ask questions, and then also participate as a group in the answers: a real classroom-style discourse. After listening to my tape, one discussion from the audience really stood out: that of the fundraiser requests that come in year after year.
No fun fundraisers
We all get them, and every year it’s the same thing: what can you do for even less than last year? Or, what can you do for free?
One of the best answers I heard a few years ago was, “We’re out of free!” And note: that answer isn’t a lie when you have a budget for charitable events, and then stick to it.
My standard answer when we have exceeded our budget for charitable endeavors is to say, “Thank you for your request; however, we have no more budget this year. Next year, please contact us sooner.”
Another question you should ask when a charity calls for help is, “Who from your organization has worked with us in the past for non-charitable events?” Usually, it’s no one, but if they answer with names you recognize, then it might be wise to consider helping their cause.
“Think about the amount of time you invest in these energy sapping events with negotiations, hassles, stress, etc. and consider how you could better invest your time in bringing in better clients.”
When dealing with these types of fundraisers, as well as those clients who nickel and dime you to near death, you might wish to make this your mantra: TIME IS MONEY! At the Campfire session my advice was this: Think about the amount of time you invest in these energy sapping events with negotiations, hassles, stress, etc. and consider how you could better invest your time in bringing in better clients; i.e., those that give energy and a financial boost rather than sap your energy and your financial resources.
On quite a few occasions, after being beat up over pricing, I have had to tell clients, “I don’t think I am right caterer for you.” One of two things will happen: they will either walk away or acquiesce to a fair pricing outcome. This goes for any client: charity or not.
The takeaway for you readers who have gotten to this point in my little article is this: How we invest our time largely determines our success in life and in business. Wasting time with energy and resource-sapping clients is never good business. Instead, invest your time in reaching out to bridal planners, venues, and corporate planners in your area. Take them to lunch or for coffee, develop a long term, win-win relationship with them. Emails are good, but so many times it’s delete, delete, delete, and delete. Grab your cell phone and call them. Set up a time for a tasting, lunch, coffee, or dinner. Invest time in learning about their likes and dislikes. Over time they will become clients for a lifetime.
This is my story and I’m sticking to it. See you in Las Vegas in February 2018.
Bill Hansen is the CEO of Bill Hansen Luxury Catering and Event Production and a Certified Catering Consultant.