Three Catersource Educational Classes You Must Not Miss

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February 23, 2017

The Catersource Conference and Tradeshow in New Orleans is only a month away, and I hope to see you there. This year I am moderating three panel discussions on three different topics:

How to Make More Profit

How to Improve Your Management and Operational Systems

The Human Resources Factor

We are blessed to have nine of the top small, medium, and large volume caterers on these three panels.

Make More Profit Panel Members

Greg Hicks, Impressions Catering
Margot L Jones, Purple Onion Catering Co.
Steph Zilli, Zilli Hospitality Group

Make Better Management and Organizational Systems Panel

Jolie Oree Bailey, Low Country Cuisine
Jeromie and Rod Hansen, The Painted Table
Greg Karl, Epicurean Catering

The Human Resources Factor Panel

Abbey Duke, Sugarsnap Vermont Catering
Anthony Lambatos, Footers Catering
Daniel Joseph, Blue Plate Catering

Each panel includes one small caterer (under $1M), one medium (under $5M), and one large (over $5M). I will be asking approximately 15 questions during the one-hour session.  Each caterer will have one to two minutes to answer.

Essentially, you will be receiving three answers to one question from three different perspectives. No matter the size of your firm you will hear some amazing inside information that you can use to grow your bottom and top lines.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Here are the questions we will be covering….in a rapid-fire approach!

Here, Bill Hansen engages his audience at Catersource 2016.

Profit Panel questions

• What one cost-cutting idea worked the best for you?
• What cost cutting idea backfired, and why?
• What are some of you most profitable menu items?
• How do you motivate your sales team to sell more?
• What specific sales training do you offer at your sales meetings?
• Do you give your expense accounts? How do you determine how much each salesperson receives for expenses? What expenses are allowed and what are not?
• What percentage of your revenue is your marketing cost? Tell us briefly about how you go about marketing to your clients and prospects.
• How do you account for the cost of tastings?
• What is your closing percentage on tastings for unbooked clients?
• Once booked, what is the average percentage of the initial selling price that you upsell? Do you have incentives for upsells?
• Other than food, beverages, and staff, what else do you sell and include in your contract?
• Do you have exclusive venues? Preferred? Are they as profitable as other venues?
• Give us one solid tip for controlling your variable labor costs.
• How do you balance growth and profitability?
• How do you handle refunds when a customer is not happy with your service?
• What are your collection policies for payments?

Systems Panel questions

• What systems do you use to monitor your revenues and costs during the month to keep you up to date and not be surprised with poor financial results?
• Do you have a financial person in place? What are their responsibilities?
• Do you do pre-/post cost each event?
• What systems/software/ etc. do you use?
• Do you have company credit cards for certain staff members? If so, how to you keep tabs on their spending?
• What Contact Management System do you use? What are the pros and cons?
• Tell us about your pulling and packing system. How do you make/who makes substitutions when there’s not enough inventory for multiple events?
• How and when do you meet prior to each event? How long do you spend reviewing each event on the average?  
• If you were to design your own catering back-of-the-house software system, tell us what you would add to what you’re already using?
• Tell us about how you plan for the coming year. Do you have budgets, a plan of some sort, and specific goals for accomplishment?
• Tell us about how your management team is organized, and how you make decisions.
• How are systems documented? Are they accessible to the entire team?
• What is the biggest challenge you face in getting information from sales to operations and how have you overcome that?

Human Resources Panel

• What is your weekly meeting schedule? Who attends, duration, follow-up procedures?
• Where do you find your part time staff?
• Where do you find your full-time staff?
• How do you interview? Do you require pre-employment testing?
• How do you coach employees when the fail to perform?
• How do you reward your employees for superior performance?
• How frequently do you conduct performance reviews? What type do you do?
• What kinds of events/parties do you do for your team?
• What benefits do you offer your full-time staff, in addition to their pay?
• What are other ways you recognize your team members?
• How do you communicate with your whole team? Newsletters, company meetings, etc.
• What type of regular training do you provide?
• Are your policy and procedure manuals up-to-date? How frequently do you update policies and procedures? How do you ensure that everyone gets the word?
• Who is responsible for administering HR responsibilities on your team? Address interviewing, performance reviews, unemployment claims, payroll, etc.

So, there you have it. Remember: it only takes one great idea from the conference to pay for your trip in spades.


Bill Hansen is the CEO of Bill Hansen Luxury Catering and Event Production.

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