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Going from a One-Man or Woman Band to a Full Orchestra Conductor

My catering staff calls me the “Maestro” since I lead our catering symphony through the daily catering concerts. That doesn’t mean I don’t get my hands dirty if necessary, but it’s hard to lead the orchestra if you’re also playing an instrument. If you are serious about growing your business you must take steps to:

Begin working on your business rather than in your business
For many this means hiring others to do what you were doing yourself and focus on growth strategies and tactics. And I can tell you, that is a very scary thing to do. Picking up extra payroll dollars could mean the difference between a profit or a loss, or worse, not getting your weekly or monthly paycheck since there’s no cash in the bank. Whenever I face this dilemma I remind myself that:

A Turtle Goes Nowhere if It Doesn’t Stick Its Neck Out
If You Keep on Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing, You’ll Keep on Getting the Same Results and Never Grow
When You Stop Growing You Begin to Die

So this means getting out of your comfort zone and into your challenge zone. Most caterers can only generate a certain amount of revenue on their own. They reach a point where they are at their breaking point, ready to burn out and even retreat. Retreat if you will, but as for me, I need a challenge every day. This means beginning to grow your team by hiring talented, quality people, one by one and watch your one-man band begin to grow into a duet, a trio a quartet, a quintet and on toward the concert hall. Whether you hire a chef to get you out of the kitchen or a salesperson to help you build revenue, you need to stick your neck out and take that risk. Hire people that are better than you at certain things. You can’t do it all.

I started by hiring a commission-only salesperson who grew my top line by nearly $1 million over three years. I was lucky! If you make a mistake and hire the wrong person, recognize your mistake and part ways! You will know in three months if someone deserves to be part of your growing musical organization. I remind myself:

If You Have to Swallow a Frog, You Don’t Want to Look at It Very Long

As my firm has grown into a concert-hall-deserving symphony I’ve added and subtracted staff but always with growth in mind. We have a goal of growing 25% per year and so far we’ve exceeded that goal while continuing to be profitable. However, a word of caution: As your firm grows you will find that your net profit percentage will more than likely decrease. This does not mean you will make less money, you should make more, but as a percentage of revenue it will be less than when you were the one-man band. Once you grow into seven and even eight figures a year of annual sales, a 10% net profit margin is about average.

Parting shot
Needless to say I could write a complete book on how I’ve grown my firm, sharing with you the successes and failures along the way. But, in the interest of time and the fact that my editor limits me to around 500 words, let me share with you the secret to the success of growing our little bands into full symphony orchestras.

How you choose to manage your time
This is what it’s all about. All of us are given 168 hours a week to pretty much do with as we please. Remember the 80/20 rule. You get 20% of your results with 80% of your time, and 80% of your results with 20% of your time. Doesn’t it make sense to figure out what the 20% is and how you can build on that? Big payoffs for investing your time wisely!

Make time every week to work on those things that are important to business growth, but not urgent.

If you’re ready to grow into the role of a symphony conductor, begin to learn the music that will help you grow.

Get Fresh, April 2016

Bill Hansen

Bill Hansen

CEO, Bill Hansen Catering and Event Production, Miami, FL

From catering for four U.S. Presidents, to Pope John Paul II, to champion Super Bowl teams, Bill Hansen brings over 50 years of catering, entrepreneurial and food service management experience to his consulting practice. A published author, Bill’s extensive expertise has made him one of the country’s leading food experts and Founder and CEO of one of South Florida’s top catering firms.

Bill’s areas of expertise are in leadership, and management. In 1980, he founded Bills’ Catering with his best friend Bill Hendrich. In 1990, Bill began teaching Catering Management at Florida International University. After 403 years, Bill’s firm continues to prosper, while spawning scores of South Florida caterers...