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Respect Your Small Customers

Have you ever considered pushing aside a smaller volume but steady customer, when a big-ticket order comes in? Let’s take a look:

For example, let’s assume your customer, ABC Company, orders the same 10-person taco buffet every Friday. This year, Friday, December 18th looked like the prime holiday party day, and many of my clients reported that they had already booked multiple 200+ guest lunch-hour events that day. With stretched resources, ABC’s small order conflicted with the big events, suddenly looked unimportant, and you may be tempted to ask ABC if they would take a cold buffet that you could deliver early; or, you may think of asking them to take a later delivery; or you may even figure that this would be a great time to try out one of the many third-party delivery services now available.


This is where I can really help, because my company, The Corporate Caterer, made this mistake before.

First, let’s estimate that ABC’s order is worth $150 per week x 52 weeks per year. That equals $7800 yearly. Since ABC also obviously likes your company, there is an untold amount of goodwill produced every time ABC eats your tacos. They inevitably will mention your name to other companies, and they may have guests for lunch who pick up your business card. Carefully weigh the situation and you should realize that ABC’s order needs to be delivered on time in your usual manner. You can refer to my previous posts that explain how to get the food out on a difficult day for suggestions, but again, don’t let ABC know that this year’s busy Friday is any different for you.


Customers don’t care about your problems

No one wants to hear “well, what had happened was…” In my catering business, we had established a very tight delivery window for our Sysco deliveries. We needed daily early deliveries so we actually gave the vendor a key and had them drop our grocery order at 5:00 a.m. More than a few times a new transportation supervisor would shuffle the orders, and we would be bumped to a different position.

That caused the truck to be late. Our system depended on our kitchen receiving on-time supplier deliveries, and our only remedy was to go find the truck, and basically unload the order into cars and take the goods to our facility. We were aggravated and just did not want to hear why it happened. We didn’t care whose mistake it was; we simply wanted assurance that the situation would never occur again. As soon as the lengthy explanations as to who had dropped the ball began, we zoned out and started thinking about taking our business elsewhere.

Likewise, ABC doesn’t want to know about your busy day. They just want their tacos at the same time you have delivered them every previous Friday. If you can’t do it, they may very well find someone else who can. While it may look great to have one very big day, should your jeopardize steady business? Is taking a $2000 event once a year worth the risk of losing an annual $7800 in sales?  I think you can predict my answer.


Michael Rosman is a member of the Catersource Consulting Unit. If you would like information about these services or to schedule him for an on-site consultation at your location, please email Carl Sacks at [email protected]. His book, Lessons Learned From Our Mistakes – and other war stories from the catering battlefield is available through Amazon.

You can visit Michael’s website at, email [email protected], or call 781-641-3303.



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...