My first Mike Roman experience was in New York in the mid-1980s at an event called OFF PREM. I was there with Mike, his wife Bernice, and a few other folks. A year later, I went to a Las Vegas event at Caesars that Mike did with the National Restaurant Association. One of the speakers was a start-up caterer from New York named Martha Stewart. No one had heard of her yet, and I don’t believe many showed up for her presentation. I know I didn’t. (That definitely was a mistake.) The following year, there were about 30 of us at Snowbird, Utah. And the rest is history.
How far we’ve come
Back then, no one was training caterers. We were “independent dukedoms in a loosely federated state,” as my old Navy boss used to say. Mike led the way, starting out of his kitchen in his Chicago catering firm, The Mixing Bowl. He was a sponge. He would take what he already knew, combine that with what he learned from other caterers, and then when he held seminars, he’d squeeze the sponge and we would all learn.
Look where we are today. Yes, we’re back in Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, the same hotel where Martha Stewart spoke three decades ago. But this time, there are thousands of caterers, planners and vendors, not a couple hundred, and there are programs to fit every catering and event discipline.
Action plan for Vegas
For those readers who are planning to attend, I offer one piece of advice. You will be overwhelmed with information. There will be way too much to assimilate and comprehend. However, after you leave and before you hit the ground running back home, take some time to review your notes and identify and prioritize actions that you want to take because of what you learned at the conference.
You must make time to do this. You just spent lots of money on travel, hotel, registration, meals, drinks, and perhaps some games of chance, so you need a return on this investment. Otherwise, you’ll only have some great memories, but you won’t take advantage of ways that you can grow your business, your sales and your profits.
I learned this the hard way in my early days. As soon as I got home I’d jump into work and throw my notes and brochures in the corner, thinking that I’d get to them later. But later never came.
Will I see you there?
Finally, if you haven’t decided yet whether you’re going or not, then at least give it some thought. This appears to be a great year, with the economy on the uptick. Think too that some of your competitors may be going and learning new strategies, ideas and ways to take sales and profits away from you. Lastly, perhaps you need a little time off. Vegas restaurants are amongst the best in the world, the Grand Canyon is close by and there are a bevy of shows to entertain.
I do hope to see many friends there this year. I promise that if you attend my two panels on Proven Ways to Grow Your Sales and Proven Ways to Find Money Hidden in Your Catering Business, and apply what you learn, you’ll more than cover your costs.