This morning I listened to the audio from my Spotlight Campfire Session at the New Orleans Catersource.  Kathleen Stoehr, who is taking over the Catersource Education role, asked me to listen to the recording of this session to review the questions that were asked.

I hate hearing my own voice, so believe me, it was quite a chore, but I managed to get through it, and then my computer shut down…really…I think it had enough of my voice, which it is exposed to most days from sun up to sun down.  Thank you, Lord!!  It did restart!

One question asked how to deal with fundraiser requests that come in year after year from the same clients.  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 that I heard a few years ago was, “We’re out of free!”

And that isn’t a lie when you have a budget for charitable events, and then stick to it.  My standard answer when we’ve exceeded our budget is to say, “Thank you for your request; however, we have no more budget this year, but next year, please contact us sooner.”

Another great question when a charity calls is to ask them “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 that you know, then it might be wise to consider helping their cause.

When dealing with these types of fundraisers, as well as those clients who nickel and dime you to near death, you might wish to think about this.  The key is:  TIME IS MONEY!!!  And at the Campfire Session my answer to the questions was this:  Think about the amount of time you invest in these “energy sapping” events, with negotiations, hassles, stress, etc. and consider how could you better invest the time in bringing in better clients, i.e. those that “give energy,” rather than “sap your energy and your financial resources.”

On quite a few occasions, after being beat up over pricing, I’ve had to tell clients this: “I don’t think I am the right caterer for you!”  One of two things will happen; they will either walk away or acquiesce to a fair pricing outcome.

The takeaway for you readers who have gotten to this point in my little article:  How we invest our time, largely determines our success in life and in business.  Wasting time with energy sapping clients is never a good use of our time.  Instead, invest your time in reaching out to bridal planners, venues and corporate planners in your area.  Take them to lunch, 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.  Overtime they will become clients for a lifetime.

This is my story and I’m sticking to it. 

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