I prefer less choice in my life.
That’s right: less.
I remember back when I first had my first baby; I was so exhausted my mother-in-law kindly took me to a higher end supermarket as a treat. She took me round the aisles asking which variety of tomatoes I wanted. I looked at the options: plum, chopped, cherry, with herbs, with garlic, high end brand, basics range, own brand, large tin, small tin, with pull ring opening, without, cartons, tins… My brain literally stalled at the range of choice and I stood completely silent, staring at the shelves, unable to answer her.
Well, allegedly I wasn’t completely silent, I sort of made a noise like “Errrrrrah”. Thankfully my mother-in-law is very sensible and just chose for me.
Likewise, it is no wonder that most people, when using a search engine, will only bother investigating the first page of options that they see. If I type in “caterers near me” I get 133,000,000 results! Let’s be honest, most of us will probably only look at the first five on the page in any detail. When looking for quotes, generally we find three and then pick the one we liked the most. We have not got the time to think too hard or too long about things. Our lives are too busy, too full, too pressurised. Making choices uses up a large amount of energy.
It was with this memory in mind that we set about tackling Just Catering’s menus this month. Everyone is busy, everyone has pressure in their life; and struggling to choose from a multitude of catering options is the last thing anyone wants. We wanted to clearly explain our prices and product range to our customers.
This is essential for every business. So, what are some of the reasons why you, a busy, exhausted, small business owner, should bother to take the time in the evening once a year to review your product range and prices? Here are our top reasons:
To remove barriers on your customer’s journey.
So, you finally got traffic to your website (of course, as you have invested in a subscription to an excellent SEO consultant who constantly updates your blogs, ensuring you are ranked very high on most search engines!) and they click on your call-to-action button “Contact Me”. What is the first thing that they inevitably ask?
“What kind of things can you do?”
If they’ve contacted you for a quote, surely they should know what they want?! Isn’t it on your website already?!
It probably is and it is probably explained beautifully in the text that your digital manager has painstakingly put together over many months of redrafting your website.
Really, what your customer is saying is: “I’m tired, busy and under pressure. Please help me by providing an example so I don’t have to think too much. Then I can tell you how to tweak it to my specifications.”
It’s the same emotional effect as when I walked into the supermarket after having my first baby; they are aware that you can do LOADS of stuff and it is just so overwhelming that they have stalled. It is really a cry for help and a good business owner should caringly treat it as such.
In fact, I would say that the pressure your potential client is under is a massive barrier in their customer journey with you.
(By the way, I am not a fan of the phrase “customer journey”. It sounds emotionless, and the relationship between a business and their customers involves a lot of trust and emotion. But for clarity, I will say customer journey, as most people know what I mean)
The customer is made aware of your brand and has wondered if you will meet their need. But to push them on to evaluate and decide to use you, you need to ensure you don’t cause additional work to their already hectic life. Having clear pricing, particularly EXAMPLES of your product, on your website will help them partially evaluate you before contacting you for more details. The example encourages them to follow your call-to-action and contact you.
When I say examples, I don’t just mean photographs showcasing your product range either. Each customer need has a specific set of parameters that are unique to them. They like looking at the pictures of chicken drumsticks on your website but need a lot more information if they are to follow your call-to-action. In the catering world, these would be example set menus, with an approximate cost per person that are easily downloadable from the website.
If anything about your website or prices creates a negative emotional response in them (for example, frustration), your customer will move on to someone else. So, like a Medieval knight on horseback, you need to send a salvo of barrier busting, positive vibes and communiqué their way to break down those barriers.
Boom! Example menus on the website! First salvo connects!
It reduces your workload considerably
How onerous it is to get dozens of emails asking for highly detailed quotes that don’t convert into cash! It’s the bane of any small business owner’s life. You wouldn’t mind putting in all this effort if it meant you were raking it in. But often, customers don’t have a secured budget and are just fishing around on an inclination. They then receive your quote, the quote that you’ve spend four hours completing in painstaking detail and realise they haven’t got the money anyway.
What a waste of precious time!
This is where having consistent, concise pricing, with EXAMPLES, is important on your website.
So, if your potential customer partially evaluates you on your website, tots up a rough price in their head based on your examples and then contacts you for more details, you instantly have an opportunity to deepen the relationship with your potential client.
Send them a warm email in response, with a few words of greeting and encouragement. You can reattach copies of the menus to reinforce you in their mind. With a saved copy of your menu on their hard drive, they don’t have to go hunting around the internet to find your website again.
At this point you will be very glad you have standardised you pricing on your new swanky menus or product list, as you can give an additional clear, more detailed EXAMPLE, in your response. Something like:
“Dear Stuart and Laurie,
Thank you for your email requesting a quote for your wedding. Please find attached our wedding menu, with all our pricing and details. Obviously, I don’t know how many people are going to be at your wedding, but I can give you an example. If you had 100 guests and decided to include a canape reception, wedding breakfast and evening buffet, the total cost would be £9,500. I am very happy to discuss the finer details with you and look forward to your call. Please call me on: XXXXXXX.
Once again, the same process of EXAMPLE followed by a call-to-action is included, as on the website.
You could even type this out once and save it on a file somewhere. Then you can copy and paste, change the name of the client and have an inbuilt shortcut that will save you hours.
Boom! Second salvo! A quick, friendly response.
Long term, it creates band loyalty.
So, you advertise your product and a customer becomes aware of your brand. They evaluate you on your website, engage with you over email and telephone and decide to use you as you seem to fulfil their need. Great stuff!
But then you invoice them. And their demeanour changes. They are not happy, and all sorts of questions and comments arise. Or, they simply pay and never use you again. As far as you can tell, everything went well. So, what happened?
Now, there are very unpleasant people out there who will gripe and complain no matter what you do. Don’t worry about them. You can’t change them.
But a moment’s reflection might help you sit back and look at this anew. Are they dissatisfied because what they had totted up in their head based on your online menus, isn’t the same as your detailed invoice? Is there something wrong with your communication? Have you added on costs that you think are self-explanatory, but they didn’t realise would be included in the cost of the service?
A good example from our neck of the woods is crockery hire. Sometimes customers would see our buffet price per head, add it up in their head and completely miss the fact that they would have to pay extra if they wanted to hire crockery or have it delivered over five miles. They would become crestfallen, not at the eventual price, but because that it hadn’t been made explicit at the beginning of the customer relationship. It had come as a complete shock. They probably wouldn’t have objected at the final price if they had been made aware of it at the start. We hadn’t set out to dupe them, but the FEELINGS they felt match that feeling of “being duped”.
We are emotional beings, and if someone has a negative feeling about your brand, they may use you again for the sake of convenience, but they are not going to turn into a brand advocate. Ultimately that it what you want. You want customers who are so thrilled that you have fulfilled a need in them that they praise you from the rooftops to others. That word of mouth advertising is gold dust.
Quality products, competitively priced and clearly communicated.
Every business owner needs to dedicate some time every year to sit down and reflect on the year that has gone. What are the common problems that you are coming up against in your relationships with your potential customers or clients? What aspects of the work are causing stress or taking too much time? What short cuts can you create in order to reduce all of this?
Also, this time can be used to look at which products just aren’t bringing in the cash. There shouldn’t be any deadwood on our product ranges. Cut them, be brutal; everyone needs to pull their weight in a small business. Do a bit of nosing around your competitors. Are they significantly undercutting you? Do you need to reduce in order to keep prices competitive? Alternatively, are their exciting new product ranges that you could add to liven up your range?
But overall, is your customer understanding what you are offering them? Is it communicated effectively and clearly? Is it simple to understand? Could you use EXAMPLES to add clarity and understanding and ultimately create another opportunity to engage them in conversation and deepen your relationship with them. Everyone responds well to a good example.