The Power of Packaging Your Services

TakeawayAre you a personal chef who has struggled with any of the following situations?

  • Not getting paid for groceries
  • Trading hours for dollars
  • Inability to forecast how much you will be making from one month to the next because you don’t have a clear sense how long clients will stay or how often they will need your personal chef services
  • Experiencing scheduling conflicts due to last minute clients calling for help
  • Giving away too much time for free only to have prospects walk away

If yes, here’s what you can do to avoid these situations in the future – consider packaging your services.

Packaging Example #1

Offer all-inclusive pricing so that you don’t charge for groceries separately, and be sure you also get paid in advance. By doing this you are streamlining the way you get paid, and you won’t end up footing the grocery bill if your clients don’t hire you again and can’t be reached.

Feeling uncomfortable including grocery costs? Don’t be. Most personal chefs I’ve coached and talked to have pretty consistent grocery costs no matter the client. I bet many of you do too. And if you don’t, take a look at your average grocery costs over a period of time and charge that. By doing this, sometimes you will end up a little bit ahead and sometimes a little bit behind, but in the end, it will all average out.

If needed, charge a separate price for organic versus non-organic ingredients.

Packaging Example #2

Give incentive to your clients to pay for a certain number of cook days over a certain period of time up front by offering them a special savings. As an example, let’s assume you charge $675 per week for five meals for four people (groceries included), and your client would like to hire you twice per month. Why not give her a 20% savings if she pays for 3 months of service (6 cook days) in advance. That means she would pay $3,240 instead of $4,050 which is $810 in savings.

Getting paid in advance for a period of time is a smart way to do business. And for those clients who don’t want to pay a large amount up front, they don’t have to.

Another tip – Ask clients to schedule their cook days at least a month in advance and if possible, have them pick a specific day of the week you will be servicing them.

Packaging Example #3

Instead of offering a kitchen assessment and meal preferences discussion for free, include these activities into a “getting started” package that includes the following…

  • In-home kitchen assessment
  • Meal preference discussion and questionnaire
  • One cook day

A “getting started” package gives your clients the opportunity to try you out first before making a longer-term commitment. Charge more for your time for this package because you always want to give people incentive to sign up for a longer term commitment, but they at least have the option not to do that if they don’t want to.

What I love about a “starter package” is that you get paid for your time even if someone doesn’t become a long-term client. No more taking the time to meet with prospects for free only to have them not hire you or hire you for just one cook day.

Packaging Example #4

Think of ways you can package your service to help clients with a very specific problem. I’ve mentioned this approach before in previous blogs, but it is worth repeating.  For instance, during tax season, offer an “Easy Meals for Tax Season” package to accountants and tax specialists. In the spring, consider offering a 3-month personal chef service specifically tailored to help your clients get their bodies bathing suit ready for summer. Offer a series of cooking classes so a group of people can learn how to cook gluten free.

When what you are offering helps people with a very specific issue they want resolved, they are much more likely to see how your services are essential rather than a luxury. Price will become less of an issue the greater the value becomes in your prospects’ eyes, and finding creative ways to package your services can be just the thing to increase the value of what you offer.

There are lots of potential advantages to bundling things together. Take some time to think about what kind of packaging ideas might work for your personal chef business and try them out.

What do you think about the idea of packaging your services? Why do you or don’t you like this idea? What, if any, service packages do you offer now?

How to Make Money From a Food Blog

Do you have a food blog? If you do, is your goal simply to share information or do you want to turn your food blog into something that helps you generate money? If you want to generate money from your food blog, pay close attention to the following hot tips…

Money Generating Tip #1: Understand that your food blog alone is not what makes the money – your products and services do

Your food blog is not your business. It’s a tool to increase awareness and to build your credibility. It can also work very well as a lead generator.  All things that are essential if you want to grow your business and make more money.

Do not rely on your food blog to make you rich from the advertising dollars you may receive. That is not a sure-fire way to success.

Instead, build a business around solving a critical problem that a specific group of people want resolved, and use your blog to attract your ideal clients and bring them into your world.

Money Generating Tip #2: Write about what your audience wants you to write about

This may seem obvious, but bloggers sometimes write about what they are interested in or what they think their audience needs to hear instead of writing about what their audience wants to hear. This happens when you are writing from your perspective instead of your audience’s perspective.

Instead, you need to know who your ideal clients are so you you can write about the kinds of things they have interest in.  Next you want to write using the language they use to talk about their area of interest.  If you do this well, you will be able to build a loyal, active following of people who become your raving fans and who will be much more open to purchasing the products and services you offer.

Money Generating Tip #3: Get your blog followers to sign up for your email list

Use your food blog to grow your email list of ideal prospects by driving the people who read your blog to sign up for a free resource that you know they will love to have. In exchange for the free resource you ask them for their names and email addresses. Make sure that your free resource lets people know the next steps they can take with your business.

Once your blog followers are on your list, be sure to send them a link to your blog via email every time you post. In addition to sharing a link to your blog posts as they are published, invite your followers to any events you are hosting and promote relevant products and services to your list on occasion.

Money Generating Tip #4: Post regularly and have patience

So many people who set up a blog don’t keep it regular or they keep it regular for a while and then stop. You’ll never experience success by blogging if you do this. For blogging to work, you must post relevant information regularly, and you must do it for a while. If you do, all your work will pay off.

There are different schools of thought regarding how regular you need to post, and it can differ depending upon the group you are servicing, your goals and the type of information you share. I have found that I get good results by posting every other week. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Blogging is a fantastic and low-cost way to get the word out about you and your food business, and if you implement the tips shared in this blog post, you will be well on your way to generating income from your blogging efforts as well.

Do any of you have a food blog? How often do you publish? What do you do to drive business your way from your blog? Can you share any other tips?

For more ways to attract your ideal clients and grow your personal chef business sign up for my free audio e-course series 5 Secrets to Keep Your Calendar Fully BookedAs an added bonus you will also receive how-to articles and information about other client attraction resources as they become available.

Why You Aren’t Getting Clients

There are many reasons why you may be finding it hard to get clients as a personal chef, but here below are some of the top and most common reasons that get in the way of your client attraction success.

You don’t know where to find your IDEAL clients

Finding your ideal clients is obviously critical as you have heard me say many times before, but too often personal chefs are stumped when it comes to finding them, so here’s what you can do…

Your first step is to identify WHO your ideal clients are. Write down absolutely everything you know about them.

Once you know who they are, start writing down where they hang out. What do they do for a living? Where do they work? How do they recreate? What organizations and associations do they belong to? What do they read? Where do they spend time on social media?

If you find yourself still struggling to figure out where to find your ideal clients, it may be that the ideal client group you’ve chosen is not a viable one, and you need to choose a different and perhaps more specific “who”.

You aren’t communicating your value effectively

Maybe you know who your ideal clients are and where to find them, but they aren’t hiring you. How you communicate your services to others may be the issue.

Many personal chefs communicate first and foremost what the features of their services are instead of the benefits. This is a sure-fire way to limit the number of clients you get.

People buy services that help them solve critical problems, and when you share the benefits of your service, you are addressing the problems that your service resolves. People couldn’t care less about the features – at least not until they are convinced you can help them with their most pressing problems.

Here’s the difference between features and benefits.

Features include things like…

  • Having an initial consultation
  • Planning the menu
  • Shopping for groceries
  • Cooking the meals
  • Cleaning up
  • Pricing
  • How you handle payment
  • How your clients can schedule cook days

Benefits include things like…

  • Freeing up time to pursue a passion, spend time with family, get a business off the ground
  • Reducing stress
  • Losing weight, improving digestion, clearing up allergies
  • Getting picky eater children to eat
  • Bringing the family together at meal time so children get the family time they need to prosper
  • Getting peace of mind because elderly parents are getting the nutrition they need
  • Taking the overwhelm away for clients who need a special diet for a serious illness

Which do you talk about first when talking to your ideal clients?  Features or benefits?

You aren’t visible

Instead of sitting at home behind your computer waiting for the phone to ring or an email to come your way, get yourself out in front of your ideal clients. Mix and mingle and do it daily. Too many personal chefs sit at home and hope clients come their way or they mix and mingle but not frequently or regularly enough.

In addition, build relationships with people who are connected to your ideal clients. Over time they can become an advocate who will refer their connections to you and who will promote your events and services to their list.

It is also a good idea to increase your visibility online by making sure your website is keyword rich. Doing this will improve your SEO. Another way to improve SEO is by blogging on a regular basis; driving people to your website when networking; and posting links to your website in online directories, on social media and on other people’s websites.

Don’t pay for expensive advertising to increase your exposure but instead write an article for a local publication or a newsletter that is distributed to your ideal clients. You’ll get way more traction by doing this especially if you have a regular column.

Be sure you have multiple ways people can contact you too. Include your phone number, email address, and social media links on your website, and make sure they aren’t hidden or difficult to find. Different people prefer reaching out in different ways, and if they can’t figure out how to reach out to you quickly and easily, they will move on in a heartbeat. You’ll also want to have an email signature that has all your contact information and a website link included.

Now I’d like to hear from you.  Why do you think some personal chefs struggle to get clients?  Please comment below!

Why Discounting Your Services is Harmful (and What to Do Instead)

Discount for Personal Chef ServicesDiscounting personal chef services is not an uncommon practice.

The rationale is often that it is better to have at least some business than no business at all, but this is far from the truth.

There is absolutely no point in taking on business in which you are underpaid and overworked. You will get frustrated pretty quickly by doing this and the work you used to love you will start to hate.

In addition, you will soon find it hard to make ends meet financially, and such a business won’t be sustainable. In the end, you may be forced back into a job working for someone else and have to give up on your dream of running a successful personal chef business.

Keep in mind that if you fill your business with low-paying clients, you won’t have room for the ones who will pay a premium for your services, and they are out there. You may also get a reputation for being cheap, which is not a great reputation to have especially if you are offering your clients lots of personalized attention and care.

Other reasons personal chefs lower prices or charge virtually nothing at all follow:

They are cooking for….

  • Friends who they want to help
  • Charities that they want to support
  • Families who have done something nice for them in the past

These aren’t good reasons to charge less.

Your friends can become loyal, paying customers, and you need them to pay your full price. By charging them what you should for your services, they will value them more.  They will also view you as someone who is actually running a business instead of having a hobby.

Giving your services for free to a charity is a worthy thing to do, but don’t do it until your personal chef business is thriving or you will become a charity case yourself. In addition, don’t say “yes” to every charitable event that comes your way. Instead be strategic about which charities you will support by looking at your finances, determining how much you can give to charity in terms of money and time, and then selecting the charities you will support during any given year.

Paying back people for a favor is nice but don’t do it through your business. Find a way to pay them back by using your personal time and money. You could buy them a thank you gift, send them a card or cook them something special.  Just remember that if you decide to cook them something special, don’t link it to a service they wanted to hire you for.

So the bottom line is, if someone asks you for a discount, don’t give it and if you feel the need to give a discount because of some of the reasons mentioned above, don’t do it.

Instead, ask yourself why you feel the need to discount your services. What is the underlying reason? Often you will discover some money beliefs that don’t serve you anymore. There may even be an underlying sense of fear – fear of asking for money, fear of rejection, fear of appearing greedy, fear you and your services aren’t worth the money, etc… that makes you feel the need to discount.

And if you are discounting your services because you fear you won’t get enough clients unless you do, consider what if anything you can do differently so clients no longer bulk at your pricing.

For instance, are you communicating your value effectively? Have you branded yourself and your business well? Are you targeting the right prospects? If you can’t say a resounding “yes” to all of these questions, it’s time for you to figure out how to better package, price and market your business to the right audience so you can charge what you are worth and still get clients. Need more help with this?  Sign up for a free Client Attraction Discovery Phone Session with me.

What experience can you share about discounting your services? If you have discounted them in the past what was the reason you did it?  How did it make you feel?  Were you glad you discounted your services or not?

3 Top Ways to Retain Clients for More than a Cook Day or Two

I bet you think your personal chef business would be just fine if you could only get more clients, but that’s just a piece of the picture.  You also need to get clients who stay with you for a while.

If you aren’t able to do this, you are going to be working a lot harder at marketing than other personal chefs who are good at retaining business.

In addition, it is extremely upsetting to have a new client simply disappear without a word after just a short while, especially if she said she liked the food and was interested in a long-term relationship.

So what can you do to get clients to stay so you aren’t having to fill open cook days constantly and stressing about where your next pay check will be coming from?

Client Retention Method 1: Find Out Why They Aren’t Re-Scheduling

Give them a call and talk to them. Ask questions to draw them out so you can uncover what is really going on. And if you don’t reach them the first time you call, follow up again.

If that doesn’t work, consider surveying your clients via email using a survey company like Survey Monkey at http://www.surveymonkey.com or Survey Gizmo at http://www.surveygizmo.com. These services cost little if anything, and they are easy to use.

Once you uncover the reasons you aren’t retaining your customers over time, figure out if there is a way to change what you are doing and implement it.

Client Retention Method 2: Package Your Services

I love this way of getting clients to stick. By packaging your services or encouraging clients to sign up for more than one cook day at a time, you are more likely to get them to stay with you longer especially if they pay for and schedule their cook days in advance.  You are helping your clients to commit.

To give your clients incentive to pay in advance for an agreed upon number of cook days, offer them savings off of your regular pricing. In other words, if they sign up for 12 cook days at a time, you give them a savings of x dollars.

Client Retention Method 3: Solve a Problem that Requires Your Service Over a Period of Time

You could offer a 3-month get-your-body-ready-for-summer service to help your clients stick to their weight loss goals. Another idea might be to offer a series of cooking classes to teach people how to go gluten free.

What you want to do is think about a service or program that can help people get from where they are now to where they want to be. You then price your service or program based on the results people can expect instead of charging for the number of hours you work.

By solving a problem that requires your service or help over a period of time, you are in essence finding a creative way of packaging what you do while giving people a reason to sign up for your support for more than a short stint.

Do any of you have client retention ideas that I haven’t mentioned? What are they?