How Do You Handle Too Many Clients?

time managementMany of my blog posts focus on how to market yourself better so that you attract more clients; however, I know there are quite a few personal chefs out there who have the opposite problem. They are fully booked, turning clients away, and have absolutely no desire to do anything that would bring in more business.

They are feeling overwhelmed, frazzled, and stressed out by it all. Can any of you relate to this?

So what do you do? Check out the following top 3 tips below to get yourself out of overwhelm so your personal chef business becomes a thriving but manageable one.

Raise Prices

It’s a great time to consider raising prices when you have all the clients you could ever want and a waiting list. With so much business coming your way, there is little risk trying out a price increase.

If you raise prices and all your clients stay with you, great! Now you are at least making more for your effort and that extra money could be spent on hiring some help to ease your workload.

And if a client or two leaves, you can go to your waiting list to fill your open cook days quickly. It is also possible you will cool down the frenzy of people wanting to hire you which can be a good thing. You’ll have fewer but higher value customers, and you won’t need to service as many to make ends meet.  You’ll free up your time while making the same amount of money or more depending upon the price increase.

Get Help

You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do everything on your own. Take a look at all the things you do to keep your business running and figure out what you can give to someone else.

Do you hate the invoicing and bookkeeping aspect of your business? Hire an accountant or bookkeeper. Do you have a grocery store delivery service you trust? Use them instead of doing the food shopping yourself. Can you delegate some tasks when you are cooking for your clients? Pass on the food preparation, clean-up and labeling tasks to a culinary student or start training someone to take on clients for you.

You can even look at getting help on things you are responsible for outside of work. For instance, can your spouse or partner do more of the household chores? Can you share the responsibility of driving your kids around with a neighbor?

The point is, there are very likely many opportunities for you to delegate to others to free up time in your day. Once you do, you will start breathing a sigh of relief.

Increase Efficiency

Take a look at how you are doing the work you do. What can you do to become more efficient? Look at everything from how you shop at the food store to the steps you take once you get to the client’s home to cook. When you pay attention to improving efficiency you usually find ways to streamline your workflow.  To get ideas on exactly how to free up time servicing your client check out another blog post I wrote called How to Shave Hours Off Your Cook Day.

Another area to look at when you want to improve your efficiency is to make sure you aren’t over delivering. You don’t want to be giving your clients way more than they want or need because that will be time spent that doesn’t matter to your clients in the end.

You also want to make sure you set boundaries with your clients. Many personal chefs don’t do this, and they make their jobs a lot more stressful and time consuming as a result. For instance, you shouldn’t allow a client to totally change the meals they want you to prepare at the very last minute especially if it means you’ll have to plan everything all over again.

Are you a personal chef experiencing growing pains? What are you doing to make all the business coming your way more manageable?

How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Business

social networkI’ve had good success getting known and attracting clients as a result of my LinkedIn efforts. Spending time on LinkedIn doesn’t have to feel like a waste once you know what to do to get business.

The keys to getting clients from LinkedIn follow….

Be Sure LinkedIn is Where Your Ideal Clients Hang Out

To start, you must be sure that your ideal clients are active on LinkedIn. If they aren’t, no amount of effort will bring you results. LinkedIn is a great place for personal chefs to spend their social media time if they want to attract busy executives for instance.

Post Status Updates Consistently

I recommend you post a status update on LinkedIn 3 to 5 times per week to get the most leverage. When you post, make sure it is something your ideal clients want to hear about.

For instance, if your ideal clients are busy executives what topics would interest them that you know about? Perhaps topics of interest might be ones that have to do with balancing work and life; preparing simple, tasty and healthy meals in no time flat; or choosing a caterer for their next business function.

Most of what you post should be of benefit to your readers – something that will bring them value but will also position you as an expert in your field. Mixed in with all the valuable stuff you share you can occasionally promote your services or invite your followers to take some kind of action with you.

Business updates or news are fine to share on occasion too. For instance if you’ve just won a cooking challenge, share it. If you are cooking for a charity event, mention it. If you are celebrating 10 years in business, let the world know about it.

Join a LinkedIn Group and Become an Active Participant

See if you can join a local LinkedIn group – one that caters to people in your area especially if your personal chef business is local. Become familiar with the types of discussions that are started. Get a sense of the culture of the group and then start contributing yourself.

Better yet, start your own group. You get a lot of exposure when you are the one who is leading and managing a group. The people in your group will start to view you as a helpful resource. It’s a great way to stay top of mind and some of the people who are following you will reach out to learn more about what you do.

Personalize Your Connection Requests

Almost 100% of the connection requests I receive aren’t personalized. Most people use the generic request-to-connect wording that LinkedIn provides. Do not do this!

When you send a connection request personalize it. If you are sending the connection request to someone you don’t know such as a potential prospect, tell the person why you’d like to connect and why you think connecting will be beneficial. You can mention anything that the two of you have in common or have an interest in. Do not say anything that may be construed as promotional.

If you know the person, you should still take the time to personalize it. I use the person’s name. I mention something that we recently spoke about or something that we agreed to do in the near future. Sometimes I may mention how we met if the person is someone I don’t know well.

Start a LinkedIn Email Marketing Campaign

Once you and another person connect via LinkedIn, don’t drop the ball by never reaching out to them again. What good is having a bunch of connections on LinkedIn if you never interact?

An email marketing campaign is a great way to stay in touch especially with prospects. About 4 weeks after you initially ask someone to connect, send them a link to an article you think they would find very beneficial. In another 4 weeks tell them about a LinkedIn group that you joined that you think would interest them too. Think of something of value to send to them about 3 or 4 times before you finally ask them if they would like to set up a time to have a brief phone chat.

During this brief phone chat you get to deepen your relationship even further. The phone chat should be no longer than 15 minutes. Remember, you don’t want to sell anything to anyone at this point either. You are just networking and deepening your relationship. You want to express a genuine interest in the other person and if you can help them by suggesting a resource, a great networking group or a person who they should connect to, do so.

What’s amazing about using the email marketing campaign approach is that some of the people you reach out to will proactively want to learn more about you and your business and some of them will become clients.

This approach is such a great way to “sell” without selling.

Have any of you attracted a client using LinkedIn? What did you do to get that client and how did it happen?

7 Confidence-Boosting Tips

Confidence Opens Doors Words in DoorwayIs a lack of confidence holding you back? Do you hesitate to take actions that will move your personal chef business forward because you question something about yourself, your services or your abilities?

Feeling a lack of confidence in some way, shape or form is not uncommon. Below are phrases I’ve heard over the years that indicate that a lack of confidence is an issue…

  • How can I be a personal chef who focuses on health and wellness if I am overweight?
  • I can’t do a cooking demo at a farmer’s market because I live in an area with much better chefs than I am who are doing demos at the farmer’s market all the time.
  • I am going to take a few more classes first to develop my culinary skills before I try getting clients.
  • Do I have to talk and be in front of people to get business?
  • No one will buy my services at the prices I want to charge.
  • People won’t view my personal chef business as legitimate unless I have a website.
  • Why would someone choose to work with me when I don’t have a culinary degree?
  • How am I going to compete when there are so many other personal chefs in my area?
  • I’ll work for another personal chef instead of getting my own clients so I can get more practice first.

A lack of confidence can kill your business. People want to hire people who come across capable and sure of themselves (but not, of course, cocky). If you believe in yourself, your services, and your talent, others will too, and you will become magnetic. People will be clambering to hire you. Nothing else will matter much.

So what can you do to help boost your confidence level?

Below are 7 confidence-boosting tips you can implement now:

Tip 1:  Remind yourself of a time when someone raved about you and your food. If you have testimonials, re-read them. Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself just how good you really are by reading what others have said.

Tip 2:  Switch your focus from yourself to how you can be of service to others – it’s amazing how a lack of confidence simply disappears when you pull your attention away from yourself and focus instead on why you are doing what you are doing to begin with.

Tip 3:  Dress sharp because when you are dressed in a way that makes you feel good on the outside, it can do a whole lot to increase your confidence level on the inside – you’ll find that others will notice and reach out to you more too.

Tip 4:  Take action because simply the act of taking action and going after something you want with focus can help your confidence to flow.

Tip 5:  Listen to an uplifting, motivating song and dance along. Believe me, doing this can really pump you up, get you psyched and boost your confidence levels a lot.

Tip 6:  Be brave and keep doing the uncomfortable even if it means taking a really small step forward. If you are consistent, you will start seeing positive results and the positive results will help your confidence to grow.

Tip 7:  Visualize what it is you want in living color. See yourself acting with confidence doing whatever it is you are afraid to do. Hear the positive feedback you get. See the positive results of your effort.  Smell the delicious, mouthwatering smells of your food. When you visualize your ideal outcome, create such a clear vision in your mind that you can actually see yourself  in your vision as if it were actually happening now.

Do you ever struggle with a lack of confidence? What do you do to give yourself a confidence boost?

Avoid These 3 Common Personal Chef Pitfalls

pitfall road sign illustration designYou want to have a successful personal chef business, right? Then make sure you avoid the following 3 common pitfalls that many personal chefs make over and over again.

Lacking Patience and Persistence

It takes time to build a sustainable personal chef business or a business that everyone knows exists and refers people to. To build that kind of business you must have patience and persistence. You can’t give up too soon on any given strategy.

Some common examples of giving up too soon follow:

  • You call a few personal trainers you think would be good referral partners, and they don’t call you back or express interest in forming a partnership so you decide not to reach out to personal trainers any more.
  • You call one organization and ask them if you can give a talk to their members, and they say “no” so you get discouraged and stop pursuing any other talking opportunities.
  • You start publishing a blog or newsletter but don’t get immediate new business from your efforts so you start publishing less frequently or not at all.
  • You go to a networking event and don’t get any leads the first few times so you don’t go back.
  • You keep publishing on social media and see no positive results so you start publishing less frequently.
  • You give a cooking demo or talk but get no new leads from the effort so you assume giving cooking demos or talks isn’t a good way to get business.

Do any of the above examples sound familiar to you? You need to give any given strategy enough of chance to be successful before giving up on it.

Executing Actions Poorly

Sometimes you may be taking the right kind of actions and you may be consistent doing so but still aren’t getting the results you desire. If this is happening to you, it could be due to you executing the actions poorly.

For example, if you aren’t getting positive results from networking, you may not be networking properly. There are specific approaches you should take and specific things you should say to get good results from your networking efforts.

If you are writing a blog or newsletter but aren’t getting any clients, I bet you don’t know how to properly use blogs and newsletters to sell your services.

There are skills and approaches you need to learn to be effective at what you do if you want the actions you are taking to be effective.

Relying on passive marketing approaches only

I’ve mentioned this issue before, but I still see most personal chefs relying almost solely on the passive marketing approaches. This is such a shame because if you are doing this you are letting go of your ability to make things happen yourself and are instead leaving things up to chance.

What are some examples of passive marketing approaches? They are things like handing out business cards, posting fliers, getting a website up and running, advertising, getting a press release published, and doing a good job so that referrals start coming your way and word-of-mouth starts to kick in.

And why are the above passive marketing approaches? They are passive because you simply put something out into your community and then wait for something to happen. You are hoping that the above efforts will lead to people reaching out to you proactively to learn more about your business.

But guess what? While the passive approaches sometimes will get you clients, they aren’t usually enough to keep the flow of new business coming your way consistently.
Now I am not saying that you don’t use passive marketing approaches but that you shouldn’t rely on them solely.

You should also work on active marketing approaches which include things like picking up the phone and following up with leads and past clients, going to networking events so you can get other people’s business cards and book consults with interested parties, building relationships with spheres of influence, and giving talks and cooking demos during which you invite people to take further action with you.

With active marketing approaches, you are in the driver’s seat. You are the one actively inviting people to learn more about you and your services. You are the one following up.

Do any of these pitfalls resonate with you? If yes, which ones and why.

Where Do I Find Ideal Clients?

Chef with magnifying glass over white backgroundIf only you knew how to reach and be in front of your ideal clients, you’d have no trouble getting business.

From your perspective you aren’t struggling with how to communicate about your services, but you are struggling with finding the right kind of people to communicate to. You figure if you can solve that, you’re business would thrive.

Does this scenario sound familiar to any of you?

To figure out where to find your ideal clients, you need to first be crystal clear who those ideal clients are.

Let me help you with this.

After talking to and working with hundreds of personal chefs, I’ve identified the following major ideal client groups (I doubt any of the following will come as a surprise to you):

  • Two career couples who are time-strapped and want to eat well
  • People who are struggling with an illness or health issue and need help preparing the right kind of healing food for their condition
  • People who are injured or recently had surgery and need temporary meal preparation support
  • Singles who are extremely focused on their career and work long hours
  • Seniors who can no longer handle their meal preparation tasks
  • The rich, famous, and powerful

Once you choose the ideal client group you want to target, make a list of all the different places where they hang out or can be reached.  To make your task easier, I recommend you focus your efforts on one of the above ideal client groups that you prefer most. See where that takes you first.

This step is probably a step where some of you get stumped.

To help you, see if you can answer the following questions about your ideal client group. You may need to do a little research on the Internet or talk to some people in your ideal client group to get the answers.

  • What associations or organizations do they belong to?
  • Where do they work?
  • What conferences do they attend?
  • What societies do they belong to?
  • What industry groups service them?
  • Where do they go to recreate?
  • What publications do they read?
  • Where do they hang out on social media?
  • Where do they network?
  • What people are connected to and have a list of your ideal clients?

If you can answer the above questions for your ideal client group, you will have absolutely no trouble figuring out where to go to be in front of them, and once you know where to go to be in front of them, you can come up with ways to get yourself and your business in front of them.

How would you describe your ideal clients and where do you go to find them?  Please share your thoughts and comments below.