Top 50 Hot Marketing Tips

If I could wave a magic wand, and you could have anything you wanted to help you build a successful personal chef business, what would it be?

I bet many of you would say that you’d love to learn the secret to marketing your services well so you can attract all the ideal clients you desire whenever needed.

For many personal chefs the day-to-day tasks of planning and preparing food are not the hardest part of what they do for their business. It’s the marketing piece that is often the challenge and the frustration.

So to help you take the guesswork out of what you should do to market your business in a powerful way, let me share with you my top 50 marketing tips below…

Tip 1:   Identify your ideal clients, know where to find them, and create ways to be in front of them

Tip 2:  It’s more important to get business cards than to hand them out – you want to be the one in charge of follow up

Tip 3:  Build relationships with spheres of influence – people who are connected to your ideal clients – so they can refer you

Tip 4:  Ask for referrals / Ask for the business

Tip 5:  Stay in touch with past clients

Tip 6:  Remember that a “no” may not be a “no” forever so stay in touch with anyone who has expressed interest in your services at some point but didn’t hire you

Tip 7:   When communicating about what you do, focus on the value you offer and the benefits of your services NOT the features of your services

Tip 8:   Don’t rely just on your website to get business

Tip 9:   Don’t rely just on social media to get business

Tip 10:  Write a blog and/or send out a regular newsletter

Tip 11:  Offer a free gift on your website to encourage visitors to give you their name and email address so you can easily stay in touch

Tip 12:  Write a column for a local newspaper

Tip 13:  Only spend time on the social media sites where your ideal clients hang out and if they don’t hang out on social media don’t spend the time marketing yourself there

Tip 14:  Get really good at using one social media site (in other words you know how to get business by using your social media site of choice) before using another one

Tip 15:  Give cooking classes and demos

Tip 16:  Always invite people to take a next step with you so you have the opportunity of deepening the relationship

Tip 17:  Offer a free Discovery Session by phone to learn more about your prospects’ needs, share how your services can help, and turn prospects into clients

Tip 18:  Attend networking events where your ideal clients (or your ideal clients’ spheres of influence) hang out weekly – go early and leave late

Tip 19:  Create a client-attracting elevator chat and practice it

Tip 20:  Get comfortable talking about pricing

Tip 21:  Attend health fairs if you are trying to attract clients who care about healthy eating

Tip 22:  Give a talk on a topic related to health, food, cooking, or throwing a fabulous upscale dinner party

Tip 23:  Write an article for a newsletter that gets distributed to your ideal clients

Tip 24:  Start a radio show or get interviewed by a radio host

Tip 25:  Do a cooking demo on TV

Tip 26:  Put your contact information and website link in your email signature

Tip 27:  List your website on all the online directories you can find

Tip 28:  Explore personal chef placement services like Thumbtack (but be sure you don’t lower prices just to get the business)

Tip 29:  Write a cook book

Tip 30:  Create cooking videos

Tip 31:  Wear your chef’s hat and coat when you are out and about

Tip 32:  Put a sign about your business on your car

Tip 33:  Throw a client appreciation party and ask everyone to bring a friend

Tip 34:  Get involved in organizations and associations where your ideal clients hang out

Tip 35:  Increase word-of-mouth by cooking fabulous food and giving phenomenal customer service

Tip 36:  Have a step-by-step plan to lead prospects from being interested in your services to hiring you

Tip 37:  Offer a low-cost, low-risk way for prospects to try out your services

Tip 38:  Become known for something that you do really well

Tip 39:  Find ways to creatively package your services

Tip 40:  Brand yourself and your business

Tip 41:  Don’t spend your money on traditional paid advertising – there are more effective and lower cost ways to get the word out about your services

Tip 42:  Speak to prospects live either by phone or in person instead of relying solely on email

Tip 43:  Be sure everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) you know is clear about what you do, how your services help, and who your ideal clients are

Tip 44:  Create a marketing plan for the year and stick to it

Tip 45:  Start a meet-up group that relates to your business and attracts your ideal clients

Tip 46:  Be helpful – lead a monthly Q&A session via a teleclass to answer questions people have about food, nutrition, cooking and entertaining

Tip 47:  Send thank you, special occasion and “just thinking of you” cards in the mail to your customers and prospects throughout the year

Tip 48:  On your website focus your content on your prospects, their struggles, what they want instead and how your services can help – DON’T focus first on who you are, your credentials, and how your services work

Tip 49:  Use lots of high quality photos of your food on your website and throughout your marketing materials

Tip 50:  Gather testimonials with full names and photos and use throughout your marketing

Which of the above marketing tips are you using or planning on using to market your business?  Are you doing something that is not on the list? Please share!

The Best Way to Charge for Your Services

Many personal chefs are unsure how to best charge for their services.  Should they include groceries or shouldn’t they?  Should they get paid in advance or afterwards?  Should they charge a set fee or an hourly rate?

There is a lot to consider and while there is not an absolute right or wrong answer to these questions, I am going to argue the following…

Don’t Charge By the Hour

There are a number of really good reasons why you shouldn’t charge by the hour.  They are…

  • Clients will be more likely to question the time you spend to accomplish your task
  • Clients will never know exactly how much they are going to pay you each time you service them which can make budgeting for your service more difficult
  • You may hesitate to charge for all the hours you worked (this happens a lot!)
  • You aren’t being compensated for the value provided which goes way beyond what you are paid for your time
  • You aren’t being rewarded for doing a good job – as you become more efficient at what you do, you put in fewer hours and make less money and that doesn’t seem right, does it?
  • Charging by the hour makes it impossible for you to accurately bill your client upfront so that you get paid in advance for your services

From what I can tell, the main reason personal chefs charge by the hour is because they are unsure how long a task will take them to complete but figuring out the average hours it takes you to complete a service shouldn’t be that hard to do.  And once you know what that average is, charge something that will compensate you well even if your service takes more than the average amount of time to complete.

Include Grocery Costs

I’ve spoken and helped many personal chefs over the past couple of years and most of them say that the amount owed on their grocery bills doesn’t vary much.  So why charge separately for groceries?  Doing so creates extra administrative work, and you increase the likelihood that you will never get compensated for your food costs especially if a client ends the relationship before paying you for the groceries you purchased.  And this situation does happen.

Some of you may worry that if you do include groceries into your overall pricing that there may come a time when your client wants you to buy lots of costly, high-end, specialty foods.  If that does happen, view it as an exception and ask your client to compensate you a certain percentage more on a one-time basis to cover for the extra cost.

And since organic produce is more expensive than non-organic on a consistent basis, you may want to have a standard (less expensive), all-inclusive price for your non-organic option and a premium (more expensive), all-inclusive price for your organic option.

The client benefit of being charged an all-inclusive price is that they always know exactly how much they owe you week in and week out.  There are no surprises.

Get Paid in Advance

There is no reason you can’t get paid in advance for your service.  It becomes especially easy to do if you include grocery costs and set a regular (not hourly) price for your weekly service.

And consider being paid in advance for more than one cook day.  To give your clients incentive to do so, let them save x% off of your regular price if they pay for a set number of cook days in advance.  By doing so you both win.  Your client pays less for your service and you improve your cash flow.

The other advantage to being paid in advance is you won’t have to spend time chasing after clients to get paid.

Accept Credit Cards Not Checks or Cash

So few personal chefs accept credit cards, and I don’t really get it.  Some of them have said that they don’t accept credit cards because of the extra expense, but you can cover for the extra expense by including it into your all-inclusive pricing.  It’s not that much extra money.  It won’t make the difference between someone hiring you or not hiring you.

In addition, it makes your clients’ ability to pay you easier especially if you set them up so that their credit cards are billed automatically on a monthly basis.  Your clients won’t have to take the time to write checks or go to the bank to get cash.  The payment process will become smooth and automated.  What’s not to like about that?

And keep in mind that checks can bounce and if you wait until your check clears, you won’t be able to start servicing your client as quickly.

As for cash, it is harder to keep track of it unless you keep a cash receipts and payment journal either handwritten or electronically.  That’s a more labor intensive way to track the money you receive than if everything automatically appears on your credit card statement.

So what do you think?  Do you think you should get paid in advance by credit card and charge an all-inclusive price that is not dependent upon the hours you work?  Why or why not?

Delegation Resistance Leads to Business Failure

Many of us hesitate when it comes to delegating aspects of our business and personal lives to others, and there are a variety of reasons why.  Have you ever heard yourself saying…

  • No one else can do the job as good as I can
  • My clients trust me and want to work only with me
  • I can’t spend the money especially when it is something I can do myself
  • It will take too long to hire and train, and I just don’t have the time right now
  • I will lose control regarding the way things are done
  • I am afraid someone else might do the job better than me, and I won’t look as good

Do any of the above reasons for NOT delegating resonate with you and prevent you from delegating?

Well it’s time to put these reasons aside and start looking for ways to delegate going forward.

I know, this may be difficult for some because as business owners especially in the beginning or start-up phase we have the expectation that we have to wear many different hats to keep our businesses moving forward. And that is true to some extent, but you don’t want to stay in that mode for long.

And why? If you don’t start delegating at some point all of the following will start to happen…

  • Your business will stay small, and you won’t be able to break through your income cap
  • You will feel overworked and stressed out which can lead to losing passion for what you do
  • You will have little time to market to keep your pipeline full of potential clients so you can break the feast or famine business cycle
  • Your productivity won’t improve because some of the tasks you are doing aren’t the ones best done by you

And what happens when you aren’t making enough money, you feel overworked, you struggle to get clients, and you lose your passion for what you do? You are way more likely to close your business and do something else. That’s why delegation is so important.

So let’s get your delegation ideas flowing by taking a look at the many ways you can delegate below:

  • Hire a bookkeeper and/or accountant
  • Hire a web designer instead of doing your website yourself and get the added benefit of having a professional-looking, search engine optimized and client attracting website that brings in more business
  • Automate whenever possible – set up a way for clients to book their cook days online, take credit cards and charge your clients automatically on a monthly basis, use a food store delivery service, set up an auto responder email series so when you add someone to your list a series of relevant and useful information automatically goes out to your new list members over time on a schedule
  • Get help in the kitchen with the simpler tasks like cleaning dishes, cutting up ingredients, labeling and storing food
  • Train a team of personal chefs to go into people’s homes to cook
  • Hire someone to mow the lawn, clean the house, do the laundry so you have more time to work on your business or to take some much needed time off
  • Make sure everyone in your family contributes equally to getting the family chores done
  • Hire someone who is an expert at the strategies used to get business via social media and let them do at least some aspect of the work
  • Hire a virtual assistant – you can use them for just the number of hours you need per week

If you start getting comfortable with delegating, you are going to be way more productive as a company, you will get more clients, earn more income, and you will have a lot more fun doing what you do.

What other ways can you think of to delegate? Please share your thoughts below.

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 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?