Being My Own Boss Provides Security That No Job Offers

by Cheflady
(Danbury, Connecticut)

be your own boss get screwedThe fact that jobs are hard to find now and that, if I find one, it might not be my first choice of employment is a primary factor in wanting to work as an independent contractor.

I want to decide what hours I can offer customers and also have the freedom to choose agreeable clients. This is why I've wanted to reinvent my personal chef business.

The alternative which I have experienced is that in the very same line of work that I'm in, employers can be unfriendly, demanding and indifferent to you as an employee. They can have whatever they want or else they dump you in short notice.

As a business person, I can offer my best service on mutually agreeable terms to my customers, and I can rotate many clients so I will not be unemployed.

This lesson comes in good timing since today I received the return of 1% from my 150 flyers that I spread around. I got my first client! He responded from one flyer that I posted. We already have two tentative cooking dates.

In my case, I am confident about my product and have served people with it successfully in the past. I just need to develop the promotion and marketing part. I guess I have been AFRAID of the uncertainty and lack of continuity of business and customers...and have always run back to employment where I felt more security.

You are right, Arturo, the timidity is also rooted in past life experiences. Though I am very reliable and trustworthy I have been highly critical of myself and a perfectionist, not trusting myself 100%. God help me to overcome those experiences and trust Him for my security.

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----- Arturo's Reply to Cheflady -----
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Congratulation on your 1% response rate for your flyer, Cheflady! For such a small amount of flyers, you've done very, very well. Good job!

Now look at the following. It's a great idea.





Did I mean that the great idea was to create a YouTube Channel called "Personal Chef TV" dedicated to showing professionals like you how to grow and manage your personal chef business?

No, even though the thought is appealing.

The really great idea is to create a YouTube Channel where to feature your services but, more importantly than that, a place where to display the benefits that your customers are getting from you as their personal chef.

There was a time when the Yellow Pages was the way local businesses could more effectively be found by their clientele. Today it's the Web. Do you have your own website where you can post your own videos? Have you thought of creating a blog to communicate your promotions and the gratification that your customers can gain from dealing with you? If they're going to find you, shouldn't you be easier to spot?

You can find far more people via the Web than where your 2 feet can take you delivering flyers. Use Weebly. It's FREE.

To build your confidence you need to put your achievements on display in terms of what others can gain from them. You must market yourself. Let me give you my case as an example. There is no way that I can deny to myself or anyone else, once we review my portfolio of results, that I do not know what the process of generating business leads is all about. This is taking past experiences and turning the tables on timidity.

Go and do likewise. Put your results where everyone who may want to prosper from your services shall easily find you. Drive them to such results. Highlight how satisfied others who have been dependent on you have remained after you've served them.

The best way to battle fear of uncertainty and a lack of continuity in customers and revenue generation is to concentrate on pleasing those who you alone can please. Call this a micro-niche consisting exclusively of the kind of people that you'd love to work for. They're your new boss. Your security lies in pleasing them.

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May 23, 2012
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Moving Ahead To Create My Own Security
by: Cheflady

Hi Arturo,

As I have now made the firm decision not to search job lists anymore, I am looking to your advice.

I need to generate immediate work while I develop a business foundation.

I've read elsewhere that you suggest someone like me to try to offer lunches or sample food along with my flyers to local corporate working people. I have a couple of questions or perceived obstacles.

Your words in fact were, "You'd do right to start in a small building where there might be 2 or 3 other businesses leasing the place."

I actually know someone who works in a local office park in my target area where her brother owns a company. I see the goal as introducing people to my quality food and advertising my personal chef service.

Something else you had said was, "Make your top target an office building with a good 200 to 300 bodies within, even though you might start with a place where there may be less than 100 bodies working there. The difference lies between selling up to 100 vs. less than 30 lunches per visit. Which one do you prefer?"

Actually 30 lunches would be OK for me, since 100 would be almost impossible for one person to do working alone. The "restaurant" model of, 'How many plates can you pump out at meal time?' is a different model from what I specialize in.

But I would consider this a vehicle. Am I missing some perspective here that you want me to see?

You also mentioned, "How much work do you want to put into this? How much work can you afford to do before expecting to recoup your costs? How many rounds of breaking even do you want to experience before you land your first profitable client?"

As a personal chef, the client pays for groceries plus my time. Pricing individual plates is opposite to what I do. I am not in a position at this time to advance a lot financially. Would I be selling lunches 6 months from now? You tell me...as opposed to intimate family cooking.

Is this a necessary stepping stone to personal chef work or just an alternate place to sell food? SELLING FOOD IS NOT WHAT I DO. I meet a need for time burdened clients who want to relax at home with family and friends and a personally designed hot meal.

They're my real feelings... Hope you will be comfortable to challenge them. I know that you can see a bigger picture.


You've also said that I may need an ally. I will try my friend initially. But does this mean that I would continue with this as the new lunch service even after getting a couple more clients? I guess so, if it's a small regular group that I could offer one daily changeable entree to...and have a place to cook it and then have sufficient time to get to someone's home to make dinner...

Thanks for your thoughts...

May 24, 2012
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One More Thought On Building My Security...
by: Cheflady

Arturo,

Regarding holding off on creating a website for my personal chef business... Would there be two issues with that?

First, I have checks to deposit now and need to open a business checking account. In order to do that, I need at least a Doing Business As (DBA) trade certificate or a business name like in a Limited Liability Company (LLC). I already have a name in my head and see the theme that I would present to prospective clients.

I'd like to share that with you in email perhaps?

Second, someone in my target area already posted a comment about my services in the local town social network, which she says is the prime source through which the residents find service providers. She said if I had a website, they would be able to go there and see my menu and services.

So, is there a more important reason why I should put on hold the creation of a website this early in my business ownership career?

May 24, 2012
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Building Your Security Starts Now
by: Arturo F Munoz

Cheflady, let's review your main objective, as you've expressed it: To generate immediate work while developing a business foundation. The basis for the recommendations that you pointed out I've made center around this main objective.

To get you immediate work, we need to place you in front of your ideal client. To develop a business foundation, you need to establish a repeating process or cycle of operation that can continuously produce more business for you.

Therefore, the main goal in going to a corporate building to sell gourmet brown bagged lunches is to have people who otherwise would never try your food not only taste it but meet you to learn about you. Your task at that point is to promote your personal chef service...while they're hungry.

Note that I've said that this technique would work provided you visit a corporate site where there are several businesses in the same building but no cafeteria on-site and, using their kitchen area with the approval of HR, whose job is to improve work conditions, you set up a counter once or twice a week for people to buy your ready-to-go food without having to go outside the building for their convenience.

So it's crucial that you select a place that requires people having to drive out of a parking lot to get some food and that is not easily accessible by foot. This makes for a captive audience.

But this is where you'll find the working moms. This is where you can meet the people who don't want to go home to prepare dinner that night or the VP's who want to hire your services for a weekend event, or the recently engaged manager who wants to prepare a romantic dinner for two but never learned to cook. Can you save them?

You'll have to market yourself before them, one-on-one: "Come to the kitchen area for a '30 Delectable Dinner Choices for Lunch!'" -- a brochure in each bag. Leave with people's business cards in your hands.

You're not trying to get into the restaurant or catering business. You're using a direct sales technique as a vehicle to get immediate work.

You're concerned about pricing individual plates. It's a reasonable concern for a personal chef. To mitigate the risk of spending on food that won't sell, partner more intimately with your friend. See if her brother would allow you to pass out a menu card a few days before you show up.

Collect the cards. Know what people might want to try. Make an event of it. Give people what they want so you can build your list of prospects. Get those business cards. Then follow up to further discuss with each of them how you benefit time-burdened clients, who want to relax at home with family and friends with a custom-made hot meal from you.

Cycle through this technique until it proves grossly unsuccessful or until you've gotten enough clients to discontinue its practice.

Regarding your website...

May 24, 2012
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Building Your Security Starts Now (cont'd)
by: Arturo F Munoz

It is certainly best, Cheflady, if not imperative to check the following with your tax preparer, but in the U.S. your personal tax liability likely does not begin until you've made around $3,000 in annual income. Make the most of that.

Don't spend money on unnecessary paperwork when you're unlikely even to make this much yet in revenue. A business license, yes. Insurance, yes. But be judicious about when and how you really need to make such expenditures. This is to say that you don't need to be married to a business name before you get some seriously tangible potential for business revenue.

If for instance you did business as yourself, on your own name, for a few weeks and secured 5 clients on the basis of who you are rather than what you call your business, could you wait a bit longer then before you officially start to brand yourself and spend some likely serious money on creating a proper website?

For someone in your line of work at this point in your venture, I recommend (though you shall need a proper website soon enough) that you start with a well crafted Facebook Business Page.

It's not a sound long-term idea. You will need a site that you own. Whatever you build on Facebook is not yours. Facebook can take it from you in an instant and leave you no recourse. But as you already have someone in your target area already posting comments about your services via a social network, then launch your first online presence in a social network first, and exploit the opportunity that your friend is giving you to connect through social networks.

Consider using the following:


May 25, 2012
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Questions on Commercial Kitchen Logistics...
by: Cheflady

Hi Arturo,

Just want to thank you for your detailed explanation of the reason why I need to take this course of action to offer lunches in the corporate setting. I understood the concept, that I need a way to generate a continuous fresh flow of clients.

I also see that taking the "cupcakes" to the people, as your Dad did in his story, is direct sales...as opposed to sitting here waiting for the phone to ring in response to my flyers.

Since I've been sick the last couple of days, I will take this time to research the nearby corporate parks online. I expect to find some who already have a cafeteria, or a chef who has monopolized the lunch market.

I understand and AGREE with what you are saying in the following paragraph but have a couple of questions.


"Don't spend money on unnecessary paperwork when you're unlikely even to make this much yet in revenue. A business license, yes. Insurance, yes. But be judicious about when and how you really need to make such expenditures. This is to say that you don't need to be married to a business name before you get some seriously tangible potential for business revenue...

"If for instance you did business as yourself, on your own name, for a few weeks and secured 5 clients on the basis of who you are rather than what you call your business, could you wait a bit longer then before you officially start to brand yourself..."



I think I at least have to have a local trade certificate that allows me to sell something. Would anyone let me use their kitchen area without a "license to sell" and maybe even insurance in place? The local certificate allows me to sell in this town but I would have to file with the next town also to cross that line.

My point is that, I am forced to DECLARE that I am Doing Business As ... a particular name... a business name. Did you mean to get the certificate and keep it in my own name, and change it later?

Also, If I am compelled at this time to have insurance...that too has to declare a business name! Would I put that also in my own name and change it later? My menu book which I give to clients, actually already has my prospective business name on it.

So I agree that your idea of just getting the "box of cupcakes" and finding the customer first is great, but there is this red tape. What to do then?

Thanks for your thoughts...

Cheflady

May 25, 2012
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How to Name a Facebook Business Page
by: Cheflady

One more thing Arturo...

Since I am new to Facebook, in creating a business page, if you choose the first category - Business and Place – they ask for a business name and location. If you choose the other category called Brand or Product, they ask for a brand or product name. The instructions say that once you make the choice, you can't change it later.

It's as if I have to do the real thing as a trial, without declaring yet that I am doing the real thing. But I have to declare SOMETHING which I cannot change later!

What do you suggest I do?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Cheflady

May 26, 2012
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When to Brand and License Your Business
by: Arturo F Munoz

You've asked 2 very good questions, Cheflady!
  1. When do I create my business name?

  2. When do I publish my business name?

Well, to answer these questions you must first answer the question, "What should be my business name?"

So, what should it be?

Remember that whatever you choose your business name to be will have to represent the most benefit to your customer or you're going to have to spend a lot of time, money and effort associating benefit to your brand.

This is why, in my basic assumption that someone is starting a business utterly from scratch, I don't suggest working on their business name first. Work on learning whether there is even one smidgeon of desire from your ideal customers to engage you in trading with them. When you come to a proven conviction that greater effort makes sense, then start working on a name based on the chief benefits that impressed your audience.

Let's say, for example, that your audience are the elderly living under dietary conditions, like diabetes. What may resonates with them could be:
  • Keeping their weight under control by keeping insulin levels steady with the right foods.

  • No longer feeling guilty every time they eat or drink anything.

  • Not having to be constantly watching what they eat and making a decision about it every single day.

  • Not having to delay non-diabetic people who don't eat breakfast from their work because of the diabetic having to leave time for breakfast.

  • Not having to get up every morning in a confused state with high sugar levels to try to figure out what to eat for breakfast and how to start the day.

Based on these benefits that you'd offer, what could you call your business? Select some keywords from the descriptions above. For instance, elderly... morning... diabetes... breakfast... guilty... control... sugar and with them create a benefit-oriented name, such as "Golden Years Breakfast Control" or "Morning Diabetes Farewell" or "Guilt-Free Sugarless Control". But keep your focus on your target customers – on their desires and well-being.

Build everything around benefits to your ideal customer. This is crucial in creating your business name.

Publish your business name when you can back it up with a benefit-laden argument, such as "I can help you in your retirement dietarily stabilize your insulin to keep your weight under control, so you can relax about what you're eating everyday and not feel guilty every time you eat or drink, especially in the morning when you don't want to be confused by high sugar levels and delaying friends who, unlike you, can do without breakfast."

This is how you know that you're ready to present yourself clearly to a specific group of people who you wish to work for.

Do the above and you'll have a name to create websites and pay licenses and insurance for, if you're certain enough of the work you wish to do and the people you wish to do it for.

May 29, 2012
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Who Is My Client and Who Am I? (Part 1)
by: Cheflady

Hi Arturo,

I don’t think I ever mentioned to you that I have 7 years experience as a Private Chef for one family, cooking 5 dinners per week. My menu is tried and tested. They loved my food and wrote me a great letter of recommendation.

I'd like my prospective business name to be a French (or European) term conceptualizing the ritual enjoyment of 'taking' a good quality meal.

Here’s what I think characterizes the international cuisine that I offer. It's what makes my service different from other Personal Chefs:
  • I don't just "sell cooked food", as some do when they cook off-site and sell meals piece-by-piece, separately priced.

  • I offer the service of preparing meals in the client's home from appetizer to dessert, including breads and birthday cakes, which many chefs don't offer.

  • I offer an international menu, including European, Mediterranean, South American, Asian, Mexican, Indian and more, which allows the client to experience foreign foods as opposed to many personal chefs with only one or two specialty food types.

  • I offer the ENTIRE menu of 100 entrees without exclusions in exchange for payment of my shopping/cooking/cleanup time. The client pays for groceries. In other words, cooking Beef Wellington is no different to me than making home-made pizza. They just pay for my time.

  • I serve the meal with ethnic ambiance if they desire rather than simply cook and package.

  • I offer all this in the comfort of their home!

My target area is full of people who like upscale restaurant food and generally pay for it.

(To be continued)

May 29, 2012
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Who Is My Client and Who Am I? (Part 2)
by: Anonymous

(Cont'd)

If you summarized my services, you might say that I offer the following 6 benefits:
  1. Get nourishment
  2. Achieve emotional relaxation
  3. Remove yourself from the mundane
  4. Arrive home to your chosen aroma (100 to choose from)
  5. Get what you want always
  6. Enjoy exotic moments

Will my ideal customer think that my services deliver these benefits better than the rest of the personal chefs out there do? Are these benefits truly unique?

Although they CAN get nourishment from a restaurant, I offer them stricter nutritional guidelines and food handling, than a restaurant. For instance, I do not use soy, canola, genetically modified, pre-packaged, MSG or additives ingredients, or any food exposed to aluminum foil and cookware, etc.

I think that emotionally they will relax more at home. In fact, if they prefer to eat out, they're not my target client. Besides, dinner removes the mundane from a day's work and my dinners area a departure from the usual. It they are in love with restaurants, they wouldn’t be looking for me.

Aroma in your house is very persuasive and personally welcoming like fresh apple pie. Yes, I think that gives me an edge over a restaurant. So getting what you want always, there I think I have an edge because my clients won't get all the variety I offer under one restaurant roof. At best it might be only one ethnic food type available.

There is also the benefit that a home kitchen's sanitary conditions are likely better. You can’t be sure at restaurants that staff is properly washing their hands in the kitchen, which I have personally seen. A TV documentary said that sliced lemons for seltzer in numerous restaurants had e.coli!

(To be continued)

May 29, 2012
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Who Is My Client and Who Am I? (Part 3)
by: Cheflady

(Cont'd)

I have used table settings and music to enhance the ethnic experience on occasion and produce the "exotic moment" – a little "fun" atmosphere, if the client is amenable.

Are my competitors saying the same? Saying isn’t doing.

But if they are, how am I different than they are? Clients can observe my cooking, as they cannot in a restaurant or with pre-packaged, delivered food.

Why should my ideal customer choose me over them? They should look at my reviews.

Who is my ideal customer?

My ideal customer, of which I now have one (the 1% respondent from my flyer), is a professional who can afford to eat out a couple of times a week but doesn't always want to have to leave their home.

The client's dilemma is being UNABLE TO COOK AT ALL. Some people just hate to cook or are tired with two spouses working.

Another ideal customer might have three children and finds it a little inconvenient or costly to eat out, in which case my time for preparing dinner for five is economical.

Will using a French flair to say "Good Meals" really make up all the difference in my branding, especially if I'm delivering German and Spanish meals too? Maybe not specifically French, although French kitchen skills are held in high regard. I need it to appeal to my upscale client. So what might be better?

Thank you again Arturo...

Cheflady




May 30, 2012
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Hear Your Ideal Client's Inner Voice Speaking
by: Arturo F Munoz

Cheflady, in looking at your list and explanation of benefits, were we to derive from them an internal voice that spoke as your ideal client might to herself, would it sound like this?
  • "I wished someone came to cook an entire meal and priced it for me not piece-by-piece but as a whole."
  • "I really want someone to prepare appetizers, desserts, breads and cakes in my home kitchen."
  • "I wished I could experience an assortment of foreign foods instead of just 1 or 2 specialty foods when I wanted to eat at home."
  • "I wished I had access to 100 entrees, so long as I could provide the ingredients for someone else to cook."
  • "I really can't get nutrition from a restaurant and want someone to provide me with some strict nutritional guidelines and better food handling."
  • "I really want to eat at home because the sanitary conditions of my kitchen sure beat those of my favorite restaurant."

Or might it sound more like this?
  • "It's 6:30 and with this traffic it's pizza again tonight!"
  • "I wonder how I can make frozen food stop tasting funny!"
  • "I feel so tired and I still have to cook tonight!"
  • "I think I'm going to blow up tonight if I hear any whining about the cooking."
  • "I want somebody to help me in this kitchen now!"
  • "I'm fed up of planning menus and I wished somebody would just plan it all for me."
  • "I want less time cooking, more time enjoying food."
  • "I wonder how I'm going to feed all those people this weekend."

The point is that what you call benefits are really more like features of your service. People who need you don't want to know that you can price by course meal rather than dish or that you offer variety, or that you cook with greater cleanliness than a restaurant. At least they don't want to know this right off the moment they meet you.

What people want from you is to know that you're the answer to prayers of desperation.
"Help me not order pizza again tonight! Help me turn frozen food into something that tastes fresh! Help me cook tonight because I'm so tired!"

Do you ever feel like you'll blow up if you hear any more whining over tonight's dinner? Have you ever wanted somebody to help you in your kitchen NOW? Are you fed up of planning menus and wished somebody would just plan it all for you? Would you like less time spent cooking and more enjoying the food? Are you wondering how you're going to feed all those people this coming weekend?

Then I, Cheflady, am the answer to your prayers!


This is the ultimate sound benefits make. This is what you need to come up with once you get inside your ideal client's head. Speak as they do. It's not a defense of what you do that is needed. It's an exposition of what the client is starving for.

Jun 05, 2012
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Is It Only One Client Type I Have?
by: Cheflady

Dear Arturo,

It’s tough nailing this down. I don’t think I can identify my client as just one type.

My desperate client that needs rescuing cannot be from a two-working-spouse home where both incomes are needed to pay for a mid-size house. That client needs me but believes she can’t afford me.

The better target is the elegant home with a housekeeper and a professional working husband and an educated wife, who may work part time or may not need to work. Or both are working professionals and neither know how nor have they time to cook... (Like my recent elite flyer client couple.)

I have three towns nearby that are my target area. They are where I spread my flyers. The demographic shows that in ascending order of income they are 5 minutes to half an hour away from me.

The five-minute town (#1) is upscale with lots of restaurants and a median resident income of about $150,000. I will call them towns 1, 2 & 3 with 3 being the most affluent.

Here are actual statements that working women have told me when seeing my flyer:
  • Town 1: "I’m just happy to get something on the table."

  • Town 1: "Your menu is impressive… let me see the desserts."

  • Town 2: "I wish I could afford you."

  • Town 2: "Wow, you’ll get lots of calls." (And I didn’t)

  • Town 3: "I hate cooking."

To be continued...

Jun 05, 2012
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Is It Only One Client Type I Have? (Cont'd)
by: Cheflady

My ONE elite client from the flyer is in Town #1. They are a couple in an elegant home. They told me they have an erratic schedule and he eats a big lunch and comes home late but
"In the winter, a once a week arrangement may work for us, as we often don't want to go out, but even that would have to be Saturday or Sunday night. Otherwise, what would work best for us would be to have you over maybe once a month, or on occasion when we have guests it would be great too. Also we think we would like to learn to cook a bit more, as opposed to just having meals made for us..."

I offered to teach basics.

They wrote this comment for my potential website:
"[Cheflady] has now prepared a few meals for us. ...Looking forward to many great meals! ...Like having a top notch restaurant meal at home. For a family meal...costs are comparable... Makes for a great social gathering, as we enjoy watching the meal being prepared, but also enjoy not having to spend a few hours (and many years of training!) that would be required to make such an awesome meal.

"[Cheflady] also cleans up after the meal. We feel totally comfortable with [Cheflady] in our home ...A great option for a quiet family meal, or... small gathering.

"Having the meal prepared on the premises hands down beats the cafeteria feel of having a meal catered by someone you don't know and who won't remember what you like next time. Favorites so far: Asparagus Soup (best we ever tasted!), Papaya chicken. (very special), Parmesan crusted cauliflower... Dark chocolate birthday cake. (So good, we had some more for breakfast the next morning!)"

So how can you narrow down your client and just speak to one type when you may get two types as customers…the elites in the elegant house and the upscale family with two working spouses?

I need to speak to both and have my pricing work for both.

How can I fine tune a little more?

Thanks,

Cheflady

Jun 06, 2012
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Letting Your Best Client Self-Select
by: Arturo F Munoz

Cheflady, you've struck gold with your single elite client! Based on what she has said to you, listen to what you can ask another one like her:
  • Do you hate cooking?

  • Are you ever annoyed by the feeling that you should learn to cook to feed your home?

  • Are you just happy to get something on the table come dinner time?

  • Are you looking for a dinner menu so impressive that you can't wait to see the desserts list?

  • Do you wish you could afford a personal chef?

  • Would you want someone to come cook for you when the seasons change and you don't want to go out?"

  • Would you like someone to cook for you Saturday or Sunday night, when you prefer to rest instead?

  • Would you like to learn to cook a little bit just to balance out having meals made for you?

  • Can you picture yourself having a top notch restaurant-like meal at home?

  • How would you like to make a great social gathering as you enjoy watching the meal being prepared for you?

  • Do you wish you didn't have to spend many years of training required to make an awesome meal?

  • Are you looking for a great option to making a quiet family meal?

  • Would you like your meal prepared on your premises to beat the cafeteria feel of having it catered by someone you don't know and won't remember what you liked next time?

  • How would you like to try a dark chocolate cake so good that you'd have it for breakfast the next morning?

When the person hearing your questions replies with a "Yes! I want to hear more!", then you got a new client who thinks just like your elite client does. If you market with these questions in the 3-town area that you described, you will get the kind of people living there that you want – people like your elite client.

Using keywords from the list above and the description of your ideal client, work on some concepts for your business name. Focus on the top 3 desires that your ideal clients wants fulfilled by you and bring the best one out in your business name.

Examples:

Using the words meal, cook, kitchen, time, home, dinner, elegant...
  1. Sumptuous Home Feasts

  2. Formal Suppers Personalized

  3. Stately Home Morsels

  4. The Gourmet In Your Kitchen

  5. Elegant Family Eats

  6. The Auspicious Kitchen Table


Come up with some of your own ideas. Emphasize top benefits you keep hearing from former and existing clients. Make that topmost and easy to discern in your name. Build meaning with a tagline.

Example:

  • Sumptuous Home Feasts | Elegant Meals From The Home Kitchen You Don't Want To Visit.

  • Formal Suppers Personalized | You Pick The Meal. I Make It For You. Simple.

  • The Gourmet In Your Kitchen | Getting The Most For You From The Least Visited Room In Your House.

Jun 20, 2012
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Finally - A Business Name!
by: Cheflady

Hi Arturo,

I have pondered the comments from my clients to zero in on the most wanted benefit that the elite clients want from me. They want to get out of cooking and want to RELAX at home.

I thought about your suggestions and decided that I didn't want to emphasize the word "personalized" or "customized". It's a given that I will modify a recipe if needed...but I don't want to give the impression that 6 people can all ask for it differently...as in "a la carte", since I serve family style.

I'd thought of "Recline & Dine" as the name for my business, emphasizing that my clients can refrain from doing anything and just dine. But it wasn't just right. The name sounds like that of a restaurant, which is what I intentionally wanted it to sound like.

Though my previous elite clients have enjoyed seeing what looked like a restaurant name on the Book Menu with their home address under it and felt like they had their own private upscale restaurant in their house, I have settled on and registered the following name:

"The Relaxing Meal" | Prepared For You In Your Home

It describes what they are looking for and where I cook it. Some personal chefs cook elsewhere and bring the food packaged. To me, warmed-over food is not freshly made food. People pay caterers a ton of money for warmed-over food that most times the caterer didn't cook himself and just warmed in a microwave.

Tomorrow I am going to put together a website with my friend...and also a Facebook Business page. I bought my domains and opened the business bank account as a DBA (Doing Business As).

I am thinking about what to do next and have been reading about various direct marketing ideas. I will probably try to find a corporate environment with an unused kitchen. I doubt I will find one. Some chef would have probably have taken advantage of that already.

I also thought of baking a dessert and giving away samples with flyers in those environments. What I sell has to be made in a commercial kitchen. But I think I can give away something I make at home. It might be a foot in the door at those places. What do you think?

I also made a new flyer which incorporated a list of the trigger questions you suggested in a previous comment. I went out and placed 70 of them in my strategic spots. It can't hurt. I will continue to do that.

So at least now I can move forward...hopefully quickly.

I appreciate whatever suggestions you may have.

Thanks,

Cheflady

Jun 26, 2012
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Seeking For Your Ideal Client
by: Arturo F Munoz

I'm so glad, Cheflady, that you've finally arrived to a business name that you're comfortable with and which also more accurately brands the quality of service that you deliver. "The Relaxing Meal" | Prepared For You In Your Home is quite appealing.

It is crucial you now step out and make your ideal clients aware of your existence. And since you do not need a great number of clients before you're completely overwhelmed with work, may I suggest you concentrate on getting referral business?

I encourage you to put together a referral program for your existing clientele. Offer to prepare a special meal at reduced prices or no charge, if they're willing to host it for their friends to introduce them to your services.

Offer a meal discount or a special treat, such as your client's favorite dessert or an extra dish at no charge for every paying referral that you receive.

Drive your clients to a page on your site that specifies what they can receive for joining the referral program. Remind them occasionally of the benefits in being a reference. You will likely get better results for your money at this point from your efforts at getting personal referrals than any other kind of marketing you do.

On your Facebook Business page share what you're doing with your clients and encourage them to visit and give feedback. For a good example of this practice, check out another of my personal chef subscriber's story and note how well she is performing by keeping an active Facebook page.

Get people to write about you in their blogs (example: 5 Reasons To Hire Lavish To Lite Bites) and have them point to your website.

Jul 07, 2012
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Question On Pricing My Services
by: Cheflady

Hi Arturo,

Question: Would you ever do the "daring" thing of allowing the customer to suggest a price for your services?

Aside from my occasional repeat elite client, for whom I will be cooking this week, I have 2 additional leads. One in particular who initially said, "Well, it's a little higher than we were expecting." This one when I called to follow up said she had spoken to her husband and might try my services for Thanksgiving Dinner, if I'm available. But now that she has been so busy with her kids going away, she'll get back to me when ready to make a decision.

She actually needs 5 dinners per week and now has a housekeeper cooking so-so dinners for her. I really need work like that.

I don't know if this is unorthodox, but I feel like if you told a customer to state what would make the deal right for them, and they set the price, naming something reasonable, and you said OK then that might put a big smile across their face and turn you into the latest news.

Yes or no?

My price, though moderate, is no problem for elite clients of which there will be few. But it is a slightly higher price than the one for my average client. Some others out there are offering dirt cheap prices but offer an inferior product.

For example, someone my old boss hired to produce 4 meals in 2 days is getting $250 gross in total for those 2 days, including shopping time and not counting groceries expense.

Yesterday I heard, that she is messing up the cooking and will probably be replaced. My boss used to pay me $160 per day to cook and was thrilled with my cooking. I always thought prices had to be constant and when I had a business years ago, I just modified the service instead of the price.

If you have a minute to answer, I would appreciate it. I'm on the verge of calling her. Should I just let her go and keep looking?

I did create a Special Offer as you suggested, which gives anyone who books a dinner with me this week a 25% discount as well as extending the same discount to any of their dinner guests who book a dinner with me no matter the date. I did that on the 4th of July and spread 100 flyers out with my website address on it and a note about my Special. I am trying to think creatively here.

Thanks,

Cheflady

Jul 07, 2012
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Price According To Your Client's Perception Of Value
by: Arturo F Munoz

Cheflady, how thrilling to see you generating leads and aggressively pursuing after your ideal client. Keep it up!

To your question on pricing, here is a bit of economics theory that should cement your understanding about how to price anything in a market economy, and then a specific suggestion on how to reel in the fish you've hooked.

In every market there are 2 auctions simultaneously taking place. One happens between sellers trying to outbid each other in selling something. (Such is your case right now.) The other happens between buyers trying to outbid each other in buying something. You are a seller of cooking services. You are competing with the housekeeper cooking so-so dinners for your client.

The question to ask your client is "How much are you paying your housekeeper for those so-so dinners and are you getting your money's worth?" You need to outbid the housekeeper to get your client to hire your services in replacement for the housekeeper's at the kitchen.

Hidden in your question is an assumption. The assumption is that your client might be satisfied with so-so dinners. If so, the best you can hope for is to outbid the housekeeper and get the client to hire you instead, with no change in price, for any reason other than quality of cooking. (Maybe she likes the way you smile?)

But what if she is NOT satisfied with the so-so dinners? What if she wants marvelous dinners such as only you can prepare? What if she wants to brag about having a personal chef cook for her now? What if...? What if...? What if...? Well, now the question to your client should be "Are you willing to pay a premium for better quality or for bragging rights or whatever, or do you believe that what you're already paying your housekeeper should cover all these extras?"

You and your client may agree or disagree on this perception of added value. But in the end it is the client who sets the price based on her perception of the value that she will receive from your service. Value is a subjective measure. As the seller, you can only influence it, never establish it on someone else in a free market.

Can you persuade her to spend more for more quality? This is the real question and it depends on how well you manage to sell the benefits that she will gain from substituting her housekeeper with you. It also depends some on how available you make yourself. You have 2 leads? Let them bid for you too. Let them know one can get you while the other misses out if the price isn't right.

Carefully time your replies. Focus first on discovering where the client's desire lies and how to fulfill it by doing more for what she expects to pay. Then charge more for being a scarce resource yourself in a competitive market.

Ask her to name a price. But be ready to inquire if that price includes the list of benefits that only you can deliver as compared to her housekeeper. If she answers no, then you name a price and see where it goes from there.

Jul 14, 2012
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Going In The Right Direction, But Slowly...Part 1
by: Cheflady

Hi Arturo,

Thanks for your good suggestions about the client with the housekeeper/cook.

You said:

"But what if she is NOT satisfied with the so-so dinners? What if she wants marvelous dinners such as only you can prepare? What if she wants to brag about having a personal chef cook for her now?"

Actually, she had called me after having my number a long time. She did insinuate that she needed something better than her housekeeper and mentioned inviting people over to eat. She also mentioned that the price was a little higher than expected.

When I followed up, she had spoken to her husband and thought that maybe she would have me cook Thanksgiving Dinner. Since her last word was that she would call me when she was ready to make a decision. I've decided now to send her an email.

Below is what I wrote:
Since you have been busy, you may not have had a minute to check my website. So, you may not know that we have extended our 4th of July Special.

Anyone who contacts me this week to book a dinner, no matter when the dinner is, will receive 25% off my services for that dinner. The discount will also be extended to the guests at their dinner for a meal that they book!

Someone called me this week and booked two parties! You know that since I moved here, I have been building my service to new clients. I am willing to schedule multiple weeknight dinners for one person. But now people are starting to fill my schedule!

Please tell me what I can do to tailor my services to meet your needs in a way that WORKS for you. Talk to me. You have a need for dinners...and I want to cook for you.

Whatever your concern, maybe we can modify the service to address that. If it’s cost, possibly I can cook earlier in the day, and leave the dinner warm for you and you just have to serve yourselves and load the dishwasher. I would of course clean after myself and put the pots away. That would drop about an hour off. Then you could use my services full-time for a Special event.

I miss serving and getting to know one family, as I did for seven years as a Private Chef. That way, you can have access to my extensive menu instead of the so-so cooking of your housekeeper, and be proud to invite your friends over for delicious cuisine they have never tasted.

Write or call me to share your thoughts.


I may or may not hear from her.

(To be continued)

Jul 14, 2012
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Going In The Right Direction, But Slowly...Part 2
by: Cheflady

(Continued)

Here's how it's been:

Client A, an elite client who ate the chocolate cake for breakfast, had me cook on Monday for eight guests. I left flyers for them. He gave a dinner gift to a couple of new parents at his office and recommended Client B from work to me.

Client B called me and BECAUSE OF MY SPECIAL LAST WEEK, booked two dinners in Aug and Sept.

Client C is away but will have a dinner with friends when she returns. My compliments except for groceries, since she has been a big help posting my data on social sites and with friends and made good suggestions for promoting myself.

It's OK... but not yet paying bills. It takes time to build a good customer referral base. Woke up this morning thinking about looking for casual in-between work doing whatever, while this builds.

There is no passive income along side of this. I know psychologically, that I need to keep focused on momentum for the business, since I left my job and moved to this new area and didn't find another Private Chef job. But at this rate with all that I've done and a website and a special, I am not sure how soon the business will be able support me.

I am on a train and there is just a small amount of track up ahead...before it derails. Is there anything else that I should do that I'm not doing?

Thanks,

Cheflady

Jul 14, 2012
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How To Grow Faster Than Unemployment
by: Arturo F Munoz

You've done well, Cheflady. While the results are not quite at the level you'd like them to be, you've done what so very few people in society do. You've started your own business.

You're now confronting one of the biggest challenges any business owner has to face: growing the operation to a point that is both profitable and sustainable.

Let me share a quote from someone you should take time to read and I repeatedly recommend to budding entrepreneurs – Jay Abrahams:
Almost everything you do has infinitely greater upside leverage, and you can control or eliminate the downside. If you can make the same action, the same activity, the same
person, the same capital, the same client, everything produce more, yield greater results
and performance, then sustain it, the combined effect is geometric growth. I believe
in working on the geometry of your business. It's all about optimizing. Maximum result,
minimum effort, minimum expense, minimum time, and minimum risk.
To gain survivability and expand your reach, you will need to maximize the use of the existing resources that you have. List them out. Here are the categories to use:
  • Strategy/Planning – What to target for maximum lift?

  • Capital – Human, Financial, Intellectual available.

  • Relationships – Who to call on for help? Who to nurture or serve?

  • Business Model – Self vs. Partnered

  • Distribution Channels – What means at your disposal get you to market?

  • Products and Services – Which are in greater demand? Which are more profitable? Which are repeat winners?

List the inventory of resources available to you and think through the steps necessary to make each yield more for you. Are you organizing yourself to align each area to the other, so that you're incrementally leveraging them in sequence to gain momentum? Fire off in sequence toward a common end and not in all kinds of directions.

It should be obvious that by marketing yourself with a promotion, you managed to generate good interest. You need to quintuple this type of promotional activity. One promo won't do. Align all your resources toward this one end – marketing.

Getting a stop-gap job to tie you over until your venture gains enough momentum to keep you busy full-time is a very sensible idea. It will keep you motivated to return to your venture while giving you a small stream of income to make ends meet.

If you can get the job helping people who could help you, that would be ideal. If I were you, I've visit every caterer in town and see if they need help. Through them you could meet possible clients needing a personal chef, which is quite a different service than catering.

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