Eleven Cooking Essentials to Help your Business Grow!
Warning: Do not read this blog if you are hungry!
Color Tastes. That’s the name of my food blog. It is about food, colors, tastes, and creation – but mostly it is about the experiences, people, and love surrounding those passions. Please, don’t Google it, visit the domain or try to follow me on Facebook. Outside of my brain, a lot of photographs of meals I’ve made over the years and one wasted weekend setting up a WordPress site I never maintained, my blog doesn’t exist. But I do LOVE to cook. It is my hobby, a creative outlet, my stress reliever.
Like cooking, creating something truly delicious to serve our prospects and customers takes dedication, commitment, and hard work no matter what industry you are in. And, it takes time. You have to be able to have vision, stand the heat of the kitchen, and most of all, crave the taste of success. Some day I’ll have time for that food blog…today you foodies will have to settle for a single blog post about eleven cooking tips that will also help your business grow
1. Start with an Appetizer – Sure, you could expect people to jump in, buy your product or service right away and dig in, but in reality, sometimes their taste buds need to warm up a bit. They need to taste the value in what you are offering, understand the care in which you prepare your work and how you are going to present yourself at the dinner table. Starting with an appetizer – either an entry level product, free trial, or, like cheese you just pull out of the fridge – some good, free advice is a great way to get the dinner conversation rolling.
2. Use Fresh Ingredients – In business, this means finding a fresh perspective or fresh idea. No one wants to chew on moldy, old, stale ideas. They are willing to forgive them once or twice, but if they are thinking about “changing grocery stores” to work with a new vendor who constantly produces crisp, fresh ideas, you’ve got a problem.
3. But, Keep Non-Perishables On Hand – Some products and services are more like non-perishables, they’ve got a longer shelf life. Leverage those. Keep them around. Make sure you have product inventory or service bandwidth to complete the “full meal.” You might not always be able to serve up fresh, so have the staples ready. Not everything has to be from scratch – with great presentation, great service and a few fresh ideas – this wild rice with a year shelf life was the perfect compliment to dinner and totally stress free. And, don’t forget. While wine has a shelf life, it can and should always be well stocked in your kitchen to entertain those guests!
4. Don’t Forget the Veggies – Who doesn’t love meat and potatoes? Pizza? Tacos? But sometimes, it’s our job to provide what our clients need, not just what they want. Veggies might not be as easy to swallow as ice-cream, but they are necessary to our health. In business, the tough stuff, stuff that we may need to chew on a bit more and spend time digesting is probably exactly what we need to sustain healthy growth.
5. Serve Quality Meat – Ok, I may take some heat from the vegan crowd, stay with me for a minute. There are a lot of “meat substitutes” out there – full of protein, flavor, and even color. But sometimes, what we really need is something to sink our teeth into. Like a perfectly cut strip steak or a fresh piece of Ahi, our customers crave quality and substance. They want a service or product they can “sink their teeth” into, so to speak. One that has depth of experience, knowledge and just the right marbling of flavors to make them still feel good and savor the work they do with you. What is that marbling? Great branding, an amazing receptionist, a beautiful showroom, fantastic pricing, you get the taste, right?
6. Take Risks, Be Unexpected – I never follow a recipe step by step. I often substitute shrimp for beef, arugula for spinach or throw one too many spicy peppers in with the toppings for Italian sausages. It’s the reason I can’t bake – not very good at following rules! My best creations came out of risk – sure there are failures from time to time, but the sweet taste of success makes every failure worth it. However, learn your strengths to help minimize failures. I rarely bake, because I’m terrible at following a recipe and it often ends in disaster. Cooking is forgiving, and creative. Do what you are good at in business, and it makes the risks you take less risky.
7. Serve what People are Hungry For – Know your target market. There are two different meals here, both excellent in execution and delivery. But clearly for a different target, different situation, different night. Note that the location (my favorite patio dining environment) is the same. If you try to serve beer and pizza on a fancy anniversary dinner type evening, you may not get the desired results that wine and a well prepared dinner would offer. Similarly, you need to understand your target market, their needs, their cravings, their desires and what they are in the mood to eat in order to serve them an experience with your company that they will never forget.
8. Sell the Specials – Overstocked inventory, bandwidth in a certain service area or department? Make sure you sell the specials. It is not so much the case of the day old bakery you have to clearance as it’s making the best use of your resources on hand. Monitor, measure, leverage “ingredients” you are able to get at great margins. And Sell. Sell. Sell. Train your staff to share messages about the specials – from the hostess (receptionist) to the server (salesperson) to the buss boy (service or delivery person). They need to know the details of what’s on the plate. For example, I would never order a tuna melt that didn’t come with pickles and a diet cola. They need to know the pairings – who doesn’t like a nice glass of cabernet with their gummy vitamins? And they need to communicate why it’s a clear choice for the customer to order – and for your business to deliver value and profit.
10. Don’t Forget Dessert – Be sweet to those whom you work with and those whom you work for. Like the slice of complementary birthday cake with a candle in it at your favorite restaurant, we all need to celebrate after a long evening at the dinner (or conference) table. Celebrations, special touches, and especially thank you’s go a long way to a return dining experience. Note, this was particularly difficult to find pictures for so forgive me. Remember, I do not bake (Creme Brûlée is more like playing with fire than baking, and while this cheesecake looks good, I don’t recommend trying it at home. So bummed, even the photography is crappy). See point number 6, and continue to do what you are good at.
11. Add Love – And finally, ask my boys, the key ingredient in any good meal is love. You can sprinkle it on, pour it in, or simply serve it on its own. It is universal, and everyone enjoys the taste. Similarly, love what you do at work. Love who you do it for. Get creative with it – be it making black olive and cream cheese penguins, or carrot hearts for your soup, pour yourself into your work and into your clients, share your love, even if it is tedious work. They will love you in return.
Someday. I promise. You’ll be able to follow ColorTastes.com and see all the goodies coming out of my kitchen. Until then, you’ll have to make do with these tips for business, savory images and thoughts from yours truly.
Bon Appetite! In life, in work, and of course, in the kitchen!
*Disclaimer: All photos above are from my real life kitchen (or grill). Please do not ask me for the recipe. I can absolutely tell you 80% of the ingredients, but from there, you are on your own! 🙂