Break the Mold in the Service Industry – Let Products Enhance Your Services

It is time for some out of the industry thinking in order to seriously break the mold in the service industry. Think about the service that you currently or are planning to offer. Then think about what products you could create or obtain legal rights to that would enhance your services? It may be hard to wrap your head around. Here is an example to simplify this concept and to get you thinking.

A landscape architecture firm provides drawing sets and consulting services to a wide variety of clients- from individual residences to cities to developers creating new community developments. Let’s say this particular firm focuses on the individual residence. The landscape architect builds a quality relationship with a client base over the years. But as the years go on, in order for the landscape architecture firm to continue to function, new clients must be added. The lifespan of individual residences is fairly low, typically one residence per client.

In order to keep the clients interested in the firm, the landscape architect produces a newsletter with updates, tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy yard, and new promotions. The new promotions may be a seminar series in which the landscape architecture firm teaches a group of its clients the best tips on gardening. The company may also create a manual as well as a book showcasing projects that will be sold at the retail level as well as used as a marketing tool. To take it one step further, the company could also take a custom designed set of furniture for one of its clients, redesign it to make it a unique, and license and protect that design. The company could then joint venture with a manufacturer to build the furniture and then sell it through catalogs or at boutique stores.

The idea here is to take what you already do and turn it into another source of income. The furniture becomes an asset for the company in which they receive income each month from the sales of that product. Whether the company sells its services, they are still earning money from their licensed furniture.

Hospitality and the Service Industry

The term ‘hospitality’ refers to a broad category of segments or sectors within the service industry pertaining to different commercial aspects like cruise liners, event planning, lodging and hotels, restaurants, theme parks, transportation etc. The economics of the hospitality industry is directly proportionate to people’s ‘disposable incomes’ and available periods of ‘leisure time’.

Units within the industry

A broad hospitality unit has several sub-groups or division units like direct operations management, facility management, human resources, project management, sales & marketing management etc.

The single most important concept that is shared across all segments of the hospitality industry is ‘customer service’. The level of success of a business is determined by how it (the operational staff) is geared to serve others (customers). The focus of a hospitality industry may be any one of many or multiples of service sectors. Although managing the economics i.e. the challenges of income and expenditure is crucial to the success of a business, the accomplishment of rising up to the challenges of ‘customer service’ will dictate how the business can hope to progress.

Elements of hospitality involving customer service

One of the largest elements or the single most important of all elements in the hospitality sector is Food & Beverage (F&B). The F&B trade can function independently in the form of bars, catering establishments, eateries, pubs and restaurants, or as part of other service businesses such as the entertainment segment that includes bowling alleys, casinos, game parlors and movie houses. When the F&B outlet is a part of a larger hotel & lodging outfit, it enhances the chances of offering top-class customer service and providing an overall experience to the customer or guest.

The next segment will be the Accommodations area, either Bed & Breakfast (B&B) places or lodging places that represent a large chunk of the hospitality industry. This area covers any place that provides accommodation from camping sites to wayside motels, high-end hotels & holiday resorts to luxury deluxe properties. The focus of providing lodging integrating attentive customer service along with comfort and efficiency is at the heart of a business service that is customer-oriented. More than the monetary aspect, most travelers value basic amenities that are provided with cleanliness, efficiency and caring and the more satisfied people using hotels, restaurants, bars, etc., the more the business can be successful.

Another prime sector of the hospitality industry is to do with transportation and travel – from airlines to cruises to train travel, domestic to individual countries as well as global. This particular segment, as the others too, requires considerable knowledge and experience in customer service as well as modern trends in travel and transportation that define the services provided to customers in terms of efficiency, safety and enjoyment.

Why The Financial Service Industry’s ‘Arbitration Boom’ Is Here To Stay

Arbitration has been gaining ground as the preferred method of dispute resolution in the financial services sector for years now and there is very little reason to think this trend will change. With the ongoing turmoil with government-funded programs such as Social Security, the continuing abandonment of old-style pensions and the resulting sharper focus on retirement and wealth-building, the financial services industry is itself experiencing a boom. The higher volume of clients and the larger volume of monies being managed inevitably brings a higher number of complaints and conflicts. The Financial Service Industry has found arbitration to be a superior choice to litigation for the same reasons as small business and individuals, and as a result arbitration is set to become even more common in the future.

The Benefits of Arbitration

The Financial Service Industry has found arbitration to be a better choice for three basic reasons:

Arbitration is Faster.

A recent international study has found that the average length of a civil trial is two and half years, while the average length of cases decided via arbitration is just 8.6 months. While there will always be exceptions to the rule, in general arbitration will always be a faster and more efficient solution.

Arbitration is More Affordable.

In part due to the speed of the process and in part due to the streamlined nature of the process – excluding much of the legal sparring that is involved in a lawsuit) – arbitration has less costs associated with the process than litigation. No matter what the actual costs of the arbitration process (the arbitrator’s fee, lawyers’ fees, room rental, etc.) the speed of resolution always results in real savings.

Arbitration is Friendlier.

The key word in ‘Financial Service’ is service. The industry has customers and clients, and as such has a stake in maintaining an amicable environment. Arbitration gives a sense of control to both parties and focuses on mutually satisfactory solutions to conflicts.

These three reasons point to a growing use of arbitration in the financial service industry. A final consideration is the cluttered state of court calendars; the delays between filing a lawsuit and actually getting a court date continue to widen, and even when a proceeding is begun continuances can sometimes interrupt court dates for weeks or months. This can only exacerbate what is already a painfully slow process and drive even reluctant parties to consider the speed and efficiency of the arbitration process.

How to Promote Your Catering Business Services

The catering business, like any other is extremely competitive. To stand out from the crown and win new clients you need to be better than your competitors at promoting or marketing your catering business services. Here are a few tried and tested marketing tactics that you can consider to promote your catering business.

Advertising goes a long way towards spreading your message across the markets that you are targeting. Also consider dispatching press releases to local newspapers to grab attention. You can also tap into TV networks and radio shows when they, from time to time need people to interview for their food-related programs. Put time into understanding all the advertising options that are available, budget for some methods that you feel will work and then test methods against each other to find the winners that produce results to justify the expense.

Offering your customers extra services is always a welcome gesture as customers like to have a variety of choices. Up-selling is a common strategy for generating added revenue. Perk up your catering business by adding services such as flower arrangements or setting up fixtures for outdoor events. Try to up-sell clients on more expensive foods and beverages as well.

Ensure long-lasting relationships with customers by having unique products to sell. A competitive business such as the catering industry requires an innovative mind that can keep coming up with new ideas to impress customers while still offering quality and consistency. Sustaining their support through incentive programs like discounts and package deals are good tactics.

Having the largest range of unique products and services to offer can give you a competitive advantage when it comes to promoting your company.

Mingling with competition is always healthy! You may find that your products and services are not so similar after all and that you could benefit by referring each other to clients who are looking for specific services that one of you may provide better than the other.

Aside from having healthy competitor relations you should also develop a wider network of business associates. Introduce yourself to event-related companies like decorators, event coordinators and printers and cross promote each others services.

Study business models and other successful companies to find out how they promote their products or services. There is so much to learn from the great entrepreneurial spirit! Practice what they preach and see how you can extend their ideals towards your catering business.

Showing off your corporate social responsibility can also boost your catering business. Join charity cook-off events in the community to push for further free publicity for your company. Participating in worthwhile charitable programs could also create a positive attitude among your staff (as well as your clients) as they can see that you are running a business with care and gratitude.

Marketing and promotion tactics, no matter how unconventional they may seem, can propel your catering business to a more profitable level. Being marketing-savvy puts you one step closer to success in the catering business.