Advice on website

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by Wheat and Fire, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. Wheat and Fire

    Wheat and Fire

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    Hello fellow chefs and artisan creators!
    We are a wood fired pizza caterer called Wheat and Fire with a real on site live fire wood oven and are seeking some advice from this great forum.

    The dilemma to create a great website and try to educate your potential client while differentiating yourself from so much average food. In our busy lives as caterers, we find that "qualified" leads especially with onsite restrictions like our wood fired pizza oven, are the best leads. Especially in today's world of corporate instant now. People want answers yet they do not want to spend any time finding them. The person calling you blindly can waste 1/2 an hour even an hour of your time then say: "oh wait you need space for your oven?" If you get 4-9 calls a day like we do that can take your whole day just answering the phone.

    We have tried to qualify customers by forcing them to read a bit into the website to see if they like us and have the ability to book us and fulfill our needs. We find the far more qualified leads have read a bit. Yet we do not want to turn off less qualified catering customers. We still do not get a lot of people looking for pizza catering in Los Angeles yet so our appeal is broad and undefined. The hard thing about Los Angeles is people actually order a caterer on their phone and we are not talking a few it is probably 25% come to us on their phone ...

    Any suggestions to better strike this balance of qualifying customers while not wasting our time and yet not scaring them away with too much content would be appreciated. Any advice you would have for this small time artisan crafting chef for our website would be much appreciated - https://wheatfire.com
     
  2. someday

    someday

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    I'm a tad confused...your problem is that people are spending too much time with you on the phone, only to find out later that they can't use your services because of lack of space for the oven...

    Your website seems just fine, I found it easy to navigate and read. I agree that it could potentially turn off some people who essentially have to be pre-screened to get your services, but this is kind of the point, isn't it?

    Anyways, why not just lead the phone call with pertinent information? "I'd be happy to talk with you about booking a date, can I ask if you've had a chance to read through our website to get a basic idea of our services? No? Okay, well first let me ask you, is the event located in an area that can accommodate a heavy pizza oven that needs a sturdy flat surface and easy access? No steps or curbs? Oh, great! Sounds like we should be able to put something together, can you tell me what kind of party or event this is? We have several packages I'd be happy to go over with you..."

    I don't understand how you would get an hour or even a half hour into a conversation without the basic necessities being covered. A hotel wouldn't spend an hour on the phone with a potential guest only to tell them that all the rooms were booked...the first determination should be to see if it is even possible to do the event. Only then do you proceed with the details.

    I assume you also do something like what I'm about to suggest, but you should email out an info packet and contract that contains all the details about placement of the oven, oven set up, etc. Once all this is signed and returned, deposits taken, etc, you should have something in writing that says you get paid (partially or fully) if the customer was negligent with oven space.

    It looks to me like you have a well designed website and a cool business idea. I wish you luck...the idea of a pizza party wedding was particularly cool.
     
  3. Wheat and Fire

    Wheat and Fire

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    Thank you for taking the time to reply. We try to do all of those things it is very challenging with a smart phone driven community. Our main focus is trying to make sure the website is easy to navigate and let that be the qualifier. If they do not have time to preview the website then they probably where never a client or loads of problems will pop up on site.
     
  4. french fries

    french fries

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    After reading your post, I went to your website and decided to experience it not as an experimented cook, but as a potential customer. I'm picturing myself throwing a large party and needing a caterer to make the event fun and feed our guests, as I sometimes do.

    My comments...

    First, and this is pure business, a website needs a clear "call to action". You need to tell people what they need to do. Should they scroll down? Should they click a button? Should they sign up for a mailing list? Purchase something? Download some info? Enter their phone number to be called back? This needs to be 100% clear in the mind of the website visitor. Any confusion and some people will be turned off and leave the website without calling you.

    Here's my #1 issue with your website: the call to action is confusing. There's a button named "Help, start here". That's not a great name for a button. There's a legend for that button saying "Use this button to get started". Hmmm... what does that add to the name of the button? First confusion. Then theres that arrow button at the bottom of the website that leads me to think I can either click it to read more further down, or maybe scroll down. Already, I'm not sure what I should do: click the "Help, start here" button? Or click the arrow down? Or scroll down?

    My suggestion: A single, 100% foolproof clear call to action such as "Get this pizza party started" or "Read on" or whatever (the name isn't that important, what matters is that there's only ONE action that I can take to take me further).

    Next: I don't need you to educate me. I don't WANT you to educate me. I want you to SELL me. If I buy a car, I don't need someone to tell me how that car is rather large and needs an experienced driver to handle and may present issues to park in smaller parking lots. I need you to tell me that the car you're selling is the BEST car I can buy and that's the car I need and no other car will do.

    You're not wasting time when people read your website, so don't start with the downers ($850 minimum, make sure you have enough space, etc...). Start with the cool stuff: "ever experienced a REAL live wood fire pizza? imagine the look on your guest's faces when they see the huge oven, the live fire, the smell of wood fire filling up the whole place and making your event a one of a kind unique event that'll create lifetime memories in the mind of your guests!!!" THEN, only later can you have a little box or a little link suggesting the requirements needed by them to provide you in order to be able to offer their guests that unique one-in-a-lifetime experience!!!

    I mean, if you go to a Bugatti website, they don't start by telling you the money you're going to spend on gas, or how much you'll contribute to global warming by driving their car!!! For the Bugatti customer, all of that should be a secondary thought.

    So: first, sell people on why they absolutely NEED your catering services to make their event a huge success. Then, and only then, tell them what's needed for you to be able to provide the your services. For all you know, you may have already convinced some of the website visitors that they absolutely need a woodfired pizza oven on their party grounds, and they may even go as far as adjusting their plans just so they can accommodate your needs: "Honey, you know what, I really want the wood oven pizza caterer for our 50th wedding anniversary, even if it means finding a new location to accommodate them". Hey, why not. Stranger things have happened. Parties are meant to create emotion, and emotions are not reasonable.

    • "Our schedule keeps us very busy with 4-9 caterings a week please use this page to determine if artisan chef crafted organic food is right for you!"

    IF? Are you kidding me? Don't put the doubt in my mind! I've never seen a DJ's website stating they're busy and their act needs a 2,000W P.A. system that will only fit 4,000 sq ft or more dance floors, and I should read their website to determine IF their DJ act is truly right for my party? First, I'm the customer. Don't educate me, or at least if you have to do it don't make it feel like you're educating me. And certainly, don't make me work!! I don't want to have to do research. I just want you to convince me that my party won't be any fun without your services – but will leave the memory of a lifetime to my guests if I do use your services. Convince me. Tell me about wood fired pizzas. Why do they taste better? Why do they smell better? Why do I care? Why do my guests care? That's the only education I need.

    When you buy software, the software has requirements. It won't run on an old crappy PC. You'll need at least Windows 10. At least 4GB of RAM. At least 40GB of hard drive space. But do you see this on the first page of a software website? NEVER! What you see is what the software does that is so magical that it will save you hundreds of hours of work and make you tons of $$$ and turn work into pleasure and blah blah blah. Enough to make me want to buy a new PC just so I can run that incredible software.

    • "See how we stand out with our artisan creations detailed by pictures and this wonderful website."

    Don't talk to me about your pictures or your website!! I am looking at your pictures and your website!! They are your communication tools. When I talk to someone I don't tell them "listen to what I have to the wonderful words I use and the beautiful voice I have", I just tell them about the topic. Not about the way I'm talking to them.

    • "1. FIRST: decide the best place to put our one of a kind setup."

    That should be LAST. What should come first is WHY I should even care about bothering with making space for a wood oven. Again, imagine a video game website starting with "FIRST: Make sure you own a PC with 16GB of RAM and a 4 core 3.5 GHZ processor"!!! Wait... what's the video game about? It's a car driving video game? But ... I know another car driving video game that runs just fine on the crappy old computer I already own...!!

    You are scaring me away with your requirements, before you even try to explain why I should use you rather than another pizza caterer (who doesn't have those inconvenient requirements). You appear to be defensive before I even know what makes you stand out from other pizza caterers. You make me feel like you've had problems with past customers who weren't able to meet your requirements and therefore you make me feel like it's highly likely you're going to have problems with me too.

    Ok so I've been very negative up until this point. Now for my suggestion, but first another comparison: think of the software analogy. Let's say you're shopping for an accounting software for your catering business. What would you rather see on a website:

    #1
    $900 minimum license
    We're really busy and don't have time to explain how our software works so make sure you read our website before you buy it.
    Make sure our software is right for you before you buy!!!
    FIRST! Make sure your PC has 4GB of RAM and a 3.5 GHz processor.
    Make sure you qualify before you contact us (= don't waste our time).

    #2
    We make accounting so simple that you can focus on your catering business, not your accounting.
    Our software will free you up of most of your headaches, and make it easier for you to make intelligent business decisions.
    Our software is programmed with the best and latest technology to be compatible with most top of the line current PCs.
    Still not convinced? Any questions? Click HERE!!!

    Which software website do you think will bring in the most leads?

    Now for what happens after you click "here":

    How about a simple form on your website? Most people don't like to be told what to do and what not to do (Hey, I'm not a kid anymore). On the other hand, most people LOVE to answer questions about themselves. The click "here" goes to a super simple form asking some basic questions:
    1. Do you have a flat, at least 8' by 16' space to fit our pizza oven?
    2. Are there any steps, stairs or elevators to reach the area where our pizza oven will be located?
    3. Is the oven area close to where the guests will be served?
    4. In case the oven area isn't close to the service area, have you considered hiring servers to shuttle the pizzas and keep track of what to make?
    5. Please fill in your contact info etc... so we can call you back.

    etc....

    That form will help you qualify leads. Personally, I wouldn't recommend the form ANSWERING a yes or no to the website visitors, but it's just a way for you to know ahead what challenges lie ahead before you call the clients.

    Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
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  5. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    That was awesome feedback FF!

    mimi
     
  6. summer57

    summer57

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    I design and work on websites for a living. After going through your website, I totally agree with French Fries. Also keep in mind that while you may want people to use their computers to read your website, most users access the web via their smart phones/tablets and not their computers.
    I don't mean this in a negative way, but there's an expression these days -- TL;DR, which is what came to mind when I scrolled through your site...
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  7. Wheat and Fire

    Wheat and Fire

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    The problem as mentioned and why we have done that is because we are really busy and we get a lot of calls that are completely unqualified calls for parties that at or below our minimum. Los Angeles people for parties tend to want to spend under 750$ for their little gathering and they can do that with the huge amount of "taco caterers" if you can call them a caterer. The website is not there to sell, we already do that and are busy. The website is there to qualify people and funnel the better leads to us.

    Comparing a catering website with restrictions to a car website are complete opposites. My website is not meant to over sell or get them all excited to call me, it is meant to educate and align with their needs and then get them to call or email me. Anyone trying to contact and book a caterer through their smart phone for their wedding is 95% of the time not our client. I say this to refocus the conversation on my original post and what I am talking about. I do agree the website needs some tweaking to not over educate people BUT it does need to qualify and remove the time wasters.

    If I did what French fry has suggested which we did last year in May for about 90 days we will get about 7 calls a day and only maybe one of those will be worth pursuing and we will book about 6 parties from those 50 calls or so. The average customer interaction takes about 45 minutes sure some are 10 minutes and some are an hour. Send them a price talk to them go over their space what they want to do, how they want to serve their guests their menu ideas, etc ... then maybe they call back or we call them back (this took a full time person) ... so we switched to a website that qualified them and we drive people to the website and we stopped answering the phone (we really got too busy as part of it). The people of LA are wonderful yet many of them are very draining to talk to on the phone as I am sure you can imagine from all of the stereo types out there. Also, when we are on the go we do not have time to stop and write down all the information they do not want to email us to qualify them for a booking.

    The website as it is we book about 30% of the email inquiries for about the same 6 parties or so ... and our average sales are larger now... we just want to get a fresh set of eyes on it and how much more we can do to qualify. I think the call to action idea is great and we are debating creating a long scrolling page for the first page with no picture and button and just have nice pics and gifs about the primary topics and requirements we cover then have our contact/book now at the bottom of that page.

    The problem is we are in a casual catering city like I mention that hires a BOAT LOAD of taco caterers ... you can not spend that amount of time, prep the food, make the food on site, clean up etc for our minimum. Yet we are forced to be at that price point and try to upsell them because illegal businesses run out of garages like taco caterers are rampant and keep the price way down and the consumer here does not care. The amount of people that are interested in catering at that price point is huge. You have to qualify them somehow and upsell who you are and what you do. They are not booking for large enough amounts to justify a full time office person (average LA catering is about 950$). And they will not read more then a few sentences on your website they just do not want to cook for their party they decided to have in 5 days (we get a lot of calls for the week of here when we answered the phone).

    Part of why we got so busy is we opened up into a new market that has us busier then LA for certain times of year it is seasonal. So we are trying to keep LA to stay busy and we have a few VIP clients.

    Anyway just wanted to relay the why and how of what we are asking. Thank you so much French Fry for taking your personal time to look our site over and your differing viewpoints are huge in helping us to see the website from another perspective!
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  8. Wheat and Fire

    Wheat and Fire

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    We are at about 50/50 and as mentioned in my long post very few good leads come from smart phone inquiries.
     
  9. french fries

    french fries

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    ... sounds to me like you first need to clarify the goal of your website.

    If it's to qualify people who are already sold, then skip the educating and go straight to the form I suggested. No fancy photographs needed.

    If it's to educate people on what you're doing and why you're more expensive than your competition, then that's what "selling" is.

    If you truly know how to sell your product and you know your product is worth $1,200, but you feel like you're forced to sell it for $850, then something's wrong with the way you're selling.

    You keep using the word "educating" but really all it means is "selling".
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
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  10. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    I know bupkis when it comes to the psychology of websites.
    What I do know is I assume EVERYONE is a potential client until proven otherwise....no matter what form the initial contact may take.
    The site in question is IMO wordy but interesting enuf to hold my attention for about 75% before I wandered off to wherever I go when I am bored.
    I will grant you the visuals...great pix.
    I started out in hospitality over 3 decades ago (when dining out meant getting all dolled up and dinner was a destination) and spoke with thousands of potential customers (guests...clients...whatever) over the phone.
    There was always a doodle pad on my desk for note taking and when the convo was obviously not going anywhere, to do a bit of hen scratching until I could end the call gracefully.

    I hate to think that the condition of the industry has fallen this far.
    Next thing you will see is a demand for a credit score.....

    mimi
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
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  11. jimyra

    jimyra

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    I was turned off by the complexity of the website. I also have a problem with any "award winning" chef or product without knowing the awards won. Serve up to 500 hungry people in a two hour window? If you don't have time to answer the phone and sell your getting rich and keep up the good work.
     
  12. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Jimyra, I always love when I see Award winning. It reminds me of the 3000 BBQ restaurants in Texas that were "Voted the best BBQ in Texas".........The Best
     
  13. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I too was turned off by the complexity of the website. And your busy schedule was mentioned at least twice on the website. When you want to be reached you give people every available option. Not just tell them that email is best - I only say that when I don't want to talk to people on the phone! You're a business, you're supposed to be reached in every way possible - phone, email, website form, fax, facebook, whatever! Yea, I totally got the vibe that you're trying to weed out customers rather than attract customers. It's more of a "we're really busy over here, what can you do for us" than "we're here for you" attitude. The Help Start Here page takes so long to get through I didn't bother going on to the other pages.

    Looking for an all natural organic caterer that creates their own ingredients
    and menu, fresh grinds their flour, grows their own herbs and heritage vegetables and then makes it
    fresh on site with our olive wood fired pizza oven?
    I'm a bit disoriented when the first thing is a question followed by how much money I have to give you.
    ($850 minimum order) You've just reminded me that I have to shell out big box, I may stop reading right now!
    Our schedule keeps us very busy with 4-9 caterings a week please use this page to determine if artisan chef crafted organic food is right for you! Well excuuuuuuse me for bothering you!
    (also why we have more 5 star Yelp reviews then any of our competitors in the time we have been in business) Oh really there are other companies that do this? Maybe I should check out those guys.

    SO TAKE A MINUTE, RELAX AND SIT DOWN AT A COMPUTER TO REVIEW THIS HELFPUL PAGE.
    This is not a spa session, I'm already sitting down and so far I've been asked a question I can't answer and already thinking I don't have enough money to book this.

    After all you are hiring a caterer to feed family, friends and associates.
    See how we stand out with our artisan creations detailed by pictures and this wonderful website.
    Eeeeek, tell me about your services, not about how wonderful this website is!

    A better opening line would be something like "Impress your guests with a real wood-fired oven at your event-site, serving fresh made-to-order pizza featuring fresh organic ingredients grown in our own gardens!" Obviously that needs a lot of work but paint a picture of what THEIR event will look like right off the bat. Make them imagine their guests walking in to the reception of their party and seeing a wood burning oven serving bubbly hot cheesy pizza.

    Offer your packages and then list the requirements. Don't make such a big whoopdidoo about discouraging customers from calling you. Bottom line is when you act like you're doing people a favor you're turning away a boatload of customers who could take you from your $850 minimum to way upwards. Hellooo you're in LA, not Buckwheat Kansas. The money is there, you're just not accessing it. This is really a case of you standing in your own way. Honestly I think the pizza oven thing is a great idea and you should spend the time and money into marketing it before someone else comes along and does it better. You have your chance now and you've gotten some stellar common-sense advice above that you totally trashed. You're also trashing tacos and I'm not cool with that. Chip on shoulder perhaps?

    @french fries that was the most enjoyable post I've read from you in a while. I will reach out to you for advice when I overhaul my own website which is terrible right now. I could always use a good eye.
     
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  14. Wheat and Fire

    Wheat and Fire

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    Thank you all for your advice snarky or otherwise.

    My awards are listed on our About us section of our website and linked. The only reason I do that is my competition are working out of their garage and amateurs for the first time in 20 years I have posted that so people get the idea I am not a wanabee "caterer" there is ALOT of that here in LA. Again if you understood the market you would have more insight. Only one of my 6 competitors is a trained chef ...

    Tacos in LA are a joke for the most part they show up late by ingredients from where ever and operate out of their garage for eight bucks a person there is a reason I mention that again I do not trash an industry just a process here in LA and again if you knew the market you would understand how they devalue "catering" (which they are not). Can you make tacos for $8 a person or any catering and make any money? They can because they are not legally operating and there are hundreds of them catering lots of parties so you have to differentiate yourself from that group or you will get WAY more calls from people and if you do not put your minimum (we did not last year) you will get 15 calls a day ... do you want to talk to 15 clients a day that are completely unqualified? Good luck getting anything else done ... Again I am passing information on to you here in exchange for the time you took to review our site.

    Thanks again for the advice!
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  15. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    I have a friend that's a caterer based in SFV, he also does wood fired pizzas amongst other things. They are very successful with both. They spent mid six figures on a new commissary a couple of years ago , he is one of your competitors.
    The money is there, $850 is nothing.
    Simplify your website, you lost my interest the first thirty seconds.
     
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  16. french fries

    french fries

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    IMO the best advice you'll get is not from people who understand the market or who have insight. It's from people who visit your website with the intent of (maybe) purchasing your service. A good friend of mine who's a very successful entrepreneur told me one day: "don't worry too much about what your product should be, or how you should sell it – your customers will guide you along the way, telling you what they need and how they wish it was presented to them." All I was trying to do is pass for one of your customers.
     
  17. french fries

    french fries

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    Anytime! ;)
     
  18. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Wheat and Fire.
    Surely LA has more than one marketing firm in addition to the stereotypes and taco caterers you've mentioned. I'll suggest you contact one of them and see what they can do for you. They would understand the issues you feel are LA centered and have a more appropriate plan to modify your website to suit your needs.
    For what little it is worth, I think French Fries advice was very appropriate. But it doesn't seem to be what you wanted to hear and there's only so much anyone can do on an internet forum. So a local marketing firm would seem to be the way to go.
     
  19. Wheat and Fire

    Wheat and Fire

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    We updated our website front page and decided to hire an answering service (which is pretty cheap) to deal with the call volume and target customers worth calling back.

    If you would like to give us further advise feel free or to flame on as well that is just as useful.

    I will add their is a bit of extra copy on the front page to not upset our google rankings so the page is pretty close to the same content the bottom half.

    https://wheatfire.com.

    Thank you again for all of your input for our industry Wood Fired Pizza Catering is really emerging in Los Angeles and we appreciate the advice on how to improve!
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017 at 5:59 PM
  20. french fries

    french fries

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    I had a look, and I think the new website is MUCH better!!! I now have a single clear call to action, and the text and photographs are way more on point IMO. It seems like everything that bothered me about the old website is now gone.

    Oh and an answering service!! That's a great idea. Kudos to you for thinking of it.

    I'm sure this should solve many of the problems you had and more you didn't think about when first posting here.
     
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