This blog post is probably long over due, because meal delivery companies have now been popping up everywhere for the last year or so. So it’s about time to address the elephant in the room – should personal chefs and those who own small, local meal delivery companies be worried about these big companies? After all, Amazon just bought Whole Foods and some of you might have been in a complete panic knowing how big Amazon plays.
While it’s always scary when new competition pops up (especially BIG competition), there are some worries that I’d like to put to rest because some of my coaching clients have come to me and shown some serious concern about this. I don’t blame them for their concern, I felt the same way at first but I think there are some things that are misunderstood that I want to clear up.
Don’t compare apples to oranges – When you are comparing your personal chef company to a meal kit company, you are comparing apples to oranges. If you are a personal chef who cooks in your clients’ home or delivers the prepared meals, you are offering a completely different service. Your clients don’t have to cook the meals, it’s already done for them, so you are offering something a step above what these meal kit services do. Sure they don’t have to buy the groceries but they do still have to cook it, dirty their dishes, etc. You are saving your clients time in the cooking and prep that goes into eating and you are saving them the clean up.
Your service is highly customized – Okay, but what about the companies that DO offer meals already prepared like what you do? If you’re like most personal chefs, you probably offer customized meals for your clients. Very customized services at that. As far as I know, most of these meal delivery companies do not offer this same customization, or if they do it’s very limited and they certainly do not offer meals for those with various dietary needs (usually just gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian). A lot of these companies also only offer dinner, but I’m guessing you probably do all three meals and then some! Do you see how that already sets you apart tremendously?
You add a personal touch that these big companies can’t – There is something to be said for having a personal touch to your service. These big companies are rather impersonal and some people like to know they can talk to a real person and get a more personalized service and can reach out directly with questions or concerns. We often not only cook meals for our clients but work with dietitians and their doctors to create a very personal approach to their food and diet. Your expertise and knowledge is what people are buying as well!
You serve a specific niche – Keep in mind that you serve a certain niche or market whereas these other companies are trying to appeal to the masses. A big mistake I see with culinary business owners is they feel that they need to compete with these cheap meal services because that’s what people are buying, but there are people who obviously are willing to pay a higher premium for a more customized, personal service because you have those clients now!
It can be tempting to appeal more to the crowds just to get more clients, but then you hurt your brand, so don’t forget the type of people YOU serve. There is a demand for your type of services too as there has been well before these companies even started popping up.
Of course, there is no saying that these big meal delivery companies won’t eventually move into a more customized space (but not sure they could still ever reach our level of customization and personal touch), but for now take a deep breath and remember why you started your business. People don’t just use your services for your food, they use it because of you. They bought YOUR brand and they like your unique approach to food and nutrition that only YOU can offer.
Until then, I say it’s always a good idea to “keep your pulse on the competition” so that your marketing messaging can reflect what differentiates you from the big guys. Now is the time more than ever to really tell people how you are different (without naming the competition) and let your business shine!
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