My, how time flies. The summer of 2012 is here. Summer is a busy time and a time for activities with family and friends. Often these activities involve eating, which provides opportunities for people in the meat business with potential sales. There are numerous ways for people in all facets of the meat business, retail sales, wholesale, catering and even custom processing to capitalize on summer.

          During the summer months folks are involved in backyard cookouts, picnics, etc. If you are in retail sales, offer your customers products that work well for outdoor activities. Run promotions on items like beef patties, pork patties, bratwurst, steaks and chops. Perhaps develop specialty flavored bratwurst that you feature just for the summer or maybe even for just a week or two.

If you want to sell more bratwurst or any other item, sample it to your customers. There is nothing like the power of suggestion created by the aroma of cooking bratwurst. Hey, if a movie theater wants to sell more popcorn they pop some and let the aroma do the selling. Pamper your customers. Make them feel special; after all they are truly special. They are the folks that keep you in business. Provide your customers with ideas on how to prepare and serve your items. A one-page flyer on gourmet burger ideas will be appreciated by your customers. You can offer for sale specialty condiments to go with your products.

          There are many summertime catering activities; family reunions, weddings, company activities, etc. Develop a flyer and display it in your place of business and share it with former customers and potential customers. You can develop different themed parties that you promote; perhaps a cowboy theme or a beach theme. Feature your specialty products in your catering activities. The opportunities are endless. Make an extra effort to assure your catering activities go smoothly. Some of your very best advertising is by word of mouth.

          If you wholesale products talk with your customers. Let them know you are willing and able to provide them with products to assist in enhancing their sales. You can partner with them in developing flyers they can use when promoting your products to their customers.

          If you custom process animals, you are dependent on your customers being satisfied with the products you prepare for them to generate repeat business. Check with them and see if they want their animal processed so they get more summertime items. They might like more of it processed as steaks and chops rather than roasts. Maybe they would like 4-, 6- or 8-ounce burgers for outdoor cooking. They might like some specialty flavored burgers, like Cajun, barbecue or chili. Offer them items that complement the way they prepare and serve food in the summer.

          Don’t forget the power of advertising. It works. Your advertising can be flyers posted in your place of business, given to customers or mailed to potential customers. Many companies make effective use of websites and email. If you email advertising to people, make sure you have their permission and don’t be excessive with the number of emails you send. One email a month seems to work well. Don’t forget first impressions are important. You must “please the eyes first” whether it is your packaging, your retail sales area or your catering vehicle.

Remember the word lagniappe (lan yap΄): a little something extra, something special, something unexpected.. Give your customers some lagniappe. They will appreciate it, and it will pay you big dividends.