So, do you guys cater?


I recently had some correspondence with Panera Bread (The Great Panera Bread Swindle & Panera responds to my insanity, so I write back…), and I still have no reply to my last email.  I assume they think I’m an idiot and will not continue any further correspondence.  The experience reminded me of being bombarded with catering advertisements when I’m already at a restaurant.  I called out a few other places, but Boston Market does the same thing with the catering barrage.  I have a long history with them & letters, pre-dating my WordPress blogging days even.

At any rate, it struck me that they both seem to be fighting (or at least nagging) for catering business.  If we’re already in the store, and signed up for your mailing lists… we probably know that you will cater if needed.  How about focusing the catering advertising on local businesses around each location?

Or, I have a more interesting solution…

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Subject: So, do you guys cater?
To: RCordova1@bost.com, isabella.contactus@panerabread.com

Ciao Colossal Catering Czars!

I can’t help but feel overwhelmed lately when I visit any of your fine establishments.  I just go there to get a meal, but you have mercilessly force-fed your catering services to me and throngs of other customers in the form of signage on the wall, window-clings, pamphlets, menus, table signage, place-mats, tweets, & emails.  I get it.  I feel like I’m in a giant commercial every time I walk into one of your previously welcoming establishments.  (Bob Evans is highly annoying with the take-out mantra too, but they’re not quite as relentless in their efforts.)  I applaud your tenacity, Panera Bread and Boston Market.  Despite your valiant and exasperating efforts, I have not yet used either of you to fill my catering needs.  In fact, I don’t have any catering needs.  I’m able to make a sandwich spread, some soup, a salad, & even prepare a holiday meal… all for less money than what you can offer, and it has the added bonus of being homemade.

Your incessant plugging of your catering service smacks of so much desperation, that it struck me with an idea.  You’re both figuratively fighting for my dollar, why not an actual fight for my dollar?  I’m not suggesting fisticuffs, although your frequency of mentioning catering services suggest that you may indeed jump right in.  I’m suggesting you each prepare a meal for a party, and I will only pay the not-quite-fast-food chain that makes the best meal.  Fight for my dollar!  Sorry, I can’t really contain my excitement at the prospect of such a tournament.  I bet we could get a reality TV show in on this.  If not, I could certainly get someone with a digital camera, and we could post the contest & the results on YouTube.  I’m sure it would go viral.  Can you imagine the bragging rights?

The judges would be those in attendance to my party.  You can certainly do your own background checks and interviews to ensure no partiality or preconceived bias.  I can even leave myself out of the proceedings, as I find you both equally annoying with the catering propaganda.  I could write up a review/summary at the end of the experience.  The only thing you would have to lose is the cost of catering a small party… but the potential to gain respect and more advertising for your catering services.  I’m enabling you, my friends.  I can feel the hunger dwelling deep within you.

I can assure you of my impartiality, as I have hosted several Chili Cook-off events at my home, and have photos to prove it.  I can provide you with copies of our ballots to show our proficiency in scoring food vs. food on several points.  We would of course have to devise a system to compare the proverbial Boston Market apples to Panera Bread oranges, but you can trust my ingenuity on the matter, and can employ a crack team of analysts.

This would be epic, my friends.  Imagine being  a pioneer in this type of event!  What would be next?  Qdoba vs. the Honey Baked Ham Co.?  The KFC bucket vs. your local grocery store’s prepared foods?  If you don’t like my idea, I may sign you up for my mailing list under the guise of getting coupons for my awesome letter-writing and ingenious idea services… only to solicit and re-solicit this very idea ad nasueam.  Using your own logic, you will have no choice but to comply!

Or, you could just have your CEO’s arrange a fist-fight in some parking lot, and I’ll literally give the winner a dollar.

Thank you for your time, I really hope that you give my idea serious consideration.  I will be ready when you say yes to the event.  We can work out the event and the details quite easily.  I actually have a “Batman movie night” coming up, and it would be great to cater that.  (Although, my wife may be making some Batman logo cookies… but we’ll make sure no one can vote for her catering services, she would most likely win hands-down with Batman cookies at a Batman movie party.)

May the best chain win!
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
Vaunted food contest professional.

Panera wrote back first…

Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Subject: RE: Contact Us [Something not on this list] — MESSAGEID(288118)
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Waldo,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Panera Bread. We are sorry to hear about your disappointment with our catering advertising. The current promotion is simply one way to let our catering customers know that the option is available. We always strive to provide a wonderful meal, great service and a welcoming environment for our all our customers and hope that you will continue to enjoy Panera Bread. I will let our Marketing decision makers know how you feel, so that your opinion will be considered.

Thanks again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and value your comments.

Sincerely,
Isabella
Customer Comment Coordinator

Oh yeah, Waldo?  With Google+ getting all crazy & stuff, I didn’t want to merge my “regular” Gmail address with the fake one, so I change the W(aL)D email name to Waldo Lunar.  So, my email comes as Waldo Lunar, but I still signed it “Eric AiXeLsyD”.

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2011
Subject: Re: Contact Us [Something not on this list] — MESSAGEID(288118)
To: Isabella <isabella.contactus@panerabread.com>

Thanks Isabella,

I’m glad that you understand my frustration at being pummeled with advertising, and that you’re willing to pass the sentiment along to the appropriate parties.  I applaud you for your efforts, and the swiftness with which you replied!  I’m on the fence with Panera bread due to this whole “holding the dressing” thing, and the “healthy” chicken noodle soup debacle.  I mean, those homemade-looking noodles were awesome.  The little square things lying sparsely in the greasy broth are sad little stabs into my heart.  Perhaps I must move on to the broccoli soup.

Has anyone else written to you in regards to the barrage of advertising?  More importantly — Is Panera interested in the catering “battle royale” that I proposed?  If we can get Boston Market on board, I think this will be a stellar time.  You were much more expeditious with your reply.  I trust that you believe in your brand/product enough to put it to the test?  I can try to get some TV people on board once I get confirmation from the principal parties.  I’m sure you can see from my first email that I’ve already put much thought into the logistics.  The prospect of it all has me quite excited.

Thank you once again for your time and diligent response.  Have a great day, and I hope to hear from you again soon!

Hungry,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
Vaunted food contest professional.

I sort of got a response from Boston Market…

From: <sbrooks1@bost.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2011
Subject: Boston Market suggestion response
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Good Afternoon

Thank you for submitting your suggestion to our catering department. We certainly appreciate the time you took to write and do value all customer feedback. Upon receipt of this information, I will create a report and forward your comments to the Market Leader for your region and our Marketing Department for consideration.

Again thank you for your feedback

Syrenia Brooks
Guest Contact Center Specialist

Huh?  I smell a standard “please don’t bother us” email here.  I still think my idea has merit, and I want a catering throw-down.  Think I can push it any further?  I’ll certainly try.

8 responses to “So, do you guys cater?

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  7. Thank you for this post. I really enjoyed it. It’s certainly interesting to see the different styles of these brands in terms of handling your email. Nice job.

    Like

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