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Gratuity?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Someone mentioned a gratuity in another thread. I'm having a really hard time with this one. I usually write on the contract "Gratuity is NOT included.", but rarely do we receive one although our events go very well and I usually pick up one new event from each current event. Even the wedding in the rain and wind at the beach got us rave reviews, but no tip. I am perplexed about this.

I add in a service charge which pays my staff at the event, and that is clear on the contract. I altered shroomgirl's contract last year. How can I get people to understand that the service charge and the tip are different? Think I should hide the service charge in the food cost and add on a tip?
post #2 of 18
service charge and tip do sound like the same thing....I put food, labor, rentals, tax.....gratuity not included, 15-20% is normal. Then I ask if they'd like me to include a gratuity.....as they are paying the final balance....and I make sure to have it bold on the contracts.
cooking with all your senses.....
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post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Makes sense. What percentage gratuity is fair? 15%? More? Guess I'll be redoing my contract.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sorry- reread this one again with morning eyes. :crazy: 15%-20% is fair.

So are you saying that the rentals, food, labor- are all rolled into the pp cost without any explanation? I have a section that itemizes the rentals, but maybe hide the 20% mark-up I tack on to the total rental fee? Not so sure I feel good about that.

Thanks again shroom.
post #5 of 18
NO.
most of the time it's broken down....
Per person cost.
Food
labor per staff per hour, 4 hour minimum
rentals and I tell them flat out what the markup is for rentals.
Tax is 7.414%

Then in bold. This does not include gratuity which is normally 15-20%.
I then ask them closer to time if they would like me arrange the gratuity.
I got burned on the last one....the groom was out of checks at the reception but wanted to tip the 11 staff $30 each. Said he would mail a check when he got back to Ark in a couple of days. it's now two and 1/2 months later and I'm still trying to collect $330. That will teach me......

Weddings I get the balance prior to the reception day. Then bill for any incidentals. I've not gotten jammed on tips before....figured with so many staff that were not regulars to me I'd go on and tip them out that night. WRONG.

Benefits that have a PP inclusive rate for labor/rentals/food the staff usually don't get tips. Bummer but reality, that's why I have a higher labor price.
Even if they do tip it's nominal. This ends up being about 20% of my gigs.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
[QUOTE=shroomgirl]NO.
most of the time it's broken down....
Per person cost.
Food
labor per staff per hour, 4 hour minimum
rentals and I tell them flat out what the markup is for rentals.
Tax is 7.414%

Okay. I'm slow here. Say the pp cost is $50. I would then break down the $40 into food, labor, rentals, tax? I've been starting from $40.00 pp for food and adding on rentals etc. How do you differenciate between the labor/hour cost and the gratuity on your bills?

Sorry for my fogginess.
post #7 of 18
Well, we are in deep doo doo.
Our owner charges a 17 percent "service charge".

Our waitstaff sees nary a dime. Yes, the owner pockets it. It is my understanding that unless he represents it as a gratuity to the customer, this is perfectly legal.

Our waitstaff are not permitted to accept tips, though we in the kitchen know it happens from time to time with some.

Needless to say, our front of the hours staffing is now at crisis level.
post #8 of 18
Okay. I'm slow here. Say the pp cost is $50. I would then break down the $40 into food, labor, rentals, tax? I've been starting from $40.00 pp for food and adding on rentals etc. How do you differenciate between the labor/hour cost and the gratuity on your bills?

Sorry for my fogginess.


Menu
blah, blah, blah
$27.50pp

Labor
1 cook $25, 6 hours $150
3 waitstaff $20pp (4hours minimum) approximately 5 hours $300

$450
*this does not include gratuities, 15-20% is average

Rentals
blah, blah, blah
$1500, 10% included in balance

Tax 9889798%

estimate total$***
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Oh, I get it. Thanks so much!

Had a meeting with a MOB and Bride today. Sheesh! I'm going home early to take a nap. Some days, I wonder why I do this at all. But most days, I really love this business.:lol:
post #10 of 18
Service not included....
!8 to 20 percent. State it!
Donn't screw your people!
L
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Are you talking about a service charge or a gratuity? I charge service, but because of the way my contracts are written, I think it gets misunderstood as gratuity. I don't "screw" either my staff or my customers.
post #12 of 18

service charge - different name

instead of calling it a service charge, call it a "business operations charge"
that would include fuel, insurance, overhead, accounting, etc 9depending on how you break your proposal out. Don't explain this unless you have to.

then say gratuity is at your discretion.

but make sure you charge a high enuf labor rate that the staff is not dependant on tips. I sometimes tip even if the customer does not - say an extra hour or two.

If I am charging $25 for labor to the customer I usually pay around $15-18.
Chef Tigerwoman

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Chef Tigerwoman

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post #13 of 18
Business operation or service charge is rolled into my fees....not separated out.

I know several caterers that have the fee but it just does not appear kosher to me, so I don't do it.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Tiger and shroom, so I could get rid of my "service charge" of 18% and roll it into my bill. That would leave room for the gratuity. It makes sense if I think of it as a restaurant- when you pay your tab, it's not broken down into various catagories beyond food, liquor, and tax. You don't see dishwasher, cook, busboy, server, but ou are expected to leave a gratuity.

I've been paying my people $10/hr with no taxes taken out since I use them infrequently. This summer is a different story as I've been very busy and use them a few times a week. They understand that since I'm just starting out, all my $$ go right back into the business for little things like Cambros (!). Up until now, they've been women I'm friends with and cater with me for the fun of it. Again, now that I'm using more people from off the street, so to say, I've got my accountant setting up the workmen's comp and tax stuff. I must say, I'm not entirely happy about this, but it means business is good...and I do like that.

Thanks for your help.
post #15 of 18

business operations charge

I like to roll it into the price too if possible but sometimes in a bid situation some customer only see the price not the add ons (like tax and service charge) so they think you are higher when you bundle it.

If I call it a service charge rarely get gratuities - calling it a business operations charge gets questions (what is it?) but often gets tips/gratuities.

I used to tell people what the bottom line price would be right up front in the first conversation but found that scaredthem off. Somehow starting lower and building up to the final price once you have their confidence seems to work better for getting the jobs.
Chef Tigerwoman

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Chef Tigerwoman

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post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sometimes the bottom line scares me, too, Tiger!

I've got one now, an outside wedding for 80 that's only 6 weeks away. None of the details are set. I've given them until today to finalize the menu so I can complete the bill. They've only just hired a wedding planner this Monday, they have no JP, no cellist, haven't actually picked out the linens and won't let me... I have reserved tent, china, silver, stemware, floor, etc. They live in another state and had no idea how many details there were to take care of.

In essence, I'm doing much of the planner's work- have met with a minister, interviewed musicians, and met with the florist. I will be peeved when the "planner" takes over, arranges the place settings and tealights, and hands them a bill. The planner can't even be at the wedding as she's overbooked and took this one out of the goodness of her heart. (yes, she told me that) She asked me if I had time to direct the wedding and reception. Sure, right after I take care of all the food.... I was talking to the bride yesterday and was just about to question the whole planner situation when we were cut off. Probably a good thing as I may not want to be the middle. I don't want to sound p*ssy, but I hope she's not paying much for the level of planning she's received from the WP but don't quite know how to broach the subject of compensation for my time either.

I have 2 parties to get out for tomorrow, 6 next week and don't have time to talk to the danged musicians! This wedding is making me a little nuts because Iwake up thinking aobut all the things that still have to be done that don't have anything to do with my part of the job and that my company will look like the one who dropped that ball even if the food is wonderful.

My point in all this is that her bull is going to be high. Or at least I think that's what my point was. Thanks for letting me whine.
post #17 of 18
find some boundries Lentil....and start communicating with the bride about your full service catering company that charges for planning weddings. THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR INCOME....MAKE SURE THE BRIDE UNDERSTANDS THE PERIMETERS OF WHAT YOU DO.....AND THE CHARGES SHE'LL GET. AND FOR GOODNESS SAKES GET A GOOD DEPOSIT UP FRONT....INVOICE HER ASAP ON WHAT PLANNING YOU HAVE DONE.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Shroomgirl, you're absolutely right. My main problem is that I don't charge enough or for everything I do. I am still stuck being timid about charging enough because they might go elsewhere. Recently, I have had 2 parties where I've charged much more than the hostess thought she should pay, and on both occasions, they have still booked with me. I should learn from that. I do tell people I can't quote a price over the phone and assure them I'll call back later. This way, I don't feel pressured to come up with an amount and end up getting screwed.

I have a samll party tomorrow which started out as a pick up and grew to them wanting me to go there and cook the hot dogs and hamburgers for their 6 year old's birthday party. I said I didn't do that, but she was insistent. I have my DD and her BF doing it and told the woman they had the 2 of them for 1.5 hours and no longer. She said she'd pay them more than I asked ($15/hr each) but then balked at the $$ I gave her for the meal. I said it was no problem if she wanted to cancel as I hadn't started it yet, but she said NO!! Go figure. Strange that she'd pay the server and cook much more, but the actual catered food was too expensive. I did feel good about standing up to her instead of feeling afraid I'd lose the party. I probably wouldn't have minded losing this one.
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