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Tasting/sampling for potential clients?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
When you meet with a potential client prior to booking an event, do you charge for the tasting menu? I haven't been charging.

Last night, we did a small sampling of 3 mains as well as a very small dessert platter. We got the booking, so it was worth it, but do other caterers eat the cost of the sampling if they don't get the event?

Just curious to see how others do it.

Thanks.
post #2 of 13
yep, I eat the cost.....but I don't offer it unless I deem it necessary to get the gig.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
That's what I was thinking, too. Last night's tasters were so thrilled with what we served them, I would have paid them. My ego was surely stroked!!!
post #4 of 13
You can do individual tastings, or, once you've developed your reputation, you can do once a month tastings for everyone who has booked. Do one presentation plate plus the same item as a buffet item. It's a PITA having to do one tasting for each individual client everytime they want a "tasting." Good thing that never happened often.
post #5 of 13
Photos and descriptions are normally enough. Brides and Grooms are usually the ones that need a tasting, they've generally got no experience with caterers.
I've got a friend that has a bi-annual event where she sets up new designs and serves samples to her customers or potential clients. If I were working with more corporate clients I'd be more inclined.

One of the rental companies used to have a blow-out event with party planners, florists & caterers annually to showcase their equipment. They've scaled down the past couple of years.
I was one of 3 caterers to provide food one year and it was a blast. Ice carving with shots.....where were the photogs when you really need them?
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hmmmm...I'm thinking that an open house is a great idea. Too late for this year's crop of brides, but next fall would be nice to get in the holiday party people.

I didn't really mind doing this tasting. It gave me a chance to show off a little rather than to just describe the food items. We did a cumin rubbed roast pork stuffed with dried fruit and served with a gravy/reduction(?) of the fruit and pan drippings, sole with a stuffing made with panko, caper, raisin,and pine nut, lemon, and olive oil, and a crab cake app.

I have another wedding in june with a very different menu; pot roast, turkey, mp, salad. Even though it's a very simple and plain menu, I want to add some touches like cranberry chutney as well as the jellied cran sauce the bride wants to go with the turkey, and some kind of different condiment to go with the beef. - maybe horseradish...Any ideas?
post #7 of 13

Charge for tastings!

Charge for them unless you have a good reason not to.

Consider $250 for each tasting to be refunded back if they book your services.

Most wedding people are told to ask for a tasting but are unaware that it cost quite a bit to do. Sometimes just meeting you and trying something you made is enough.

I got called one day by a person that wanted information on their upcoming company event. It was going to be HUGE, so they said but when I arrived for my initial consultation he blurted out "What did you bring me". There he sat surrounded by food samples as happy as a pig in s__t.

Turned out after asking a few questions that the person that ultimately made the decision was out of town and he had been told to "Gather" information.

The jerk was just eating free!
"You are only as good as who you hire."
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"You are only as good as who you hire."
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post #8 of 13
Hi Lentil,

I don't have enough requests for tastings to justify doing an open house or monthly tasting (and most of my clients are from out of town), so I handle it on a case by case basis. I charge the client for what they order, and just subtract it from the final bill for the event.

I limit the tasting/refund to two, or at the most, 4 people.

I've never had a client balk at this - it's reasonable, tells the client that you're serious, and allows you to treat their tasting like an event- not a chore shoehorned into an already busy schedule.

As for your June wedding: maybe try a rhubarb chutney - seasonal and a little different than the ever-present cranberry.

Good Luck!
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
mmpvail,

I like the idea of the rhubarb chutney. I'll google it unless you have a tried and true recipe....

It's a good idea to charge for tastings since it really is a pain in the neck- shoehorned into an already busy day! I did one last summer where the bride nibbled on everything, pushed the plate away and said absolutely nothing. That was a little disconcerting! Her mother had the cake baker make samples and picked absolutely everything apart, suggesting that this type of extract be used, that filling- she even brought her own recipe and wanted the baker to use it! She then suggested that she be able to use the baker's commercial kitchen to do the cake herself. I was glad I was there to witness it, but even happier that mom hadn't been at my tasting!
post #10 of 13

Always charge... here is why

If a customer comes to your facility, office or kitchen to taste your food and does not book your services, do you write that off? Do it 50-70 times a year and you have plenty of cost.

Now if you tell the customer that you do charge for a tasting but apply it to their balance if they book and they say no thank you, then maybe the werent that serious to being with and just wanted lunch. Maybe it will make them seriously consider you because you are willing to at least apply the cost to their bill.

You don't charge for a meeting, and your time is valuable, food cost is just as valuable.

Just my thoughts.
post #11 of 13
I asked someone today what made him choose a certain caterer when he was planning a company event.....he said the caterer who won the bid was the only one who ( has a facility) offered lunch to him and his boss.

Toss up, there are alot of factors involved.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #12 of 13
I just chalk it up a the cost of business. You have a lot better chance of getting the catering if you do not nickel and dime the client.
Thanks,

Jimmie

www.jjskitchen.com
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Thanks,

Jimmie

www.jjskitchen.com
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post #13 of 13

dog and pony show

I call tastings the dog and pony show.

We've done them from time to time but since we don't have a daily business and our menus are customized I try to discourage them by explaining that doing a tasting for 2-4 people doesn't prove you can produce the food for hundreds and suggest they call anyone and everyone on my extensive reference list for real live feedback.

In addition I show clients lots of pictures and bring up points they may not have thought about to highlight our expertise. Catering is more than just great food (which is our tag line btw) As caterers we are hired for our expertise in putting together a balanced menu that works for the specific event, venue and guest demographics, running the show, adhering to and even creating schedules, knowing how to handle food safely, making life pleasant and happy for the hosts and guests alike - displaying the food in an attractive and appealing manor along with a host of other services.

definitely more than just great food...

although great food is quite important as well

Does anyone ever get the complaint that their food or presentation is too fancy?
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
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Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
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