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Staffing buffets.....

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've fielded a couple of e-mails and phone calls this past week, most have to do with more guest showing up than paid....a couple had to do with how to work the numbers to make your business work.

Now, this is just my opinion. I've gone to a few Roman Catering Conferences throughout the years and have been on cheftalk for 7 years now......so it's also got some other professional's input too.....

If you have volume discounts (many of us will charge less pp for 300, than 50 count) put that in your agreement with the incremental charges

Menu changes usually cost you money.......many of us book similar food for parties that are close together so we don't have waste, can save on labor, can volume buy.....when the menu is changed later in the game YOU are the one that suffers. It costs money to do menu changes......why leave the door open until the last possible minute, it's time consuming too.

Serving the entree.......have the proteins on the end of the buffet and staff it so there won't be huge amounts of waste. This is portion control....

If you are serving 50-100% more than paid you are out that money, why in heavens name would you even think that's good for business. Would you ever knowingly walk into that? Portion the entrees, let the bride know you'll be serving the protein and final count is 2 weeks prior to the reception.
You are in control of your business.

After final count, the count may go up but not down. If it goes up there is an additional fee....

For any last minute guests have a stipulation in the contract that says the balance will be charged to their acct or the final balance is due within x working days.

Do a head count.

You are professionals, providing a serve that includes your expertise....why would you ever let someone be in charge of equipment that you have to have to do your job?

OK....let the discussion begin.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #2 of 11

Buffet

I am with you shroom! I can not do much about a few extras because we are unable to count plates (just seats!) but after being stiffed like that a few times I have really started letting people know we will not have enough if they are not clear on there numbers and when I hear peope starting to cut numbers last minute (: Oh I don;'t think we will really have that many") I am clear we need to assume we will!!! This asoect has gotten much better.

So connected to this is my whole leftover issue! Sorry for the broken record! This client is still complaining despite my clarity that it wont happen! Now she wants me to lighten the amount I put out on the buffet so there will be things for her to take! I have already told her she can't take aything & that I will not compromise on how my buffet looks & that I am feeding the number contracted for! This woman has managed a restaurant for years and she keep saying "all her contacts say they leave leftovers & all the other caterers at this venue do!

GET OVER IT!
sorry for the rant... bottom line... shroom is right about the numbers issue
pgr555
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
there are several caterers in town that contract for a set volume....ie 2 oz roastbeef pp, 3 large shrimp pp, 1.5 rolls pp.

I've not wanted to go that route but it may work better for you at the synagog.....put into the contract for health safety reasons no food will be taken out....somewhere I have a sample contract with that wording.

my staff can rapidly do a head count.
we also have set numbers of dinner plates.

They are paying by the head. pgr555 it's not beneficial for you to get ripped off routinely.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #4 of 11
shroom, not to t/j and make this a lovefest but your posts are always so helpful. Your knowledge and experience in all things catering is incredible. You are a great resource. Thanks for your talent and time.
post #5 of 11

re buffets

Hi Shroom,
We always charge per head. confirming 2 days before and thats it!
Volume is planned meticulously but we always give a little extra and let them know it. ( something I picked up when I've been in New Orleans) Lagniappe (a little bit more) is a way of life there and our clients certainly appreciate it - It's win win - Theyre getting a little something they wern't expecting and you get happy clients who reccomends you.
We also post a disclaimer at all events.Stating when the food was set out and when it should be eaten by according to Environmental health reccomendations. That way Everything, if anything eaten or taken away is down to them and i sleep easier, as i dont have to worry about folk eating my food when they have the 2am munchies and getting sick.
All the best
Bughut
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #6 of 11
Good topic! Maybe we can make model contract out of this thread.

We have an escalator clause in our contracts when new people are added. For instance additional guests from 7-3 days prior are at the per person plus 20%, 3 to the day off its rate + 50%. I've heard that it used to be double on the day of.

Our catering sales people do a pretty good job of screening clients. So far the guarenteed minimums have been pretty accurate. I think that you can avoid many problems by turning down problamatic clients. I remember one case study in managment course that illustrates the point. The catering manager booked a breakfest function for the local chapter of a legalize marijuana organization for 225 people, the guarentee was 200. He failed to get a deposit:rolleyes:. On the day of the event, only 30 people showed, ate, then left. The poor manager tried to collect, but the contact address was in the middle of the Hudson.

Then there is the issue of getting the party to pay for the additional count. I don't really have a tactfull way of doing it, so I'm glad I'm not the one in charge of it.

Through our merchant services we can verify checks over the phone, and if they are paying on site we can run the checks through the machine and have it deposited electronicly. Some of the merchant service providers have very affordable plans where you can do these functions as well as internet credit card processing if you don't have a card reader. I'm a big fan of electronicly deposited checks. You'll never get stuck with a bad one, and you'll never have a race to the bank.

We use smaller plates for buffets then for plated. We also use small peel and eat shrimp for the all-you-can-eat shrimp cocktail. Gotta make 'em work for it :smoking: I've also noticed that when the rolls are hot people eat more of them. If the buffet menu is large we cut portions down. For chicken we a 1/4 breast pailard that looks pretty classy.

I think that self-serve soft-serve if the king of all desserts. Way less hassle for the staff then plated/plattered dessert. Way less labor for the kitchen. Just about everybody likes it. I havn't done the FC yet but I think its relativly inexpensive.


***************Rant Ahead******************
On a personal note, let me express my own disatisfaction with scooped ice cream. My boss looooves to sell parties ice cream served in little coupe glasses. Mostly because it costs him ~0.30-0.45 a serving, more if its a melba or bonne helene. The problem is that we've got to pre scoop these suckers as far as 6-7 a head. Some days the ice cream is rock hard and you can't get a clean scoop, your wrist takes a beating, and if you are like me last week you break the scoop. Plus the ice cream always melts a little so it looks kinda bad. Then you have to wrap it well or it gets freezer burn. That fricken wrap always gets stuck on the freezer curtain. At least its easy for the staff to serve.

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post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm less concerned with overage checks....the balance has been paid prior to the party the remaining however much is due within a week....normally it's not alot more people.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
scooped ice cream.....ugh.....I assume this is on-site events....
I've gotten into more ice cream sandwiches, easy to make....they are easy to serve, fun can even be creative combos......

Scooped ice cream.....just feel for you.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks pan, means alot coming from you.

there's been a saying that's come up a few times recently....promise less deliver more.....lagniappe is a beautiful thing ( I lived in southern Louisiana for 15 years..miss it occasionally, wanna hop a plane and walk the french quarter)
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #10 of 11
Shroom, you are a saint, for sure!

My catering clients at the University plan for 200 and then have 50 confirmations the week before. I just want the money!
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
I hear you......no saint am I,hopefully considerate of my customers needs as well as maintaining my business.
Are you charging a volume discount David? Does the cost pp go up when the count goes down?

This past week I had a group (that works 1/2 flt down and the director is a close buddy) celebrating a 50th/non-profit fundraiser combo, go from 250 and that's what the price was based on to two weeks out 40....they will probably break 100, but not close to 200.

We negotiated through and I added dessert/platters....we'll call it a day with the difference. Which in the end is a good deal for both of us.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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