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What to say?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have tried to start this posting 4 times tonight. I don't know how to even express this right now... I have an event this weekend that was suppose to be an easy, light "kiddush" for 75. For those of you who don't know, a kiddush is a "snack" after a religious service to feed people who have been in services for 3 hours.

These people wanted something "elegant" so people wouldn't think they were "cheaping out". Their invited guests would be leaving for a luncheon, so they didn't want me to count on them eating. However, there would be 45 kids and 35 adults who they were really serving! This of course just came in with the final number deadline a week ago.

When I questioned the numbers tonight, she said there are actually 110-115. BUT she has taled to her 27 guests that are having lunch with her, and they have said they are NOT going to eat at the kiddush - so she doesn't want to pay for them! Or have wasted food!

I explained to her that my experience tells me that they will in fact eat something - and that I can't count on her guests not eating - it is my reputation and her event!

I agreed to put the count at 100 ( I always have extra anyway) and felt comfortable with this.

Her husband called me back and was all over me about how it is their event, I need to listen to the customer, and I shouldn't be shoring up numbers for my profit! I told him I was extremely offended and he was hiring me for my expertise & experience. I suggested he might want to back out (was ready to give him his deposit back) but of course he said no. He said a number of VERY manipultive things -- He trusted me to want it to be nice since I am so worried about my rep - it is a small community so he knew I would want it to be nice -- etc.

I am a wreck! I haven't been this nervous about an event in YEARS!!!

I am questioning amounts, what to charge them for the extra people, etc

Menu:
Baked Brie (primarily for 55 adults (I figure 2 2 lb rounds for 2 table)
Cheddar for the kids (45 kids?) 3-4 lbs?
Open faced MINI sandwiches (tuna and egg salads) figuring 2.5/person
Veggies with dip ( usually eyebal but will go heavy carrot, celery, cuke for kids
Fruit (she wants to stick with grapes and strawberries)
3 kinds of brownies (1.5 or 2/ person??)
Cider (still figuring gallons)
Coffee and tea

Reactions to amounts? This is approximately 1 hour
Price?
I work with this setting all the time & can't believe I am asking for help on it, but the whole experience has me a mess! Wish I could back out. The original price I gave them has to change based on the number changes and I am wondering if I am in the right ball park - I have a price, but don't want to say till I get reactons from all of you -

I feel like a newbie rather than someone with 7 year sexperience!
pgr
post #2 of 14
When is the event? Sounds like you are very far along in the process.

My first reaction is to fire the client. Way too high mantainince. Plus, I bet he's going to be a pain to collect the balance due from. Since he's so concerned about his status, can you use that to your advantage?

Not sure of your market, so I can't comment to much on price. I kinda figure a a FC% of 15%, which works out to 6.66 * total food cost. This may be too low though. Feel free to add a PITA charge.

You can only charge for the extra people what's in the contract.

Seems like too little of the other (non brie) cheese

Brownies, cut them small like ~1 inch cubes, should be more then okay with 3 sheets. Maybe even get away with 2.

Cider, tea and coffee. Have you considered cocoa for the kids? Can even go with a powdered mix packets if you are not adverse.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

What would you do?

Yes, very far along in the process... this weekend! Small community and reputation is everything. I tried to get them to back out last night - they started talking about how they would trust me, how highly recommended I was etc. I had the same thought on the brownies and the cheese - it is helpful to know my brain is still working a little!

I went with an overall price when I thought it was a small simple job, because pp looked high, but I knew it was right. The overall is in the contract saying it is for up to 75 people. The mistake was to not give them a completely new contract as the numbers started going up and menu changed.

We are in a low cost market.

Thanks for the input, tin
post #4 of 14
Menu:
Baked Brie (primarily for 55 adults (I figure 2 2 lb rounds for 2 table)
Cheddar for the kids (45 kids?) 3-4 lbs?
Open faced MINI sandwiches (tuna and egg salads) figuring 2.5/person
Veggies with dip ( usually eyebal but will go heavy carrot, celery, cuke for kids
Fruit (she wants to stick with grapes and strawberries)
3 kinds of brownies (1.5 or 2/ person??)
Cider (still figuring gallons)
Coffee and tea


Brie is cheaper than making a ton of sandwiches.....just have the backup ready.
so 6 brownies per person?

REwrite the contract, to include the additional guests and do a cost on even more guests than they've stated ie 75-113, 114-150. This is your business, but you will not stay in business if people keep jerking you around with guest counts/pricing. I found this more than typical for that profiled group....why is that?

So, they are wanting you to roll over and accept their cheapness......
Firmly say that you understand that it's a special day for their family and you'd like to cater the event but are unable to provide what's needed. Thank them and have a check ready to hand back to them, then and there....see what happens.....they are against the wall with last minute shtuff too. Suggest a discount grocery store's to go food.

Sometimes it's helpful to have a "bookkeeper" address problems like this....even a friend that can be your bookkeeper for a conversation with "special"clients.

I so feel for you....been there and removed myself.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 14
reading back through the responses it occurred to me that I sent you 3 scenerios....

I hate bullies, clients are buying your services......they do not decide you're business practices.
Small knit community....these people will not give you a good recommendation now no matter what.
If you don't really need the business, stand firm have the deposit in hand and back out facing them.....
AAAARGH.
Does the rabbi have anything to do with you, if you have a good relationship with him ask for his advise....but always remember it is your business, this is not friendship.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Wha to say?

lol on the 6 brownies/pp Shroom... NO! Meant 2 pp total - ended up making about 1.75/pp

Thank you for the understanding - he really was bullying me. Interestingly the Rabbi recommended me to them & they actually used that as a way to back down the other night. "The Rabbi recommended you so we will trust that" I know her well enough to know she wouldn't get invloved now.

Update: She emailed me and apologized if "her husband offended me" "They didn't mean to - are stressed.

So with all these changes (Believe me I have never done this before & NEVER will again) I haven't given them the final price. They are coming in to pay me in the morning and I have enough of a deposit that I will be ok covering my cost so far.

I know what price I am saying, but would still like to hear what YOU would charge for this.

Any brave souls?

Thanks
pgr
post #7 of 14
for food, no rentals, no staff other than setup
1 hour $12.50-15pp
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

Wha to say?

Thnk yo for the validation! I was right on!
pgr
post #9 of 14
you can boil down the leftover cider to a jelly state.....oh so fine to make dressing out of or glaze for pork/chicken.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

First Follow-up

The 1st part of the event was today - Good News! 1st of all she (the wife)showed up early today while I was prepping with the check for the final payment!!!

Not so good news: We had contracted for 35 people for tonight - there were 50 - As always I had extra so there was the perfect amount. It was only fruit, cheese, crackers and cider for 1/2 hour.

More good: the staging was beautiful! I had whole hubbard squash, pumpkins, gourds, etc. The hosts both told me how nice everything was, the daughter whose Bat mitzvah it is, came up to tell me she loved it (that was really the most important thing to me!). Anyway, in front of the husband, guests/family members of theirs kept coming up to tell me how lovely everything was - they really got the message of why they were paying me!

So now I am set for 100 for the morning. I have been paid and I remember that i do what I do very well - another lesson learned!

Will let you know how tomorrow goes!
Thanks for all your support,
pgr
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Final Follow-up to Waht to Say

Well you know the saying... All's well that ends well...

Can I say that I outdid myself? The food and the staging were both fantastic. They couldn't have found anything wrong if they tried!

She came up to me immediately and said she didn't know why she had worried; everything was "more beautiful than she could have imagined! People were raving to her about the food, the presentations and the fact that it wasn't sit down." She thanked me profusely. Her guests (you know the ones who weren't going to eat?) stayed longer than anyone else and ate the whole time. People kept asking me if I were responsible for the food and telling me how great it was. The kids (you know, the ones who weren't going to eat brie?) were all over the Brie & telling me how great it was.

Her husband (the bully) was at the table eating the whole time & very sheepishly told me how wonderful everything was. He was sweeter than maple syrup to me - and I was SO very gracious! He seemed to really get that he had been wrong. My husband (who was working in the kitchen for me) said I looked like the chesire cat the way I was grinning. Must say I felt pretty vindicated, satisfied and great about how i had handled the whole thing.

So thank you all for your support - BTW, I was right on on the cheese, brownies and sandwich amounts (yippeee!) But they barely touched the veggies and fruit. And cider??? wow! I overbought that!!!

Hope all of you had good weekends & or events
pgr
post #12 of 14
Just out of curiosity, did they tip you?
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

what to say?

LOL! NOOOOOO, But honestly, I don't think anyone here has EVER tipped any of us! They tip the custodian, the rabbi, but never the caterer and rarely the servers.
pgr
post #14 of 14
I started putting it in the contract under staff....gratuity is not included, suggested industry standard is 18-20%.

Then prior to the event I ask how they would like to handle gratuities....staff appreciates cash but I'd be glad to include it.

My favorite tip was 10# of tart Michigan cherries....getting ready to order more for the cheese trays, tarts and baked goods.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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