ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Catering › Client changes the tems of the contract
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Client changes the tems of the contract

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I need some help on how to deal with a client who has signed a contract, agreed to the fee and now wants to change the menu to "cut costs."

The client -- the mother of the bride -- is very nice and we've been working very well together. She hired me almost a full year before the wedding -- just before the market went south. With her daughter, we planned a very nice menu -- all vegetarian, my specialty. And, we were all set for a Sept wedding.

About a month ago after they had the tasting -- I made the food, Dad picked it up and they took the food to PA for the bride and groom to taste -- I heard from the mom that they loved the food, but she asked if I would rework the menu with the goal of lowering the price. I was in the midst of a busy spell and said that I would once things quieted down. So, now I'm faced with re-writing an already signed contract, and making less money on the event.

I guess in the long run, I'll just re-write the contract and make the *&^% lasagnas (we almost never do lasagnas at weddings -- BORING!), but I don't feel good about it.

What's the point of having a contract, getting it signed and then having the client request that it be changed? What have you done when faced with this situation, I've never run into this problem before...

Thanks
Chef Andrea
Catering by Dinner is Served
Reply
Chef Andrea
Catering by Dinner is Served
Reply
post #2 of 12
sorry , but it sounds to me the only mistake you made was saying that "yes, I can re-do the menu for less". Don't ever, ever, ever, do that. Your skills are important and worthwhile, give discounts to family and orphans, maybe. Should have just said, the menu is set, thats that. if you want to avoid this in the future add a menu replanning fee big enough to scare anyone out of changing the menu once it been signed and agreed upon. best of luck.
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
Reply
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
Reply
post #3 of 12
Sounds like she wants to eat cheaper food, say cheetos, chips and mixed nuts.

Finger foods...I suppose thats out the question?
post #4 of 12
I don't think it's all that bad. She can easily just go somewhere else and have pretzels and beer. Work with your client. It will earn you good brownie points. Be glad that you booked this a year ago. Some people have zero contracts.
post #5 of 12
SOMETHING IS BETTER THEN NOTHING.
Normally I would hold them to contract, However in the economic enviorment we are in now, you have to bend, What if her father lost his job and cancelled altogether.
I have been to court many times in caterer client disputes. The judges feel there were no services rendered or items purchased therefore no loss to caterer, and in most cases gives client deposit back.As someone else said go for the good will.:D
CHEFED
Reply
CHEFED
Reply
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback.

Normally, I would have resisted the request and held the client to the contract, but because of the economy, I agreed to the change. I never say never...there are times to hold fast, and times to bend, this was a time to bend...I guess I was just looking for confirmation of my decision.

I know that I'm just lucky to have the contract -- our wedding business is way off.

thanks again to everyone who responded.
Chef Andrea
Catering by Dinner is Served
Reply
Chef Andrea
Catering by Dinner is Served
Reply
post #7 of 12
well...I hope it all works for you in the long run. I would just hope that a contract could be honored for what it was....sigh
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
Reply
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
Reply
post #8 of 12
Andrea, I don't know how long you've been in the catering business, but four decades of experience, gratefully, has given me a beginning sense of who is an honest and genuine client. If you enjoy working with this family and can truly assess that the former menu is just too costly for them to handle in today's economy, graciously follow their wishes.

Tales are legion of our colleagues who have bust their fannies and incurred huge expenses to cater gorgeous weddings, only to be told, after the event, that the client has come up a little short of funds...and the caterer can wait until Hades freezes over to be fully paid. This client has come to you, arms open wide, to say she can't afford the prior menu. Work with her; respect her honesty. Cut some costs and redouble your efforts to make the menu appear as though your client increased the cost pp not reduced it.
post #9 of 12
While a contract is a contract, I'm inclined to agree- a bit of flexibility will serve you in the long run. It sounds from the way you've stated things that the client has been honest and just come up a bit short of funds. It's great that this was revealed before the event! I can understand why you'd be annoyed, and you don't want your name attached to some "cheapie deal", but if you can come up with something interesting in her price range you're much better off than if you lost the deal altogether.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #10 of 12
OK caterers......"non-refundable deposit books your date" & "balance due 10 days prior to event"........who uses these terms?

If you have a small catering business all it takes is being stiffed once on any % of balance due to reinvent your operating procedures. Heaven knows I've done budget events throughout the years, many of the menus are posted on this forum.

Filet Mignon does not come at hamburger prices. I've talked people into brisket sandwiches instead, I retain a decent profit margin that they can afford.

It's gotta be hard having someone come back after such a long time and want to renegotiate the contract. I'd ask how much they are interested in paying and then come in with menus that reflect the new amount....they may end up with stationary hummos instead of 4 passed fancy hors d'oeuvres, or two of the entrees now are one, or the bite size desserts are eliminated and there is now just cake.....

Anyway you cut it I'd have the balance a couple of days after final guest count is due.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #11 of 12
I second this. There is probably no malice intended, the client just can't afford to pay what they could a year ago. Times are tough. We run into this all the time doing banquets and our flexibility helps us hold on to business we'd lose completely otherwise. It sucks that someone agrees to a certain menu and number of people, then they want to change it, but I'm seeing a lot of places who hold people to minimums lose all of their business. I would wait until things get better to take business for granted. Right now every function is a gift.
post #12 of 12
It sounds like the OP is still going to make the same profit margin, but is losing out on overall earnings.
Changing the menu and pricing still allows the OP to make money on the event instead of losing the event altogether.
Lasagna?
Not my favorite either, but there is nothing wrong with giving the customer what they want.
I don't think I'd put it in my portfolio though. ;)
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Catering
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Catering › Client changes the tems of the contract