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Menu Consulting - How to Price

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm a personal chef/caterer who's recently been asked to re-design a menu for a local restaurant. I'm trying to find any sort of information on how to price my services for consulting properly. Haven't been able to track down what I'm looking for online it seems, maybe I'm searching in the wrong places.

Any one do consulting that could give me a very basic breakdown of how a project like this would be priced?

Thanks in advance! 
post #2 of 16
Menu Consulting is like Legal Consulting priced by the hour  usually $150&up.
You have to design the menu according to equipment layout, seating capacity and the amount of staff you will have when you open the doors. I have worked many kitchens that had full reservations or a line at the door at opening time.
If you can't serve a full house  with all  the entrees leaving  the kitchen within 7 to 10 minutes after being posted  then it is designed wrong.This is the goal every restaurant or dinning room seeks.  90% fail because they are not designed to do this. I have walked into many places and just turned around and left  because it was impossible design a menu for them. If you have worked a full house kitchen it shouln't take more than  1 or 2 hours to design the menu, if you haven't then I would pass. Casual Dining, Fine Dining or Fast Food the objective is the same fill the house and turn the tables.
post #3 of 16
Not necessarily.   Some consultants price by the "defined" job.  
I've done both. 
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #4 of 16

Mushroom Girl .
I have done it by first sitting down with owners.Getting his thoughts and ideas and finding out the type of concept he wants. Decor has a lot to do with it as does age of clientel, location, ethnics, financial abilities of patrons, type of local labor available. After this based on his needs I come up with a flat rate after telling him what I will do and how long I will devote to the task.I tell him this way no surprises you know what I am going to cost you based on what you want me to do. I try and desighn a menu so as having to deal with as few foods as possible ,and using them in many varied dishes. Unless a la minute (steaks etc) I try and set up everything banquet style, so it can go out quick.and is ready when they are and only needs a slight finishing.I only put on the menu what both he and I agree can be produced by the staff ,no matter how busy.. I have done it this way for many an operator andit works.Most of the places I have worked with are still in business after years, and with just a few changes. Luck has a lot to do with it to as does the right place and at the  right time........

CHEFED
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post #5 of 16

MOST OWNERS THINK THEY DON'T NEED A CONSULT

That's why 90% fail in the first year of operation.

The ones that do succeed usually hire a "Kitchen Manager" or Chef de Cuisine
to oversea the kitchen and "Dinning Room Manager" to oversea the dinning room, lounge and maintenance. Most "general managers" know very little about cooking or kitchen personnel's wages or value to the restaurant. I have designed Menus and Menu "styles" that have lasted over  40 years. You can't just sit down and write a menu of the things you would like to serve unless you are located in the city or near the Interstate  with thousands or travelers going by. In neighborhood operations your have to serve what the demographics call for.
For it is the locals that pay the rent when the tourist  and travelers are gone.

If you open a restaurant down south in "redneck country" you may not like "grits" or "biscuits and gravy" but if you serve breakfast you better have them on the menu if you want to succeed.
Like if you don't like garlic I wouldn't recommend an Italian menu.
The dinning room is not a "training ground" you can't just try it and see if it will work.
That doesn't mean you can't have a creative Chef to prepare "Specials."
It just means the main menu has to have what the customers want to eat.
That's why they came and if you want them to come back it better be good.(the way they like it.) 
"Good Artist don't use "paint by number sets" and "Good Chefs don't need "recipes"
"A soup or a sauce is an art to make, anyone can broil a steak."
Edited by caterchef - 3/10/10 at 4:11am
post #6 of 16
Most places fail due to under capitalization and lack of knowlege.Ask any bank. This is why franchises succeed. They have standard op s ,and both the expertise and knowhow as well as the human resource and training programs to almost guarantee sucess.
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post #7 of 16
 Not all franchises succeed if the demographics is wrong.
I have witnessed restaurants succeed, opening with little capital when they new what the local people wanted and had a kitchen layout to match the seating capacity and a menu to match.
Franchises are for business people not restaurateurs looking for a menu consultant. And "on job training" is almost a thing of the past. 
post #8 of 16
The question was how to price consulting......Ed says by the job.

I've priced by the hour & by the job.  
My ex-husband is an attorney who has billed by the hour, my mother owned an ad agency that billed by the hour.
Personally I MUCH prefer defining the consulting job then getting paid  "by the job" not by the hour....just the way I work.  
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 16
Franchises are for business people not restaurateurs looking for a menu consultant. And "on job training" is almost a thing of the past. 
Yes I would partially agree with this statement. A lot of "RESTAURANTEURS" are unfortunatly not business people and thats why they fail. To be a chef you do not have to be the greatest cook in the world, but you must be highly organized with the ability to deal with all kinds of employees and problems.Must know how to figure food and labor cost and bottom line results.At least here in Palm Beach you do. Other places may be different. In a large % franchises make it and indi 's do not. Almost all franchise GMs are schooled in another unit or a classroom setting, Cheesecake factory, Darden Chain,Rinker chain to name a few. It is the independents that can't afford or dont take time to train. There are exceptions Berns Steakhouse, Lenny Stillman all his steakhouses in NY, Sherry Bros. in NY. take time to break in and train .They invest in their employees and it pays off.
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post #10 of 16

ED!

Your comments on capitalization really hit the mark! Most restaurants do fail to underfunding. They don't realize how much money they really need to not so much "succeed" in the first year, rather they don't want to admit how much money they will need to "survive" the first couple of years. That is where having the funding, training, support and expertise of a franchise really helps!

 

post #11 of 16

And Andrew,

I am sure you figured out what you need by now. But for those seeking this advice and not seeing the playout finished, it would be great to hear from you and find out what you decided and how it worked out!

 

I've done two consultings, both very different situations and both requiring different solutions. Everyone here was right as far I am concerned. The main point is be prepared to ask what is fair because alot people will think it is ridiculous what you ask, but even MORE are willing to pay for honest, fair, sound and experienced worthwhile advice.

 

You have to look at the job, estimate what it is going to take to do it right and proficiently (disregarding argument, the argument from the client is always going to be there). Make a fair and sound decision about YOU neeed to do and what can be done by the client. From there you can decide on what else it will take to ensure a successful job and charge accordingly! It's not cut and dry: there is no "it's a per job basis" and no "it's a per hour basis". Its a how can I benefit my client the most while making sure I am paid what I deserve!

 

A good middle ground to work from  can range from 20-65+ dollars an hour! It depends if you are just making changes to menu, finding new avenues of revenue, training staff, researching POS systems. redesigning a kitchen.....get paid what you can reasonably feel what you are worth. If they don't want to pay you are either not reasonable or they are not....or you are going to NEGOTIATE!

 

Good luck even though it already happened!

Waiting to hear, tell us!

post #12 of 16

Enrico , ! don't know what state or city you are in , but a line cook here could make $20.00 an hour. Thats why I charge by the project 20 to 65 an hour is  to cheap.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 16

I've charged $100 an hour for consulting with a university.   They were developing a local food cafeteria & wanted help. 

Developing continuing consulting projects ie. those that happen annually is an interesting process.  Keep in mind that the clients will refer back to what you've charged and want that same price again, and again, and again.  So, low balling to get the initial gig is not a great way to go. 

 

Detailing out expectations will be the meat of the agreement.  If you both have an idea of what the job entails then there will be less chance of one of you being upset later down the road.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #14 of 16

I was hoping to find an answer to a similar question. The owners of the restaurant I work at are being bought out by their investors and are trying to get compensated for all the work they put in. Among other things, one of them developed the Mexican menu and is trying to figure out what that would be worth. Any insight?
 

post #15 of 16

They aren't likely to see any increase in the valuation of the restaurant for "sweat equity". Investors aren't going to pay for anything that they couldn't use as collateral on a loan. For example, sales are often used as a basis for restaurant valuation if the business will continue to be operated under the same theme. More often, investors will base their value on "free cash flow plus owner benefit". Basically, what money is left in a business year after the bills are paid before the owner gets their cut, adding back in any benefit the owner got out of the business that wouldn't otherwise have had to be paid to a manager doing the same job. A savvy investor will take that number and multiply it times three to make an offer of purchase. A well established restaurant or theme can get as much as seven times cash flow plus owner benefit from an investor though. Chains often do.

 

The most common method for valuing a restaurant though is by it's assets. Tangible things that the investors are purchasing and could reasonably liquidate if they had to sell. "Sweat equity" is not an asset. Things like furniture, fixtures and equipment are. Marketing databases can also be valued as assets. In some cases, "goodwill" can be claimed as an asset, if the restaurant has a well-established positive reputation in a community. It's hard to justify the value of goodwill though.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #16 of 16

Yeah, that's what I was afraid of. Thank you.

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