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Catering between a rock and a hard place

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I had recently been contacted by a client, who was referred by a past catering client. I am a contract private chef, and rarley do catering anymore, except for REALLY GOOD PAST CLIENTS. The new client had actually remembered me from a party she had gone to that I had done, and asked her friend/myfriend for my info. Since we had spoken and she had a party she wanted done for her Hubby, and only in 2 1/2 weeks away. So I cleared my schedule for the most part since she was a friend of a great client/friend. She wanted something for 12 people, wine paired with extraordinary  wines from their home cellar.  4 courses paired with the selection of wines they had chosen. They wanted simple, but eclectic & personalized to their likes,the HIghest quality when it came to product, 2 hors d'oeuvres, insalata,appetizer, entree, & dessert. I infact had inquired a specialty cake maker to make me a cake of a chateau Margaux bottle as a show piece cake(which would have been a present from me to them...no charge) then the actual dessert was a triple mousse individualized that they had requested from Jean Jacques recipes, The client loved the idea, and didn't even know,and still doesn't know I was going to pay for the wine bottle cake. Now, I had written a menu, and they wanted not only a menu, but 5 choices in every category(so infact 5 menus). And a menu that went with the transition of wines they had chosen and they wanted it ASAP because of the time frame. I told them no longer than 2 days for the menu & under the gun I worked and worked on it and finished it within 21 hours of that conversation, and hired the waitstaff.

 She received them menu, and said it looked AWESOME, she loved everything. Now it was in her boat to pick what it is they wanted. I made it a point  when writing the menu, for whatever they chose in the category, that it would go not only with the wines, but would also coincide with the following courses....so that took some time to compute and figure out. Well she told me her choices would be made by Saturday, 3 days from the time they received my menus.

Well this morning, which is Monday(5 days not 3), I got an email from her. And here it is

 

Jarrod,

I will be sending out an e-mail shortly including you, explaining that Max and I have to postpone the party.

I am very sorry for inconveniencing you and am happy to pay you for the time you spent to date helping to plan a menu etc…

His mom is back in the hospital (she has cancer) and we are both under a lot of stress and sadly, we just don’t know what to expect in the next few weeks with my mother in law, so we have put Max’s party plans on hold.

Again, I apologize and thank you SO MUCH for your time.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

Infact the letter she had sent out to all her guests, she had emailed me on that list, and some of them had contacted me saying how disappointed they were under the circumstances.

Question is now......she knows my hourly rate, she has agreed to it, and has offered to pay me..I have atleast a full day(8hours)of writing this menu ...I have a heart/ but I do this for a living          Do I charge her?

post #2 of 18

I personally would not charge her, but that is strictly my view. It is not necessairly right. It is not necessairly wrong. It is only my outlook on the matter. We all have to make decisions that we can comfortably live with defined by our own parameters.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #3 of 18

What i would do in this situation, given the seriousness of the reason, and also that its a postponement not a cancellation, is to defer charging for the labor youve put in on menus etc, and tell her youll apply it to the bill when the event does happen.

Presumably most of the work youve done is done, and wont need to be repeated.

And it sounds like she's perfectly good for it.

Now, if you had or have to take money out of your pocket say, for people youve already hired for example, well i would ask her for that, and I'm thinking she'll understand the difference.

-Meez

post #4 of 18

i agree with cheflayne on this...i would not charge them. sometimes it's not always about the money. sometimes it's about being a stand up human being...about doing the human thing...it's what separates us from the apes. KARMA...what goes around, comes around.  i believe this gesture will come back to you in a good way, a profitable way...word of mouth is HUGE. see beyond the fence....the bigger picture. i think it gracious and classy for this new client to offer to pay for your time. i'm sure that as a seasoned, veteran hostess she knows all the minutiae that planning a party entails. they haven't cancelled the party, just postponed it. when they are ready to pick it up again at a better time, most of the 'heavy lifting' on your end will be done.....so there is that......besides, it's hard to put a pricetag on warm and fuzzy!

 

joey


Edited by durangojo - 10/15/12 at 2:46pm

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #5 of 18

Sometime not charging means more business and good word of mouth advertising later . But its your call

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 #6 of 18

post #7 of 18

the hat looks good on you!........that's funny...thanks

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #8 of 18

Thank-you kindly! biggrin.gif

post #9 of 18

nice new avatar meez....

sorry maybe my synocratic(?) connections are frayed, but i didn't think that passport photos were allowed!!!...optical illusion perhaps?

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #10 of 18

Ohhh Hardie-har-har! Nahhh, it's actually from an old school ID of mine--my hair was longer then.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have this sudden urge to go make a batch of...

Bananas Foster or something. mullet.gif

 

Meez.......aka.....Bobo.

 

 

PS: synocratic? ....... synaptic? :-p

     

post #11 of 18

sorry, i thought there was a word or a phrase for when your synapses dont' synapse any longer...guess not....or maybe it's called alzheimer's.....

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #12 of 18

have they given you a deposit?   

Do you have their credit card info?

 

I say bill um......cruel, thoughtless, maybe....but you don't have a long time relationship with them.  They offered to pay, bill um.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

I do have their info, in fact they just emailed me and told me they are just cancelling the entire party now and for the future because there is no way under their personal circumstances they wouldn't feel up for having this party or even celebrating anything with all their craziness going on. And in this second email she DID NOT say anything about me billing her or her paying like the first email. So she also said she is giving my name out to all her friends, I hope she tells them about the new 17% deposit right off the bat, LOL!! So it's not like anything is guaranteed with referrals. So I'm just going to bill her and we'll see when I get that check...not holding my breath...thanks for all the feedback folks!! :-)>

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

I do have their info, in fact they just emailed me and told me they are just cancelling the entire party now and for the future because there is no way under their personal circumstances they would feel up for having this party or even celebrating anything with all their craziness going on. And in this second email she DID NOT say anything about me billing her or her paying like the first email. So she also said she is giving my name out to all her friends, I hope she tells them about the new 17% deposit right off the bat, LOL!! So it's not like anything is guaranteed with referrals. So I'm just going to bill her and we'll see when I get that check...not holding my breath...thanks for all the feedback folks!! :-)>


Edited by Soulchef - 10/23/12 at 7:14pm
post #15 of 18

well so much for altruism!!! 

guess sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't....

hope it all comes out 'right for you' in the end

thank you for letting us know... the feedback is always appreciated

 

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #16 of 18

"if you'd like to book me, please send an estimated 50% non-refundable payment.  At this time I'm available but book on when deposit is received. Balance is due the day of your event"

 

Larger events typically 14 days prior for balance. 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #17 of 18

Pretty much same here..... 

50% to book, 30% non refundable to 30 days out,

50% NR at 30 days,

full balance owed at 2 weeks regardless of cancellation,

if balance not received by 5 days prior, we reserve the right to cancel your event.

 

Of course in practice it doesnt always work out that way. rolleyes.gif

post #18 of 18

This happens to us too!

 

You have to evaluate if the client WILL use you again in the future against the loss of money.  If they will then tack the hours onto the bill next time, if not then you have to look into your soul and ask if you are ok with charging people who sold you a sob story?

 

Personally, as a career chef and final year law student, there seems to be a contract there, cancer or a death in the family has no legal standing to the contract really.  Like I said, it is an ethical question.

 

We always let people off if they tell us stories like this, we just do, but some people don't!!!

 

I hope it all works out for you,

 

Wayne

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