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New to pricing catering, are we wrong here?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

We have a seasonal food truck and have began doing private caterings during the off season.  We have done a few and every time we come to pricing we loose confidence. We have only had compliments and never complaints on the quality/taste/wow factor of the food.  Our recent catering had a menu of the following:

 

Beef Wellington

Shrimp Brochette

Jalapeno Crab Dip

Grilled Chicken Skewers (they requested this, not our idea)

 

Feeding 30, food cost is about

$250, off site travel is about 30 miles, no staff required

 

How much would you charge?

post #2 of 17

Don't forget to figure fuel, propane, ice, disposables, travel time for yourself & staff, cost to operate that truck, maint, insurance etc and any other cost you may incur taking the truck to your client's location.

 

 

 

post #3 of 17

And in addition to that, the percentage profit you're expecting.

 

We really can't price it for you, our numbers aren't your numbers, we can only tell you which of your numbers

to add up, get your total and divide by number of people to get price per person if you desire.

 

Also, each party is different, and needs to be calculated individually. In other words, trying to thumbnail, like

taking your 30 person costs and multiplying by 10 for 300 PPL say, is not going to give you an accurate

cost, and could potentially lose you the job or money. Also, as your % of costs decrease with an increase in size

of party (typically but not always) the profit you need can vary a little as well. Perhaps not by much, but it could

mean the difference between getting or not getting the gig.

post #4 of 17

To get better help--let us know--the serving style--and level of staff---

 

A buffet with disposable ware will be a darn sight cheaper than a sit down dinner with linen and china.

post #5 of 17

Minimum $39.00 pp  plust tax and tp

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #6 of 17

Interesting because I was going to ask a similar question.  New here!  I've been lurking on this forum for a while - thanks for all the great advice!

 

We're rounding out our first year in catering - began with a food truck also but quickly found out that catering is more predictable/ lucrative.  That said - wanting to touch base to see if I am on track when it comes to my pricing.  In general I've kept my food cost in the 25-30% range.  I probably over-pay a bit when I hire help but we are a young business with occasional jobs -  I've felt we need to make it very attractive so that the help is there when we need (i.e. folks MAKE themselves available when we have a job come up, and I can leave them alone with my clients if needed and not have any concerns).  My labor cost is around 15%-20%, not including a wage for myself, and depending on how many commitments I have in a week, i.e some weeks I hire extra dish-washing/prep hours if I'm busy.  That figure includes some kitchen prep/clean-up help (I handle majority myself), and generally one person on hire for the catering job itself.  We've done primarily self-serve, buffet set-up for crowds under 100, and mostly in the range of 40-75 people, which I can handle with one other person.  I find on occasion that we would probably benefit from one extra person so we don't have to hustle quite so much, but business volume is not quite there yet ...good to have a husband available for occasional free labor :)

 

I guess my question is this - are most of you including yourself as part of your labor cost, and then adding a profit on top of that?  Or do you consider yourself to be paid out of whatever profit is left after food, staff and overhead?  My profit margin is running 40-ish %, including my own labor/salary, on most jobs.   Curious what other folks do, and what your percentages run on average understanding some jobs are more profitable than others.  I just want to go into our second year a little smarter.  Now that we have gotten some experience I think I need to rethink pricing and either factor in a wage for myself, then add a profit on top -  or maybe adding 10% on top of whatever I estimate when I'm quoting?  Also guilty of doing more than the budget really allows on quite a few (too many) occasions because I wanted to make a great impression (word of mouth has taken us far this year but need to reign that in).  Any pointers would be appreciated!

post #7 of 17

ALAdeG- Some one with more catering experience can correct me but speaking from the small business owners point of view I'll say you should definitely include pay for yourself, then the profit. Your labor is not free, this is not a hobby and someone else doing the job you are doing would expect to get paid. Failure to account for their own labor is a common problem with small business owners. 

No matter how much activity or cash flow your business has, it isn't doing well if you personally don't make a living. 

post #8 of 17
Quote:
 Minimum $39.00 pp  plust tax and tp

I agree with that call, for Wellington for 30 I came up with 37.95 to 42.95.

Didn't have the numbers to work it out exactly.

 

@ALAdeG: The labor fee is for you, and be sure to consider that as expert skilled labor as opposed to a helper.

The profit is for the business--which has a mind & will  of it's own, and will be quite offended if you don't pay it well!

 

Whatever number gets spit out of the calculation machine, you of course have to "weigh that" against the going rate

in that area for that cuisine, and make any necessary adjustments.

post #9 of 17

Food  Cost + Labor cost + Overhead + Transportation +Linen Rentals+ Equipment Rentals ==

YOUR TOTAL COST=  Now    start  from  there

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for the feedback!  It is a buffet style.  That is how we figured it, however, we way under priced.  We still profited, but did not figure in our personal labor costs.  We have just counted the profit as our pay.  We will definitely change that in the future.  Are there any recommendations on what a chef should charge per hour for labor by skill level?  Thank you again!  This was so very helpful!

post #11 of 17
You should charge what the market will bear in your area. For example, in NYC in the early 90's i would charge 40$ an hour for catering, that was cash in hand. Here today in Sweden i dont step into the kitchen for less than a 100 an hour. Its what the market will bear. Never sell yourself cheap or be the go to guy for the lowest price. Yes i turn away business because of price. Most recently I had a guy I knew somewhat ask me about doing lunch and dinner catering for a sport team visiting from Canada. Complete meals, delievered at various times of the day and night, and he said, and I quote here" i want the cheapest price possible" i told him that he needed to contact someone else as I dont do cheap. Needless to say I didnt cook fir them.
post #12 of 17
Great feedback! I'm new to the catering indusrty and am at a loss on pricing. I bided on a job at 50.00-60.00 pp I got the job it's a plated Christmas party
2 Appetizers
2 different dinner options
Dessert
Food cost came to around 245.00 so I was going to charge 45.00 per hour and figured with planning - shopping - cooking - traveling and assistant that would be fair it comes to around 10 hours total. but now I'm second guessing!
PLEASE HELP
Also it's in Carlsbad california
post #13 of 17

You got the job by bidding a price range?

If you already bid per person and sold it, I'm not sure what you're asking about pricing?

 

And you don't wanna second guess, or ANY guessing, generally you figure out ALL your costs, labor and fixed costs included,

add profit and base your price quote on that. But if you've already got the job, you just need to figure out how to distribute the funds.

In other words, you did it all backwards, The upside is it sounds like you're getting enough to cover it all....

however...

you also didn't say how many guests you're feeding.

At that food cost I'm guessing around what....40 people or so?

post #14 of 17


Do not figure your salary out of profit. Profit is something that is sometimes put back into the business, or in the bank

 Figure yourself in as part of total labor cost. Then what is left after computing all expenses is profit

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliciouslydone View Post

Great feedback! I'm new to the catering indusrty and am at a loss on pricing. I bided on a job at 50.00-60.00 pp I got the job it's a plated Christmas party
2 Appetizers
2 different dinner options
Dessert
Food cost came to around 245.00 so I was going to charge 45.00 per hour and figured with planning - shopping - cooking - traveling and assistant that would be fair it comes to around 10 hours total. but now I'm second guessing!
PLEASE HELP
Also it's in Carlsbad california

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post


Do not figure your salary out of profit. Profit is something that is sometimes put back into the business, or in the bank
 Figure yourself in as part of total labor cost. Then what is left after computing all expenses is profit
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post


Do not figure your salary out of profit. Profit is something that is sometimes put back into the business, or in the bank
 Figure yourself in as part of total labor cost. Then what is left after computing all expenses is profit



Thanks for the response- I think I have it but would like a bit more feed back
The job was asking for someone to cook for their Christmas party it was for 12-15 people at 50-60.00 per head
So my food cost was 233.27 for 12 people 2 appetizers 2 dinner options with sides and a dessert, I was going to charge 42.50 per hr. for labor , gas , shopping and planning time which averages out to about 55.00 per head
Does that sound right ? I feel it's fair just don't want to over charge or under charge.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post


Do not figure your salary out of profit. Profit is something that is sometimes put back into the business, or in the bank
 Figure yourself in as part of total labor cost. Then what is left after computing all expenses is profit
post #16 of 17


Your food cost is approx. @20.00 pp x 12 = $240.00///  10 hours as you say equals 450.00   Equals 690.00 total divided by 12= $57.50 per person. That's good.

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #17 of 17
Thank you so much for the help! Btw the party was a super success. 😜
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