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Catering job

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello fellow bakers!  I am very new to the baking business.  I've always had a passion for baking, just had a lot of obstacles and fears when it came to actually going into business.  That being said, a dear friend of mine has pushed me passed the point of no return.  I catered a very upscale cocktail party for her, I did the dessert table for 50 people.  I made 60 pieces each of lemon tarts, brownies, mini cheesecakes, macaroons, and crème puffs.  I also made the French bread for the caterer to use for one of his dishes.  My customer gave me $200 to buy supplies, which she was spot on.  I have roughly 30 hours into all of this and I still need to charge her for my time.  I have no idea!!  I need some assistance in this department.  She wants me to do the research because, after all, this is MY business.  I have seen most catering jobs charge per person, but I really don't know how to go about this and I want to get it right.  This cocktail party gave me a lot of exposure and I got the offer of a lifetime...I don't want to blow it.  Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

post #2 of 5
Welcome to Chef Talk!

Rule # 1 Don't work for friends or family.
Rule # 2 See rule #1

Kinda wondering why she felt the need to have 2 caterers in place and didn't just order the dessert table items at your usual and customary cost per item + overhead+delivery and set up+whatever profit you had in mind (that was all noted on the contract before you even accepted the deposit)?

Maybe she assumed a discount would apply since she not only is one of your BFFs but was providing your entree into the biz ?
Maybe because she was providing you with a lot of free advertising..... after all, what could be more valuable to a new caterer than 50 cocktail party guests being exposed to your wares?
Ummmm.....money?

I do agree with one point....you need to learn how to set your prices.
There are a few different ways to figure this out and IMO a really thorough CT search will provide you with the math part.

While you are reading take notes because a lot of new businesses fail for lack of a good, sturdy business plan and you will find good ideas for the one you will write.
Business plan?
Think of it as a policy and procedure manual (lots to running a bakery besides baking ).
If you had one in place already this situation you are facing would not have happened (or if it did you would have known how you had already decided to address it).

That you booked another gig from your first one is a rare thing so count yourself lucky.
Most people who use caterers already have one in place and are not looking for another.

Next time someone offers you a job and wants you to lowball the quote because of all the exposure you will get....smile, turn around and run.
Run very fast and very far lol.

mimi
Edited by flipflopgirl - 2/6/15 at 5:55am
post #3 of 5


The reason she picked you is probably because the caterers price was a lot higher. You made 300 mini pastries and the breads.  I would have charged 300.00 for the pastries and depending on the bread a minimum of 4.00 a loaf. You gave her a bargain.

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 #4 of 5

Rule # 3, you never discuss what's owed you for the first time, AFTER the event. It's done before the client signs

(and everyone signs, even BFF's and relatives--its not an insult, it's business.) 

 

With what you've listed, and the hours you've put in, you made 300 pastries and provided bread to another contractor; 

to me this is a 25.00 per person event, minimum, maybe closer to 30, or 12-1500.00.

Subtracting the 200 FC, that's a balance due of 1K to 1300 dollars. Sound like something your BFF might like to hear? :rolleyes:

 

The problem with letting yourself being taken advantage of on your first gig, is they and their friends expect 

you to lose money on them again and again, giving them the same unrealistically low price. And since you can't do that 

without losing the farm, plus the pigs and cows too, (not to mention, all too often the friend) what have you gained,

besides learning the hard way? 

 

Its a pity you weren't able to research this scenario in here first--there have been many  discussions in here about 

how futile it is to work cheaply in order to gain referrals. It's almost never worth it. 

post #5 of 5

You put yourself in a bad spot----

 

However, work up a real price based on labor, materials overhead and profit---

That will open your eyes---

 

then write up a bill based on that reality---and discount it as you see fit---

 

This way she will see your future expectations and understand that you gave her a 'one time,favor for a friend' price.

 

As all caterers have learned---nice people have nice friends---cheap people have cheap friends.

 

A referral from a customer that has allowed you a decent profit is a good prospective customer.

 

On the other hand, a lowball customers referrals usually stink---

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