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properly quoting a catering gig

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello and i guess good morning lol.. I love to cook and started shaving ice back in 02.. which has lead me into running concessions for several local sport leagues in my town in california.. I have recently started a catering business in may 2015.. I have received business of the month by the chamber of commerce for my city for month of sept. and recently won a taco competition that i battled against 4 well established restaurants n a neighboring city... I really need some help in accurately quoting a gig.. i have just been tossing numbers out there to clients and hoping for the best and basically underselling myself and all the hard friggn work put into it.. Up till 4 5 6 even 9am cooking and preparing food.. going off a couple hours of sleep and i do everything and prepare a lot of it onsite as well... i dont want to rape clients pockets but i know im worth more than what im charging and my help is my lady who doesnt help too much my brother who doesnt have any culinary training besides working w me and my step father who isnt the sharpest tool in the shed but means well and helps for free.. we are getting well known and are pretty well established now but at this time i cannot afford professional help and also want to take care of my brother who does as i ask and has been my right hand man... But i am not making enough to do so and pay my bills and save money... i also work w a few wineries and a bar that just requested my services 2 days a week where i set up and sell food like a vendor... but can you help me 1 asap with pricing a party wedding rehearsal dinner for 75 peeps menu to be tacos beans and rice and a salsa bar.. choice of meats- my award winning chile verde -pork =1.79lb carne asada 3.99lb pollo asado 2.69lb.. 2_3 tacos per person i need to ask if they need flatware and anything else such as drinks ice linens ect.. also am helpn them book a venue.. not sure if i charge them for my chafing dishes which they would have to rent... i dnt want to charge too much and discourage them and end up having them go somewhere else but also dont want to sell myself short anymore... ive heard the 33% look on thing but not sure if thats the route i should take and how do i choose how much to pay myself and my help and do i charge service fee or gratuity because some tip well as where others dont at all.. i dnt want hidden fees for them and have been looking into creating a contract which i shouldve done from square one.. i need help and dont want to continue not knowing exactly how to properly run a catering business.. I am prideful but know everyone needs help at some point and i would be ignorant if i didnt reach out and ask for it... Please nice advice would be very much appreciated in helping me turn my dreams into reality.. thank you very much.. and please dont talk down to me and refrain from commenting if that is how you handle things as its taken a lot of me to get to this point.. i have a client waiting on a quote and i need to approach this differently than i have been... thank you very much for your time and knowledge
post #2 of 11

There is so much (solid) available info on this subject on Chef Talk.

Why is this good?

Because you will find answers to questions you did not know you had.

 

To get you started......

 how to price a catering job ? 

 Trying to start an at home catering Buisiness.Help!!!!!!!!! 

 Catering Pricing 

 Catering Prices 

 New to pricing catering, are we wrong here? 

 

I alternated catering and catering pricing in the search function.

Another good way to learn some of the nitty gritty (math included) would be to study at the knees of the late great @PeteMcCracken (this will take you to his CT page and from there the world is your oyster (at least until you get on your feet and gain some confidence).

 

About being talked "down to".

F&B..is a fast paced biz (if you are lucky lol ;-) and most of the been around forever people talk in shorthand which I will be the first to admit can come out sounding not so nice esp when there is a lack of body language for clues.

 

Just one thing before I go.

It is really hard to read and absorb so many works squished together.

Maybe you can go back and edit by placing some spaces?

I am a bullet point style poster......

Paragraphs can be fine as well.

Welcome to Chef Talk!

 

mimi

 

#edit to add... I did not vet any of the links so if you come across a still unanswered question just ask.

 

m.

post #3 of 11

OBTW...

You are right about the contract.

It is helpful to have somewhere to spell out their wants (services) and your needs (money to keep the doors open and continue to feed your family).

 

I also find it nice when it comes to touchy subjects (read some of the catering leftover threads....mamma mia lol) as I can point to the line with a sharp object...read it aloud....then just bark "itintial here" lol .

 

m.

post #4 of 11

About equipment rental.

Yes.

Charge deposit (replacement cost plus PITA factor) as well as rental.

 

That's all.

Maybe lol.

 

mimi

post #5 of 11

I'm not going into the costing part. FFG gave you good advice on where to find that. I will say by properly costing everything out and keeping your labor down you will under cut all other caterer's. Your clients don't know your getting free labor, in time you may not be in this position. I wouldn't worry to much about being the cheapest, I would keep on giving quality food and quality service. Always remember that your clients will never understand how much work it takes to cater an affair. This is why people may say let's get a few trays of food at Safeway and be done with it. You need to decide if you want to be a caterer that gets every catering because he undercuts everyone else and makes less money. Or, be a caterer that takes the catering's that they can make good money on and do less catering's. In my catering business I costed the menu out to be fair with my customer. I also got all of my catering because we were serving the best quality of food. I found in the beginning it was all about cost. In the end it was that they just wanted me to do it regardless of the cost. Don't sell yourself short, make a good buck on the affair. A good caterer works real hard making it a successful catering. You are in the beginning stages of building your business. It's OK to give a little at this stage. IMHO,  At the end of the day the client should feel they got good food and good service for what  they paid. When I met with my client I would promise them whatever. When I did the catering I would always give them a bit more. I wanted them to feel they made the right choice and got more than expected. I feel I didn't do my job unless my clients guest's were bragging to them about how good everything was. I want to make my Client the hero, not me. In all the foodservice's I have worked in or owned catering gave me the most sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.........Good Luck.......ChefBill

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
And I strive for 110% guest satisfaction as i aim to go above and beyond clients expectations... I have a rehearsal dinner a few weeks back the i catered at a holiday inn and the next day was their wedding she contacted me and said the folks at the wedding were still complimenting my food and they ALL wish i had been the one selected to cater the wedding as welll... I am doing well booking venues just need ti get better at the paper work that goes into it and gauging prices/quotes.. Much appreciated Mr.Chef Bill
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shave N Flav View Post

And I strive for 110% guest satisfaction as i aim to go above and beyond clients expectations... I have a rehearsal dinner a few weeks back the i catered at a holiday inn and the next day was their wedding she contacted me and said the folks at the wedding were still complimenting my food and they ALL wish i had been the one selected to cater the wedding as welll... I am doing well booking venues just need ti get better at the paper work that goes into it and gauging prices/quotes.. Much appreciated Mr.Chef Bill


Great job with your business you should be proud. When It comes to costing it reminds me of a multi restaurant complex I trained at in Hawaii. I had a Japanese GM training me in restaurant management. He asked a few of us to take inventory. One of the guys I was working with gave the GM a list of the spice rack items he had taken inventory on. The GM asked about the Bay leaf container and why it wasn't counted. The guy told him they only use a few at a time there isn't really a cost. The GM look at him and told him everything has a cost, everything needs to be accounted for. The guy when back and counted 1000's of bay leaves in the container. He later told me why he made him count all the bay leaves. He said when you start not counting things because it's to small of a cost where do you stop. When you cost out a menu put some kind of a cost on every item in the dish. He said a few penny's may not be that big of a  deal for a few dishes but what about 1000's of dishes over a years time. Thinking like this will help you break down a dish and figure out what costs you have. Let me know if I could help, I would be happy to..........The Best.......Chef Bill

post #8 of 11

I have a question on your meat costs, is that what you are paying for raw meat or is that the cost per pound of the end product? The reason I ask is that the pork is going to shrink 40-50% after cooking, steak and chicken 20-30%, are you considering this? Adding in the cost of marinades and chilies, tomatillos, etc for the chili verde.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yes that is the price raw but yes i do take that into consideration.. and my 1st wedding i catered back in sept i learned the loss of beef raw vs cooked and started taking that into consideration as well.. that never crossed my mind and ive cooked for yrs so definitely learned and got a new wrinkle in my brain.. so pork shrinks by almost half whem cooked though? Damn another new wrinkle.. So what is the proper amount weight wise portion of meat to serve or account for per person? I was told apprx 6-8oz cooked.. is that correct? Lets say im bbqn traditional tritip dinner for 75 peeps w garlic mashed taters corn on the cobb a green salad and gbread.. how much meat lbs. Would one by raw and i know its better to have more than not enough.. thank you
post #10 of 11

Take a look at this site and scroll down to the bottom to see the yield charts. You could take their yields and figure out your cost. Most people don't know or worry about exact costing of their menu. The ones that want to stay in business do.........You will run into clients that will ask for catering's saying they want 2 or three tacos per person. If your going to cost it out, I would cost it on three tacos to cover yourself. Remember! The customer doesn't want you to run out of food. You also don't want to a lot of food leftover. If you cost out the amount of food to cover the clients requests and the food isn't used you will still have it covered and make your money. Everyone wins don't every cut yourself short. I have done 1000's of catering over the years. Each one of those catering I played out in my own mind. All I had to do when the time came was to do it.........Chefbuba is a great source for info, he hangs with the best!

 

http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400525/Data/retn/USDA_CookingYields_MeatPoultry.pdf  

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post

 

Each one of those catering I played out in my own mind. All I had to do when the time came was to do it........

 

Smart.

Muscle memory learning.

Really works for an unfamiliar venue.

 

mimi

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