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Administrative Fees - When and How to Apply Fairly

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

As a custom caterer, we put a lot of time into connecting with each client and crafting custom menus based on their particular vision, taste and budget for their event.  But there comes a time when you need to determine what is above and beyond the norm.  I have been in negotiations with a client since November for an event this September and still do not have a signed contract or deposit.  I have been working on menu proposals and price negotiations on and off for many months due to the changing dynamics (budget & other circumstances) of the event.  Although we don't have many clients like this, there are those few that arise and I would like to include something in our contract pertaining to this.  Does anyone have any recommended contractual language to include in a catering contract pertaining to additional Administration fees being applied for events requiring (prep/admin) work above and beyond the norm? What is the average amount of time expected to put into developing a custom menu and pricing and at what point should additional charges be applied?  At what rate do you charge for that time which goes above and beyond the norm? 

post #2 of 8
IMO there are 2 kinds of accounts.
The long term ones who regularly book my services and the new kids on the block who think by booking my services they now own my time.
Unless it is a gala event or chairity fund raiser I don't /won't meet with the noobs more than a couple of times.
I don't address this in a contract as it is kinda tacky..... IMO.
If a new account promises to be a long term customer I "educate" them.
If not and after a couple of meeting the contract is no closer to being pounded out and a hold the date deposit has not been paid....
Well their date has been filled and I send a polite email so they can start over with a different caterer.

I always try to part on good terms tho.
The future is impossible to predict and never slam the door in someone's face if you get my drift.

I suspect the September peeps are talking to several caterers in order to get the cheapest price as possible .
Hopefully you have not turned down any possible bookings for that date.

mimi
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

They are a promising client and we have done business in the past with them.  They are not entertaining other caterers as we are the exclusive caterer at the venue - its just some penny pinching and changing dynamics relating to the event on their behalf.  Maybe it would be best to reconsider the added fees since these instances are so far and few in between.  Thanks!

post #4 of 8
I'm scratching my head here. You've been in negotiations since last Nov. and the date is only two months away? AND they want a custom menu?

A vulgar but true expression would be "(defecate) or get off the pot" . Personally I would tell them they need to book before X, or we can't commit to the date. Sorry, and all that, but we have a business to run.

You can't charge an admin fee if you don't get their Visa #. Sure, you can bill for the time, but they'll just laugh it off. You can't get a Visa # untill a contract is signed, and you can't get a contract signed untill they commit to a date.

Think about what I just wrote, because it will make a lot of sense.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #5 of 8
Hi Karen,

I hope I wasn't too harsh in my post. I have o/o my own catering business for well over 10 years, so I have a fair idea how customers think and act.

But like I said, you have to proove how serious the customer is. If they don't want to confirm a date with a small deposit, its time to move on.

Please let us know how things are developing
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #6 of 8

I know of some caterers who offer x number of proposals. After that, they charge a fee for any additional proposals the client wants.

Not sure how I feel about that. But then again, I have never been in the position where a client has taken up an inordinate amount of my time.

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginamiriam View Post
 

I know of some caterers who offer x number of proposals. After that, they charge a fee for any additional proposals the client wants.

Yeah, but you can only do this with the client's acknowledgement.  You can't spring it on them after they have used and abused your time, or trying to enforce this will just be a mess.

 

On the other hand, if the client described in this thread won't make up their mind, the caterer they end up finally using can charge what ever they want, because now there's no time left for negotiating.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 8

Foodpump, I guess I should have been more specific. A blurb to that effect is included in the first proposal the client receives so there is no misunderstanding- ex: the first 3 proposals are free, any additional proposals will be charged at x dollars to be paid before proposal is completed. Or the blurb can say hours spent instead of number of proposals - ex: 3 hours (1 proposal per hour) are free. Any additional hours will be charges at x dollars per hour.....

 

If no blurb, then the caterer, after having had his/her time used and abused can simply let the prospect know that from this point forward, they get one more proposal and any others will be charged at x dollars.

 

There is always a workaround. But being a caterer, you already know that.

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