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What would you do?
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CarolinaQ
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20 09 10:27 pm    Post subject: What would you do? Reply with quote

Okay ringers; tell me what you would do.

My biggest repeat customer consistently gives me low guest counts between 25 to 40 people. This past weekend was the last straw. I sent them an e-mail explaining we could no longer provide free food and attached an invoice for the overage. The client was not happy and I won't go into all the details, but here's the question.

Would you walk away from your best repeat customer because of this?

They do not feel they owe for overages and from the last three events, I'm out at least $1000.00. What would you do? I've had it with them and am prepared to walk away. These folks are worth millions, that's the worst part! It's not like they can't afford the additional guest that show up for their parties.
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kingconsulting
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20 09 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What does your contract say?

If your out $1000 of your own money because of low guests counts on 3 events I think I would say something for sure. Did you say anything before you sent them an invoice? Was it worded professionally? I know how tempers can flare with something like that so I always have my wife as my proofreader.
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20 09 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Several folks use limited numbers of plates and utensils to match the estimated guest count, that way they can inform the host, when the guest count has been passed, and that there are still people in the line waiting to be fed.

This gives them and you a clue from the first time it occurs, and allows you to take action as you see fit, from then on.
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kingconsulting
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20 09 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We usually wrap and count our own utensils and bring extra singles just in case. A few extra here or there isn't a big deal to me but when you get into the 40 and 50's overage that can mess you up especially the bottom line.
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20 09 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, is agressively collecting that $1,000.00 owed now going to stop you from collecting several more $1,000.00's from that client in the future?

Did you need to cook more food than you originally planned on serving to cover these extra 25-40 guests? If not, I do not see a problem. Just an error on judgement on portioning.

What has this client said in defense of his obvious guest overages?

How do you count guests to verify numbers?

Who figured the amount of food to prepare, did you run out of food with these guest overages?

I have always had a problem with pricing items per-person for this very reason.
We are caterers that cook for a specific event with a fairly accurate estimate of guest's. That is why i always preferred Per-event pricing, and that total broken down by the amount of guests to provide a per-person price for cost comparison purposes only.

if the client has more guests show up than we were told and prepared food for, that is not my problem and it is no skin off my ass!
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Pit Boss
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20 09 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually have never seen this as a problem. I always give a per person price along with the total cost for the amount of people expected. At the time of the even there is a head count. Any overage is added to the invoice.

You must be doing some pretty big parties for these people if you have enough extra food for 25-40 extras.

I suggest that you let your clients know that your initial quote is for the amount of guests they ask you to prepare for, and that any number over that amount will be charged on the final invoice.
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kingconsulting
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20 09 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

another thing you could have done also is to raise there prices slightly to cover the overage every time.

How many people are you cooking for on average for them?
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BBQMAN
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20 09 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cape_fisherman wrote:
I actually have never seen this as a problem. I always give a per person price along with the total cost for the amount of people expected. At the time of the even there is a head count. Any overage is added to the invoice.

You must be doing some pretty big parties for these people if you have enough extra food for 25-40 extras.

I suggest that you let your clients know that your initial quote is for the amount of guests they ask you to prepare for, and that any number over that amount will be charged on the final invoice.


I do the same, and generally have never had a problem either.

That being said, I do bring an extra 5-10% food to cover any issues, such as extra guests, dropped food, etc.

If the guest count is within a couple of people, I don't charge extra.

But for your situation, I would tell the client "if you are honest with the guest count, we will be honest with the pricing and amount of food we bring". "Any additional guests will be billed at the agreed upon PP price"

To take the sting out of it (for the client) you may patiently explain that you do bring extra because running out looks bad for both them and you as the caterer.

It's bad enough that we don't regularly get a tip (not to bring THAT up again! Laughing ) but I'm not going to look bad OR pay for extra guests at my expense........................
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marvsbbq
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21 09 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would speak to the contact person and just let them know that you have noticed that their guest count has "consistently" exceeded their promised guest count.

Let them know that "we bill per guest served and with the extra guests at each event, we need to be sure to collect in these situations".

It SOUNDS like the same thing that was happening to me, the steady clients KNOW I bring lots of food (and WAS leaving ALL the leftovers) so they decided that they could pay for less guests because Marv was going to bring plenty of food anyway to feed all those extra guests....NOT ANY MORE!!!!

This why I have this in my contract: If Client's guests exceed the guaranteed number, Client shall pay the full per person price for each additional guest plus gratuity and taxes. Payment in full for each additional person is due prior to Marv's leaving the event.
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Jerk Pit Master
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21 09 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Based on what you descibe, I would not classify them as a great client.

Like said before, what does the contract say and was the client aware. I propose you split the difference and move forward with a clear understanding.

I've seen similar threads on other forums of clients trying to take advantage of caterers over and over again by providing low guest counts on purpose.

Try that with me and you'll be out of luck, as the reason I'm in catering rather that vending is I like accurate guest counts and payment in advance. I typically prepare the exact quantity of food, plus a little overage typically determined by the food size upon purchase, not any 5-10% formula. But BBQMAN raised a good point to have at least one extra serving to cover client spills.
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CrazyChef
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21 09 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a thought - Why don't you send them am email with a link to this thread? Then they can see the responses and realize the error of their ways.
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Bluegrass BBQ
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21 09 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An old saying, "Dog bites me the first time shame on the dog. Dog bites me the second time shame on me."As someone else said this is not a good customer in my opinion. I don't have much faith in contracts anymore as I once had. They all seem to get broken. So I deal with people up front and straight forward. They know that what they tell me they will have in the way of guest count is what food they will get. It is there's they paid for it and if you don't have enough to eat it they better have a way to dispose of it safely or I throw it in the trash or give to shelter. If they have more people and I have enough food to feed them they will pay for it. But like someone said when they reach there count I tell them and let them make the descision to feed the extra's.
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Slo Smoked Mo Better
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21 09 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with Harry, I charge per event. If the client tells me they have a guest count of 100, I'll ensure that they have plenty for 100. If they have 150 show up, they are SOL!

And along those same lines if they are able to feed 150 with the amount of food that I bring...so be it, I'm already paid for the "event".
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Grnmtn BBQ Chef
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21 09 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We do just that... a plate count and chair count with about a 5% overage on the plates. When we see both covered we call the client over and ask them what they want to do about the extra count. Do you have the extra plates, and such to cover the excessive overage? We also make it clear during the client meeting that giving us corect numbers is important as we are a fee plus the cost of food provider, so anything extra is going to be either tough, or cost more if we can do it at all. This keeps the pressure where it belong on them.

My recommendation would be to have a sit down and clairfy the rules before rebooking. You are there to make the party work for them and make your profit, as your not working for free and you need to keep the wheels on your BBQ rig.
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marvsbbq
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21 09 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slo Smoked Mo Better wrote:
I'm with Harry, I charge per event. If the client tells me they have a guest count of 100, I'll ensure that they have plenty for 100. If they have 150 show up, they are SOL!

And along those same lines if they are able to feed 150 with the amount of food that I bring...so be it, I'm already paid for the "event".


But wouldn't you have charged MORE (and therefore made more) if the client had been honest and upfront with you and said they had 150 guests???

So if they were able to feed 150 guests, in all reality, it cut into YOUR profits.
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Jerk Pit Master
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21 09 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with the camp, that if they can serve 150 with 100 servings of food, No Problem Mon! They paid for all the food. I'm only out $10 or so for extra paper products.

I don't want to be like those restaurants that charge a "sharing fee"
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22 09 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

marvsbbq wrote:
Slo Smoked Mo Better wrote:
I'm with Harry, I charge per event. If the client tells me they have a guest count of 100, I'll ensure that they have plenty for 100. If they have 150 show up, they are SOL!

And along those same lines if they are able to feed 150 with the amount of food that I bring...so be it, I'm already paid for the "event".


But wouldn't you have charged MORE (and therefore made more) if the client had been honest and upfront with you and said they had 150 guests???

So if they were able to feed 150 guests, in all reality, it cut into YOUR profits
.


No not really, he provided the proper amount of food for the contracted 100 people. he did not prepare food for 150 people, he prepared for 100, so there is no change in proft margins except for the extra plates that may be used.

Lets use a 14" pizza as a logical comparison, You provide that 14" pizza at your regular menu price.
Who friggin cares if only 3 people or up to 10 people share that pizza, You can't charge more just becuase they decide to have more people share that exact same amount of food you prepared for a set price.
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marvsbbq
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22 09 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's just say, we each have our own way of figuring our pricing structure. What ever works for you, works for you and vise verse.
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Poppa's PTL Club
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28 09 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's what I want to know:
What's the menu that gets $25-40/serving ($1000 lost for 40-25 extra guests)? If you're already cooking this much extra (I don't see where you say you've run out), how are you so far off on your estimates?

If you have continued to make reasonable money with this client and you know this is the way they operate and that charging them more at the end of the day would tick them off, I would just up my prices in the quote for the overage and see if it flies. If not, either drop them as a client or go to pains to point out your overage provisions in the contract when it is presented and let them know you will be enforcing them and how.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28 09 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would probaly quit dealing with him because it appears that he is dishonest, once being a accident ,everytime is intentional and i would wonder how long before he writes me a bad check and hits me real hard since he has shown he doest mind cheating me. If i did continue to deal with him i would do like Poppa said and raise my price to cover overage.
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