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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 03-21-2012, 04:51 PM   #1
HBMTN
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Default Lessons in business.

Lessons I'm learning in business. When I got into business I consulted a friend who has a huge successful business and asked his advice. He told me to give back to the public as much as I could and if asked for help and I can do it to do it. So I have been doing just that and it has been good for two years but I have to tell ya that giving back to the public is really biting me in the rear here lately. I have been trying to help the community that I grew up in which is about an hour away from where I live now. I donate to them all the time when they ask be it fundraisers for people having problems etc. I catered a huge community reunion last year for 50% of my going rate. This year they are hosting a KCBS competition and I am helping out by cooking for the judges class and promoting it where I can for the good of the community. A local (who is supposed to be my friend) has decided he is going to do a big BBQ fundraiser this year for his foundation and he is getting a guy from outside the area to do it and never even asked me to do it. The BBQ'r he is getting does a 2 meat 3 sides advertised all you can eat meal for $10 pp. I can not come close to that and there is a huge difference in what we do compare to him. Soon after this went viral on Facebook and a class reunion from the area that I had booked saw the cheap prices ($3 cheaper pp than I quoted them) they called me and canceled with me. I am feeling down about it all and am cooking for their community for the KCBS Class this weekend (donating for the most part) and I had a person who works for one of my best clients call last minute today wanting BBQ for this weekend. I told him I could pre-cook for him but he decided to go with my local competition here in the are. Now I am possible at risk of loosing a good client if he goes back and brags up my competition. I am cook (for free) for the local free clinic for a fundraiser in two weeks for 300 people. This will be my 5th year in a row. Wondering what that will cost me after the run I am having. I donate a large amount of retail value and these days I feel like it is costing me huge and just feeling down and needing to vent. Thanks for taking the time to read.
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Unread 03-21-2012, 05:14 PM   #2
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It can be tough being in business for yourself. Some conclusions I have come to over the years are:
You can't please everyone
You will lose clients on occasion
You have to say "no" sometimes
Being self employed is a roller coaster ride
Pursue excellence and the money will take care of itself
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Unread 03-29-2012, 09:49 AM   #3
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Man that is a tough one! Bright side that dude selling all you can eat for ten bucks wont be around to long before he goes under
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Unread 03-29-2012, 10:24 AM   #4
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I don't do bbq catering but I've got a business myself and I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND where you're coming from. I do my best to help the community, buy local (though it cost more) and support as many things in the community as possible.

But here's what I've learned. A lot of those same people wanting me to support them will not return the favor, including "friends" and "neigbhors". They will choose to bypass supporting me and my local business to save a dollar or two for themselves. Totally going against what they asked me to do to support them. That is the sad reality of it.

So, here's what we've done to combat that. We don't support them anymore. We support those who return the favor. I had one guy who we supported two years ago come back this past year and ask for our support in a situation that involved us spending money with them. I told him we were not going to be able to participate in his fundraiser this year. He was a bit taken back and I could tell he was pi$$ed off but oh well. He never got the nerve to ask why. It was probably a good thing because he would have really gotten pi$$ed off if I would have explained to him why.

But as I told my business partner, I couldn't care less if he got ticked. We weren't losing anything. The guy NEVER buys from us because he wants to save two or three dollars and buy from national chains. That's fine. I cannot tell someone the best way to spend their money. Nor can they mine. So I choose not to support people who come with their hand held out wanting us to support them but they won't return the favor.
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Unread 03-29-2012, 11:02 AM   #5
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As a business owner, I certainly understand this too. There will always be times when giving seems, or really is, one way only. There qill always be folks that undercut your prices as well. It may well be time to change who you support for a while.
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Unread 03-29-2012, 11:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
As a business owner, I certainly understand this too. There will always be times when giving seems, or really is, one way only. There qill always be folks that undercut your prices as well. It may well be time to change who you support for a while.
Yep, they'll get the message.
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Unread 03-29-2012, 11:22 AM   #7
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Yes that Bama. But even more, while giving back to community is good business, it should also feel good. If it doesn't feel good, then it is time to reconsider who you support. Sometimes in business, you need to trust your gut. Maybe support those causes where your business is centered.
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Unread 03-29-2012, 02:12 PM   #8
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Yeah, the sad reality in all of this is you seem to find out that those you THOUGHT would support you are the ones who are trying to take advantage of you. Always wanting you to donate something, whether it be goods, services or money. Yet when there's an opportunity for them to return the favor they are no where to be found. They take their money elsewhere because they want to save a buck or two.

I had a business friend of ours who owns two liquor stores here in town tell us a story of something very similar to what the orginal poster is describing. He said this guy he knew would always hit him up for sponsorships his kids were selling for their local band booster and/or ahtletic booster. He said he would ALWAYS buy one and never give less than $100, many times more. He'd also buy anything his kids were selling for school fundraisers like candy bars, cookie dough etc. He said he did this for years. Until one day, he was going into Wal-Mart and this guy was coming out with a buggy full of beer, ice and charcoal. He said he couldn't help but ask him why he didn't buy that from his store. He said the guy told him that Wal-Mart's price was "a lot" lower than his price and he just couldn't see paying that price for it when Wal Mart was carrying cheaper. The liquor store owner told us he then realized that this guy hadn't bought anything from his store in years that he'd been getting his beer at Wal Mart.

He said he didn't make a big deal of it and they went about their way. Then that summer the guy called him and wanted him to buy a sponsorship for his son's summer league travel baseball team. He told him no and the guy couldn't understand why. So he told him why. That he'd supported his kids' fundraisers for years, giving hundreds and hundreds of dollars yet he couldn't even as much purchase his beer from him but rather go give his money to a place like Wal Mart. He said they got into a huge argument and ended a long standing friendship over it.
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Unread 03-29-2012, 05:38 PM   #9
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I can completely relate to your situation. As a restaurant owner, we always have customers ask why an item cost more here than at the place down the street, and I have to explain that they are not comparing two equal products. Plain and simple, we are using higher quality products and we prepare our items from scratch by real people, so there are more costs to cover. It is hard to get customers to understand this. People tend to forget they are paying for the service aspect of things too. The money they are saving is being cut out somewhere, and it won't take long for people to see it. Remember that the individual booking these events rarely has the people eating the food in mind when they go with the lowest bidder. When there is a lower turnout at their next event and they can't figure out why, they will wish they had spent the extra money. There is no shame in charging a customer what the product is worth. I have never seen a successful business claiming "Cheapest food in town". Do what you know is right. Good luck.
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Unread 04-02-2012, 12:46 AM   #10
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This stuff happens all the time. Between friends and co-workers, I was always buying stuff their kids were selling for school, things like candy, cookie dough, etc... But whenever our kids need to sell stuff for their school, these same people pass and don't return the favor. So now we are having to say no as well, it just doesn't seem right.
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Unread 04-02-2012, 10:10 AM   #11
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Set a budget and when it us gone it is gone. Tell the them you have already spent your budget for the year and that you have a form to fill out for next year and it will be put with all the other requests. Staff will decide at the end of the year which event they want to support. This is how a lot of big stores operate.
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Unread 04-06-2012, 08:57 AM   #12
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At least try to get as much recognition from the media as you can..I know this sounds greedy..but it's dog-eat-dog..Have the local paper mention you at each event you cater..save all the articles...add them to your website and storefront...even your brochures...

This will actually help you when you need to say know..people should assume there is a good reason..
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Unread 04-08-2012, 11:04 AM   #13
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The first rule in any business is know the value of your product. Never be ashamed to say that your costs can't meet their expectation because you want to keep your quality high. If you concede to a lower value potential customers will expect you to do a deal for them and your margins will be eroded. Bet of luck.
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Unread 04-09-2012, 12:10 PM   #14
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if you make a better product the customers will come ,its all about quality not quantity
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