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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 10-04-2005, 04:13 PM   #1
Neil
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Default Catering Job ...HELP!

I just got a phone call and was asked to cater a 50th wedding anniversary suprise party for 70 people later on this month! Basic BBQ fare of pulled pork, chicken, and ribs; beans, slaw, potato salad. How much should I charge? Any and all suggestions would be welcome.
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Unread 10-04-2005, 04:20 PM   #2
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Add up food & fuel costs, and any other expense, and multiply times 1.5 or 2?

4oz pork, 2 ribs & 1-2 chicken parts per is also my guess, and a serving spoon per side.

I still want to see a pic posted of that bacon!
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Unread 10-04-2005, 04:34 PM   #3
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A lot depends on whether you want to make $$ or this is for friends and you're trying to save them some $$

Are you providing anything but the meat? You'll need to add at least $1-$1.50 for the plates, cutlery, napkins, cups, ice - you get the picture.

Same for drinks, munchies, etc.

I did a wedding rehearsal dinner once (not bbq though the food cost was comparable) and wound up losing $40. But I wound up doing table decorations, too, and that buried me. It was for friends so I just sucked it up and counted it part of a wedding present. I just undercharged - should have added $25 per table for the decorations and I'd have been clear with a little left over.

I did a family reunion for about 60 (brisket, chicken, dogs for the kids) and did all supplies, desert (cake), drinks, munchies, etc. and charged $17 per head - I made a little and it helped start paying for my cooker. Everyone was happy and the price was for ALL day - hence LOTS of drinks, cups, and ice.

I just did bbq chicken for 65 - chicken halves, green beans & potatoes (older people), slaw, cobbler & ice cream. I provided all the supplies. I charged the $8 per head (church) and still made a few $$$.

As you can see, it depends on what you'll provide. Meat only can be computed by taking your raw costs and multiplying by 3 or 4 (depending on what you figure as your food cost. Even for a full cater you can do that same thing - figure ALL your costs and then multiply and then divide that by the number of guests. With three meats and three sides I wouldn't be bashful about charging $15 or so - I usually ball-park costs as $1 per meat (except ribs-$2), $.50 per side, and then do the multiplication (those are per person estimates). You can certainly multiply by 2 if you have a big heart!!

Good luck!
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Unread 10-04-2005, 09:11 PM   #4
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Chad has a great point.

Are these friends?

For me, friends are cost + 1.75 ltrs Jack

If this is an unknown person, or marginal at best, I would say cost + $100, with them keeping left overs (they paid for it)

Thats just my uneducated ass guess. Save receipts. Make sure they know goin in they can be spending $500

My local pizza place, beef, chicken, 2 sides for $7 apiece. 7 X 70 = 490
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Unread 10-05-2005, 03:46 AM   #5
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Ty, Dave, and Bill, thanks for the feedback. These are not friends but they are very wealthy people from my parish. They own about twenty gas station/convenience stores in the area plus a heatin oil business. Party is going to take place at their "cottage" on Lake Michigan. I don't want to stick it to anyone but I do want to make a fair profit.
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Unread 10-05-2005, 05:57 AM   #6
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I have been involved in wedding photography for years, and it is all about the money.

My wife and I started off charging a reasonable low price and what we got was ……. Late brides, rude mothers, and generally we received little cooperation or respect for our efforts.

Then we raised our prices to be one of the highest in the region and guess what, we still booked wedding and people cooperated and we were given a much higher status and respect for the job we were there to do.

You may think people will appreciate a low price, but they may just think you are worth very little or that you are a fool.

A photographer should never base the price of their product on a cost plus basis but rather answer the question “what is it worth”? Taste your product and ask yourself how important to the event your product is. Don’t be too cheap it will not serve you well.

In the photography business it is generally accepted that if your clients are not complaining about your prices you are not charging enough.

A client complaining about a price to a friend is just a way to brag …… “ that Neil Catering cost me a bunch but it was worth every bite”

By the way, what do you suppose a plumber would get to work for you for two days??

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Unread 10-05-2005, 06:50 AM   #7
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Jerry, how true! I'm an IT geek and DO NOT do work for neighbors and friends - for the same reason - you go cheap and suddenly you OWN their PC and they call at ALL TIMES!

On the food side - I've always tried to stay reasonable but make a profit for my two days! Church is a bit different and I did a LOT for them at cost with me doing the labor.

With the crowd Neil is looking at for meat/sides only I'd not feel guilty, in the least, goint $15 or $17 per person. Just watch your portion control (especially on ribs) and don't leave too many leftovers - contrary to what Bill said - they are paying XX$$$ for XXnumber of people - not for a bunch of leftovers!! Face it, the cheapest rib plate around is abou $10-12 with a couple of dinky sides - at $15 or so you're providing a lot better value. Screw that "well, you don't have the overhead!"

Price it fairly and don't feel guilty about making some $$$.
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Unread 10-05-2005, 07:02 AM   #8
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On the same note. I used to cook whole hogs (cook only, the host furnished all paper, bread, sides, tables and help boning) for a bottle of JD. Got too busy doing too many hogs so I raised it to $100.00. Still stayed too busy. Cooking a hog is fun, but doing one every weekend all summer isn't. Got rid of the roaster. Another local fellow does this the same as I used to, and he charges $400. He's busy all summer. I have to agree. If the quality is good, don't be shy about charging.
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Unread 10-05-2005, 07:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chad
, in the least, goint $15 or $17 per person. Just watch your portion control (especially on ribs) and don't leave too many leftovers - contrary to what Bill said - they are paying XX$$$ for XXnumber of people - not for a bunch of leftovers!! .
Upon further review, my advice was on more of a cooking for friends basis.

I bow to those that actually have catered in the past and know what they are talking about.

My advice was admittedly bunk.

Go with the veterans Neil
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Unread 10-05-2005, 07:34 AM   #10
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I do a lot of these and I charge for friends your costs x 2 and for people you know but are not friends costs x 3. be straight up front with them and you will be fine. your time and skill is worth more than you know.
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Unread 10-05-2005, 08:27 AM   #11
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you may want to break up the proposal into several areas. one is the food. ALWAYS give three choices of food packages. put the one You want them to buy in the middle price range. EVERYONE likes a choice. When you go to the store to buy a watch you have a choice so it sould be the same in catering. Make one very high with high end food, one low with less food, and the one with a good margin the middle. most people will pick the middle.some the top end and very few the bottom. You don't want those anyway. If you are providing the chaffers tables cloths, decorations etc. add a 'service charge'. this is NOT a tip. It is the cost of providing the equivalent of an eat in restaurant at a remote location. Next break out the cost of the servers. Is this sit down or buffet? If you are a legit caterer you have work comp, fed tax, social security matching libility etc. this is money out of your pocket, get paid for it.
Another tip, if you do a buffet, put all the salads and sides first and then the meat last. Also if it is SELF SERVE on the line increase the price, if you have servers, you can portion control . Catering is more than cooking food. If you are serious about catering look at www.catersource.com. they have a monthly magazine and conultants. Mike Roman was the big guru there. He sold out but still is on staff. He is worth every penny if you use his onsite consulting.
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Unread 10-05-2005, 10:52 AM   #12
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I never want to be the lowest priced and I also don't want every job that comes by. I charge 3 to 4 times the cost of every thing I use. Your pricing may need to very based on the market in your area.
Quigley great advice.
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Unread 10-05-2005, 03:52 PM   #13
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I have to agree with Chad, it has gotten to the point where my wife is not allowed to tell people about me and computers. If someone mentions their private computer or at home model, I recommend they go to an Electric shop. I could use more money, but not the headache. People have a tendency to take your kind heart and STOMP on it.

Yes even the people you go to church with. Think of it this way. How much is your time worth to you? You know they like your cooking or they would not have asked you to cook for them for this ocassion. Two reasons they contacted you, 1. They like your food. 2. They had your food, and think they can get you at a reasonable price...

To cook for that many people how long will it take you you to prep the meat, cook the meat, move the meat, not to mention the sides.

Be fair to yourself, and your family who will also take on some of the burden/responsibility if in no other way, but do the things you will not be able to do while you are dealing with this. I once agreed to help a friend, and the wife got very pissed because what I thought of as something simple became major and she was left having to take care of all of my honey dos that weekend.

In any case you will make the choice that will be good for you, and enjoy yourself. This could be the start of a whole new career for you. "Rib Crown Caters"
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Unread 10-05-2005, 04:08 PM   #14
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"Ribs so good, you'll feel like royalty!"
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Unread 10-06-2005, 03:52 AM   #15
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You guys are great. I threw out a price of $11 per head to the guy for plulled pork, chicken thighs, slaw, potato salad, baked beans, and rolls. I figure I can get it done for under $200 cost and put over $500 in my pocket. I supply the paper and plastic ware. One of my best friends who buys his gas from these people for his gas station told me they were very tight with their purst strings. I figure if I cannot put at least $500 in my pocket it ain't worth the work. The potential customer is suppose to get back to me today after he, "checks", with his brother. I have a feeling he thought he was going to be able to get it for under $500!! Another couple at our church use to do whole hog roasts for them at $450.
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