Sometimes I get the feeling when I ask customers for their catering budget they are almost afraid to share them or I crossed a line by asking. Like if maybe they just tell me all their wants and desires that they’ll score a better deal if they don’t disclose what they are willing to spend. Well unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case….
Lets just pretend you’re shopping for a house for a moment. Your realtor asks you for a pre- qualification letter and/or your budget. Thinking this is a pretty standard question the realtor is a little shocked by the response …’Um I kinda want YOU to come up with your best price”. The conversation might continue with a few more questions about size or bedroom quantity, but eventually would end up back to price again. You continue to dodge the pricing question until finally the realtor gives up and you are now back on your own looking for a house. Or lets say you walk into a car lot that offers anything from $2000 used rental returns up to high end luxury vehicles, The salesman asks for a budget and you just tell him “show me what ya got.” Can you imagine the amount of time you’d spend looking at cars you either hated because they were too cheap and basic, or cars you LOVED but couldn’t afford? I have a feeling it would be more of the ladder..but still what a waste of time …right?!
This is basically the scenario a customer creates for a caterer when they are not willing to disclose a budget. Keep in mind our services are designed to be mobile. Most caterers have HUGE menus and have done just about everything and anything when it comes to food. We have no desire to sell you something you cannot afford, but understand we offer catering service from $10 per head up to $100. A range, a starting point, a max budget, and idea…ANTHING is better than “Show me what ya got”. We publish pricing online so our customers can get a feel for our standard pricing. I’ll be happy to send you there but still…we all know you have some number in your head.
Look, catering is very similar to a restaurant experience. Some restaurants require ties and are priced accordingly. Others are happy to see you in flip flops and shorts with menu pricing to match that vibe as well. All Caterers fall into a niche’ market and price range…just like restaurants. Our services are not for everyone, we understand that and embrace it! Perhaps the catering you are doing does not require the type of set up we normally provide. Perhaps you’d prefer something so laid back that it simply doesn’t match our standard protocol. Other times clients want something so high end that our standards and pricing simply don’t match their needs. All of these scenarios are OK!
We ask only three things when it comes time to requesting custom bidding for your next Soiree.
1. Be honest with us about your budget.
Some parties are not a fit for a caterer. I often tell customers ” with something as small as you are doing my platter pricing simply doesn’t make sense. You might be better off picking up a few small things from AJ’s.” Spreading the cost of a Banquet captain over 8 people really adds up fast. if you are in that financial position and really want to enjoy your gathering vs. play host or hostess all night…awesome! We’d love to help. If not…you won’t offend me. In fact…shoot me an email or call me..i’ll give you some great tips on some easy DIY stuff that will impress the heck out of your guests. Every gathering is different, from hot dogs and hamburgers to prime rib, I can help you….and really I WANT to help you. However, understand just like anything service related…you can always do it cheaper yourself. So be honest with what you are willing to spend …we promise we can take it :). If it doesn’t make sense for us to work together at least let me get you the information you need to make the event an success.
2. Be realistic with your wants and desires vs. what you are willing to spend.
Many new customers or couples think that larger number of guests should equal smaller per person costs. This is the case when you reach numbers of 500 or more. However, it costs us the same per person to feed 200 guests as it does to feed 20. The food costs are simply the same. Groups that you may consider large (ie 100 – 250) are honestly the group sizes we serve on a daily basis. So please don’t think that a budget of $1500 is going to effectively feed 250 people within normal service standards, Other expenses such as service staff and/or china rentals can really drive price per head up and for lager groups service staff is a necessity(with catering you are paying for WAAAAAAY MORE than just food). Be aware for simple services most caterers need to price items in the $15 per person range. More complicated service usually ranges from $25- $55 per person. This can be sticker shocking to people that have never ordered catering before. Believe me we understand how fast this can add up and are there to ensure you get the best value for the money you spend. Special Moments wouldn’t have a 97% customer satisfaction rating if we didn’t. We simply won’t sell you something that won’t meet or exceed your expectations, in our eyes that is just bad business.
3. Don’t be insulted if we tell you our services are not a match for your budget.
As much as we’d love to work with everyone (believe me..sales people need SALES!) there are times when budgets and expectations simply don’t match our product & service line. Its a painful thing for a sales person to respectfully decline. We have ZERO desire to tell you to seek someone else’s help. However, please don’t take it personal. Its simply a matter of us not wanting to waste your time. We really appreciate the fact that you would trust us with your special day, we really do. We know whats on the line. For that reason if we can’t effectively serve you within your budget we would rather see you find someone that will than set you up for disappointment. We love you and thank you for asking…it simply won’t work.
I want to thank each and every customer that has ever placed an order with us in the last 30 years. YOU are why this company exists. Please don’t take this Blog post as anything other than education and a simple explanation of why our sales people are trained to ask for you budget before sending you an estimate. We truly want to make every single transaction a pleasant one and hope to be asking this same question in another 30 years :). May you all have a blessed 2016!