Head count dropped over 50%

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Joined Jun 22, 2018
Original number of proposed guests for this function was 70. I anticipated final number might be down by 10- 15%. Final head count 2 weeks before the event is 40 people!!! Simple menu, buffet ..I gave her a good price for this piccata, green beans and rigtoni with vodka sauce and threw in 10 small children for free. Now that stand to make very little money unless I adjust price per head based on 50% dro0 off in numbers. Do I have any recourse? Like bump it up to $25pp Any suggestions ?
 
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Joined Dec 23, 2004
The obvious question to me is did you have a contract? When doing cater-outs or inside catering I've always worked off a contract that stated the minimum the customer would be billed for and the amount of overage we could accommodate. I would explain that to the client/customer and see what the response it. At that point you can modify whatever agreement you had, cancel the event altogether or chalk it up to a learning experience.

If you cater regularly you need to figure out how you're going to handle this going forward.
 
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Joined Jun 22, 2018
The obvious question to me is did you have a contract? When doing cater-outs or inside catering I've always worked off a contract that stated the minimum the customer would be billed for and the amount of overage we could accommodate. I would explain that to the client/customer and see what the response it. At that point you can modify whatever agreement you had, cancel the event altogether or chalk it up to a learning experience.

If you cater regularly you need to figure out how you're going to handle this going forward.
I do have a contract. I took a deposit to hold the date which will come off final bill. They were informed final head count was due 2 weeks before event date ,( March 7th) The plan is to sign the contract today and collect the deposit 30% for food. I have experienced a drop in numbers if maybe 10-15% but I have never to date had someone come back with a drop of over 50%. It is a Buffet and pretty inexpensive menu so at 70 people,I was fine w giving them $17.50pp. and throwing in chicken fingers and Mac and cheese for 10 small children.
I want to say I can accommodate the drop in numbers but will have to adjust the price to $25pp, including the kids. That seems fair to me And for future events,I need to introduce contract with all it's particulars much earlier in the time line, explains if Guest count drops below 10-15% a surcharge of so much will be added ( some we thing like that) Do you give client Contract right away thus explaining all possible scenarios?
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
The deposit is typically given at the time the contract is signed. The deposit is the "consideration" that otherwise makes the contract binding. You should get into the habit of signing the contract when the deposit is made or as near to as possible.
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
I'm not understanding the figures presented or perhaps the reasoning. I'm not sure which. I don't have enough catering experience to understand this.
You are saying you have to up the price per person from 17.5 ppp to 25 pp to make it worth it because there are less people now. Still two weeks away so you haven't bought the food yet.
Originally 70 x $17.5=$1225
Now 40x25=1000
But if there had been 40 people to begin with, what would you have charged?
I thought the price per person depended on the meal as well as napkins, silverware, etc. plus expected profit margin. So would be the same for 40 or 70, wouldn't it?
For example, my fictional catering menu has
Burger $15 pp
chicken 18 pp
steak/lobster 30pp.
The menu decides the price per person, not the number of guests.
 
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Joined May 25, 2015
I'm not understanding the figures presented or perhaps the reasoning.
You have to make a minimum to cover the setup, insurance, transporting of the food, servers and other help plus your profit.

When you price an event you need to know the head count before you can give a price per person. So here the caterer was given a head count of 70 and he knows that, for the venue and what the customer wants it's going to cost him maybe $500 for overhead before he even costs out the food. If you drop the number of guests it's still going to cost the caterer that same $500 though the food costs will be less.

Taken to an extreme, suppose the head count dropped to two people. Sure, the food cost will be nothing but they are going to have to cover that $500 if they want the buffet set up.
 
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IMO the good news is that the contract isnt signed, so theres nothing to void.
Simply hand the client a new proposal for the 40 guests, not taking into
account any previous proposal. Ignore it, and dont allow the client to
bring it into the discussion of the new proposal. If they insist, simply
say that was based on a much larger event and has nothing to do with
the current situation, we're starting over. Get the sig, get the deposit and
go buy stuff.

In my experience, you cant let clients run amok with the head count. Many clients are
now savvy enough to realize they get a better deal on say, 120 ppl, than they do on 60.
So the get the proposal on 120, then they either incrementally, or all at once drop
it to their real intended size, claiming thier guests flaked out, had other events, to
far to drive, or othe BS excuses. But they expect the same price per head on the 60.
And some get pretty snotty when they dont get it.
 
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