How available are you??

18
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Joined Nov 11, 2000
Hello all! :)
I have found recently that more than half of my brides (and their families) want a large amount of meetings with me. I have been getting numerous e-mails, phone calls and requests for additional meetings. I am just making their food I have not been hired on as the event coordinator (which I also do), and although I have pointed out how valuable all our time is and even mentioned charging for it, I seem to be getting too much contact. How do you handle this?
Don't get me wrong I am a people person, but I also run my Cafe' monday through friday and Cater a lot of other functions aside from these Weddings, just today I was on my way to the Bakery (in between meal rushes at the cafe) and I get a call from the mother of the bride asking if I have received her daughters latest e-mail (one of many), followed by a call from the daughter requesting a third meeting. AAARGH!
I guess I just wanted to vent a little steam, THANKS!!!!!!
:bounce:
 
1,006
10
Joined Feb 6, 2002
Hi Joan,

This message is from my aunt who also does what you do and has this problem. This is what she said,

"I find that brides and their families act somewhat like the husbands of pregnant women. They need constant reassurance that everything is okay. It's almost like the whole affair is their baby or something. So treat them like you would your husband when you are pregnant. Throw some comforting words their way, pat their hands if you have to and basically smile and ignore the annoying comments. If not they WILL drive you crazy. I will sometimes put your cousin on the phone to talk to them. You know, as an 'assistant'. It's almost like being Prime Minister. "

So that is what she said to do. Im not sure it helps but the analogy sure is funny. :lol:

Jodi
 
51
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Joined Apr 1, 2002
Wow Joan, we sure seem to have a lot of the same problems!! Guess it's because we both do a lot of weddings. What I've learned to do is to S-P-E-L-L O-U-T exactly what we are responsible for in the contract and get that contract signed asap. Then, anything that is not covered can be negotiated under "event consulting".(Which I do also.) I've also learned to drop "my" brides a quick email during down time about some stupid detail (like the new garnish you're going to do for the artichoke dip). I think they're just nervous & are reassured when they know you're thinking of them. This way you beat them to the punch and you're doing it on your own terms and in your own time. Sort of an ounce of prevention....I completely understand how you feel, however one thing you said does bother me a little - "I am just making their food..." Here I totally disagree. You are NEVER "just" making someone's food. The lunch customer wants more than just food when they visit a cafe. The wooing boyfriend wants romantic when he takes his lady out to dinner. Even McD.'s knows this with the clown & playland. If all people wanted was food, they'd open up a can of something & stay home. But in catering weddings, more than any other place in foodservice, you are NOT just making their food. They believe you are helping set the ambiance for "the most important day of their lives" - and your life will be a lot easier if they think you agree, whether you believe it or not! I always work with the florist, etc. to make sure the entire event is cohesive. I say where the guest tables go, and how the buffet is set up. I have centerpieces that the bride may use for free. And I do this because I am selling a lot more than just food. And my name is on it. (At a wedding, presentation is so important that sometimes I think I could serve pb&j as long as it was on silver trays with an interesting garnish. But it's the guest at the wedding tasting the good food that gets the parties booked.) I've learned not to even show prospective wedding clients pics of food. I show them the tables! Now I would never order limos, make hotel reservations, etc., without being hired as a coordinator. But use just a little of your consulting talent with your great food. Add to the cost if you need to to cover the extra time. This is why weddings cost more! Given a party and a wedding - same number of guests, same menu - I would always charge substantionally more for a wedding. I lot of people think it's 'cause the market will bear it. No, it's 'cause I know what amount of time will be spent planning it. Also, I don't know about your area, but here my biggest competition is the "halls" that do it all for one flat fee. I try to offer some of the same services without the cookie cutter effect. I'm telling you, a lot of these brides are lost!!! We say that we offer solutions, not just great food.
The Saucy Cajun
 
18
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Joined Nov 11, 2000
Ok, perhaps I over simplified things, a few details:
I do care, I do chat and I actually have made quite a few friends ( as well as fans) from my Weddings, I think part of my problem may be that I am overly friendly!!
At my intitial meetings I make certain that every ounce of my attention is on the client I stress the fact that EVERY Wedding I do is the most important! that every cater I do I want to do 100 times better than the last! and that first and foremost I want them to feel worry free because I do all that for them! I truly LOVE what I do and would not trade it for anything! I have just felt the need for a little me time, uninterupted by questions, I think I am due for a vacation?!
Thanks for your input it is greatly appreciated!
Joan
:bounce:
 
1,640
12
Joined Mar 6, 2001
More then a vacation, maybe your at the point where you need more assistance? Sounds like your doing everything right, people love you and love your food. Like the Saucy Cajun said, your more then just the food. Perhaps you've had a growth spurt you hadn't really seen....more weddings then small dinner parties...weddings are more demanding then just caterering a business meeting. But those details do make or break the event (Table layout, timing etc...). Sometimes you wish they had a party consultant on their wedding but actually when they do, you still have to make the same decisions and it isn't really easier on you.

Turn over some of your work to your chef or assistants. You should definately remain consulting as much as possible because that's now things need to grow. YOu can hire on help with sales but make sure it's someone you trust with your business.
 
1,046
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Joined Apr 19, 2001
Why don't you set limits on the time you're available for those last minute questions and reassurances? Say, 'I'll be available M-W_F from 2-4 p.m. or whatever works for you. Put it in your contract, and make sure the client knows that you'll only take calls or answer emails during those times. Would help you plan your time better, I'd think.
 
18
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Joined Nov 11, 2000
The last two messages hit the nail on the head. I do have a little trouble delegating, it always seemed easier to do it myself. And I have also had a few recipe mishaps with some previous chef's. I guess I need to find the time to make more precise recipe cards, load sheets, line layouts and other "to do" lists, and perhaps grill my new hires a little better at interviews. My best person has the same obsessive/compulsive tendancies I do :) and I was at the point I thought I would get some extra paperwork time but unfortunatley she just informed me she is moving to Las Vegas, now I'm scrambling (she is irreplaceable!) I will draw up a new contract stating my hours of availability, because I am sure some of this was my fault, I do want to please everyone ALL the time!
Thank you for your solutions, again I am grateful!
Got to go, I have a retirement party.
Joan:bounce:
 
332
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Joined Jan 26, 2001
I used to play the piano for wedding ceremonies, and every once in a while would get mothers of the brides like this. The brides never seemed to be the ones who were worried. Go figure.

I finally had to tell the mother that I really had done this before, that everything would be fine, and that we really didn't need to meet any more.

Of course, I don't base my livelihood on this, so maybe it was okay for me to be a little more firm.

#1 Don't give out your cell phone # to clients. Have a set amount of time that you get to respond to any calls.

#2 Have them sign a contract a certain amount of time before the ceremony limiting the ability to change anything. This will help you because they won't even consider it, if they can't.

#3 Just because the people involved worry more does not mean they know more. Be firm, but don't give in to more meetings than needed, or you will never have time for that cafe of yours!

#4 Since you have e-mail, and I hope you have a separate business account, set it up so it automatically replies with something such as "Thankyou for your e-mail. I will get back to you within X amount of time. If you receive this automatic response, it means I have received what you sent and there is no need to attempt to contact me another way." Something like that. That's the joy of modern technology.

Just my 2 cents.

~~SHimmer~~
 
5,192
296
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Joan,
Its nothing you are doing. Brides now a days have much more information or misinformation readily at their fingertips. The internet has proved to be our biggest nightmare. There are chat rooms for brides and all sorts of guidelines posted. Every little thing that someone reads(pro or con) usually results in a phone call.
Marm, has a great idea about setting time frames for non specific calls. We handle ours 4-6 pm M-F. We laugh about it now. 1st call"is it cheaper to have a small cake and sheetcakes in the back" This is written in mostly all bride info.Haven't yet talked to anyone who does not charge more.
We are fortunate not to have to work with coordinators or consultants. but I understand fully about the feeling of doing that job,****! the father now has some input in things! go figure!
 
18
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Joined Nov 11, 2000
Thanks to all for your superb advice it has been taken to heart and I plan on setting time frames for correspondence with minimal charges for those over indulging.
I also hired a new Chef today and he starts tommorrow, I had forgotten how much easier it can be to share the load, my whole attitude is getting lighter!:bounce:
As far as working with coordinators goes, I have had far more bad experiences than good, and the biggest problem is when the coordinator doesn't perform their functions properly there is no way we can look good!!
I just did a Wedding where the coordinator would give us one time and the guests an earlier one, it is always fun to scramble to get to the carving stations, pasta stations etc..
I now intend to add a clause in my contract next to the "acts of nature" clause dealing with coordinators / and or family members.
All is well that ends well!!
I have the entire weekend off and I am so excited I think I will get my chores out of the way so I can go have some FUN!!!:bounce:
Thanks again!
Joan
 
18
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Joined Nov 11, 2000
O.K. Saucy, but I think it may take some time to get the "Lingo" politically correct!:lol:
Joan
 

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