how to price a catering job ?

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by sweetpea06, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. sweetpea06

    sweetpea06

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    I've been asked to prepare finger foods for

    150 people and serve the food for a 30th birthday party?

    how much should i charge to cater & host this party?
     
  2. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Sweetpea, welcome cheftalk....that's just a strange question, how do you expect us to answer that question with no information?
     
  3. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Assuming a normal duration, I'd charge, oh, about $350-$500 more that the total of ALL my costs, i.e. labor, food, rentals, travel, taxes, insurance, permits, and anything else I have to pay for.

    Oh, you don't KNOW what your costs will be? Good luck!

    Oh wait, you want US to tell you what your costs will be? Well, how about telling us:
    • the menu, preferably with recipes so we can cost them out, oh wait, your food prices will be different, and
    • how many people you will hire, for how long, and at what rate, and
    • what will you need to rent or supply, i,e, chafers, disposable/china plates, napkins, utensils, glasses/cups, tablecloths, tables, risers, coffee pot(s), beverage dispenser(s), bowls, platters, flowers, etc.
    • Distance to event
    • the rest you are on your own
     
  4. temeculachef

    temeculachef

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    What I do is take my food cost and times it by 3.33%.  Its a good way to include your food cost and service and then you get your profit.  It is a way that you will always have a great price for people and you will still make a profit.  
     
  5. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    It is probably pretty accurate that a successful operation maintains a food cost around 33% of sales, however, there is NO guarantee that pricing at 3 times your food cost will result in a successful operation.

    Multiplying food cost by 3 ASSUMES that your labor costs, overhead costs, and all other expenses are in line as well. And, if your food cost is off by a small amount, your price is off by three times that amount!

    IMHO, if you do not know what your costs actually are, you are simply guessing at a price and hoping for the best.
     
     
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  6. chefedb

    chefedb

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    How much profit do you want to make is the first question?  If you have to ask this question, then do not do the party. Work for an experienced caterer for a while and learn the ropes. If you insist on doing this gig add up all your cost first and start from there. There is mor figuring and paper work then there is food prep work time.
     
  7. temeculachef

    temeculachef

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    Actually my food cost normally stays in the 20's% range.  If you know where to buy food locally you can normally get it cheaper, especially if you keep returning to them and they get to like you.  

    Like he said though, you have to calculate out what you are making.  My multiplying the food cost by 3.33 only includes my food, labor and profit.  You still have to include any plates you may need to rent and any equipment that may be necessary for the operation to go smooth. 
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

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    20% for catering /banquet  food cost  only is good. Out of season thats about what mine was, with increased volume it even went lower.
     
  9. kieron19

    kieron19

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    i work for a conference company, and we do conference with a finger buffet lunch and we charge about £4.75 per person.

    off site caterng we charge from £20 per person
     
  10. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    That is what your prices are, the question is how did you arrive at those prices?
     
     
  11. saffron

    saffron

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    I have different hors d'oeuvres menus and stationery menus for different price points.

    Food costs are 20% of food proposal, plus staff costs ($30/hr incl grats and a $50 penalty if they accept the gig and arrive late), plus rentals (I work with a company that gives 15% on referred biz) if you don't already have your own collection of wonderful trays/platters, plus tax and grats.

    Generally for a modest finger food/HD menu, it runs about $3. per selection per person. So with 6 selections, it's min $18pp. (then rounded to $20 for cocktail napkins, skewers, garnishes/flowers). That menu would be canapes, easy/quick phyllo combos, bruschettas, "gourmet" meatballs, fried polenta cubes topped with XXX, scalloped cucumber cups filled with XXX, stuffed mushrooms or cherry tomatoes, mini pizzas or quesadillas.....sometimes I'll include a tuna tartare which has a high yield for very small portion on fired wonton chip. There are so many ideas on the Cheftalk board on inexpensive HD that you can do that are not labor intensive.

    I like to do more upscale selections and charge betw 5-6. per selection, per person.....crabcakes, 16/20 count shrimp, oysters with "pearls", scallop ceviche, B&W sesame crusted tuna, filet mignon skewers with ancho chili rub with espresso dipping reduction, coconut curry chicken skewers served with fondue presentaiton. Prefer to start at $35.pp. For a 30th BD for a 2hour cocktail party then following with sweet finales which might run another hour of service....you can do so many variations. For 150 people with passed HD, I would schedule 6 waitstaff, 3 bartenders, 1 chef, 1 asst. (add time for set up through breakdown and cleanup) 

    Running the numbers really quickly, I would be charging betw $4000-6500 exclusive of tax and 20% grats. Just my personal thoughts. Good luck.
     
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  12. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    .....and times it by 3.33%

    I'm hoping, Temecula, that that was a typo?

    Let's see: If food costs are $200, and we multiply that by 3.33 percent, then all the other costs and profit would have to be covered by less than 7 bucks.

    No wonder nobody's making money. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  13. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    I'm fascinated by the fact that very few seem to evaluate their costs at all!

    For me the rule for pricing is very simple:

    PRICE = COSTS + PROFIT DESIRED

    COSTS = Labor (including your own, if applicable) + Food + Utilities + Rent + Licenses + Tax reserve + Insurance + any other costs of doing business, including interest, depreciation, and all the hidden costs.

    PROFIT DESIRED is up to you, what return on your investment do you want?

    IMHO, if you do not know your costs, you are only guessing at prices, no matter what mathematical exercises you may go through and, if you are real lucky, you will still be in business a year from now.

    When dividing by a food cost percentage, I sincerely hope you have at least ten (10) years of records for the actual food cost percentage for your operation with your menus, otherwise you have a better chance simply guessing.

    Oh, once you've figured your price, it is simple to calculate $/person or $/piece or whatever, just remember, the fewer persons, the higher the $/person, only food cost and part of labor can be attributed to the number of people, the rest is overhead and somebody pays for it.
     
  14. love84

    love84

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    Im catering my first event and Im not sure how much to charger for my serivce. My price is not including the food....Im making a 3 course meal and serving it to 18 people.  Any Ideas? Thanks
     
  15. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Depends on what you're making, your market......

    18 people 3 course, are you shopping, serving, prepping, cleaning up?

    Are you providing anything besides time?

    Do you have a guesstimate on how long it'll take you?
     
  16. love84

    love84

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    I will be doing it all
     
  17. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    First, I think you are a glutton for work or slightly insane /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif

    At a MINIMUM, I'd have a dishwasher/helper and at least one, if not two, cooks as well as either two extremely well trained servers/FOH or four normal servers. I've done too many of this size not to.

    So, $500 for BOH, $400 for FOH, there's $900 in extra labor. My fee would be not less than $600 for a simple menu, up to $1,200 depending on the complexity.

    Base MINIMUM thus is $1,500 to $2,100 plus food, rentals, etc.

    Does that help?
     
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  18. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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     FOUR FOH staff for 18 people?

    And 83 to 116.oo per person for a 3 courser?

    And that's without food cost.

    I mean I may not be quite on your level, but Holy Epicurean Batman,

    you really GET that?

    Dang.

    We do 4 to 7 course plated, for 8 to 25 ppl, static apps, (usually 2C, 1H) 

    choice of two mains with 2 sides, and two desserts.....

    using myself and one other chef, 2 servers, and one dishwasher....

    and don't get anywhere near that $$$.

    But then, do we undercharge and overwork? Well, yeah I guess kinda.

    I want YOUR world Chef! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smiles.gif
     
  19. chefedb

    chefedb

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    If you are supplying the food, equi, and  taff  you are the caterer, if you are just making the food , you are an employee. Which is it both are priced differently. In 1 you outlay no money, have no overhead,  don't need permits etc. the other you do or should .

    When I started many years ago I knew nothing about food cost, labor cost etc. what I did was  total amount I spent food labor  x 3  plus 10% for unknowns and travel.. Hope this will help you.  To give it to you any other way at this stage you are in , would be to complicated for you.
     
  20. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Meezenplaz,

    Remember, as a personal/private chef, we do not have the ability to spread fixed costs across many covers as do restaurants and caterers.

    We are talking apples and oranges or chickens and ducks here.

    First difference, low volume, custom menu versus high volume menu offering.

    Second, working out of a residential setting, plated meal, two experienced FOH can probably handle it. Labor is high because of low volume, after all, there are only 18 covers for the night!

    Of course, the same crew could probably handle something on the order of 100-200 covers in a commercial setting, that drops the labor cost from $100+ to around $10+/plate, maybe less.

    Run the numbers for your establishment with only ONE dinner party a night and see what you come up with.

    It is all volume related...