Recognizing one's limits

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by ritafajita, Apr 6, 2002.

  1. ritafajita

    ritafajita

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    I had to do something very difficult today - I had to turn down a job! A client with whom I have done business in the past called me up needing catering next Wednesday. She wanted 300 fajita box lunches. 300 might not sound like a lot to some of you, but for my small restaurant to try to accomplish such a task in the middle of the lunch rush - well, it would just be a disaster. Beyond our capacity.

    I told her that, of course, we would love the business but that I was afraid if I took the job just to get the income, she would be dissatisfied with the outcome. She seemed to be genuinely impressed by my "honesty", as she put it, and I am sure I will hear from her again for smaller events. But, ouch! That's a lot of money I turned down!

    Has anyone else ever had to turn away business - for this or other reasons?

    RF
     
  2. shawtycat

    shawtycat

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    This doesn't apply to catering but we've had to turn down a photo shoot for a magazine because they wanted to shoot during our Friday lunch rush. We would have had to close the place and a grand is not enough for 12 hours. Staying open would have made us more money. We had to turn them down because they weren't able to shoot on say....monday which is slow for us.

    Just didn't make sense to us.
     
  3. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    If it is not until next Wednesday, why couldn't you bring in one or two of your night cooks early to do this? You would have plenty of time to schedule them. Couldn't you do all the prep in advance and then have them just reheat and put them together so as to not interupt the line too much?

    I understand where you are coming from, when you talk about knowing your limits, but I have been pushed beyond those limits many times, in catering. Usually, it just takes some creative thinking, though sometimes you just have to say no. You don't know how many HD parties I have done for 50-75 with only 1-2 hours notice, and nothing (seemingly) in the kitchen to use, but somehow we always make it work, and usually get rave reviews about it.
     
  4. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    I posted a couple of monthes ago about an off site bat mitzvah for 200.....stations high end dinner....food alone was $50 pp. Had to be kosher and cooked at a Synagog then transported to a new building that may not have had water. I bid the job. Then started to work out the logistics. This was pretty far and away the biggest challenge I've had so far. They ended up going with a company that they'd used in the past.
    This May I've got an event at a country restaurant....12-15 chefs each with stations making a sample, wine, beer....parking, letters, invites, posters, emails.....300 paying guests is my goal.
    Yehaw. I've cooked at one for several years that had the same format 40 chefs, 600 guests at a winery....so I've seen how they've succeeded.
    ****I would have talked to her about alternative non-hot lunches....Fajita salad or a totally different yet doable menu....come up with alternatives so next time you can take it.
     
  5. ritafajita

    ritafajita

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    Yeah, I wish she would have gone for an alternative that would have been do-able. I tried to get her to go with something else, a buffet or salads, but she wanted the fajita box lunches - which are a tricky/last minute assembly thing. Its hard to do anything for 300 people "at the last minute". I'm going to think up a box lunch alternative that isn't a salad but is all cold. Maybe that will help in the future. Of course, if you could see my walk-in, you'd see where that might be a problem, too. The guys who installed it even laughed at it. I don't think they had ever seen one that small.

    I've been going this over and over in my head - a pointless activity, as I am sure it would be too late (and look kind of bad) for me to call her back and say I'd changed my mind. But the cash would have amounted to almost 1/4 of the extra money I need to get through the summer, when it will be slow. So, I've been obsessing about it. I've had a lot of experience in having to be creative in catering. For a few years, I worked exclusively for companies that did nothing but cater - one of them had a kitchen that was hardly more equipped than an standard home kitchen. So, I know the limits can be pushed. I just don't see how they could've in this situation. Not that much anyway.

    And I get so much every day regular business from this company, I think it is probably better that I didn't take such a huge chance that one probable big mistake might continue to affect my business.

    It still stings, though :cry:

    RF
     
  6. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Come up with with a menu and mail it to her with a note about new large group menus.....if she hasn't ordered from someone else it may still be yours. I feel your sting, $10,000 one time pop was really a big deal for me.....that was food only....aw well, on ward and upward. I got a lucrative consulting job recently and it may be some of the easiest money I've made in a long time. Just be prepared for the next time.