The Caterers Corner
how to handle additional guests day of event? Caterers Corner: how to handle additional guests day of event?
By Cookingqueen (Cookingqueen) on Wednesday, October 04, 2006 - 09:40 am: Edit

I had a client that stated she had 39 adults and 6 children. When the event got going, she actually had 45 adults and 12 children, 4 of which were over 13 and should have been counted as adults, as per my contract. Do you charge the clinet, or do you let it go. When you mention they have additional guests, they NEVER offer to pay for them, and are you buring bridges to send an additional bill, especially since all of my business is word of mouth?

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Wednesday, October 04, 2006 - 10:29 am: Edit

Of course you charge for the additional guests. Don't devalue yourself.

By Cookingqueen (Cookingqueen) on Wednesday, October 04, 2006 - 01:07 pm: Edit

Do you add it to the bill at the time, or do you send her a bill for the balance?

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Wednesday, October 04, 2006 - 02:15 pm: Edit

Add it to the bill. I can't see any reason to wait.

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Thursday, October 05, 2006 - 07:47 am: Edit

This is an interesting topic. I am very concerned about words like:

"do you let it go?"
Let what go? Your profit? Your business? You said 'as per my contract....' Allow me to share what my contract says...

"Client pays for number of guaranteed guests or actual number of guests, whichever is greater. Caterer typically prepares extra food to accomodate unexpected guests as a service to the client. It is never advisable to underestimate guests as it can create embarrassment to the client and the caterer. Caterer does not guarantee to be able to accomodate additional guests.Caterer will make every effort to feed additional guests including 'portioning food, adding filler food or preparing more food.' Payment for unexpected guests is due within 7 days after the event. Unexpected guests will be billed at 25% above the price quoted."

I explain that, if asked, unexpected guests places a caterer in a very stressful situation. Many times we have to run to the grocery store and pay higher prices, overtime to our kitchen staff, etc. It also makes the caterer look bad and can be very damaging to our reputation. Therefore the 25% penalty is fair compensation for placing us in that situation.

"they never offer to pay" Of course they don't offer to pay. Why should they? Look at what you have said.

"are you buring bridges to send an additional bill, especially since all of my business is word of mouth?"

They don't 'offer to pay' because you are afraid of offending them. Pardon me?? They had more guests, they ate, they pay. It's not burning bridges, it's operating a business.

We had this discussion on forum. It was a lively topic. There is a strong feeling among professional caterers that "once you lose control of a client or an event, it's better to cancel the event."

why? The caterer needs to maintain control of their business, otherwise it can be very damaging to the caterer when things go sour. I'll let my competition have the difficult clients.

But, you don't have a difficult client necessarily, may I suggest to you that it seems like you have a difficult time treating your business like a business.

In this situation, I'd say. "Mrs. Smith, this was a great event, even though you had unexpected guests, what happened??? (let her explain)
Well, I'm glad I prepared extra food or this may have been a disaster.... Glad you had a nice turnout, so how would you like to take care of the payment for the additional guests, by check or cash?"

If a client sees a weakness in your business, they will take advantage of you.

I'm curious, do you cater from home or do you have a licensed kitchen? People many times will not take a home based caterer as a serious business.

It doesn't matter in this situation, regardless of how you operate your business, it's still business.

cater on

carl jones

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Monday, October 09, 2006 - 09:16 pm: Edit


By Cookingqueen (Cookingqueen) on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 - 07:30 am: Edit

Thank you for your words. I have a professional kitchen. I agree with what you say, and you are correct! I started in business with another caterer, and took oever her business. She depended on every penny so she let people take advantage of her ofter! I guess I have followed her lead. I always assumed people would bad mouth me if they were offended, but business is business, and I have, based on my conversations here, taken a firmer stand on such things! I am also going to add to my contract the clause with regards to extra guests!

Thank you!

By Cookingqueen (Cookingqueen) on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 - 07:33 am: Edit

Another quick all my years I have noticed people who came to cater as great cooks have a harder time with the business side, VS. buisness men/women who enter catering not as a chef, but as a business, and they hire chefs etc... ther areas are more black and white with a business person!

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 - 07:38 am: Edit

that's why cooks should cook.

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