Catering Qn / "not Enough Variety"?!

Business By rwarren Updated 4 Feb 2009 , 3:13am by rwarren

rwarren Posted 4 Feb 2009 , 2:05am
post #1 of 5

Hi everyone,

I've had a real puzzler today. Permit me to rant a little, if not 100% cake related.

At the office there will be an all day meeting with a catering need for both breakfast and lunch. There are 14 people expected. I suggested to the one planning the meeting that Mom and I could cater it, and we put together a one pager a couple weeks ago with some prices on it.

The feedback that I got was that we were too expensive -- because we were pricing by the dozen or plate, and the preferred service was charging per person. ($10/dozen versus $4.95/person) Additionally, the per-person price includes everything, beverages, utensils and all.

So based on what the regular service offers, Mom and I spent all last night pricing a comparable menu, what we would suggest for 14 people. We left off coffee and bottled water because those are available in the office, but offered prices for those on the side. (And wondered how to get those heavy things on the bus and subway.) And we added two supporting pages of options for breakfast and lunch, a way of mixing and matching. And dollar wise, we were way cheaper.

Today's feedback was: You don';t have enough variety, particularly for breakfast. Lost the order. icon_cry.gif

We offered: Mini muffins (8 flavors), scones (3 flavors), King Cake, Lemon Bread, Cinnamon Buns, fruit plate. Not all of the above for one order! All homemade of course. Our suggested menu had 2 flavors of muffins [customer's choice], lemon bread, butter, fruit plate, and 2L of juice.

The winning service offers: Chilled Fruit Juice, Freshly Baked Mini Muffins, Danish and Croissants [their choice not customer's unless there are allergies], Served with Butter and assorted jams,
Freshly Brewed Starbucks Coffee, And Orange Pekoe Tea. Fresh fruit and cheese are extra.

OK what are we doing wrong?! We did mark down minimums of 1 dozen per flavor for muffins, cupcakes, etc. because we are not a coffee shop where you can get 1 of this and 2 of that. And how much "variety" are you supposed to offer for 14 people?! I go to lots of seminars all over the city, different venues and food services, and I believe our menu had plenty of flavor and format choices.

Oh and I should add: If someone has their heart set on something specific, we price it out and advise accordingly. Neither of us have made croissants but if we had an order we'd make em, butter and all. Cheese tray is a bit of a challenge but we would take it on!

Any and all feedback appreciated.

4 replies
maryjsgirl Posted 4 Feb 2009 , 2:23am
post #2 of 5

Maybe it really wasn't about what you were offering or the price. Maybe they were apprehensive about hiring an employee for the job. It could open them up for drama. Like employees complaining about your special treatment, etc.

misserica Posted 4 Feb 2009 , 2:38am
post #3 of 5

I am going to agree with maryjsgirl on this one. My family owns a restaurant and we do a sizeable amount of catering outside of our regular seatings so I can not understand why they would not opt for your package(s) if you came in cheaper than the other choice. But then again I do not deal with the catering portion of the business at all. The only conclusion I can come up with is what marj says, they may feel funny about having you as an employee, and you know how petty co-workers can get. And since you originally offered to do it, they had not approached you first as I gather from your post, then maybe they feel like its a conflict of interest of sorts. Doubt that helps but thats what I thought...

indydebi Posted 4 Feb 2009 , 2:50am
post #4 of 5

They thought they would/should get it dirt cheap because you work there and they don't see you as a "real" business ... they used the "variety" thing as an excuse.

I have to tell people all the time, "I'm not a restaurant. I don't have food bought on spec, just laying around HOPING someone will buy it."

I was doing a dessert catering for a special event and they asked me to do a single lunch for the speaker. No problem. When she got to his drink, she asked me to bring "....3 or 4 teas and he can choose what he wants." I said, "Well, as long as you're ok with Snapple, because I can't buy 3 or 4 six-packs of tea ... potentially 24 bottles ... so he can pick ONE."

She said, "Oh, I thought you might have some laying around."

I said, "I'm not a restaurant. I don't have food laying around. I buy it when I get an order. That's the difference between a fast food place and a caterer."

rwarren Posted 4 Feb 2009 , 3:13am
post #5 of 5

but they're all quite happy to have me bring in free food! icon_twisted.gif I have severely restricted who gets honored with an experimental Iron Cupcake, since no one will actually make any cake orders (personal or office) with me.

Yet recently some people have ordered fancy pastry store cakes and not even considered me for baking. For the office, I was told "oh we're not getting a cake" and then 20 minutes before the party someone is dispatched to the pastry shop next door to get whatever is going that day. For personal orders, I've heard about [after they were ordered/eaten] fancy mousse things for special bdays that I could do if given the chance. Our office xmas party had Chips Ahoy and FudgeeOhs for dessert! You can just imagine how I felt -- especially with a freezerful of leftovers from a xmas bazaar.

Why don't they just *tell* me about this so-called conflict of interest stuff? I've been there long enough! I'll understand! I'll feel bad and go stuff myself with chcooclate but I'll be ok about it! icon_sad.gif

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