Monday, September 6, 2010

Negotiating with your caterer

If you decide to  work with a restaurant or caterer but feel boxed in by their packaged options, speak up!
  • After you and the family have studied the sample menus, focus on the items you like and would consider ordering. Think about using them as part of a custom menu.
  • Ask if your caterer is willing to use family recipes, if there's a particular dish you'd like to include.
  • Ask if you can meet with or speak directly with the chef. Don't be hindered by the sales coordinator or manager. If you or your family feel strongly about about the food and details, chances are the chef will enjoy speaking with you too. This promotes communication and allow you to see what the kitchen does best!
  • Always explore local and seasonal options first. It's good for your wallet and the environment :)
  • Look for leverage points that can help you lower your costs. For example, if you are working with the same vendor for food and drinks, and you know they're making a huge profit on booze, start low when discussing the number of bottles you want to buy. Later, suggest that you might want to buy 20 bottles of champagne instead of 15 - but only if they throw in that extra appetizer for free.
  • Ask your venue if there's anything at all that they'd allow you to bring in from another source - cake, mints, chocolate fountain, ice cream truck, you name it.
  • Know your budget, and stick to it.
  • Be patient. Hold out for a while. If you allow the menu and pricing to come together over a period of weeks, and refrain from appearing to be completely sold on it, you may find that options and prices get better as time passes!
  • Always be respectful, collaborative, and as charming as you possibly can be. Make it easy for them to give you a 'deal'.

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