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7 Tips On Pricing Catering Jobs Correctly

One of the most difficult task that caterers face is putting a price on catering jobs. If you're at a roadblock, follow these 7 tips for a clear path to the best pricing structure.


One of the biggest problems that face you when you’re opening up your own catering type of business, is pricing your jobs correctly.  That’s because not everybody understands how pricing structure should work when they are just starting out.  This is something that has to be considered carefully, so that you can be sure you’re charging a fair but competitive type of price.  Basically that means understanding how catering jobs should be priced, and a few methods for doing so, so that you can operate at a profit.  If you’re not operating at a profit you’re either going into the negative, or just breaking even on every job, and that can’t happen.

This is why you have to do your research, and learn the points of the business that allow you to price competitively, yet at an operating profit.  Here are 7 tips to help you on your way to success as a caterer.

1) Keep specific event costs in mind.

You have to set a sliding scale for your pricing, as you can’t have just one defined price for how much a special event is going to cost.  This is because you have to look into how much the food or special items are going to cost, so that you can set an appropriate price.  These are going to change from job to job, so you have to be prepared to take in cost of food and other items into account.

2) Have a sliding scale to determine how much you need to charge per head.

This is also an important part of any catering job description, as you have to be prepared to change your price structure based upon how many people you’re cooking for.  For this you can get a rough idea in your head as to how much it’s going to cost per plate.  Remember also that you can offer a discount for more plates purchased, because you’re making more in the gross total of the entire job.

3) Consider the number of courses in your cost assessment.

The more courses means the more work that you have to put in, and therefore the higher cost that you’re going to have to charge.  But conversely if there’s only going to be a starter and a main, or a main course and desert, setup and actual execution should be a lot easier, so you can charge less while still making a profit.  Keeping prices fair always encourages more business.

4) Remember to change your pricing based upon the services required as well.

That means thinking about whether or not the cooking will have to be done on site, or if you’re able to do a lot of preparation work before you arrive there.  Obviously the more on site work that you’re going to have to do, the higher the price will be because of the level of dedication and difficulty.  But the opposite is true about a more simple job, and you can afford to operate at a lower price while still maximizing your profit.

5) Provide for additional services in the pricing structure.

Nothing gets you more profit than including the non-essentials that people can choose to throw in for a fee.  Things like professional wait staff, as well as location pricing in which you rent the hall for the client as a convenient combo deal, etc, etc.

6) Keep prices simple enough to understand as well.

The worst thing that you can do to a customer is confuse them, or frustrate them.  That’s why you want to go with a simplistic pricing structure, where it’s easy for them to pick and choose services that they want to keep your catering job affordable to them.  This way, you’re opening yourself up to more customers, which is more profit in the end, even if some jobs don’t yield as much as others.

7) Keep your prices competitive with other catering companies.

The best thing that you can do when running just about any types of catering jobs, is always know what the opposition is doing.  Every other catering service is in direct competition with you, so you need to know what they are charging.  This means calling them as though you were a customer, and seeing what some services would cost, so that you know what the most popular companies besides yours are charging.  This way, you can keep your prices at a profitable level, but also low enough for you to battle it out with any competition that you’re going to have.

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