Deposits and Payments

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Senior Cook
Sep 24, 2008
Gothenburg, NE and Bainbridge, GA
What process are people doing for catering deposits? when? How much? When is the final payment due? What about refunds? I have a 200 person wedding in May and wondering the best way to do this. Thanks!
nakedpigbbq said:
What process are people doing for catering deposits? when? How much? When is the final payment due? What about refunds? I have a 200 person wedding in May and wondering the best way to do this. Thanks!
When I was in the game, it was 50% down 3 weeks before the event, and COD. If they pay by check, Make sure you cash it ASAP! (deposit check) If the event was on a Saturday or Sunday, tell them it has to be cash. Serve no dish till you get your dough!
refunds? What is that! HELL NO! Set a time limit if your cooking on sight. If it's a drop off, get the cash before you do any thing. May seem harsh, but I never got screwed. Draw up a contract, and have them sign it before you take a deposit. Mail the thing. I gave five days grace period from the time of there call, and had a contract in the mail the next day. I have been a victim of " Oh, my husband / wife has the check book. Another one I loved is " We are too busy to pay you now, can we take care of it later?"
There are nice folk, and bad folk out there. I mean, come on, you don't go to the market / store and say " I would gladly pay you Tuesday for some pork today " :LOL:
Get the dough, or no food. Your in it to make a buck, but some will try to hose you. Don't give them a chance!


Started 1995 quit 2009 :(
Im way too lazy to cater but have done it in the past when I wasn't thinking rational. Will agree with Pigs entirely. Get at least half the money up front so in case they stiff you on the other half you still make a little. Lets you go chopping with their money instead of your own etc.

What Pig says about a contract is very important, make sure they understand what a deposit is. More than once I have run into customers who think they are getting the deposit back .... WTH do they think the deposit is for? Loads of great excuses for canceling late, sorry your mother died, but .... Do you get the idea I've been burned more than once. Get a deposit and keep it, no matter what!
Same goes for friends Line I used was " I have to have you sign a contract so we can still be friends " Be clear about every thing they expect and what they want. When I first started out I had a drop off for fifty pounds of pulled pork and got there and the lady said " where is the pig? " I said "you asked for fifty pounds of pulled pork, not a whole hog. " MAN, she got in my face. So I just got back in the van not saying a word and started it up as I was going to leave. She changed her tune after that. And remember, the general public is stupid. So be clear as what they are getting. And get it in paper and ink.

Contract. 50% deposit. Final payment 2 weeks before event, check? 4 weeks before event. Refunds, nope, well, I did, both lost there jobs an well, sometimes I'm a nice guy! ;)

Anybody balks at that an they er tryin ta stiff ya.

Set limits on what ya do an how long, cause otherwise ya could be there all night fer cheap!
I require 10% to lock the date, 50% of the balance 3 weeks prior to event date and balance due day of. The contract which I use is posted on my website if you want to take a look.
Thanks for sharin that DJ..Im gonna go check it out.

I too say 50% up front...then your covered for not taking a loss on the food and wood/charcoal.........then the remaining balance on the day of.
What about pricing say a 40 person event for a buffet style not per plate or is it done per plate anyway
Yep buffet style per plate here too. If its just a drag and drop event ( drag the food the event in foil pans and drop it off) I have different pricing.....If I have to set it all up with a tablecloth and tongs etc... That means Im driving back to pick it all up by days end. Per plate is how we do it.
Here's my take on it...

Have a set amount you charge as a " Hold the date", non refundable, deposit, applied towards the entire bill...

this lets the customer know that the date is HELD for them, and them alone......This way, if they cancel on you, you would be not working that day because you held the date for them, and them alone and no dinero would be coming your way...

there's varying ways of going about what to charge, and when to collect the money....

A very common way of doing it is the way DJ does it with the 10% deposit... 50% of the balance, 2-3 weeks before, then the last 50% on the day of....

The idea is to not have the customer feel as if you are a mercenary, but a friendly, business like, accomplished, BBQ Chef ;)
dollarbill said:
Thats an ideal way to do it, but what if its not 3 weeks notice? Devils advocate here. ha

well, give me an example....

the idea of all this is that you are not going to spend any of your own money on any product that is for the catering...

Deposit holds the date.....

the money you get prior to event should cover all the food costs that will occur

the money you get on the day of, or the week before should be your profit, and money to pay any help you have

all money you receive should be non refundable.... if they cancel prior to the date, and they have already payed you the "hold the date money" and they have given you, lets say the first 50% installment, that too is also non refundable...

you also need to make it very clear as to how you accept payments..

cash is King, of course...

checks... I'm running to THEIR bank immediately, whether I know them or not, to cash that thing...

Credit cards.. if you get big enough, why not use it, but you charge the cost of the fee the credit card company is going to charge you..

mostly, it's all about you comfort level, and how much tolerance you have in receiving money from friends, or strangers

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