On Your Free-Range Chicken Had a Great Life, But the Man Who Cooked It Makes a Subsistance Wage (Barely)
Recently had a discussion on this & was pointed to this great little zine: http://www.prole.info/ar/ar_3.html
@littleoaks Oh, you got it! First off, I should disclose that I am in the process of changing careers & if I sound bitter, it's becaue I am. So excuse my 'tude & enjoy the rant. Preparation: There is a lot more uncertainty & people change their minds & every time they do so, I MAKE A NEW QUOTE. That chicken example is in no way far fetched that I'd have a month of back & forth emails about how can they have a steak option but pay the chicken price. Can we just have less servers? No, never negotiable. What if we have smaller portions? No, that just makes me look unprofessional & you look cheap (No one will have anything to say about a happy belly full of chicken, but your guests will remember that they ran out of protein). Just to clarify, I am not judging someone if they cannot afford the steak. It is the emotional attachment to the steak that I find frustrating. If a corporate client tells me that they would like steak, tells me their budget & those things do not match, then I'd tell them what the price would be, & hey, you totally could do a great chicken & stay within your costs. Their decision is normally, “I'll find more money” or “Great, let's do the chicken.” If I have the same conversation with a couple planning a wedding, there is a lot more emotional attachment to the steak followed by back & forth decisions of do they want to go over budget in order to have steak or not. Yes. No. Yes. Wait. Well, what if... HOW CAN WE HAVE STEAK? On top of that, I find it comes from this really ugly place of feeling like their guests will be judging them & keeping score. No one is doing this. Your guests need to feel like they are taken care of & after that, they are busy dancing & celebrating & showing y’all with love. No one will remember. Make a decision. Stop the revisions. As far as the day of: It's mostly a matter of the shuffling of people. Most of my weddings would have the reception on one end of the property, followed by cocktails in another & then dinner in whole 'nother location. Every time, a location is added it also adds- trash pick up, rentals- set up & break down & then all of the rentals need to come back to the same location to be processed. Trekking 150 chairs across the property is hell- especially at the end of a long night. Not only that, but even if you have one location, there a lot more “activities.” The cake cutting, passing the cake, champagne toasts, special flutes for the couple that are always lost until the minute before. There is always constant running in anticipation the next thing. & yeah to the drunk wrangling- people tend to get wasted at weddings. There is a higher probability of vomit or just stupid shit we'd have to deal with. There was one woman who was out of her fucking mind & she sliced open her foot on the dance floor. Our chef ended up driving her to the ER. Good times. I'm not saying that every wedding guarantees this kinda fun filled adventures, but it sure increases the chance.
@deepomega Thank you for elaborating that you did disclose that it was a wedding beforehand! That is entirely different than the surprises I have had thrown at me on the day of. As far as catering pricing & a "wedding tax," that's already a thing & I do it & I'd be happy to explain why! There is no standard for the catering industry that dictates quote format. Some people calculate a flat package rate, a per guest cost (everyone will sell it to you like this), some line item everything & some just say, here's the bottom line. Most of the time though, you will pretty consistently see something like “service charge” or “production charge” that is a percent of either the food & labor or just the food. (This is not a gratuity that goes to your servers as you would think a “service charge” would be. Really, the charge goes to paying rent & insurance & taxes & well, profit. Your servers don't see a dime). Anyway, that % varies. What I set up is a standard 22% production charge for all weddings. If you have a wedding planner who will act as a buffer for the crazies, I'd drop it to 18% (18% is what I would charge for a family reunion or any other regular event). That said though (!) I have brought down that percent based on conversations with the couple who did not have a planner. There was one that was so laid back- it really was not a wedding. They had only passed appetizers & they wanted it to feel like a cocktail party. They were up front with their budget, communicated well & so I moved numbers around to make it happen within their budget. If you really feel you are not having a wedding-wedding, explain why & you may get a discount. It is a lot easier for me to remove a “batshit fee” at some point along in the process rather than tack on when things get all batshit. Also, it sounds like you guys were pretty cool about it- That might be why your rep still honored the initial quote.
@deepomega I am sorry this is going to be such a long rant, but you really hit a nerve with the lying to your rep. I have spent 10years in catering & this has happened to me (which is why it is such a nerve) & every time it just fucks my staff. If I tell you that you need 4 servers to do xy&z & you are maliciously withholding information that would change your labor cost- well, golly, you get your price, but you are just ripping off my staff. These guys then have to bust their asses to do twice the work in the same amount of time- which means the same pay. Sometimes the owners will dig into their profits to say thank you for busting it out, but that rarely happens. Events are already brutal & if you lie, that fucks the planning, that just makes it even harder for the people who are working to make your day awesome. And you can say “I didn't lie about something about something like that, the venue wasn't effected or anything.” Well, one, yeah, there is more liability for a wedding than say a corporate fundraiser, cause drunks & two, just the idea that you needed to do so- that really illustrates the challenge in providing a wedding related service. People are kinda temporarily insane while planning a wedding. There are inadequacy fears wrapped in entree choices & judgmental in-laws helping you pick out the china. Some people do things & act in ways that are entirely unacceptable outside of their mostimportantday (such as lying). @AnnieNilsson- That “thing that happens to the brain” is unleashed on your vendors & that is why we charge wedding prices. The. Corporate Fundraiser. Chicken. does not come with emails questioning what the guests will think of them that there is no steak option. The. Wedding. Chicken. on the other hand, does come with those emails & maybe also a frantic phone call on your day off to discuss if it is tacky to have disposable plates or not (answer: totally cool if they are compostable). So, no, I do not think it is unreasonable to quote more for a wedding because it is hellalot more work, time & frustration. If your response to that is to just lie in hopes of pulling a fast one & receiving a better price, you are only perpetuating the cycle. The way you break the cycle is by being honest, tell your rep what you want, tell them your budget, have a conversation. This is not the last day of your life & really is it the most important? If y'all stop treating it as this “has to be perfect day” & “a true reflection of who you are as a couple” then we'll stop charging you more to deal with that insane notion. And.. then we'd all just have potlucks & I'd be unemployed... but still, less crazy, it's a good idea!