You’re busy; we’re busy—the whole industry is busy. So, as we navigate the return of special events, you might be dusting off the cobwebs and finding yourself with more than enough work to keep you occupied. But are you making as much as you can during this demanding season?
Raising prices at this moment might not feel like the right move. Many of our clients are also in a rebuilding period and might not have the budget to upgrade as they did in early 2020 and prior. Even so, there’s a good chance your competitors aren’t raising their rates, so it’s hard to justify the move without pricing yourself out of the market.
However, none of this is to say you can’t increase your profit margins! Instead, you simply look at the other side of your P&L: your expenses.
Here are a few ways to stay on top of your costs throughout the rest of 2021 and beyond.
Stay local as much as possible.
Now, sourcing local ingredients is nothing new in the catering industry. However, it is one of the very best ways to cut costs and support your community in the wake of the pandemic. Establishing strong relationships with local farmers and butchers in a season that is also tough for them will allow you to build a bond that can lead to advantageous bundle rates and discounts—particularly if you are purchasing in bulk.
In addition to creating a local network that is cost-effective and sustainable, you also get to skip the extra fees and wait times associated with shipping and delivery (particularly at this uncertain time).
Plan your menus strategically.
One of the biggest causes of financial and food waste is due to over-purchasing. While catering companies tend to be pretty wise about sourcing ingredients for their most popular dishes, there may be a tendency to overbuy for dishes that aren’t so common in the kitchen. Try to avoid this by planning your client menus with a strategy in mind.
It might be unsustainable to offer Wagyu beef all year round, but you may find it’s a profitable addition to your offerings during the busy holiday season when people are more inclined to indulge. Look at your client history to determine the trends in your market and plan your menus accordingly.
Listen to your clients.
No, really! It might seem obvious, but creatives are often inclined to go the extra mile to really wow their clients. But is it really giving you a worthwhile return on investment? For example, if you shell out extra for organic herbs to use in your house dressing and nobody has ever commented about it, why not trim your costs and opt for conventional alternatives? Hear out what your clients have to say and take note of what they value the most.
Maybe you have a wedding couple that is all about desserts and doesn’t care about the detail and presentation of their salad! Or, perhaps your corporate client has their sights set on a lavish prime rib entrée, but their eyes glazed over when you started to talk about hors d’oeuvres. Listen to what they truly want and allot the larger portion of your budget there, and don’t be afraid to cut costs for the rest of it.
There’s no doubt that there will be high demand across the industry for the rest of the year. So if you know it’s going to be hectic, why not make the most of the experience?