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You Want a Profit? Then, Consciously Quote

Expanding your services to new clients can be incredibly exciting, and it can also open the door to a long-term business relationship or even result in referrals. Creating a quote for a potential client, however, can be tricky. There are a number of factors to be conscious of when organizing a proposal, namely the food and staffing required to pull off the event. How can you calculate a reasonable quote that covers your bases and generates a profit?

Tips for creating a quote/proposal

First and foremost, you never want to throw a number at a client in a proposal and expect them to sign on the dotted line. It’s important to be very intentional with your pricing, and you want the client to feel as if you’re providing services for them, not simply handing out a generic quote.

Meryl Snow of Feastivities Events agrees that personalization is key. “The client is getting proposals from other companies apart from yours; as such, it’s vital that you don’t make the client feel like a commodity. Listen to their ideas for issues pertaining to the theme, color scheme, and other aesthetic elements of the event. Your proposal should speak directly to the client and their wishes.”

It also helps to view the supply and demand of a product as it relates to the current market value. Corporate executive chef Adam Gooch of Commonplea Catering notes, “Always factor in the time of year as well as holidays that will drive costs. For example, we just finished working on a bid for a large breakfast event two weeks after Easter that had ham on the menu. I knew that prices were going to be above market because of the holiday. With that, I did factor in a lower cost on the bid, because those costs were going to drop after the holiday demand.”

Photo courtesy Jenny DeMarco Photography –

Covering food & staffing costs

When doing the math on a quote for a customer, it’s also crucial that you not only cover the expenses of hired staff for the event and food costs, but that you’re going above simply breaking even.

According to Lon Lane of Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions, one way to do this is by outlining all necessary items needed to make the proposed event a success. “We prepare a rental schedule for everything that is needed for that station or event, then add necessary staff to the event. We include valet, alcohol, and ice as well according to the direction of the client, and we line-item everything in the proposal so that there is no room for a misunderstanding.”

If you’re unsure about how to include a reasonable profit, Gooch suggests planning out a menu with about a 10% higher cost number. “This will cover any influx in variable market items like produce and meats that are always changing.”

Photo courtesy Ken Kienow Photography –

Other considerations

Making sure that your quote takes care of the food you purchase and the payroll for the staff on duty during the event is completely necessary, but there are some other things to consider when you craft a proposal.

Anthony Lambatos of Footers Catering says that it’s important to minimize the impact of variables in the catering industry in every way possible. “80% of our events follow a very similar template that accounts for many of those variables. The main things that we make adjustments for outside of that template are holiday traffic, weather, venue difficulty, limited setup time, guest demographics, and restrictive access to water or electricity.”

Whether you’re learning the ropes of quotes and proposals or looking to tweak your process to boost profits and make clients more comfortable, you can always find new ways to improve. You may even find that your conversion rate becomes higher in the long run!

Clint Elkins

Clint Elkins is the VP Sales for SB Value located in Charlotte, NC. Clint, a former professional race car driver, was one of the top motorsports promoters in the country by the age of 35. Clint used that experience and passion for business to launch his second career in a sales and marketing. Outside of work Clint enjoys spending time on his family farm and coaching his two daughters softball teams. Clint is also an avid cook and self proclaimed badminton superstar.