Don’t insult the client.
I thought I’d start the year with a soft, fluffy piece. Then “it” happened and all bets were off. I’m going in deep. The situation at hand forced me to come out shooting. So here it goes.
I’m doing an event this spring in a large city in southern Texas. I called a famous venue there to check availability and pricing. The catering manager told me it was available and began to explain the pricing structure, never once asking about my event.
After this large explanation about fees, I started asking questions, explaining to this princess of a catering manager what I do and how long I’ve been doing it. Basically, when I started in this business she was in three-cornered pants, and I was politely trying to tell her this. I told her a little bit about the group and how I customize all my parties. She agreed to send me their general menu packet along with pricing. And the frustration began.
Her idea of sending me pricing was just that — sending me pricing for the venue’s small-, medium- and large-price-range receptions. No menus, just pricing. I wrote back to say I needed menus with the pricing. She responded with a full-scale proposal.
This sends me off the deep end because she wasn’t listening to one thing I said. I told her I’d customize the menu and didn’t want a menu proposal from her, just the general catering menus.
I never got them.
Why would she ever even begin to do a menu proposal for me when she knew nothing about my group, their theme or the marketing strategy behind the event? Then she had the audacity to list a mashed-potato martini bar. Seriously? 2001 called and it wants its spuds back!
The last time she called I told her the group would be going elsewhere and that doing business with her just wasn’t possible. The pricing was too high and it didn’t make sense. Not even knowing our budget (which was healthy), she told me that next time, if we come back and have more money, to please call her.
My advice to her: “Don’t hold your breath.”
The moral of this story? Listen to what your customer is saying and don’t assume they lack money just because they comment on pricing. Find a way to work it out. This is an annual piece of business in Houston and, in the long run, this venue lost out.
I’m also going to share the stupidest thing a catering manager ever said to me. It happened very recently in New Orleans. I was doing an off-premise event for 500 people, and this caterer suggested gourmet popcorn.
This made sense for the event, so I asked what flavors were available. One was called “Who Dat?” I asked what flavor that was. She told me she didn’t know, but that it would taste exactly how it sounds.
WHAT? I have a feeling this is going to be a very long year.
This is my story for now, and I’m sticking to it.