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Old 12-23-2006, 04:30 PM   #1
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Question for the Collective

What are the 3 biggest mistakes new guys make when it comes to Q'ing for $$$? Since I believe the this is the single greatest resource for Q on the net, your opinions are worth something

Please include in ( ) how many years you've been doing the catering gig. For example, mine would look like (O)
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Old 12-23-2006, 05:00 PM   #2
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4 years here

1: thinking you know what people like

2. thinking because you're friends and neighbors tell you that
you have good q that you can make it to everyone else's liking.

3. thinking because you can grill a fabulous dinner in your
backyard that you can do it for 100 people anywhere.
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Old 12-23-2006, 06:08 PM   #3
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That's really a great question. I can't wait to see some of the other responses.
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Old 12-23-2006, 07:39 PM   #4
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1. Trying to get legal
2. Underpricing your goods and services.
3. Failing to get at least half the money up front.
4. Underestimating how stressful and labor intensive is the endeavor.

I dont cater.

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Old 12-23-2006, 07:48 PM   #5
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1) Biggest mistake a newbie can make is to give too much food to impress client... next time they call, and you now give them 1/4 lb per person, you're toast , after you gave them somewhere around 1/2 pound per person the first time... or 3 extra pounds of slaw or beans, or the extra rack of ribs you had after the cook, or the extra 4 pounds of PP you had after doing a 20 pound shoulder..

2)Being late to deliver is a killer

3) not communicating with the client through the entire process... like not calling the day before to confirm delivery, order, and other needs they might have

Been catering on and off for over 25 years, ranging from just doing small , drop and go caterings, private chef, line cook at 2,000 person event, or handling a wealthy client and 30 guest for 2 weeks at a private estate.

on edit .i'm gunna add a fourth mistake.. Thinking you can impress EVERYONE at the affair... believe me there are food idiots that do nothing but nit pick, and break cannoli's at some functions, and most of em dont know squat about food, or what tastes good.. and most of em need to miss a few meals, besides.. they aint pushed away froma plate of food in 6-7 years.. ok maybe 8 years
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Old 12-23-2006, 09:34 PM   #6
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1. Under pricing yourself... you can always go down with prices later, but it's tough to go up on repeat customers... it's all about profit right?

2. Trying to have too many things to impress.....keep it simple, but stay away from burgers and dogs....anyone can cook them.

3. Not having a routine and feeling overwhelmed... not being organized is a killer.... for impressions on client and for interest in yourself ever doing it again. Plan, Plan and RE-PLAN.
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Old 12-24-2006, 01:29 AM   #7
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11 years here. I think Bob and Joe are right. I did dogs one time and lost my butt, plus had sore arms for days from turning the dumb things. Don't ever EVER toast a bun because every one else will want one too.
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Old 12-24-2006, 06:35 AM   #8
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I think Smokey Joe is talking about me. :P
(1) year
I agree with everyone so far.
All I can add is you need to be prepared for bad weather. The client sets the date, and you go for it.
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Old 12-25-2006, 11:05 AM   #9
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Great Responses from all. After carefully reading and re-reading the posts, I've arrived at these conclusions:
A. To borrow a line from Clint Eastwood, a man gots to know his limitations. I guess a gut check on skill level is a good starting point. It would be best to offer only a couple, maybe three types of meats. Stick with what you do best in the beginning. In my case, that would mean staying away from ribs (too much variance in the quality of the outcome).
B. Don't give it away. Set your price, and and stick to the contract. (Downpayments, amount of food, serving time and so on)
C. Know your local regs/laws. My brother in Tenn tells me anyone can set up a roadside shack and sell Q without much fuss from the Health Dept. Others report that where they reside that if you are cooking on-site (private property) that the Health Dept has no authority. Where I happen to be, they are sticklers for a commercial kitchen or the right to use one -goes to dishwashing. It don't matter where you are in the County, they got the authority and the manpower to enforce it. A 3-hole sink with on-demand hotwater heater like I see mounted as an option on the Klose pits would satisfied the folks here.
D. Know what gigs not to get involved with. I was asked if I would smoke a couple of whole pigs at a wedding reception last summer. I thanked her for thinking about me but declined cause I don't have the equipment and on top of that I've never done one personally. I've seen it done, they look pretty forgiving to me
E. Develop a system and stick with it, call it organization. Back in the day when I was commanding troops, the "backwards planning" method was widely used. To apply those principles to the task at hand you would start the timeline when the event was to start and go from there. Event start (Plug in the time) start the cook (plug in the time), setup (plug in the time), arrive at site( plug in the time), you get the picture.

Anyone have anything to add?
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Old 12-25-2006, 11:22 AM   #10
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good summary.

I'd just add that when you've done the contract, call a day or 2 before
the event and double check EVERYTHING. I went 2 a wedding a couple months ago that was fabulously catered, big crew, chocolate fountains
and such....and no drinks.

Contract did not state caterer would bring drinks. customer just
assumed.
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