A series for clients and colleagues who are seeking support, asking for advice, and hoping to reignite their passion for hospitality.
How should I handle clients who continually ignore our guest count deadline? The last-minute additions (and subtractions!) are driving me crazy! -C.H., Chicago
A caterer’s policy on receiving an accurate guest count is one of the most important sections of your Terms & Conditions. A correct guest count affects every aspect of your deliverables and finances. As you have probably discovered, last minute changes can result in a hectic kitchen, a scramble for additional staff and equipment, wasted product, and out-of-pocket expenses. It can also lead to client dissatisfaction. That’s never good for your business!
The solution to your problem starts long before the event. First, engage your attorney to review your contract template. Your guest count policy must be clear and should use language your clients can easily understand. Each contract should specify the exact day and date the event’s guest count is due. It should also indicate what price increases clients should expect as a result of any last minute changes. Then, when the client confirms the event, verbally remind them of the deadline. By directing the client’s attention to the deadline well in advance, you’re emphasizing how important this information is to you. This will almost always hedge against any problems and will allow all to focus on and enjoy a great experience on event day.
Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!
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