Post # 1
I feel a little silly writing this post because I’m sure I should know this, but can anyone give me advice on how exactly you negotiate with caterers? The event coordinator at our reception site told us to contact 3 caterers so that we could get quotes from them and bounce them off one another to get the best price, which sounded fine in theory. But I just contacted three local caterers (two of which we’d be excited to work with, the last one, eh) and now have no idea what comes next. They’ve contacted me to say “oh someone will be contacting you soon” and sent me menus, but so do I have a long conversation with each of them about what we want the menu to be like, get a quote, and then tell two of them no thanks? Do we go in for tastings at all three? How far can you take it before saying “no thanks!” to the potential caterer? Do they expect that you will likely have contacted other caterers to get quotes from them?
[Not to mention that when the time comes I have absolutely no idea how to say “your competitor offered us this at such-and-such a price.” I’m a researcher so I’ve never worked in a position where I’ve had to do it and feel like such a girly girl!]
Post # 3
First of all – what made you only ‘eh’ about the third caterer? Secondly, yes, you work this just as if you were going to a store for a price match on an item you found cheaper in a second store. Also, explain that you have X as an amount for food/bev in your budget and that’s what you have to work with, what can they do to work with that number. You can make this “X” amount per head either something that really was pre-decided by your budget or something that you came up with based on the three pricings you receieved. Some caterers want you to taste their food prior to signing a contract and some won’t let you until after the deal is done – it just depends. First of all, I’d look all of them up in your local better business bureau (http://www.bbb.org) to make sure they are all on the up and up (and make sure they haven’t screwed anybody recently). You may be able to taste food up front, but I would certainly get references from each of them of recent weddings they have done. You should be prepared that some may want to provide references of corporate events, tell them you want weddings only because it’s the same type of event you would be booking (corporate events and weddings have totally different food options and service).