I cater from my restaurant. My usual business revolves around church and company functions, family reunions and large barbecue dinners. I recently booked an event for a church that involved upwards of 800 people. I made an initial bid, won the job and got my usual contract signed and sealed. However, a week or so before the event I received a call from the financial manager of the church wanting to meet. This made me somewhat nervous because within 30 days of the event, there was supposed to be a no-changes-rule in effect.
As it turned out, I had a good reason to be nervous. The business manager neglected to include in his planning the fact that they would be hosting some high officials of the church. He was pretty upset at himself for forgetting this fact. He went on to explain that he had gotten the contract approved and the money set aside, but there was no money available for upgrading the menu or the tableware.
He wanted me to figure out how to add upgrades to the food, cutlery and tableware while staying within the dollar amount we had previously agreed on.
Obviously, this didn’t set well with me because I was looking at $1,500 in cutlery and tableware alone. Additionally, I would have to employ a minimum of six more staff at $15 per hour to handle the cutlery and crockery, wash and repackage it and then be responsible for breakage.
I wasn’t so worried about the menu changes. I had a lot of options up my sleeve to upgrade the food without it costing me significantly more money.
I pled my case to the financial manager and even pointed out that I had already collected a $2,500 deposit and the language in the contract didn’t really give him any room for changes without additional charges.
I really wanted the 800 members of the congregation as well as the church to actively partner with my restaurant for future events. After some thought, I proposed that I would stand the additional costs associated with the upgrades if the church agreed to give me its business at my listed cost per person for the next two years. Also, I would like for the church to distribute a pamphlet of the goods and services I offered to the business owners in their congregation. They could decide for themselves—after attending the outdoor dinner—if the quality of goods and services fit their standards.
He agreed to the terms, we put them on paper and started to prepare for the event.
He stuck to his word and we did get extra business from the church members. It took me at least a year to recover the difference in the money between the original and the adjusted contract. However, I made a full profit on jobs I got from the business owners in the church. My restaurant picked up a lot more business and I even got business from other churches after my friend the business manager gave them referrals. I made a good move when I did not simply demand that he stick to the original contract. Everybody was happy.