One of the most asked questions involves catering. How much do I charge to cater? The following is an excerpt from the book/course "hot dogs saved my life" available online for less than $10.00
excerpt from Chapter 9:
excerpt from Chapter 9:
Catering benefits include having a set time for the job
and usually a set price, which means you know what
you are going to make before you begin. One hot
dogger wrote me about his ten-year stint at a car
dealership. He worked every Saturday for a flat rate of
$600, his take home about $420. Not bad for one day
You will get the occasional, “Can you do my little
Johnny’s birthday party?” Remember, it will take the
same effort to set up and clean up after serving thirty
hot dogs to some children, as it would if you served
400 dogs to an office party.
I don’t do the little parties
and I have a minimum I charge. Your minimum may
be different but, whatever it is, stick to it.
You can determine your minimum with a little simple
math: figure what the minimum you are willing to do
the job or event. Let’s say it’s $150. Remember, you
will have set up and clean up, and you will probably
only want to agree to one hour there for that fee.
Divide the $150 by $5.00 (or whatever price you
decide to charge for your meal). In this case, 150 ÷ 5
Add it all up and there is your minimum. Costs per
meal can vary depending on whether you are serving
eight-year olds or eighteen-year-olds.
I use this method to calculate any catering:
I want to bring in the same as if I had sold 100 meals.
My meal price is $5.00, and I give them a $1 discount
($4.00) and my minimum is $400. This covers up to
100 meals (two dogs, drink and chips). This
guarantees you a $400 income, less your costs of
about 32%. You actually profit about $280. Keep in
mind, if they get a larger turn out than expected, let
them know up front that you will prorate the
additional meals at the same rate.
I am very fair when it comes to doing this. I don’t
count all the drinks they take, I don’t worry about the
guy who ate five hot dogs; I just simply serve food and
let them have fun.
Let’s say I bring 300 buns – that’s 100 extra, and I
know I will use approximately 200. When I finish the
event/party, I will quickly count my buns. If I have
eighty left, I don’t worry about the extra twenty. But,
if I have seventy left, I charge for ten extra meals. I
essentially give them a fudge factor of twenty meals for
those big eaters or that kid who drank twelve
Mountain Dews. Most of the time, the person hiring
you will overestimate the turnout; if they estimate 200
people, I will charge them $800. If they use less, I
keep the difference. I don’t verbally price it to them at
$4.00 a meal. I base it on the number of potential
people. In the example above, that is $4.00 per
Is that clear as mud now? Good.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.