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Question about how caterer makes money

Hello! So we booked our caterer this past January, and at that point we just had an invite list of 30 people. Now that our wedding is getting close (end of May), it turns out the number of people who RSVP'd yes is a total of 8 (so 10 with me and groom). I followed up with the caterer yesterday and while she was nice--she made a comment how this gig is costing her money out of pocket now that it's only 10. She also mentioned how "...if she had known."

It seemed like we were both on the same page in the beginning that 30 was the invite list and would likely change. At one point between then and now, she even asked if the headcount changed but by that point, it was changing because we had just sent out invites and the rsvp by date hadn't come yet.

Anyway, she seemed to cheer up and continue being nice and professional overall. But I feel bad. I also feel confused because I guess I don't understand the business. Anyone able to explain how this would now be costing her money out of pocket? I kept asking her how things would be easier for her because I am not a picky bride. As long as my groom shows up, I'm happy. But she just kept leaving choices up to me. So I did change original plated dish options to a pasta bar and two appetizers. Perhaps this will help her profit line?

I don't want to be the reason a small business loses money. Anyone have insight or advice?

Re: Question about how caterer makes money

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    Seriously, don't worry about this. If she's losing money, it's because she didn't properly plan and structure her fees. Typically caterers have some sort of a minimum because they know hosts can't accurately predict headcount without RSVPs. The minimum would ensure that their fixed costs are covered regardless. 

    It's a little unprofessional of her to have mentioned it at all, but I'm sure it was a momentary lapse and she's now avoiding it because she knows that. It's not your job to tell her how to structure her business. The best thing you can do is move forward with your contract, tip staff appropriately, and post positive reviews/make referrals after the fact.
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    She needs to go back to business school and learn about minimums and pricing structure along with recognizing she's a business not a charity!  It's one thing to accept an event for 10, it's another to lose money doing so, to lose money is a rookie mistake.  You as the bride file this under be grateful AF she didn't cancel out on you, because she'd be money ahead right now to cut a check for the 10 of you to eat at a local restaurant/supper club, AND, not your problem but don't make the problem worse than it needs to be for her.  

    From the business perspective (could be any business really)...  

    She has to pay staff for a full day of prep and service for what she cannot make up in volume.  She also has minimums to meet with her suppliers for the food or has to come up with a lower scale supplier which may not be the same quality/level of source ingredients she'd otherwise use.  Then there's transportation/staffing through to completion of your event.  In short, there's 15-20 hours that go in to just your event from first contact to cleanup post event, plus food/materials/cleanup.  If she was a restaurant then that'd obviously be padded because of turning tables, volume served, etc. but presuming she's a stand-alone caterer, things add up quicker. There is a huge difference on scale for an event for 30 vs.10.  Both require the same number of staff to pull off, one on scale is financially viable, the other one, unless there's a minimum $, not so much.  

    Again, not your problem and I'm guessing she learns right quick after your event how to put minimums in place...
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    Thanks for your thoughts. I did ask her how this can be made better for her; I suggested maybe they just do the "drop off" version which is even listed on her website, but she said that wasn't an option. That response confused me but I didn't question it further.

    Either way, this is a very simple and easy job for her either way other than much less people than originally thought. I'm just excited to marry the love of my life, so all we really need to show up is our officiant lol.
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    Thanks for your thoughts. I did ask her how this can be made better for her; I suggested maybe they just do the "drop off" version which is even listed on her website, but she said that wasn't an option. That response confused me but I didn't question it further.

    Either way, this is a very simple and easy job for her either way other than much less people than originally thought. I'm just excited to marry the love of my life, so all we really need to show up is our officiant lol.
    It's likely that she did not charge you for a minimum order.  So while you're getting a good deal she isn't. 

    It's a lesson learned for her.  I've seen other caterers push a minimum order cost so if you didn't have the original qty of people that she budgeted for you'd still have to buy that qty of food.  She didn't do that so please tip well and give a great review if it all goes well.  
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    She is responsible for making sure her business makes money. Don't make it your problem. 
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