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How To Handle Difficult Catering Clients

It doesn’t matter the industry you’re in, you are bound to encounter difficult clients. The hospitality industry is known for its high level of hard clientele. Since it’s a service-based industry, it’s easy to see why. The catering sector is no exception to this. A successful catering operation is always juggling between the different types of events they cater and pleasing every single client they deal with. Dealing with difficult catering clients can be stressful. However, if you uncover exactly how your customers are feeling and approaching them with the correct response, your business will grow to be successful. Fail to understand your difficult clients and it could cost you your business.

Check out different types of difficult catering clients, and how to approach them as a catering business.

Types of Difficult Clients

1. The One Who Doesn’t Listen

Not listening
There are always going to be people who think they know everything, even if they have no experience in the catering industry. They think they know how the catering at their event should go and that’s that. They are basically just hiring you for the formalities. When in truth, all you are trying to do is give them the best experience possible.

What You Should Do:

What better way to prove your point to someone who doesn’t listen then by showing them. For example, say you have a client who has a small budget for many guests and they expect a meal where each guest’s plate would be way out of their budget. You should show them workarounds or cost-saving tips that have worked from your experience.

2. The One Who Doesn’t Take No For An Answer

There are some people who wheel and deal more than others. Some catering clients will try and get the biggest bang for their buck when it comes to your services. They will pester you until you give them what they want, and that’s the biggest discount possible. A successful event costs a lot of money, and the food and drink can be a big portion of that.

What You Should Do:

Don’t discount your business! Tell your catering client that you charge such and such amount for whatever reason you need too. The trick is to acknowledge, but not agree. They don’t have to know everything, but if you explain to them why you can’t give them an additional 20% off then that goes a lot longer of a way then just saying no and that’s it. A lot of people don’t know or understand what goes into catering an event. Just by taking the time to explain it to them, will save you a lot of headaches when they receive the bill.

3. The One Who Doesn’t Know What They Want

For some event hosts, it can take coming down to the wire to know what they want. People are fickle, and all they want is to pull off the best event with the best food. When events are planned months in advance, people hear what’s trending, or they go to someone else’s event and like what they see. It could be totally different from their original plan, which could be a huge headache to caterers.

What You Should Do:

Be direct and try to give them the deepest insight of what they are picturing to what it will look like. If they are thinking about having a chocolate fountain, and you had a previous client who had a fountain at their event, then show them pictures. People are very visual so showing them previous work could entice them to make more of a decision. Make sure you get everything in writing. Have your client email over things that they do like. That way, if they try and say this is not what they wanted, you have the proof or reminder.

4. The One Who Complains About Everything

Complaining About Everything
There are just some people you can’t make happy. Your catering business could have pulled out all of the stops with flaming shots and a one of a kind sushi station, and your event host is not happy. That’s usually a sign that it’s not you, but them.

What You Should Do:

First, don’t take it personally. Some people complain just to complain. Picture this, the bride’s dad hates who’s she marrying, but he really doesn’t have a choice. Who do you think he’s going to take it out on at the wedding. The people he must hire to make his daughter’s big day. In the end, it’s a good idea to always under promise and over deliver.

5. The One Who References Your Past Mistakes

You are not perfect, and neither is your business. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will. You will make a mistake like the main entrée not being hot enough or having certain servers that guests just don’t get along with. These days company reviews are everywhere. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

What You Should Do

Don’t ever hide from bad reviews or bad comments about things that may or may not have happened at your event. A reasonable human being knows that things happen, they just want to make sure it doesn’t happen at their event. If it was a onetime accident, then call it what it is. If it’s a bad waitress that you have had constant negative feedback on, it might be time to replace her or giving her additional training.