Guest Author - Jason Hodge
Restaurants, diners and bistros alike can be more than just a place to eat if you're a personal chef. They can be your interactive classroom. I've had a number of personal chefs ask me about how to price their services; and although there's no real concrete number, there are principles you can use to give you some direction on pricing your services.
If you've been a chef for any length of time you know that there's more that goes into creating your menus and the price than just what you feel like that day. Your price point will directly affect the success of your business. Price too high and you may have challenges getting clients in the door; price too low and you can't stay afloat long enough to stay in business and your profession will rapidly decline into a hobby. With these two extremes you'll need to boil everything down to these essential items of consideration to have the right perspective to base your prices on.
How much is your business costing you? I'm talking time, energy, expansion, marketing, etc.
How much do you need to charge to get ahead, taking care of the now and building for your future?
Here's how you can go about doing some of your research.
[Remember, google is your friend, other chefs are your friends and your favorite eateries are also your friends.]
Go to your favorite eateries and get their to go menus, if they have one, if not, study their menu items, the prices, the portions and the customers that also frequent these establishments. When you order one of the dishes what all did it come with and how much do you think it really cost them to put that dish together for you and still make a profit? Instead of playing the guessing game, why not ask? Pull the manager, owner and/or head chef aside (whoever does the ordering of supplies) aside and introduce yourself and ask them the questions that will help to demystify their pricing structure.
This might sound strange, right? After all, they are your competition right? Wrong. You're competition is your future clients perception on the 'cons' of hiring a personal chef.
Ask them questions that will give you answers to how they stay afloat and grow.
What's their overhead?
What's their profit margin?
Are they operating in the black or the red?
How long did it take them to operate at a profit?
How many hours goes into running their business?
How many employees do they have?
Do you think the eateries might have an idea of what it takes to not only stay in business, but to expand the business as well? Of course they do. You're going to have to think on these terms when it comes to your price planning and business growth.
There are many things they have to consider, as do you, before setting the pricing structure to create a successful business venture. If you run into a brick wall go somewhere else, talk to wholesalers, suppliers, other personal chefs, etc. to give you the reasons these professionals charge what they do and you need to know your options from the eclectic avenues of resources available to you.
Let's look at this for a moment.
When you order that burger and fries or that filet mignon you're not only paying for that meal, you're paying for their utilities, insurance, maintenance of the business and upkeep of the building, staff, marketing, insurance, retirement funds, taxes, licenses, education, vacations, benefits, renovations, repairs, transportation, equipment, training, etc. There is always a portion of that food sale geared towards more than the cost of the actual meal.
The next time you go to the restaurants notice everything and break down the wholesale costs of the ingredients it took to make the meal you've ordered. The grain, meat, vegetables, fruit, condiments, etc. it took to put your individual meal together and then subtract that from what they're charging you. What do you come up with? That end number is what goes into everything necessary to generate success and that's how you need to think when it comes to your services.
On average you'll be looking at anywhere from $100 - $450 per cooking session, groceries not included.
Sound a little expensive?
Consider what you're saving your client: The time and energy of planning, shopping, cooking, packaging, labeling and cleaning. You're saving them between 57 - 65 hours per month where they can relax, spend time with their families and friends and not have to concern about what to do for dinner or, breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, depending on how you have your packages set up. You may very well be prepping 2 or more weeks worth of food in that one session that may last 4 - 8 hours and you're giving them exactly what they want in the way they want it. They can't get that anywhere else and you're the one that's bringing it all to them.
If you're masterful at what you do, your time and energy are worth at least that. Break down how much you need/want to make per week, per month or per year, do the averaging to determine: who your clients need to be; how many clients you contract; what services you offer; and how much they will need to generate. Are you going to schedule some downtime? fun time? learning time? All of these things factor into what you offer and your pricing.
So remember to pop over to your favorite eateries, grab a few menus, talk to your fellow personal chefs and plug into the internet for your ongoing research.
If you have any more question or comments drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you.
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing with you. Until next time...