Guest Author - Karen Tempel
Blizzard. Loss of Power. Hurricane. Ice Storm. Power Outage. Or any other natural disaster.
Death in the family. Serious illness. Broken arm. Influenza. Or any other personal crisis.
How would you handle an emergency situation that threatens to interrupt a catered event or dinner party? Is it fair to expect your client to accept the financial burden for a situation that is out of your control? Should that loss be absorbed entirely by your business? It seems reasonable that an option somewhere between these two choices would be the most fair.
If you are a personal chef providing services for special events (ie anything that is not easily rescheduled), it is inevitable that eventually something out of your control is going to threaten an event. Some forethought and planning may help you save a potentially disastrous situation.
Do you know and have a good working relationship with other personal chefs and/or caterers in your area? In the event of a personal crisis it may be possible to call on another vendor in your area to cover an event for you. I was recently contacted by a local caterer desperately searching for someone to cover an event after a death in the family caused them to head out of town unexpectedly. Knowing that you have options in the event of a personal emergency should be comforting and go a long way to reducing your stress level when the unexpected happens.
When a natural disaster strikes you may find yourself in a completely different situation. It may be that you are unable to get to the event or it may be that no one will be able to attend depending on the extent of the calamity.
Especially if you live in an area where weather is likely to frequently affect your business you may want to address how you will handle these situations in your service contract. You may want to include a non-refundable deposit to cover expenses (ie food costs) that you will not be able to avoid if there is a last minute issue that is beyond anyone’s control.
Disasters can and do strike without warning. Preparing in advance for the unexpected will not only give you a game plan to follow when a last minute crisis threatens an event, it will also give your clients the guidelines for how you will handle the service interruption.