Guest Author - Karen Tempel
The recent ice storms across much of the Midwest has me wondering if we, as personal chefs, are as prepared as we should be for unexpected interruptions in our cook day schedule.
You may be fortunate, like I am, to live in an area where winter weather has little effect on everyday life. However, if you have been working as a personal chef for any time at all, you already realize that cancelled cook days occur for many reasons. Perhaps the client’s children have all come down with the flu bug on your scheduled cook day. Maybe the client’s power or water is off on the day you are to be in the kitchen. It could be you that wakes up feeling under the weather and unable to cook on that day without risking infecting your clients. Whatever the reason, unplanned interruptions can and do occur.
The best way to handle these unplanned interruptions and the resulting loss of income is to have a plan. If you are relying on your personal chef income to pay the bills, certainly one part of that plan needs include having enough money set aside and readily available to get through the unexpected loss of income.
Another consideration is whether you will be able to reschedule the lost cook day to recover the lost income. This will vary depending on the circumstances and the particular client involved. If you are not cooking every day, and your schedule will allow it, getting the client back into the schedule as soon as possible will cause the least interruption to your cash flow.
If you are already fully booked, perhaps you can double up and cook for two clients on one day. If that task sounds a bit daunting, consider offering a ‘mini service’ to the missed client, perhaps cooking only part of their weekly service at an adjusted rate.
As another alternative, knowing the availability of the missed client can be useful so that if disaster strikes your schedule again, you can quickly replace the new lost cook day with the waiting client.
If there are other personal chefs in your area, you may want to form a working relationship with them so that in the event of a scheduling emergency you may be able to work out a back up plan to leave your client with uninterrupted service. This could be especially useful if you are catering events rather than cooking everyday meals. An emergency in your life that leaves you unable to cook may not have to leave your client scrambling to find another caterer.
If you work as a personal chef long enough, you are probably going to face an unexpected interruption in your work schedule. The key to keeping your clients happy and minimizing the affect on your income is to start planning for those interruptions now.