Creating a Catering Proposal and Quote

Creating a Catering Proposal

A catering proposal is a quote that you give to your prospective clients. In a catering proposal you will need to outline everything they need to know as well as include the total price for the entire event. The order that you use to lay out your proposal is not set in stone and can be altered to suit each proposal. It is recommended that you stick to a a laid out structure to make your proposal as easy to read and understand as possible.Creating a Catering Proposal


Our Structure Used For Creating A Catering Proposal

Part 1: Cover Letter and General Information

This is the section of the quote is where you will be introducing your proposal in a professional manner and polite way that lays down the basics so you and your customer can understand the costs that the event will have. Although you should not include any pricing on this page, getting your basics out of here will allow you to explain the additional fees or costs that might incur. Your cover letter shall include all of the following general information for the actual event:

  • The Type of Event

Whether it’s a fancy event or casual, it will influence services you provide and the costs of catering. A wedding event with full-service buffet will usually cost more than a casual picnic with only drop-off service.

  • The Date of Event

This will always have an impact on the final cost of an event. Because the demand for food and catering services differs from season to season, any event that takes place near or during the holidays will tend to have a higher cost than the events that will take place in other times of the year.

  • Time of the Event

A catering event that requires a caterer’s time for more than three hours will cost more than the one that requires just two hours of a caterer’s time.

  • Venue Location

If the venue is far away from the caterer’s place, you may need to add additional fees for the delivery and transport costs.

  • The Minimum Guaranteed Guest Count

It’s usual to request that the client provide you with a guaranteed guest count. The pricing can than be adjusted accordingly based on the guest count. In that way, you’ll not over-prepare for the client’s event and lose any money if fewer guests show up. You should bring at least 10% extra in case your guests consume more than expected or more guests show up. If you serve more people than the guaranteed guest count, you can still charge for each additional guest.

It’s a good idea to continue putting the general information as a header on top of every page, just as a reminder to yourself and your client. An example header would be:

Townsend & Bradley Wedding             220 Guests

Saturday, June 25, 7:00 pm


Part 2: Menu and the Menu Pricing of Your Catering Proposal

The next item on your quote shall be the event menu of your catering services. When pricing your drinks and food, you’ll want to include this information:

    • List of your menu items
    • Cost per person or per platter for each food item
    • The total cost for each food item
    • The total costs for the whole menu

In addition, in this part of the quotation you must include the price of the added costs incurred for the food items, such as cost of disposable utensils and dinnerware, chafing dish rental, cake cutting costs, etc. Be sure to explain each food-related fee, or it will seem like you are overcharging your client and might lose one.



Part 3: Additional Fees

In any catering contracts, usually, there are additional fees that cannot be related to the food itself. Try to charge as few added fees as you can, even if it means increasing your food pricing. In regards to the fees you charge, you should charge a fair price and offer full explanation of each of your services and why it’s needed, either on a proposal or directly to your customer. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to have it look like you are charging for nothing. In fact, many caterers only use custom quoting. In that way, they will have the option of simply adding the fee to their menu pricing, so it looks like there are no suspicious fees.


In other words, additional fees can include any or all of the following:

  • The Labor Costs

Make it clear to your client exactly what you are charging the fees for. List the number of staff needed for each of the tasks, such as buffet runners, servers, bartenders, and chefs. If staff works longer than expected, you should have a clear formula to determine the additional charge. Use the following equation to determine your labor costs:

Duration of the Event (in hours) x # of Staff Needed x Hourly Wage

For example, if you need 12 staff to service a 3-hour event, and you pay them $11.50 per hour, your labor costs would be 3 x 12 x 11.50, or $414.

  • Your Delivery Fee

Some caterers includes delivery fee that’s standard on all of contracts. As an alternative to a standard fee, you may want to charge extra fee for delivery if your client wants you to cater an event that is far away.

  • Rental and Decoration Fees

You can charge an additional fee if you are providing the venue space, centerpieces, event tents, portable bars, tablecloths and other special catering services or food supplies that your client requests to deck out a venue. It’s best to charge your client the same amount they would pay for a rental company. Otherwise, you might lose the client. However, if you are renting the venue or supplies, you might want to try to work out a deal with the rental company to get a percentage back for giving them your repeat business.

  • Operations Charge

Some caterers charge an operating charge for all clients, either as a replacement or in addition for other charges. This is usually used to cover the overhead, preparation costs, equipment costs and other additional costs incurred. Be sure to fully explain the fee to your client.

  • Event Planning Fees

If you have helped your client plan their event or spent more time to assist them in contracting with photographers, florists and DJs, you may need to charge an additional fee to cover your time and effort spent planning the event.

  • The Final Quote

When you’re done creating each part of your catering proposal, add all of these charges up to determine the final quote.

On your final page, list the total charge for each part of your proposal, then add it all up so you can determine the grand total. That way, the client can clearly see exactly what they are paying for each part of the catering contract.

Catering Policies and Contract

This section of the catering proposal lists a caterer’s policies and covers all of the following:

  • Guaranteed Minimum Guest Count

If fewer guests show up than are guaranteed, the caterer still gets paid according to this guaranteed guest count. If more guests show up, you should reserve the right to charge a fair price for the additional services, labor, food and drinks required.

  • Guaranteed Time Duration

This is the client’s estimated time during which the caterer’s food and services will be needed. If a caterer’s services are needed for less time, the caterer still receives payment based on the guaranteed time duration. If your services are needed for a longer duration than expected, you should reserve the right to charge more for additional labor and services.

  • Deposit

It is standard to charge a 50% deposit upon the signing of the contract, when the caterer’s service is booked or contracted.

  • Cancellation Policies

Be sure to list all the policies about refund of the deposit or cancellation. It’s standard to refund the entire deposit if the client cancels within a month before the event, 50% of the deposit if the client cancels within 11 to 30 days before the event, and none of the deposit if the caterer is notified of cancellation less than 11 days before the event.

  • Terms

Be sure to spell out all the terms for payment of the final costs after the deposit clearly to your client.

  • Booking and Payment

At the end of the final page, include an area where clients write down their payment information and sign to contract the caterer. This will serve as a legal binding  of contract for your catering services.


Hopefully this article has helped you in creating a catering proposal. For all your catering and commercial kitchen needs give Procook a call on 07 3868 4964.

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