What is a Standard Catering Deposit?

There’s no doubt that choosing to have an event catered is often more practical than trying to manage all the food alone. It’s not unusual for caterers to require what’s known as a standard catering deposit. In fact, that standard may vary based on the common practices of the caterer, the complexity of the project, and how the client plans on paying. Here are some of the factors that go into determining what type of deposit is required up front.

The Number of Guests

How many people will be attending the event? This is important, since it provides the caterer with an idea of how much food must be purchased and prepared. Since one of the reasons for requiring a deposit is to have funds on hand to cover the purchase of that food, more guests translates into a larger deposit.

The Nature of the Event

Some events require little more than food platters and some chafing dishes to pull off. Others will involve many different types of serving dishes and possibly arranging for people to do the serving. More formal events are likely to require a larger deposit.

The Method of Payment

Many business people understand the risks involved with accepting checks versus credit cards as payment. Unfortunately, caterers have learned that checks are not always good. That leaves them in an awkward situation, in that there is the need to cover the sudden loss of income from the company operating account and initiate collection proceedings with the errant customer. Both activities take time away from the core business. To offset the risk, some caterers will require a larger deposit if payment is by check and offer a slightly smaller deposit if the payments are made by credit card.

Local Practices

What the local market will bear also plays some role in determining the amount of that standard catering deposit. If the norm is half of the anticipated total cost, that’s what the caterer is likely to use. When a major competitor routinely requires a third of the total cost up front, the caterer is likely to do likewise.

Talk with different catering services and get an idea of what they require up front. It won’t be hard to identify one who has a reputation for quality and offers terms that the client can manage with ease.