Catering Contract

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Whether you are a catering company or an individual hired to cater for an event, you must have a catering contract made and signed.

A catering contract will ensure that the services you have undertaken are delivered and paid for as promised. Furthermore, it outlines the scope of the entirety of the relationship between a caterer and their client.

What is a Catering Contract?

A catering contract is a legally binding commitment between a caterer and a client. It contains details specifying your services as a caterer throughout one event or multiple. It is a way of documenting your clients' engagements regarding the catering services you are willing to provide them.

There are seven main categories of catering contracts:

  1. Cost Plus: In this type of contract, an estimated budget is prepared according to which the caterer prepares the food. If the budget is exceeded, the client is expected to pay the additional amount. In the case of saving, he is entitled to receive money from the caterer.
  2. Cost Plus Guarantee: It is similar to Cost Plus except that the caterer adds labor costs and gross profit percentage as a part of sales and management charges.
  3. NIL Subsidy / Cost: The caterer controls the tariff, menu, and other miscellaneous costs and applies these charges. The caterer runs a profit and loss account but does not submit it to the client.
  4. Fixed Price: An annual budget is calculated. The cost is divided by 12 to calculate a monthly surcharge that the client then pays. The client, however, does not have to pay any additional costs that may exceed the budget.
  5. Fixed Cost Per Head: An annual budget is calculated, and the cost is estimated per user. Then, the food cost per head is calculated by multiplying it by daily numbers. This is usually done for contracts for hospitality and schools.
  6. Concession: It is similar to NIL subsidy except that a percentage return of sales is given to the client each month.
  7. Royalty Contract: These are used as long-term contracts. Each month, the client is given a sales return, which is not affected even if the caterer cannot control its costs.

Here is an article about the service contract.

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What Should Be Included in a Catering Contract?

A catering contract is a detailed agreement outlining the essential terms and conditions you and your client must abide by. Contracts should be just for both the client and the caterer. It needs to be able to give accountability and value to the client and, at the same time, provide a real incentive to the caterer.

The terms and conditions may include:

  • Basic Contract Information: The contract should include the complete address and name of the client and the caterer. It should also contain information regarding the venue, date, and time of the event.
  • Menu: The contract should have details about the number of items on the menu and the quantity required by the client. It can even have information on the dishware and cutlery to be used.
  • Food Service: The contract should all be specified whether you provide a buffet or a sit-down meal. On a catering contract, it should be mentioned how the meals and beverages will be served to the guest.
  • Staffing Services: The contract should outline details such as the ratio of guests to staff members, the staff's dress code, and the services the staff is required to provide.
  • Final Changes: The contract should also include a final date for any changes the client wishes to make to the menu or the guest list.
  • Payment Schedule: The caterer's fees for food and services should be written in clear terms. Any additional costs should also be included in the contract.
  • Cancellation Policy: It is essential to provide details such as the notice period and the amount paid to the caterer if the client terminates the contract.
  • Breach of Contract: The contract should also contain details for when there is a breach of contract from either of the parties involved.

It is, therefore, vital that you view the contract with careful consideration and pay attention to the details of the contract. Even if any of the clauses are not abided by either the caterer or the client, they can be quickly taken up against them.

Here is an article about hiring a lawyer to draft your contract.

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When to Use a Catering Contract

A catering contract is used in situations where you are supposed to arrange food for many people. You rely on a caterer to organize the entire menu, ensuring it is sufficient for all the people.

You may need a catering contract in the following situations:

  • Restaurants and hotels often create a catering agreement with other services to organize lunch and dinner daily. These are long-term bindings.
  • Hospitals, schools, and the corporate sector hire caterers to ensure a regular and consistent supply of food and cleaning services.
  • For occasions like weddings, birthday parties, and other social events, caterers are hired to arrange the food menu requested by their clients. They are hired for a limited time.
  • Often wedding planners and event organizers create a catering agreement with caterers. The purpose is to provide customers with all kinds of services under one roof. The caterer doesn't need a separate contract with the client in this situation.

Benefits of a Catering Contract

A catering contract restricts both parties from violating the terms made between them. Some of the benefits include:

  • Protection of rights: You have legal protection against clients challenging to work with. In addition, it will help you avoid any conflicts with the client.
  • Duties and liabilities: A well-written catering contract sets the parameters for the caterer's services and the client's expectations.
  • Payment guarantee: Since money is involved, it prevents any mismanagement of the finances. There remains no ambiguity when it comes to paying off dues on time.
  • Validity: A catering contract also sets the tone for any future dealings with a particular client. The contract is renewable, so the parties may decide to continue working on the same terms or after slight modifications to the existing ones.
  • Client-caterer relationship: It allows for a smooth relationship between the caterer and the client.

How to Write a Catering Contract

A catering contract can be drafted from scratch or made through a template. However, since your expertise as a caterer or a client does not lie in legal matters, it might be beneficial to hire a lawyer to draft a contract.

It will save you a lot of time and effort to get your agreement double-checked after you have drafted it yourself. Moreover, it will also prevent you from getting into trouble with any contract clause.

A catering contract has multiple clauses regarding the menu, fees, cancellation, and health & safety. Here are some tips:

  • Create a contract template flexible enough to include general and additional information.
  • You may add a questionnaire as an additional document that the client must answer. It helps in getting as much information from the client as possible.
  • Discuss and plan the original menu and the alternate menu, and the quantity of each.
  • The contract should include terms related to the limitations of the catering service - what items or services you can or cannot provide.
  • You may include additional services, such as bartending, dessert catering, or cleaning services.

Here is an article about the cost of drafting a contract.

Catering Contract Example

Catering contracts are available in many different styles depending on your requirements.

You can create a catering services agreement with other service providers for a particular event or a series of events. Moreover, you can create a catering contract with a customer, where both the parties are supposed to provide all the relevant information, such as:

  • Name and address of the client
  • Venue location
  • Menu
  • Services
  • Fees
  • Insurance and others

Here is an excellent resource for creating a personalized catering contract. However, it is advisable to hire a lawyer to avoid any flaws in the final document.

Get Help with a Catering Contract

A catering service forms the foundation for a relationship between a caterer and a client. It identifies the expectations of the client and the scope of the services provided by the caterer. Furthermore, it legally mandates both parties to respect the boundaries of each other and so helps in building a fruitful transaction between the two.

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