Are you prospecting for a catering job? If YES, here is a sample template on how to write a perfect catering proposal letter that will get you event contracts.

What is a Catering Proposal Letter?

A catering proposal letter is a quote for the services a caterer wants to provide to a prospective client. This letter is usually created after a preliminary meeting with the prospective client so that certain early arrangements can be agreed upon, such as price and service agreements.

Having the ability to put together a price quote does not mean you can write a catering contract. You need to show your potential client that you are thorough and you can be trusted to deliver on the services they need.

The goals for a typical business proposal are: to introduce yourself, highlight your products and/or services, describe the costs, and convince the client that you are the right choice for the job or you are worth investing in. While a catering contract is legally binding, a catering proposal is an exploratory document and can yet be modified through additional negotiation.

You should know that there is no one-size-fits-all as far as contract proposals are concerned, because you are expected to tailor your proposal to fit the needs of the client you are targeting. It’s never a good idea to send all prospective clients the same sales letter. Clients are much more likely to accept a proposal tailored just for them than one that has a general feel to it.

Note that before a proposal letter is drafted, that there is usually the need for a first meeting between the catering company and the client. The purpose of this meeting is not to settle on a final menu or arrangement, but rather to learn as much as you can about the potential client’s needs so that you can address them in your proposal. You can have this conversation in an email chain as well.

This is also a good opportunity to clarify what you can’t do, so if the customer wants something outside of the scope of your services such as a chocolate fountain or ice sculpture, you can save both of you the time and effort of spending time on a proposal that won’t suit the client.

Outlined below are the basic things that should appear in your contract proposal letter if you always want to be winning catering contracts.

How to Write a Perfect Catering Proposal Letter to Get Contracts

  1. The Covering Letter

The first section of a proposal letter is usually a cover letter. This cover letter is a brief summary of your company, including the name of the event and its date, time and location. It also should include the minimum guest count guarantee. In addition, the cover letter needs to contain a brief overview of services that the caterer will provide for the event. ​The cover letter is just used to present the facts in brief so that you client can get a brief feel of your work.

2. Your menu, items and their charges

The next section of the proposal letter is where you can now highlight the specific food and beverage items that the prospective client has chosen and the charges for the items. The caterer should list appetizers, salads, breads, entrees and desserts unless the caterer offers combination deals.

If the client expressed concerns about the budget, include multiple pricing options showing what you can do for a bare minimum price and what you can do for a little extra money. You can present this information as possible menu packages, or as a no-frills meal with possible add-ons.

3. Overall cost of labour

Your labor costs should equal no more than 33 percent of the price you quote to the customer. Include production costs for preparing the food off-site. State explicitly in your proposal whether the price of the suggested menu also includes the cost of setup, breakdown and service.

If these costs are not included, break them out separately by the hour or by the task, however, it makes the most sense for you to charge. If you’re listing them by the hour, provide an estimate of how long you expect them to take. Try to anticipate variables that may affect the overall time. For example, if you have to catch a ferry to get to the venue, the ferry times may not coincide with mealtimes so you’ll spend extra time waiting.

4. Linens, centerpieces and additional Charges

This section is where you can have to settle rental prices for linens, centerpieces, silverware, dinnerware, serving dishes and more. You should list prices per item or put similar items together in groups. In addition, the caterer needs to list all labor costs for delivery and the staff necessary to perform all required contractual tasks. Cost for labor is typically an hourly amount times the number of hours and staff members.

Make sure to include extra labor hours for handling the dishes, based on whether you have to scrape or wash them. If you provide paper plates, forks and napkins, specify whether they’re included in the price or whether there’s an extra cost for them. If you need to rent equipment such as chafers, coolers and coffee urns, include these prices in the proposal as well, along with whatever markup makes sense for your business.

5. Total quote: The total quote is simply a list of all the charges for each section above and the grand total. A caterer also may include a deposit amount to begin the preparations for the event. While doing this, ensure not to miscalculate.

6. Company policies

Catering company policies involve the minimum count requirement for guests, guarantee of services, acceptable forms and terms of payment and any other specifics that the caterer deems necessary for the prospective client to agree to in the written proposal letter. Be careful that your company policies are not so stiff so as not to scare clients away.

7. Signature and payment methods

In this area, the caterer should place a statement of agreement from the client’s perspective and a line for his or her signature. On top of this, an area for the client’s payment information should be below this section for his or her approval. ​

  • Note

While a catering proposal is not a catering contract, and it is by no means binding, but you have to make sure that every single item you need is included in the proposal. Adding up items last minute would mark you out as unserious and it can clearly cost you the contract. This is why you need to do adequate research on the kind of event you would be catering before you think of writing a proposal.

Your catering proposal can get you or deny you a catering contract, so you need to take your time while writing it, and you should endeavour to send it in with your business letter head.

Ejike Cynthia
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