Negotiating Power: The Unbundle-Method
I recently had a bride ask for help with a change in pricing for her price per plate. This is an awkward situation to be put in. Most of the times you will plan your sample wedding budget around the banquet hall, since this is the most costly. So what should you do when faced with an increase in the price per plate, after you sign the contract? Read our 4 recommendations and you might be able to reduce the increase.
1.) Can they only accommodate 1 event at their facility in an evening? If so, sit them both down and discuss that you only budgeted for $50 per plate. Express your concern and they may budge. It will be hard to resist once they understand they will lose your business without being able to fill the date in enough time.
2.) If they don’t budge and you would like to negotiate, then use the unbundled method. Find justification for their price per plate increase (in the example below it is $2). They will resist giving you this information, however once they do you have negotiating power.
Per Plate $50.00 pp @ 150 guests
Price Breakdown/Critical Cost Drivers (example %’s and prices):
Linen 12% $6.00
Silverware 08% $4.00
Fillet 32% $16.00
Vegetables 14% $7.00
Side 34% $17.00
Fillet Increase 4% x $16.00 = 1.28%
$50.00 x 4% = $2.00 increase pp
$50.00 x 1.28% = $.64 cents increase pp
It is really only a 1.28% increase instead of 4%. This means you should only be paying an additional .64 cents instead of $2 per plate.
3.) If they do not budge and they do not want to unbundle their prices, then they probably do not have proper justification for the price increase. Contact a lawyer and go over the contract with them. Word of advice do not call them ahead of time. They will setup an appointment to charge you. Show up unannounced to get a quick look over the contract and their opinion.
4.) Word of mouth referrals are huge for any wedding vendor. Mention in an e-mail/phone call how you may have to express your situation on the knot chat boards to find another facility. This may help them change their minds. You can also blog about your dissatisfaction with their facility. I have done this for 2 facilities and my blog post pops up in Google for their keywords (example Mackinac Island Mission Point Resort). After this step would be contacting your local small business associations.
Out of the 4 tips above, I would say the unbundling method really gives you the most freedom with discussing the increase in the price per plate. Every banquet hall in Michigan relies on positive word of mouth referrals to book a solid wedding season. If you express your concern they will realize the bind they have put you in. Trust me, no one wants to put stress on a bride. Good luck and congratulations!