FAQ – Hourly pricing estimates

Why do you estimate pricing by the hour rather than some other way (by meal or serving for example)?

One of the challenges for a potential client looking for a personal chef is that there are very few ways clients can easily compare the costs of different personal chefs (as well as their experiences and sample menus) because personal chefs have multiple ways of pricing their services – some price by hour, some price by meal, some include the price of ingredients, and others don’t. One of the things we want to do at Soma is to make it easier for clients to quickly compare personal chefs along price and other dimensions to find the one that best fits their needs.

Ideally, clients would want to know both how much they are paying the person on an hourly basis and how much they are paying per meal. The hourly rate helps clients make a rough comparison to the cost of hiring someone to doing it themselves, while the per meal cost helps clients compare to eating out. At Soma, we have tried to help clients find the right personal chef for their needs by showing the estimated hourly rate across personal chefs.

Where do the hourly pricing estimates come from, especially if I am not pricing by the hour on my own website?

If we found on a personal chef’s website that they are already pricing by the hour, then we will list that hourly rate on our website. If there is also a minimum number of hours that are requested for a booking, we will also incorporate that information but if there are no minimum number of hours, we estimate that it is 5 hours per booking.

If a personal chef is pricing by number of meals and number of servings per meal, we will estimate the number of hours it takes to cook that many meals and servings to calculate an hourly rate:

  • 1 meal with 3-4 servings/meal: 2 hours
  • 2 meals with 1-2 servings/meal: 2 hours
  • 2 meals with 3-4 servings/meal: 3 hours
  • 3 meals with 1-2 servings/meal: 3 hours
  • 3 meals with 3-4 servings/meal: 4 hours
  • 4 meals with 1-2 servings/meal: 4 hours
  • 4 meals with 3-4 servings/meal: 5 hours
  • 5 meals with 1-2 servings/meal: 5 hours
  • 5 meals with 3-4 servings/meal: 6 hours
  • Add an additional hour if the pricing includes grocery shopping services

For example, if a personal chef showed on their website that the cost of cooking 5 meals with 4 servings per meal is $350 and grocery shopping services are included, then the number of hours estimated to deliver this service is 7 hours, resulting in an estimated hourly cost of $50. The minimum hours for a booking would also be set a 7 so that the client will have to pay $350 for the booking. At times, applying this approach to different packages would not result in the same hourly rate though typically they would be within 10% of each other (for example, one package for 3 meals with 4 servings/ meal will result in an hourly cost of $45 and a second package with 5 meals with 4 servings will result in an hourly cost of $48). In these situations, we took the estimated hourly rate that was the highest of all the packages.

If ingredient costs are included in the prices listed on a personal chef’s website, we estimated that 30% of the price would go to grocery costs and 70% of the price to the personal chef’s labor costs. In these situations, we also noted in the product description that clients should expect to pay $X in ingredient costs (X being the difference between the package price listed on the personal chef’s website and the estimated labor costs of the booking).

If a chef says that weekly meal services start at $X, we will apply that amount to the smallest meal package offered on the website and if no meal packages are featured, then we will assume 3 meals with 4 servings each.