One of the first things you must understand before deciding to choose any caterer for an event is the menu. In addition to being a service provider, the caterer can be your food and beverage consultant as well. Before you approve any catering service, however, be sure to do the following things.
- Taste the Food Sample
You get two things from sampling the caterer’s food: taste and have an idea of how the foods are presented. Even when those two things do not meet your expectations at first, you can ask the chefs to make some changes. Make sure your feedback is taken seriously. Another thing to ask is whether the food is finished on site or cooked ahead of time and kept warm for the event.
- Discuss Additional Services
Some caterers provide only food and beverage service, while others offer to provide more things such as tables, chairs, decorations, linens, etc. Either way is not a problem; it becomes a problem if you don’t get notified in advance. If additional service is available, you can ask the caterer to adjust to your needs.
- Read the Fine Print
Comparing proposals from one caterer to another is comparing apples to apples. Of course the best proposal includes everything you ask for, but also make sure you understand the following points:
- Change in price in case guest count does not match the event registration form
- Labor work fees
- Tips for the staff
- Check References
There will be a list of happy customers, but checking the references carefully can be rewarding, especially when you find certain parts of the service you do not want. You can ask the caterer to exclude or change those parts.
- See Past Photos
It allows you to take a glance of the caterer’s attention to aesthetics. If the style or service ware does not meet the criteria you want, ask the caterer to change it or pick another provider.
- Check if they are Organized
If the caterers or their sales managers are clumsy during presentations or if any unprofessionalism is reflected in the proposal, it can be sign of disorganization. Avoid every possible sign that potentially ruins your event management system.
- Firsthand Review
You can also see signs of either professionalism or disorganization during in-person meeting at the caterer’s office. Are you greeted properly and in timely manner? Is the office clean enough for food and beverage provider? In case you hesitate about anything, ask more questions.
- Ask your Special Requirements
Good caterer complies with your rules and anticipates special requirements for examples dietary restrictions (gluten-free, vegetarian event, special guests, etc), late additions during event, strict timeline, and more.
- Check with the Venue
Some venues have preferred caterers list. This is an advantage, because any of those caterers is familiar with the event venue. It may sound simple, but some venues have strict policies concerning cleanliness, trashes, and other issues. Using a preferred caterer avoids penalties.
- Understand who is in charge
If you know who is in charge of the caterer’s team, you anticipate ineffective communication with the team during the event. You need to communicate changes and surprises with the leader to ensure quick adjustments.