Tips and Warnings - To be considered
Planning an event? Whether it's your wedding, corporate event, baby shower or graduation, we give you a list of things to consider before selecting the ideal caterer for your event.
Because of the industry we are in, it's important you interview all your potential caterers. A lot of people make the mistake of calling by telephone and asking how much the service will cost them, without considering the details involved with the price and packages offered by the company.
If you're looking for an inexpensive and economic service you are taking a risk. You might not get what you've been promised. If a company is offering a low price, you should be on the guard. They are cutting costs to give you the service, ranging from less staff to attend to your guests waiters and kitchen helpers alike, smaller portions, substituted or lower quality ingredients in your food. We can't tell you how many times an event has failed because of a poor quality service from vendors, leaving the bride in tears on her wedding day.
Lower price = Lower quality + cutting costs
Investigate the caterer you have selected, look up reviews and also ask the venues directors/staff and other vendors if they have worked with the company before. Look at what they offer on their web page, look for photos, videos and blogs. The Internet the best tool when it comes to checking the integrity of a company. Don't simply focus on reviews alone because there are companies who write their own reviews. There are also sneaky vendors who maliciously write fake bad reviews about their competitors. Keep a look out for companies that have an excessive amount of reviews for the time it's been in business.
The catering service is important in any event, because of that reason you should consider hiring a company who is flexible and dependable. One that offers a variety of foods in their menu so that if your food of choice is not on the menu, the company should be capable to prepare it for you. It's always crucial to do a food tasting before your event. Consider only companies who have their own commercial kitchen, this demonstrates that the company is well established and has the proper licenses and insurance required by the state. In other words, operates legally as a real company.
Read the contract from top to bottom. The document should be available to you before you've even made a decision and it is always a plus if it is publically published such as on the companies website. The contract should have a list of clauses that will protect both the client and the caterer in certain situations so everything is clear and actions are being handled by both parties. Look for clauses that have to do with cancelations, delays or re-scheduled dates and methods of payment. Nothing should be assumed, the contract should have everything clearly outlined in front of you. Don't take responses like "Don't worry about it", "It isn't important", "Everything will be fine", etc. All the details should be included in the document such as linens, silverware, colors, amount of staff, hours of operation, taxes, service charge etc. Remember a contract that is short and simple will not work in your favor, since so much is left unclear.
A catering company should never ask you for more than a 20% deposit to reserve the date for your event. If the company asks for a larger deposit amount you are taking a big risk.
A cater that offers liquor as part of the service should show you the corresponding license to serve alcohol off-site. Regardless, always consider buying your own liquor to avoid the risk of substitutions during an event.
Contracting a coordinator for the day of your event is always a good idea as long as they are experienced. If a coordinator or the venue of your choosing is recommending a specific catering company, always ask them about all the companies they can recommend. Something you might not know is that in most cases, vendors and coordinators get a cut to guide and tour you to the highest bidding company which isn't always the best for you. In some cases, they will also slander another company's good name just to get payed. So always do your own research, and don't just go to one source.
Consider all these points as a guide to help you create the perfect event. You invest your time, expectations and money so all the details of your event can come together as you planned. Choose the professionals with real proof of experience and use clear contracts. Verify and use real references, so you can completely enjoy your event worry free.