Maybe it’s more of a business space or perhaps you just have your heart set on a certain setting, whatever the reason may be, the point is that you’ll often need to figure out the catering situation on your own.
Take it from us as longtime NY and NJ event planners, it’s not easy and it’s one of the reasons we recommend enlisting some help with this sort of thing. So, let’s go over some things to keep in mind and questions to ask before making any decisions.
When you visit their business, bring all your senses to the table.
You should definitely make at least one in-person visit to your catering options, and the trip should be about getting a taste of more than just their food. You need to use your entire sales experience as a way to gauge their general performance.
Are they flexible and timely? How about polite? Signs like these are valuable indicators of how they will perform at your social or corporate events, and while you should sample the caterer’s food, of course, you should use that opportunity to get an idea of how the food will be presented at your event as well.
You can also speak with the chef at this time about how the food is prepared. Is it finished on site or brought to the site cooked and kept in boxes to stay warm?
The point is, use your on-site visit as a chance to get a taste not only of their menu, but also of their capabilities, their timeliness, their cleanliness, and of their general attitude and style.
Leave no stone unturned.
You need to be sure to factor in every little detail when researching a caterer. For instance, how do they handle last-minute changes or dietary restrictions? And how much are they actually willing to provide for you? Do they provide tables, chairs, and linens or only the food and service?
You should also see if the caterer has ever handled events at your venue of choice. If so, they’ll know the lay of the land and will probably have some valuable relationships with the venue’s staff.
Also, who will actually be in charge on the day of your event? We’ve been event planners in NJ and NY long enough to know that often the person who sits down with you for your initial meeting won’t be present at your event. Make sure you find out who will be.
And go through your contract with a fine-toothed comb. Is tax and tipping included? You don’t want to start comparing one caterer to another without a complete understanding of what each is putting on the table.
Lastly, check reviews, references, and photos.
From there, go through all the basics. Check reviews and references. If it’s possible and you need more information, try reaching out to previous clients and asking more specific questions.
And check out photos from previous events catered by the company to get an idea of how the spread will actually look on the big day, and don’t be afraid to point out the things you especially like, or dislike, in the photos.
The bottom line is, choosing the right caterer for your corporate or social events takes some time and careful consideration. Just remember to keep not just your mouth but your eyes and ears open for any possible signs, and mind all the little details.
About Absolute Events by Corrine: A full-service New York / New Jersey event planning company, Absolute Events by Corrine handles every detail in the event planning process. Whether they’re corporate or social, destination or local, at Absolute Events by Corrine, we do everything in our power to allow our clients to be guests at their own events.