Hiring a Caterer 101 – Prep Work Before Inquiring About a Catering Company

by Clinton on April 28, 2010 Filed under Catering Tips

Planning to Hire a Caterer

As that marked date on your calendar draws closer and closer, you no doubt find yourself buried in the workload of preparation and planning for that special occasion. A certain amount of anxiety may afflict you – after all, you want your event to go off without a hitch. There’s no room for failure or unfulfilled expectations here!

Relax. With a little organization and preplanning, you’ll easily achieve hosting success. As we all know (perhaps from firsthand experience), food factors into every event’s overall score. But providing the perfect dinner or refreshments need not be an overwhelming feat. If you’ve been putting off making those catering inquiries, get a pen and paper and sit down with a cup of coffee to answer a few simple questions.

What You Should Know Before Calling a Caterer

  • What kind of event are you having? Formal, more casual, or corporate? (ex. Wedding, Office Party, Shower)
  • What is the date of the event?
  • How many people will be attending the event?
  • What location will the event be held at?
  • What time will guests be arriving?
  • What time will guests be expected to eat?
  • What type of meal do you prefer? Hot or cold?
  • Are there special dietary requirements or specific allergies?
  • Do you expect ‘full-service’ catering requiring serving staff or is buffet style ok?
  • What kind of beverages do you want? Juice, Pop, Wine?
  • Do you require rentals for glassware, china, linen etc.?
  • What is your budget?

What You Need to Find Out from the Caterer

  • If you are going to supply wine, what is the corkage fee?
  • What are the caterer’s deposit and cancellation policies?
  • What kind of customer satisfaction guarantee do they provide?
  • What are the sizes of the menu portions?
  • Who does setup of the room?
  • When is the deadline for notification of menu selections?
  • When is the final guest estimate needed?
  • Do they provide references or a portfolio for review?

By sorting out the details beforehand and having clearly in mind your requirements and expectations, you’ll find that getting the catering aspect of an event taken care of is less complicated than you think, making the rest of your job so much easier.