WORKING SUCCESSFULLY WITH CATERING SERVICES
You have a clear picture of your event details: the date, the location, the number of guests, special food requirements. You've talked to and met with catering services and chosen the one that best fits your needs and budget. No matter whether you're using full or partial catering, now isn't the time to just sit back and wait.
Working successfully with catering services comes down to two things: timing and communication. Details should be finalized as soon as possible after choosing a caterer so that the final schedule can be set. Once that is done, along with a check-in or two (depending on the amount of time before the event) to make sure everything is going according to plan, things should sail smoothly along.
Step 3: Working with Your Caterer
- Finalize the deal. Have your caterer create a contract based on their prior written estimate. Make sure that it clearly spells out all the details of the services to be provided, including:
- Itemized pricing for everything included. Food, service, set-up, dishes, serving dishes, supplies, decor/table decorations, gratuity, taxes.
- Especially in cases where your catering service is only providing partial catering, make sure there's a section for "client/customer will provide" items. This will help eliminate any confusion as to who is responsible for what.
- Have the contract specify the name and phone number (including a mobile number) of the catering service contact or event coordinator. Also specify whether that person will be physically present at the event or will only do the advance coordination.
- Make certain the contract specifies, and that you fully understand, the pricing structure. Check for things such as "guaranteed miniumums," deposit and final payment requirements, insurance fees and cancellation/change policies.
- Both you and your catering service need to sign the contract and keep a copy.
- Stay on top of the timing:
- Mark reminders on your calendar for checking in with the caterer. Touch base one month before, one week before, and two days before the event to make sure things are on schedule.
- Make a single list of what has to happen and when, with dates. As things get done, check them off.
- The number of attendees, with a separate number for children.
- Special food diets, allergies or concerns.
- If you're doing some of the cooking, keep shopping lists, recipes and ingredient lists with all the other information so that they'll be easy to find when needed.