If you’re feeling overwhelmed with choosing a catering company for an upcoming event, follow these simple guidelines.
Ask for Recommendations
The best way to begin your search for a good catering service is to ask friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances for recommendations, particularly those who share your particular needs and preferences. Even the slickest advertising campaign can’t take the place of authentic word of mouth appraisals. If you’ve recently attended an event where the food and beverage service were impressive, don’t hesitate to ask the host what catering company was used. You can extend your list of recommendations by checking out online reviews.
Clarify Your Needs
After you’ve comprised a list of possible caterers for your upcoming event or celebration, make a list of your specific wants and needs. It may not be wise, for instance, to hire a caterer who’s renowned for his barbecue if your event is going to be attended primarily by vegans or vegetarians. You’ll be able to see sample menus online by going to each caterer’s website, so take the time to explore the possibilities and make a list of those that you feel may work out for you. You should also consider the size of the company. If your event is going to be formal or involve a great deal of people, you’ll want to hire a company with enough available staff on hand to meet your needs.
Create a Budget
“A tight budget will automatically narrow down the list of possibilities, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to sacrifice quality,” said Marina 84. Many catering companies specialize in good, casual food, so seek them out instead of trying to fit the services of an expensive caterer into your picture.
Ask for a Tasting
If you are going to be hosting a large event, it’s perfectly acceptable to request a tasting from the caterer in which you’re provided with samples of menu items. This also provides you with an opportunity to ask the caterer any pertinent questions concerning their food and beverage services. For instance, if it’s going to be an elegant affair, you’ll want to know how the serving staff will be dressed and whether they are company employees or have been hired from a temporary agency. Service staff derived from a temporary agency may not have the same level of dedication as their company-employed counterparts. This also may be an indication that the caterer doesn’t do many large events. You should also inquire as to whether the caterer using fresh or frozen food items. Caterers frequently cut cost corners by using frozen foods whenever possible. However, you should keep in mind that fresh food may come with a higher price tag.
This may or may not be the proper time to ask the caterer to provide you with a quote for the cost of covering your event. He or she may not be able to give you one on the spot, so it may be best to ask for a loose ballpark figure instead. If you haven’t yet narrowed the playing field down to a few top candidates, it may be better to wait until you have to ask for a formal quote.
Check With Local Licensing Agencies
Whether they specialize in formal fare or casual cuisine, all top quality catering companies are in possession of the appropriate licenses and are in good standing with the applicable local regulatory agencies. You can check their business license status at with your city or county, and your local health department will have any records of complaints involving health issues, inspection results, or other issues with their services.
At this point, you should have either picked a caterer or narrowed it down to a couple of key players. Now is the time to ask for a formal quote. Keep in mind, however, that a price that seems too low may be due to cost cutting measures that will be reflected in the quality of the food, beverages, and services.
If all systems seem good to go at this point, ask the caterer to draw up a contract. Read through it carefully before signing, ask applicable questions, and sign when you’re satisfied you’ve made the best possible decision.