Catering your corporate event doesn’t have to be a nightmare

Unless your company is one of the few that has its own executive and/or employee dining rooms, chances are likely thatat some point the need will arise to have food brought in either for an event, meeting, conference, or some other function.  Possibly, you may need to find a venue that provides catering off campus.  Either way, going caterer shopping for each event can be a huge waste of time and frustrating.   There are a few things that can be done to facilitate the process.

Identify your needs

The most important question to be asked is, what need is the catering supposed to fulfill?  Is it to impress a new client? Tocater the annual Christmas party?Maybe you want to provide lite in-house meals for a two-day series of training sessions?Or, maybe a breakfast meeting whichis very popular and easy to plan for because we are already so familiarthem and the popular items we love, i.e., muffins, coffee, juice, fruit, cereal, etc.

Once the need is revealed, the first path to success is taken.  Now you must begin to fine-tune that need by asking the right questions.

To impress a client, you may want to pull out all the stops to let them know they are important to you and your company.  During long hours of training sessions, you don’t want to waste time waiting for folks to get back from lunch.  Furnishing a well-rounded nourishing selection of salads, breadassortment, cold cuts, side dishes, and drinks will keep them happy and closeenoughso your timeline stays intact.  Special occasional events, such as a Christmas party, is for the employees, it’s a time for camaraderie, sharing a large assortment of good food and having fun.

Identify your budget

A catering toronto company cannot provide Steak Diane on a baked chicken breast budget.  Knowing the dollarsyou have to work with is essential to finding the right caterer that will provide the best bang for your buck.The restaurant business likes to talk in terms of per person budget or cost per meal.  When interviewing a caterer, be prepared to talk dollars per person budgeted times the number of persons at the event.  Do not forget to include the appropriate percentages for local tax and gratuity which varies from location to location in your per meal budget; it should be in the range of 15% to 20%.

How to find the right catering company

In each company, everyone from the President and CEO down to the lowly clerk in the mailroom has a favorite place to order out from or go to for lunch.  Local restaurants know they are popular and welcome the opportunity to provide the catering for your event, even if you didn’t know it. 

Begin your search close to home and expand outward.  Networking is a great way to find good caterers.  Also, ask your friends, associates, co-workers what their favorite restaurants are and why.  Also, where they have gone for catered events.Companies that you do business with are another great source of contacts.  Maybe you went to your spouse’s company Christmas party and the food was wonderful.  Find out who their caterer was and contact them.

If you are the executive assistant or secretary to one of the executives, you may already know what their preferences are and where they go with clients for lunch and dinner.If it is an executive level catering situation use this knowledge as a beginning point and work from there.

If you are unfamiliar with a caterer that you are considering, ask them for the opportunity to sample some of the items from their catering menu and tour their facility if they have private rooms.  Depending on the budget you have in mind, they may invite you and a guestto dine at a discount or on the house.Many times, a new restaurant or catering business will offer incentives so they might be considered.  Whether an established business or a start-up, the onus is on you to make sure they know what they are doing.  A list of previous caterings, with contact information, is a must.  Have a list of questions at hand when checking these references and do not be afraid to ask what, if any, were the problems that occurred.  And always ask, would you use them again?

One final piece of advice

As you search for the right restaurant or caterer always keep in mind that one stop shopping is a time saver.There are many good businesses out there that have the capabilities to provide a full range of services and caterings from the simple meeting breakfast brought in, to an elegant fine dining private room for your next Board of Director’s meeting, to the company picnic at the park.  Use the good ones often and they’ll get to know you and you them, thus guaranteeing success every time.