Organising a corporate event is no cakewalk. The stakes are high and the room for error very little. It is a very serious task and if your company entrusts you with it then you must leave no stone unturned. Your first and toughest task is to find the right corporate caterer. Now, the world of corporate catering is full of options, so, how do you find the perfect one? Here are 7 tips to help you find the best corporate event caterer.
Requirements and Expectations
Start with imagining the perfect event in your mind. Is it a company party, a fundraiser or an important board meeting? What are the expectations of your company and guests? What kind of guests are attending the event? What kind of ambience, lighting, music and food will they prefer?
Jot down all your expectations and requirements before presenting it to the potential caterers. Don’t forget important aspects like meals for guests with special dietary requirements. Carefully study the proposals of various event caterers before zeroing in one.
Bonus Tip: An average corporate catering company/head will agree with everything you say. An awesome event caterer will ask questions to learn more about you, the event and your expectations.
Horses for Courses
Different caterers specialize in different types of events. It might be difficult for caterers of summer BBQ event to cater to formal events. People sometimes make the mistake of hiring the same caterer for totally different events. It comes off sometimes while other times, well. Ask the caterers if they have experience in serving at your kind of events. Verify their claims by checking out their profiles, websites and social media handles. If there is no online footprint then ask them for some sort of proof.
In corporate events, food isn’t always the epicentre of the event. Unlike social gatherings, corporate events are more about talking business. Therefore, time is a crucial entity. You don’t want your guests to waste their time standing line for food. They are better of spending their time talking business and wrapping deals. Look for a corporate catering company that emphasizes on speed and efficiency. Ask them to arrange a double-sided buffet to avoid long lines.
What to serve
Right, we just said that the food isn’t always the heart of corporate events. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. It is the second most important factor. And, with food, there so many possibilities. Most caterers have standard menu options that they specialise in. Check out the various menu options and see if any of them resonates with your guests. If you want to provide specific food experience like Organic Food, Japanese Theme, Seasonal Delicacies etc. then mention it. Again look for experience. You don’t want an Italian caterer catering an Asian Fusion themed event. The same logic applies to beverages. Will you be mostly serving alcohol on the rocks, wine and beer or you need an excellent bartender who could mix mean cocktails?
It is better to keep an option of finger foods and quick bites for guests who want to focus more on conversations and connections than the food. Small bites make conversations easy.
Bonus Tip: Ask if the caterer can prepare special dishes for people with dietary limitations like vegan, vegetarian, gluten and dairy allergic.
Tried and tasted
The menu has been finalised. What is the next bit? This is the most exciting part for some people. Tasting. Schedule a tasting session with the caterers and taste all the different items on the menu. Don’t hesitate if you don’t like a certain dish. Ask the caterer to prepare it according to your expectations and taste it again. Food can be an event spoiler if proper diligence isn’t paid.
Make it a point to do food tastings with at least three different caterers. Pay attention to the visual appeal of the food along with the taste. If wine will be served with food then try various wine and food pairings before finalising. Some caterers charge for tastings. It is worth paying for the tasting sessions over jeopardising the event.
Bonus Tip: If you can’t decide between different options then taste all the options before deciding.
At corporate events, the entire catering staff should be highly professional and capable of dealing with the bigwigs. They should be thoroughly clear about the schedule to avoid confusions. Speak with the on-site catering manager to understand the game plan. Talk to the bartender about drinks and other matters. If the chef will be present at the event then make sure that he is flexible and open to last-minute special requirements, if need be.
Bonus Tip: What should be the staff-to-guest ratio? (We suggest one waiter for every 20 guests)
Contract and Cancellation
Now to the most boring part of the ordeal. Drafting a contract and a cancellation policy. Many ignore these two things and later regret. A well-drafted contract comes to your rescue in case of a dispute. It should contain the following specifics – food, beverage, services, date, time and location. Iron out the details like the menu, number of servings, drinks, cutlery, accessories and staff among other things. The contract should also have a total cost including VAT and service charges.
Cancellation is a spotty matter and hence it is important to spell out the details. Agree on cancellation terms ahead of time. The cancellation can occur at both ends, hence, jot down the procedure and penalties if it happens. The procedures and policies might differ for both parties. Add the cancellation policy to the contract. If possible, ask a pair of legal eyes to give it a look.