Things to Consider When Choosing a Caterer
Selecting the right caterer for your event may seem like a daunting task. You may have hundreds of caterers to choose from, all offering a variety of services that may be to your liking. In order to narrow it down to just one, the right one, it is best to arm yourself with these useful tips on how to interview potential caterers.
- Budget - Discuss your budget and consider if it is a realistic one. Caterers will give you a price range for a buffet vs. sit-down. You may ask what percentage they add for alcohol, rentals (linens, glasses, tables and chairs), decor (centerpieces, flowers), staffing, etc. (There may be other expenses such as invitations or music depending on whether they offer these services or not).
- Can they manage more than the food? - If you are looking for a caterer that is a one-stop-shop for your needs (music, rentals, invitations, entertainment, etc) ascertain if the can really deliver all of these. Ask them if they have done this on a regular basis and who their other clients were.
- Request for a Proposal – If the caterer listened carefully to your requests, they will send a proposal that accommodates your budget and needs. Consider if the menu choices are to your liking. Have all of your requests been addressed? Did they leave anything out from your previous discussion?
- Who’s in Charge? – If possible, ask who will be your event manger will be and assess if you will feel comfortable with this person. To help you with that, ask for a list of references/clients that they have helped recently for similar events. Be sure to call and speak with these references and ask if the client felt if there was anything that could have been improved upon.
- A look at their menu – Ask for their sample menus from previous events that are similar to what you will be having. Check their website for their menus plus photos of dishes and setup. Consider how you want the meal be served: Plated sit-down vs. Buffet? If it’s a buffet, will the dishes be served by staff, or will guests help themselves?
After reviewing these basics, narrow down your caterer choices down based on budget, experience with similar events, references and personal compatibility. Remember, chemistry with the caterer is important since you will rely on them to make a lasting impression on your event.