So your next key event is around the corner. Maybe it’s your wedding day. Or maybe you are holding a key business meeting. As a busy professional, you likely don’t have the time or attention to dabble into cooking and serving food to a whole group of guests. Right away hiring a catering company comes to mind. If you can afford it, hiring a caterer for the event can provide a great relief. It frees up time so you can focus on other aspects of your event such as fine-tuning your guest list and making sure the event program is well set. More important, on the event day, you can focus on enjoying the moment and not worry about the cooking and serving aspects.
So far so good…
But before you write that check for a catering company, you should ask 4 simple questions of the caterer to make sure he or she is a good fit for you.
What is the company’s pre-event activity like? The last thing you want is a catering company that will show up at your event site for the very first time on the event day. How are you sure they will not miss direction and arrive late if they never took the time to visit or inspect the event site ahead of time? So ask the company to show you their pre-event checklist to get a glimpse into the company’s operation.
If your event day team includes other players such as a hotel, rental companies or decorators, make sure the catering company is willing to coordinate with the rest of the team. A good catering company should sketch out where and how they will set up on the event day and discuss its plan to synchronize with the rest of the event day team. The more pre-planning efforts by the catering company the more confident you can be that they will execute on the event day. I would be concerned about a catering company that is not asking questions about other event day players and making attempts to coordinate with the rest of the team. You should too.
Personalized menu options
Perhaps in your last trip to South Africa, Dubai or elsewhere, you ate a meal you totally feel in love with. Now you want to have this food for your event. I can’t blame you :) You should find out if the catering company is willing to work with you to provide your newfound cuisine. Or what if you want the company to come up with a unique food mix or an innovative menu idea for your special event? Expect that more time, preplanning and cost will be involved in any customized cuisine but find out if the caterer is willing to go the extra mile to make your event a truly personalized occasion. After all, you are writing the check so you should be able to call the shot.
Say you’re having your event in Enugu but you live outside of Nigeria. Or perhaps you live in Lagos and can’t be in Enugu days before your event. Find out what the communication strategy of the catering company looks like. After all, it’s a social world! Your would-be caterer should be able to adapt to your preferred communication style.
But communicating the catering plan, menu options and packages to you by phone, text or email may not always cut it. Especially if it’s the first time you’re working with the company, you should find out if the company offers a video conference through Skype or other VoIP so you can get to know the company “one-on-one.” A good catering company is keen to understand both the expressed and unexpressed needs of the client and should offer such “one-on-one” through in-person or VoIP meeting.
You can read how catering works for more questions you can ask your prospective catering company but the 4 questions I provided above may be all you need.
Now it’s your turn…
What is the #1 question you will ask a catering company before hiring the company? Share it in a comment below.