People in need of catering services often wonder what to look for — and what to avoid. It’s common knowledge that finding the right caterer can make a huge positive difference for your event, while hiring the wrong caterer can give a whole laundry list of problems. What are some warning signs that the caterer you’re considering is not the most professional outfit in town?
1. Not licensed or insured
This is such a basic requirement that a lot of people simply skip past it and end up hiring caterers who aren’t even official businesses. It’s unfortunate, but unlicensed companies are actually out there, attracting unsuspecting clients every day. Sites like Craiglist and Facebook have made it easy for virtually anyone to declare themselves an established caterer that’s open for business. But when the day of your event arrives, you’ll see just how limited these companies are, in terms of what they can do for you.
2. Amateur web site
It sounds like a simple thing, but the web site of a catering company is actually a strong indicator of how they conduct business in general. This isn’t always the case, and it’s certainly possible that a caterer will have a professional-looking web site without really being professional where it counts. This is obvious when you look at how easy it is to create a web site from a template these days.
That said, professional web site are often indicators of a professional operation — particularly when you see good reviews from past clients, vivid photographs of past events, and detailed menu information. When these things are lacking, and/or the website itself looks dated and poorly organized, you have to wonder whether the quality of the catering itself will be similarly uninspiring.
3. Unclear pricing structures or hidden fees
A reputable caterer should be able to give you a solid, dependable bid for your project. They have experience handling different types of projects, and when they give you a quote, they’ve thought it through and are ready to back it up.
Companies that lack professionalism are far more likely to backtrack on the prices they give you, and/or tack on extra fees as the big day approaches (or even after the event is done). This is unacceptable for the vast majority of catering clients who are working with set budgets and need to know exactly how much they’re spending.
So what are the positive signs?
Enough of what not to look for — how do you find a caterer that’s going to meet your needs in style, and with great professionalism? Learning more about a caterer’s reputation in the community is probably the main one. If you find a caterer who a lot of past clients vouch for, read those reviews and absorb the details offered. High scores on sites like Facebook and Yelp are certainly a good sign, and you should also look for companies that have years of experience under their belt. Your catering event may be a big and important function like a wedding reception, or it may be a small holiday party amongst friends or colleagues. Either way, it’s important — and it deserves a (real) professional caterer!