Have you ever organized a catered event? Maybe it was a wedding, a birthday party, a graduation open house. Maybe it was a corporate event for visiting colleagues. Whatever the occasion happened to be, you probably felt some stress during the process. Feeling stressed and anxious is a hugely common response when taking on the responsibility of hiring and working with a caterer – especially when the event is personal. Especially when it’s hugely important to you that the caterer does a good job.
If you’ve found a caterer who has exceeded your expectations in the past – and you’re 100% sure that this company will deliver again – your stress level may be very low. It’s always a big advantage when you have a “go-to” caterer who has earned your confidence. But when you’re working with a new caterer for the first time, knowing what to expect can be stressful indeed.
What it all comes down to is that not every caterer is the same. Each company brings a different level of experience, professionalism and commitment to the table (literally, as well as figuratively). They have different hiring practices, different protocols, and different standards of service.
How do you make sense of all these variables? How do you know who to trust with a catered event that is important to you? After all, this is a special occasion. You want your guests to enjoy themselves and enjoy the catered service. You want them to remember your event for all the right reasons.
It’s difficult to pin down what really separates one catering company from another. All of the aforementioned factors are in play – experience, professionalism, equipment, and individual staff members.
What really separates the best caterers from the rest of the pack, however, is a combination of these things. This is otherwise known as ‘reputation.’
A caterer’s reputation is difficult to uphold, for the simple reason that clients themselves feel a lot of pressure to put on a good event. Catering companies therefore feel a lot of pressure to perform – and only those who perform at the top of their game will earn consistent praise from discerning clients.
How do you discern a caterer’s reputation? Obviously, social review sites like Yelp and Google are important. When you look at these reviews, what do you see? Were people ‘floored’ by the level of service and professionalism on display? Were their expectations exceeded in terms of quality? Or does this company routinely leave customers unhappy, frustrated, and wishing they could turn back the clock and hire a different company?
How a caterer deals with complaints is another key issues. We all know that things can go wrong, and planned events can sometimes be unpredictable. When complaints do happen, reputable caterers will respond publicly and make things right. They generally won’t be defensive, or try to pass blame onto the client. Instead, they’ll look for solutions.
Scoping out a caterer’s reputation is the single most important thing you can do to assure the success of your planned event – so choose wisely, and good luck!