Whether you’re planning a wedding, a work function, or a party, one of the most important elements of any event is food. A well catered event with impeccable service and delicious food leaves people raving about the experience. On the other hand, if catering is poorly done, it can leave a bad taste in guests’ mouths — both literally and figuratively!
When choosing a caterer for your next event, consider the following deal breakers and red flags to avoid.
1. Poorly Trained Staff
When it comes to catering, quality of service is just as important as quality of the food. Make sure to ask about the qualifications of servers and chefs — and what experience your caterer has working with them. Often, lower quality caterers will hire staff on an event-by-event basis, meaning that the servers and staff at your event may have never worked with your caterer before, and may have little experience. Instead, use a caterer with a trusted staff of experienced and trusted servers.
2. Lack of Communication
It’s a good sign if your caterer has just as many questions for you as you have for them. A qualified caterer will want to know about the size, venue, occasion, and formality of the event. These questions show that your caterer is paying attention to detail and is thinking about the overall service being provided, not just the preparation of the food. Steer clear of caterers that ask nothing more than what menu you have in mind. Problems are likely to arise as the event draws near — or even worse, on the day of.
3. Outlying Quotes
Your best bet when it comes to choosing a caterer is to have a vision for your event and get quotes from a number of potential options. Once you’ve done this, toss out any bids that are well above or below your budget. While everyone loves low prices, chances are a quote that is much cheaper than your other options is too good to be true. A caterer must be planning on cutting corners, either with ingredients or with service if they’re able to offer a price that far below the rest of the competition.
4. Verbal Agreements
While verbal agreements are fine for small scale transactions between friends and family, hiring a caterer is a business transaction that should be done in writing. Steer clear of caterers that operate on verbal agreements. Having everything in writing will leave no doubt about the cost, menu, expectations, and responsibilities of all parties involved and will give you the peace of mind that you’ll be covered if any mistakes or misunderstandings arise.
Finding a Qualified Caterer
Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time for your catering search. Start by asking around with friends, family, and even the venue where your event will take place for recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about a caterer’s experience and qualifications before getting quotes and looking at menus. With enough attention on the front end, you and your guests will be much happier with the outcome!