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How Should I Conduct a Search for a High Quality Caterer?

When it comes to event planning, the food can often be the most important consideration. Great food and service at an event can leave a good impression on guests and make your event seem well organized and memorable for all the right reasons. Consequentially, mediocre food and service (or worse yet, bad food or service) are hard to overcome, even if the rest of the event is flawless.

Where does one start, though, when it’s time to choose a caterer? What do you look for? What questions do you ask? How many caterers should you talk to? All of these are questions that don’t necessarily have one right answer. That said, there are definitely some guidelines that you can follow to help ensure that you end up with a high quality caterer. Read on for some fool-proof tips in finding the right caterer for your event.

Setting Up Your Catering Search

You want to start your search broad and narrow down from there. Asking around with friends and colleagues for recommendations is a good place to start. If your personal network doesn’t provide you with many options, conduct your search online where today you can find a wealth of reviews about caterers and other providers. Don’t rely on ratings alone, but take the time to read reviews. This will allow you to see overall trends and get a sense for which caterers will best meet your specific needs and desires.

Narrowing Down the Options

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to get quotes from three to four caterers. So choose your top few options from your search, and contact them to get more information. At this point in your search process it’s important to have a clear idea of what sort of service you want at your event, a ballpark number of guests, and any special considerations from the venue. Being consistent about what you tell each prospective caterer will help ensure that your quotes are accurate and there are no surprise charges as you clarify your plans later on.

Of your three to four quotes, discard any that are well below the others. A caterer who provides a price that sounds too good to be true is probably planning on cutting corners with some aspect of the food or service. Likewise, if one particular catering company sounds great but is much more expensive than you’re willing to spend, you may need to opt for a cheaper choice. Don’t be afraid to ask a caterer to match a competitor’s price, though. It won’t always work but at the very least could get you a discount.

Choosing “The One”

From your prospective caterers you want to choose the one that will provide you the best value for your money. Hopefully your research will leave you with a clear top candidate. If you’re torn between two options, ask for references. Speaking with a former customer can be a great way to get an honest opinion and help make your decision. Follow these steps and you’re likely to find a professional caterer who will be able to provide impeccable food and service for all of your future events.