If you’re considering catering for your next event, be prepared to do a little legwork first. No two catering companies are the same, and not every company will work around your needs and requests. They all bring to the table different experience, talent, and ideas, varying based on requested services.
Picking the right catering company isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds. If you’re not sure how to compare catering companies, keep reading to find out.
You need to have a firm understanding of what you expect your caterer to do. Consider every aspect you want provided. Will they be prepping, serving, and cleaning, or just prepping and cleaning?
If they’re serving, consider the ratio of servers to guests. If it’s one server to a lower number of guests, you’ll expect a higher quality of service, so be sure you understand the level provided when cementing these details. The caterer’s responsibilities and job outline should be clear, so you have everything lined up on the day of the event.
Designing the menu is different for each event. Maybe you need modifications for certain dishes. You’ll want to ask the caterers if they specialize in certain cuisines and have the ability to modify dishes for guests with varying dietary restrictions or allergies. This is a flexibility that should be established at the start, and ideally the company you pick should be able to work well outside of its normal parameters.
The quality of food served is very important: is it frozen with sauces drizzled over after, or do they cook from scratch? Are the caterers contracted by the catering company or is it their own staff doing the work? It’s good to know where the caterers buy their food and how it’s prepared, so you can understand how that plays into their pricing. Confirm that costs include the rentals and equipment needed to execute the meal plus any additional wares that may be needed for service. These details affect the final price and overall quality: Making an informed decision means knowing exactly what you’ll get when it’s event time.
Experience is a big category to consider when comparing catering companies. The number of years in the business, familiarity with venues, and handling problems that arise last minute are factors you need to research before. Each variable is important to find the right company who can meet your needs, along with the ability to efficiently handle any fires that come up last minute.
Quite often, the more experience a caterer has, the better. They’re more equipped to deal with problems and challenges, as they’ve definitely seen them before, and they can help you figure out any details of the event you may have missed.
It’s great to talk to the caterers—that’s definitely necessary, but catering companies are also selling themselves to get your business, and you need additional customer reviews and third party testimonials to view of angles and make the best decision.
Check ratings online and talk to past clients. Not everyone has a spotless history, but a good caterer won’t add extra padding to a small list of reviews. You want to understand the food quality, management details, and wait staff to see how different catering companies stack up before making a decision.
Know Your Budget First
To properly compare catering companies, you first need a clear budget. One company might offer everything you want, but the price doesn’t work. Approach caterers with a budget in order to allow them to develop a plan that can work with what you’re willing to spend, realistically putting together options that meet your needs.
An experienced company can also design a menu around your budget that will work with the preparation and service that best suits your needs. The right catering company will try to find a plan that meets your needs and falls within the budget.