So your thinking about having your next event catered, and you started calling around to some local caterers or searched online and you discovered that you had a lot more options than you realized! You've instantly become overwhelmed with options, price ranges, food variety, and so on. You wanted to hire a caterer to make your life easier, and now you thinking about cooking the food yourself just so you dont' have to make a decision!
Well... hopefully you have come across this article at the right time, because in a few minutes we might be able to help you narrow down your choices, select a caterer, and carry on with what you were doing before all this mess!
BEFORE you hire a catering company, I'd like to offer you a few things to consider before you start dialing that phone or searching the web, and few steps to take once you do... trust me, it will be worth it.
1.) Black tie or tie die?
How formal is your function? This is going to be the driving force for which catering companies you will want to search for, what your price point is going to be, and what level of service you will be expecting the caterer to deliver. Before you call a catering company, its going to help both you and the caterer to know how fancy the party will be. Selecting your venue will go hand-in-hand with this, and often times, exquisite locations have packages that include their high end catering service, but more on this next. This is the FIRST question you MUST ask yourself because it will dictate everything else to follow. Without knowing the degree of fanciness you fancy, no one will be able to effectively help you start making your selections.
2.) Location, Location, Location
You've probably herd this expression a few times, and yes it is also the number 1 decision to make when planning your even! Professional party and wedding planners are going to tell you that once you select a venue, everything else will start to fall into place, and they are right. Whether it be your backyard, a hotel by the sea, Fenway Park, or Buckingham Palace, the location/setting for your event will ultimately help you choose the right caterer and menu package. However, if you don't have a venue picked out yet, don't fear. Some caterers will have a list of venues that they can recommend or at least a list venues that they have catered at before and can probably help point you in the right direction!
3.) Time to start narrowing your choices...
Performing an internet search of, “caterers near me” and you’re likely to be bombarded with dozens of results. It goes without saying that not all catering companies are the same. Some caterers are national corporations that can supply food for anything from a university picnic to Coachella, but that doesn’t mean they’re a perfect one-size-fits-all solution. Some caterers will be local and have options in your price range, but don’t have the appropriate options to accommodate your guests. As mentioned in another one of our my articles titled, “How to Hire the Right Catering Company”, catered events often fall into 4 categories; weddings, corporate, social, and event concessions/food trucks. You will find that caterers often perform their strongest in 1 or 2 of these categories. Rather than just searching for "caterers near me", try searching for caterers specific to the category of catering you are looking for. Typically the strongest caterers in that niche will start to stand out! Its also important to review their menus, read reviews that are relevant and comparable to events similar to what you are planning, and look to see if you can find out who the caterer collaborates with for venus etc.
4.) Call your top picks and schedule tastings!
Once you've started to narrow down the options to who you believe will be the best fit for your event, call the caterers and schedule a time for a tasting. If the caterer is unwilling to perform a tasting for you... you may want to steer clear. Some caterers will offer free tastings, some may require a small fee, but it is certainly worth your time and little bit of money to do a tasting, especially for larger events! If the catering company is also a restaurant, just stop in!
5.) Before you sign the contract and make a deposit:
The last thing I suggest before signing a contract and write that first check is to take 2 minutes and do a little final referral check. You can ask the caterer if they have any referrals, but I recommend to just go online and see how they look. Keep in mind that a few bad reviews or negative press shouldn't scare you away, because the internet can be an unfiltered platform for negativity, however you certainly want to look at the overall trend. It's also good to look at whether or not the company is responsive to their customers reviews, both positive and negative as it will give you some insight to how effective of a communicator they are after you write them that first check!
So next time your planning a party, whether it be for a wedding, birthday party, office event or the entire town, we hope this helps you answer some questions you may have and make it easy to find the right caterer for your event!
Flat Waves Food Shack offers fun, fresh, professional, catering services in and around RI. Our specialty is buffet style fusion bbq, and taco bar catering! Start with one of our packages or customize your own unique menu. We look forward to helping you with your next event!
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