Thinking about using a catering company for your next event?

Here’s a few tips to begin the process:

  • Get recommendations from friends and family to see who they have used before.
  • Do some shopping around online, look at their website, look at their menu and decide if they look like a right fit for you.
  • Decide how fancy you want this event to be and have a budget in mind. Is it just a family party where they can drop off and not have it staffed? Or is it a reception that you will need full staffing, rentals, decor, etc.?
  • Then give them a call and discuss your event details with them. Have a general idea of what you are looking for and ask for any suggestions.
  • You’ll want to work with a catering company that will have a Sales Manager dedicated to you so that you are not always talking with different people. It makes it much easier when they are very responsive to you.

Here are some key questions you are going to want to ask:

  • Can they send you a copy of the menu with pricing?
  • Are they available the day you are requesting?
  • Do they have a minimum for drop offs or catered events?
  • Do they have a delivery charge?
  • Are they fully insured and licensed as a caterer?
  • Are they allowed to cater at the venue you are hosting the event? Or do they have a preferred venue they like to work with they could recommend for your event?
    • Make sure you check with the venue that they are also allowed to use their kitchen if they have to reheat any items.
    • How long do they need to set up and break down your event?
    • Make sure to check with the venue that they are allowed to get in earlier to set up.
    • Also ask if the venue has a loading area for easy access.
  • If you are having a bar:
    • Do they have a liquor license?
    • Do they have bartenders available?
    • Can you host a bar on consumption? Or just have a cash bar?
    • Can you just serve beer and wine to keep the costs down? Or do they offer a full bar service with cocktails?
  • Ask them to put a proposal together for you based on menu items you want and all the costs associated with the event. See if they can stick within your budget.
    • How much are rentals going to be? What do you need for rentals? For example, chafers, serving pieces, china, silverware, glasses, tables, chairs, linens, etc.
    • Can you use more affordable basic items like disposable ware, wire chafers, paper or plastic plates and serving utensils?
    • How much is decor going to cost you? For example, buffet table decor, cocktail tables, centerpieces, flowers, balloons, etc.
    • How many staff will you need at your event? How much do they cost?
    • Does their pricing include gratuity? Or is that an extra cost at the end of the event?

  • For the menu, ask if they can itemize the different items. You don’t always need each menu item per person. Most of the time you end up with a ton of leftovers. Ask them about portioning each item.
  • Make sure to ask if they can accommodate any allergies or dietary needs in your party.
  • See if they have any referrals for any other vendors you might need like a DJ or Photographer.

Most of these things you will find you can probably do on your own to save some money. For example, decor, rentals, plates, linens, etc. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save. Don’t be afraid to ask for other menu options either. Try to find other ways to bring your cost down if you can.

Hope this was informative enough for you!