Creating a Catering Plan of Action
Every good caterer needs an efficient and effective plan of action that will take them from the first meeting with a client to the successful completion of the catered event. There are a variety of steps that occur in between these two moments, so creating and following a specific action plan will eliminate the risk of important tasks being forgotten or neglected.
Meet with the Client
The first step in any caterer/client relationship is the initial meeting with a client. When a client calls and expresses an interest in hiring you to cater an event, set up an appointment with that client. Providing a client with a specified appointment time will allow both of you to prepare for the first meeting and have your questions and answers ready. When you meet with the client, ask questions about the event, their vision for the menu, and how the menu will coordinate with the décor and theme of the event as a whole. Discuss an estimated budget as well as any potential food allergies or food items that should not be included on the menu.
Create a Tasting Menu
After you have met with the client, it's time prepare a tasting menu for the client. Create samples of some of the dishes that can be included on your menu. Invite the client to return, or visit the client, and offer them the chance to taste and experience the foods you cater. This will ensure that the client knows exactly what to expect from you, and will reduce the chances of a client being dissatisfied at the actual event. Some caterers offer a complementary tasting experience to clients, and others require a small deposit to cover the sampling menu. If your client wishes to bring several family members or friends to the tasting day, a small deposit may be necessary.
Scout the Location
It's also important for a caterer to scout the location at which the event will be held. Electrical outlets, kitchen size and accessories, overall square footage, and other important aspects of the venue will help you prepare for the day of the event. Make note of any accessories, kitchen tools, or other items that you will have to supply yourself.
Prepare in Advance
Any and all of the food that can be prepared in advance should be completed before the actual day of the event. There are always more tasks that must be completed than are anticipated, so checking items off your event list will help the day of the event go much more smoothly. Packing tables, chairs, linens, silverware, dishes, accessories, and dry food items before the event will greatly reduce your stress.
Prepare the Food and Serve
On the day of the event, you and your chefs will be busy preparing the food to be served at the event. If you have wait staff, make sure they set up tables correctly and decorate the tables according to your standards. Prepare a second checklist for tasks that must be performed during the actual event. The more details included on your plan of action lists, the more likely the event is to go smoothly.