5 Questions to ask when choosing an Event Caterer

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A caterer can make or break your event. It may not seem that way, but think about how many times you heard bad reviews based solely on what someone ate. That’s why it’s so important to ask the right questions before choosing a caterer for your own special occasion. Use these five questions to find the perfect fit that will leave guests raving for years to come.

Do You Have References And A Portfolio?
It’s all about references when you’re searching for a caterer. Simply put, the better the references, the better the caterer. Before scheduling a meeting with candidates, ask them to provide between three to seven references. Each one should include a current phone number, working email address and physical mailing address. Portfolios are also helpful during the selection process. They can show previous layouts and menus. Photos of their past events often provide a better look at elements of how they serve customers.

What Are Your Prices?
Price is one of the crucial parts of any party planner’s budget. Before going forward with the caterer’s interview, talk about their pricing as well as any policies that could affect the price. A big red flag can be when someone refuses to discuss this issue. Most companies and individual caterers will offer a full listing of their prices, terms and conditions in writing. Keep in mind, additional fees are included in just about every catering situation. Be sure to ask about cancellation fees. They greatly vary between businesses and can add thousands of dollars to a bill if an event does not go on as planned. In fact, the Better Business Bureau states you should check “ the company’s cancellation and refund policies before paying any money.” Caterers that request all money be paid upfront should be avoided. No reputable catering company would ask their clients to do this.

Are You And/Or Your Business Insured?
Don’t be afraid to ask about the potential caterer’s insurance. In many situations, insurance can be overlooked while planning for the big event. When it comes to wedding catering, this is especially true. According to Huffington Post‘s Jason Alderman “…liability related to alcohol, food or other party-related risks may not be covered in the owner’s conventional homeowners or business coverage..”. For that reason’s it’s important to know the vendor’s coverage in these situations. Don’t forget to check your own insurance concerning the event. The caterer’s services may also be included in what is covered. If you’re unsure about your caterer’s insurance, ask for additional information. Most insurance companies can provide proof of insurance as well as any details about the policies.

How Do You Handle Difficult Situations?
Martin’s Caterers said, “Like any other business, how we handle ourselves when under pressure can say a lot about a company.” Asking about hypothetical situations as well as real events from the past should be one of the first questions asked by any planner. This question reveals temperament, planning skills, organizational abilities and even how a caterer’s employees react under pressure. Think it’s an odd question to ask? Remember your job interviews. What did each employer say to you? Chances are good it was something close to this line of questioning. That’s because it’s a proven tool for finding the best people.

Are You Prepared To Serve A Large Capacity Event?
Not all caterers are created alike. Unfortunately, some companies and individuals are not prepared to work with large scale events. If you’re putting together a big gathering, this is crucial. It’s not just big events that could benefit from asking this question. If a caterer can handle a large event, they can handle anything. Once again, this shows how they handle organization and the responsibilities that come with catering any occasion. If they have a history of running out of supplies or food, this could be a problem for your own event. Be cautious with this question. Some caterers may not be as honest when asked about their capabilities. Whether desperate for work or simply not established in the field, their reasons for not being truthful can vary.

Choosing a caterer is one of the most important decisions a planner will face. The process can sometimes seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Asking the right questions can help anyone find the caterer of their dreams.

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Kevin Schultz is a professional journalist with over 15 years of writing and media experience. He is a full-time contributor to the Themocracy Online News Blog and his insightful writing has been enjoyed by thousands.