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3 Tips for Hiring a Caterer

Updated on October 30, 2010
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Do you need to hire a caterer to handle an upcoming event? Unless you have a great deal of experience working with caterers and already have a few favorite companies, it can be very difficult to make this type of decision. After all, he last thing you want to do is choose a caterer without gathering enough information only to find on the day of your event that you should have made a different selection.

3 Important Tips for Hiring a Caterer

Here are a few tips for hiring a caterer that can help increase the odds that you make the best possible decision the next time you need to hire a catering service.

1. Seek Caterer Referrals

Ask friends, family members and professional colleagues about their experience with catering companies. It’s also a good idea to contact the Chamber of Commerce in your community to request a list of recommended catering providers.

Ask for suggestions of which caterers your referral sources have worked with and solicit feedback about what the experience was like. Find out about how helpful the company’s employees were, inquire about the quality of the food, ask how any problems were handled and request general information about cost.

Additionally, be sure to ask your contacts if there are any companies they have had particularly negative experiences with so that you’ll have an idea of which firms to avoid.

1. Interview Recommended Caterers

Contact caterers that have been recommended to you to begin the process of identifying companies that are the most suited to your needs. Keep in mind that catering services take bookings months – sometimes years – in advance. The schedules of the best companies become full very far in advance, so start this process as early in the planning process as possible.

When you contact caterers, describe your event in detail, providing information about the date and location early in the conversation. After all, you don’t want to spend a lot of time vetting a caterer only to find that the company isn’t even available on the date that you need.

If the company is available to work your event, move on to discussing specifics, including the company’s past experience with events like the one you are holding, food choices and pricing information. Find out what types of value added services are available – such as setup, breakdown, servers, etc. – and the associated charges.

2. Ask for Client References

Once you have narrowed down the list of possibilities to a few companies that you feel can meet your needs, it’s time to get feedback from their customers. Ask for names and contact information of three to five clients each company has worked with in the past. Specifically request references from people who have planned events similar to the size and scope of what you are working on so that you’ll get a realistic idea of what you can expect working with the company to be like. Call each name on the list and ask questions about the overall experience as well as specific details.

Make Your Decision

Once you have completed these three steps, you'll have the information you need to make an informed decision about choosing a caterer for your event!

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