What’s on your catering checklist? How do you keep everything running smoothly for your client and manage the details behind the scenes? It all comes down to organization. Whether you’re a small caterer taking on a few minor details for a client or a large catering company offering your experience and team to lead the day, you’re going to need a catering checklist.
I hope the 5 items below are included on your catering checklist which will help you achieve success at your next event.
1. Detailed and Signed Contract
One of the first items for your catering checklist should be a detailed, signed contract. What should be included in a catering contract? It should include your menu, a clear list of expected tasks, a detailed event floor plan, and a break down of the day’s events. Once you have double checked and checked your contract again, it is important to for you and your client sign the final contract. Take it from me: you can never be detailed enough for an event. Not only does this help you cover all of your bases, it also keeps even the most disorganized clients informed.
2. Special Needs and Dietary Restrictions
The next catering checklist items are special needs or dietary restrictions. An event planner may not always know dietary restrictions right off the bat so it’s a good idea to put these needs on their radar early. Attendees with special needs like dietary restrictions don’t want to be a burden to their host, but I’ve never heard a vegetarian complain when they receive a specially designed meal instead of a plate of pasta.
This category also extends to needs like a mother’s room or accessibility for event guests with a disability. Events can be a large out of pocket cost for an attendee and when your host is able to extend a special touch, it will go a long way.
3. Vendor Contact Sheet
While you may be the go-to vendor for the event, there will be a number of people that will help the event come together. If you are assisting in planning an event, it is important to put together a list of vendors, time of arrival to the event, and a day-of contact person with a phone number for each company. It is not rare for a vendor to get lost, drop off the items at the wrong venue, or be on a different time line. This list will help you be prepared to put out any fires without alarming your client.
4. Venue Walk Through
Whether you are working at a venue for the first or fiftieth time, it’s important to schedule time to walk through the flow of the event with your client in the venue. Creating an event diagram can aid in your walk through and eliminate any confusion in your communications. Because let’s face it: nobody wants to rearrange all of the tables half way into the setup. This will also help you confirm that you have enough room for the elements you’re contributing to the event, like that strolling bananas foster cart.
Bottom line: 65% of the population are visual learners, so you don’t want to lose a client because they can’t picture their event before it happens.
5. Post-Event Expectations
An often forgotten catering checklist item is what happens post-event. Sometimes your focus can be so tuned into the event you might gloss over the ending details. Who will be responsible for taking the centerpieces home? What about the details of cleaning up the venue? Nothing can turn a perfect event sour faster than losing the top of your client’s cake or forcing them to pay a fee because you didn’t clean the kitchen properly. Don’t let a minor detail sweep away your rave reviews.
A caterer is often asked to put on more than a chef’s hat over the course of planning an event. We’re usually the first to arrive on-site and the last to leave. So you can imagine that over the course of the day we will be tasked with so much more than serving up delicious food. Instead of a chef hat, a caterer may need to become a magician pulling all of the tricks out of their hat to ensure event success. And no event is perfect or 100% stress-free. But if you start with this catering checklist and customize it to your needs, you will be on the right track to success.