You’ve put in countless hours of your time to make sure your picnic will be a huge success. After all, your group is great, and you want them to know they are the best. Now imagine after all the planning, the follow-up phone calls jockeyed into your breaks, and numerous decisions to be made, the big day comes.
Thirty minutes before the meal is scheduled to start, no sign of the caterer. You call them and receive an answering machine. Fifteen minutes before lunch, the catering crew drags in. They explain they took a left instead of a right and were detoured 30 minutes. The excuse is drowned out as you call on your friends to help the caterer unload.
Ten minutes later all the equipment is unloaded. Lunch is finally served thirty minutes behind schedule. You tell yourself it’s all right. Everyone seems happy and the crowd is flowing through.
What now? Someone calls you over. It seems the caterer ran out of chicken before he and his family could get served. About this time people are coming back for seconds they won’t get. You try to act composed, but your face can’t hide your combination of embarrassment and anger.
You set out to find the lead caterer and explode as you find him hiding behind a tree sipping a coke and taking a smoke. What else could go wrong?
This story was not told to scare you, rather to open you up to some of the possibilities of using a caterer. You just need to know the rules of the game, and believe me there are a few in planning a successful picnic.
1. Not Sampling The Food Before The Event
You would be surprised how many people call up a caterer and book an event without tasting the food. What happens if the food is not what you expect? You leave yourself open to looking bad in front of all your guests and their family. A good caterer will insist you sample the menu before you commit. If the caterer hesitates, they may have something to hide. It’s better to uncover potential problems on the front end.
2. Failing To Have a Budget & Goal in Mind
Goals are a focal point to rally your team around and create a vision of the end result. Do you picture self-service box lunches, or would you prefer guests casually enjoying a traditional Tennessee barbecue? Part of having a goal is knowing your budget: knowing in advance how much money you have to spend will save you time in exploring options. There is nothing more frustrating than having a specific meal in mind without the budget to see it through.
3. Basing Your Decision Just On Price
The old saying, “You get what you pay for,” rings truer today than ever. You need to make sure and compare apples to apples with different caterers. Is clean up included in the price? What about the serving tables? Are they included and what type of covering is included? Is the food cooked fresh or re-heated? What about portion size? What happens if the caterer runs out of food? How many servers are included? The list goes on and on. You see, all caterers are not created equally. You owe it to yourself to make sure you know what you’re paying for.
4. Choosing One Entree Instead of Two
Most events have a few guests that have special diets or desires. Years ago you could order one entree and be sure everyone was happy. Today, you need to consider adding another entree. Not every event requires two entrees, but is advisable to find out on the front end. Take an informal survey of students, teachers and parents before you make a decision.
5. Forgetting To Explore All Possible Options
The price of two cars with different options can vary as much as $5,000. Caterings are no different. The opposite can also ring true. If you are willing to forgo certain extras, you might be able to negotiate a lower price. Make sure you ask about the “base model” catering if you are on a tight budget. Most caterers will work with you.