An event food isn’t an event: it’s a probation meeting. Seriously – even AA meetings have some sort of food at them, though you couldn’t call it catering.
If you’re going to throw an event, you need to find a quality caterer. If that’s not in the budget, then it’s time to reassess if you should hold this event in the first place.
And yes, sometimes a small budget means ordering pizza for the group – but for bigger events (with higher ticket prices), you have to level up.
Learn how to find a great caterer below.
1. Know Your Budget
Your catering budget will depend on the number of people coming to your event. The more people there are, the more expensive a caterer is going to be.
That’s just how it works. To balance your budget, you have to figure out how to balance the quantity of food with the quality of it.
If you’re catering a sit-down dinner or lunch, expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $15 a plate (a person). Know that having alcohol service costs more and that it’s cheaper to serve buffet-style than it is to plate something for each guest.
Look at each caterers’ packages, which usually come in numbers of guests (30 guests, 100 guests, etc.) and determine what you can afford.
They will offer levels of their services, and you may need to invite fewer people or go down one level to make everything work.
2. Look At Online Reviews
Just like you wouldn’t buy something on Amazon without looking at the reviews, you shouldn’t book a caterer without reading theirs.
Their star rating or number rating is important, but you shouldn’t stop there. What are the reviews actually saying? What does this particular company excel at?
What are their weak points? Even the best caterers have them.
You decide which weak spots are dealbreakers for you. If reviews say the food was often late, you can adjust your schedule to accommodate that, if you have time.
But if not, then only employ a company that’s timely.
3. Ask to See Certifications
A catering service is a business, and they need to be able to prove as much. Before you book them, ask to see their certifications. There should be a business license and some paperwork from the state health department as well as some sort of insurance.
You wouldn’t hire a contractor if they didn’t have a permit and personal insurance, so don’t hire a caterer that’s uninsured, either.
4. Get the Full Price
When you’re booking, make sure your caterer is including everything in your estimate. That includes dishes, clean-up, delivery, and servers.
Finding a Quality Caterer
Once you’ve screened your caterer with the points above, book them as far in advance as possible. This will make sure you have your top choice quality caterer, not just the only person that had that day free.
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