5 Mistakes That Your Catering Business Should Avoid
If you’re just starting out in the catering industry, you’ll likely make a few mistakes along the way. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of five common mistakes with tips on how you can avoid them.
Are You Making These Catering Mistakes?
When running any type of business, you should avoid overfilling your schedule. It’s a common mistake because it’s so easy to make, especially when you start your company. Most likely, you’re eager to take on new clients, and anxious to see a profit. However, if you’re taking on more work than you can handle, your quality will suffer. In the catering industry, that might mean taking on multiple events in one weekend, thus spreading yourself too thin and not providing the level of service that you should. In addition, once you’ve earned a large enough clientele, you can be a little more selective with the events that you cater. For instance, you might be able to cater events that are a certain size, or only serve customers in your remote geographic area.
2. Not Hiring Enough Staff
Running a catering company typically isn’t a job you can handle on your own. Although hiring employees can be expensive, it’s also necessary for running your business effectively. You might need assistance with tasks like setting up, cooking, serving food, bartending, and cleaning. The catering industry involves a lot of physically demanding tasks, so don’t make the mistake of asking too much from employees in an effort to hire less people.
If you don’t need full time staff all year, you might consider hiring seasonally. If your business caters a lot of weddings, for example, you might need more staff in the summer months and less in the winter. College students are an excellent group to choose from as they’ll be looking for summer work between semesters, so consider posting help-wanted signs at local universities.
3. Underestimating Guests
It can be difficult to estimate how many guests will be at an event and how much food you’ll need. Unless your client gives you an exact number, you’ll need to do the work to determine how much food you’ll need. Keep in mind that it’s better to have too much than not enough food for the number of people in attendance, but you also don’t want to over-purchase ingredients, because you’ll probably lose money.
Use these guidelines from The Spruce to help you determine how much food you’ll need for the guest list that you’re working with. While the guidelines can be used for small parties, they also work well for caterers that serve large crowds.
4. Being Unprepared
When you’re catering an event, you truly need to be prepared for anything. That means you should bring everything with you to ensure that your part of the event runs smoothly. Because you’re handling the food, one of the highlights of any event, if you aren’t prepared, your mistake will be obvious to everyone in the room. You don’t want to be caught with too little food or not enough cutlery and linens, just to name a few examples.
There are several things that you can do to set yourself up for success. Start by making a packing list. The day before the event, look at your menu and make a list of everything you’ll need to set up, prepare the food, serve, and clean up after the event. When you arrive, be sure to have business cards on hand, so that you can connect with patrons and potentially earn more catering jobs in the process.
5. Not Planning Ahead with the Client
In the catering industry, customer service should always be a priority. Thus, when you book an event, it’s crucial that you meet with your client to plan ahead. If you neglect this, the event might be disastrous.
When you meet with the client, be sure to ask about all the basics like how many guests will be in attendance and how long the event will last. In addition, you should ask them for menu or presentation requests, so that the catering is catered to their preferences. You might even want to ask if they know of any allergies or food restrictions that you should keep in mind. The more information that you can gather from the client, the better the event will be! Plus, your commitment to service might even prompt them to use your catering services again in the future.
Conclusion: Avoid Mistakes by Planning Ahead
Most of the mistakes mentioned in this post can be prevented by planning ahead. If you’re disorganized or don’t take the time to find out about what your customer wants, your event will surely be a failure. Take pride in your catering services, and watch your business grow!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.