It doesn’t really matter whether your crowd is fifteen or fifteen hundred. When you are planning a catered event, you want everything to go perfectly. That’s what makes planning an event so daunting. So many factors have to come together. You hope the venue will accommodate your every wish, the weather will cooperate, the catering will be perfect, and your guests will be wowed by the outcome. But often times, when the date rolls around, things end up falling short of the mark. There are last minute changes, unexpected logistical hiccups, and unsatisfactory elements in the service or products from the people you hired.
There’s not way to control everything when it comes to event planning (just ask the many wedding parties who tie the know under stormy skies every year), but you can save a lot of hassle and headache by doing plenty of research ahead of time, and knowing what you can control.
One of the most influential decisions you’ll make — and perhaps the single most important thing you can control, is the caterer you hire for your event. Part of making the best decision is knowing what to avoid. Here a few of the biggest warning signs that the caterer you’re researching may be disreputable or unqualified to give you the best results.
1. Questionable reviews online
Reviews are easy to find and readily available — but don’t just look at the overall rating of a caterer. Take the time to read both positive and negative reviews. If possible, sort reviews chronologically and read the most recent reviews first, looking for general trends in feedback. If there are multiple dissatisfied customers who’ve used a caterer recently, you probably want to check out other options. The experiences of other customers are going to be one of your most reliable resources throughout this process.
2. Doesn’t communicate openly and effectively
It’s definitely a bad sign if a caterer takes more than a few days to respond to your initial request for a quote. This could signify that the caterer is unprofessional, overbooked, or just not concerned about punctuality. Those are traits you definitely don’t want to deal with on the day of your event.
3. Seems rushed or overbooked
You want a caterer who gives your event the time and attention that it needs. If a caterer is juggling too many events, and does not have the human resources or tools to prepare and execute effectively, it’s likely to cost you in terms of both quality and service. Don’t be afraid to ask how many events a prospective caterer typically handles in a week, or whether the caterer other events booked for the day of your event. The more transparent and upfront you are about your own concerns, the more problems you’re likely to avoid.
4. Doesn’t have a proper office/kitchen and catering equipment
While there is a time and place for trying out a caterer who is just getting started, your event is important. Especially when it comes to bigger events with more pressure, you want to find a professional who is established and trustworthy. Experienced caterers take their business and professionalism seriously, from planning and preparation to the quality of food and service on the day of the event. This means having the proper tools and technology to bring about a good result.
Finding a caterer you can trust
When it comes to professional catering in NJ (or wherever you live), it pays to shop around and find the perfect person for the job. Avoid the red flags listed above, and you’re much more likely to end up with service and food that meets your (and your guests’) highest expectations.