Catering for a new business, whether you’re a restaurant or an executive throwing a corporate event for a promotion, isn’t as easy as it looks. Behind the ever-revolving food options, seemingly bottomless champagne flutes, and perfectly heated food, is a lot of food prep and even more organization.
But it’s also not impossible. The secret to an effective catering business is strategy, fast catering managers, and food preparation.
Today, we’ll reveal some of our catering tips to master the above points. From managing food prep to food waste, here’s everything you need to know to ace your first business catering service.
13 of the Best Catering Tips to Master the Catering Industry
As a catering business, your goal should be to ensure a safe and fun experience for your clients. This means ensuring high-quality food and strict food hygiene, accompanied by fast and organized food and drink rotations.
These catering tips provide a starting point that will help you simplify your introduction to the catering industry.
Take Advantage of Catering Software
The first and easiest catering tip is to take advantage of catering event management software and event floor plan software. These types of software will help you manage and organize your catering events by streamlining much of the planning process.
Pick a Serving Style
Your catering service style will have a big impact on how you craft your menu and organize the event.
There are three common service styles:
- Buffet: Buffets are the most common and easily the most cost-effective. It doesn’t require a ton of catering chefs or staff, and the self-service style makes it easier for people to choose and manage their food. One downside is long lines. Any sort of backup can be a hassle.
- Tray or cocktail: With tray and cocktail serving, food is passed through the room on trays in a continuous rotation. This is also a cost-effective option and the best option for pre-events or events that want to prioritize socializing. The only downside is that it requires more catering staff.
- Plated or sit-down meal: With a sit-down meal, the food is brought to the people. This is a more formal dining experience and works best for foods that need to be served hot. It can be a bit more expensive than the other options.
Consider the type of dining experience you or your client wants, and what you want to prioritize–budget, socialization, or formality–and use that to determine what type of catering event to host.
Pick a Catering Theme
Choosing a theme will keep the event cohesive and give you a goal to work toward. Talk to your client about the dining experience they want for their guests. Decide whether it’ll be a casual or formal event, and whether or not there will be a specific dress code or aesthetic.
Craft a Signature Dish or Drink
The catering industry has slowly recovered after the pandemic dip, which is great–but this also means competition has gotten steeper.
One of the most effective ways to stand out is by crafting a signature dish or drink. The dish or drink should incorporate elements unique to your catering company and be immediately recognizable.
If your signature dish is good, word-of-mouth advertisement will draw in new clients and further your growth.
Craft a Fitting Menu
The main star of your event will be the catering menu. A delicious menu will make your clients happy and foster a good reputation.
When crafting your menu, consider the following things:
- Create a practical menu: Catering is difficult enough without adding impractical dishes to your menu. Adding too many options can also be confusing for staff and create a bit of a mess on the event floor. Focus instead on a few standout dishes that you know will be hits, that also provide clients with a nice variety of foods.
- Stay on theme: If your theme is a very formal dining experience with the large heads of a multimillion-dollar company, the food needs to match. Discuss food preferences with your client and ensure the food suits the budget and culture of your clients.
Keep these points in mind and work with your client to craft fitting and delicious menus.
Prepare Hot and Cold Foods
Prepare both hot and cold dishes for your event. If all your foods need to be hot to be delicious, the event is going to be extremely difficult to manage. Monitoring dozens of dishes’ temperatures and reheating foods will spoil the food quality and create havoc among your staff.
Instead, prepare two or three hot foods that still taste delicious even if they aren’t straight out of the oven. Keep the rest of your menu items cool or cold and let them be the filler while partygoers wait for the hot foods.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Prepping your food before the actual event is going to save you a lot of time and hassle on the day of the event. The night before, get some of the basics done and prep your kitchen.
Here are some of the ways you can be prepared:
- Prepare all your cutlery. Clean them and sharpen the items your chefs and visitors are going to use.
- Set the table with all the free items you have. The more you can get done on the event floor, the better.
- Chop some vegetables ahead of time. These are the vegetables that won’t get soggy from being chopped ahead of time. Cover everything with plastic wrap and keep it in a low-temperature room or the fridge.
- Finish sauces that don’t contain perishable ingredients. Other sauces, like ones that contain dairy or eggs, can be made early in the morning on the day of the event.
- Make space in your fridges and check that all your appliances are clean and working.
- Prepare the cold dishes that can stay in the fridge.
Prioritize Food Hygiene
Food safety is important on two fronts: it’ll keep your clients safe and it’ll help you establish a good reputation among clients.
- Avoid cross-contamination: To avoid cross-contamination, create labels and stations for different food groups. Also, create a separate food station for allergy-free foods.
- Separate perishables: Fruits, vegetables, and meats should not be stored next to each other in your fridges. Separate the raw meat from the fresh produce. If you can’t spare a different fridge, separate them by shelves and keep them clean.
- Clean as you go: Clean cooking supplies, appliances, and countertops as you go. This will make it much easier to ensure effective food safety.
- Implement hygiene among staff: Staff should wear protective clothing, including hair nets and gloves. Staff should also know to wash their hands and environment.
Budget Where You Can
Keep your budget low and save where you can. Slice meat thinly. Shop wholesale. Work with local farmers for high-quality and affordable raw food. You can also partner with local food and beverage companies. For a discount, you can showcase their products at your events.
Be creative with your budget consciousness. This will help you keep your costs low and offer competitive pricing.
Provide Superior Customer Service
Your reputation as a new business is very important. Reviews and word of mouth will be your main client supply, so you need to focus on providing an experience worth raving about. Provide superior customer service at all times. Train your staff to be extra friendly and to provide service beyond reproach.
If your food is delicious, your event is well thought out, and your staff is friendly, we guarantee you’ll see a steady increase in clients.
Prepare Extra Food
Catering events very rarely work out the way we expect. It’s important to be flexible, especially when it comes to your food supply. Always have a bit more than you expect to use.
If there are supplies or cooked food left after the event, you can send it home with clients, store it for future use, or serve it to your staff as a thank-you for their great work. However, make sure to clear this process with your client, seeing as they paid for the food.
Improve Food Presentation
While the presentation isn’t the most important factor (delicious food is delicious, regardless of how it looks), clients do prefer food that looks nice.
While you don’t need to beautify all your food, plate food beautifully where you can. Platters and food trays are easy to arrange and can be done ahead of time.
Leave Comment Cards
Leave comment cards at the exits. You can also send emails to your clients and ask them about their experience with your service. Feedback will help you pinpoint weak spots in your catering process. If you learn and improve as you go, we promise it’ll help you find long-term success.
As a new business, these catering tips are guaranteed to help you navigate the catering process. Incorporate these catering tips into your planning to streamline the before, during, and after of your catering events.
If you need help managing your events, give Perfect Venue software a go. Try our free trial and watch as the power of event organization revolutionizes the way you do business.