What should you ask a caterer? What answers should you look for when choosing a caterer for your event, meeting or conference or party?
If you have not yet worked with or found the perfect Indianapolis caterer for your corporate needs, these questions will help direct you toward choosing an Indianapolis corporate caterer to be your go-to partner. Here’s what to ask about the catering business in general, and what specifically to ask the caterer(s) in contention for your business:
1. Can you provide ample menu choices for those with dietary restrictions?
This one is growing more important every day. Caterers must be able to serve those with dietary restrictions, including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and more. Read about catering for special diets and a few of our tips.
2. Do you offer themed menus?
Corporate events do not always call for specialty menus; however, nothing re-energizes a day-long conference or rewards a team quite like a themed menu. For example, some of our clients favorites include taco bars, Mediterranean and Italian themed buffets, and ‘game time’ favorites.
3. Can you also provide serving staff, tables, chairs and other equipment?
While chances are you will be hosting in your own location or at a venue with plenty of tables and chairs, there will be times when you are looking for a unique set up or additional equipment to best reach your event goals. In these cases, your caterer should be able to help you with these rentals- and, in some cases, you can rent these items directly through the caterer so as not to deal with the hassle of multiple vendors and contacts. We manage our own rentals, but it is to your advantage. Read more about why you should let your event specialist handle your event rentals.
4. Can I speak with your current clients and watch/read some client testimonials?
Great caterers attract wonderful clients and loyal customers who would be happy to speak with potential clients in search of a new caterer. Additionally, happy clients leave reviews all the time. Look for reviews on Yelp, Google and the company’s website, but also ask your potential caterer for some references to help make up your mind.
5. What does your staff do when they arrive at my event location?
In other words, will you have to sit outside and wait for the person to arrive? Do they even arrive on time? The delivery time and set up is crucial to your guests and their tight timelines. A really great catering staff person will act as a brand ambassador who represents the catering company and its brand well. Great brand ambassadors will enter quietly and set up the catering in a friendly, professional, discrete manner so as not to disturb the surrounding spaces. They will also clean up with professionalism and discretion at the conclusion of the event.
6. Do you have experience serving events like mine?
Has the company ever catered an all-day meeting, a three-day conference, a snack break, coffee and dessert, production based events? You should be looking for an experienced caterer that reflects the hard work and responsibility you take for your job. Take a look at your caterer’s track record – and again, ask for references so you can hear form a third party how well or poorly the caterer executed your unique catering event.
7. Do you have experience serving at my chosen venue or in my office building?
Logistics can be extremely challenging for caterers working with new venues. Sometimes there are surprise stairs and no elevator. Other times there are locked doors with passes or keys, If, however, a caterer has worked in your venue before, then they may already know the best way to maneuver around the building to maximum efficiency.
8. How do you handle last minute requests?
No matter how prepared you are in advance, just about every event planner is challenged with last minute catering needs. This is where your knowledge of how your caterer handles last minute requests, changes, and additions will come in handy. Your lowered stress levels will thank you for already having a relationship with a great caterer who knows just how important the last minute catering needs for its clients really are. Read about how an event specialist will help you through the planning process and their value.
9. What is included in your menu’s price per person?
Some caterers are loaded with hidden fees – for plates, napkins, serving ware, etc. – and you will not find that out until after your receive your proposal, if those fees are included. You can cut that part out by asking upfront what exactly is included in the price, how much the delivery will cost and if there are any rental or setup cost involved in your order (or in a potential future order).
10. How does your serving staff dress?
What the serving staff looks like when they enter your office premises or selected venue is an important factor for most places of business. It is important that the caterer you hired is well-represented and professional put together when they walk through the doors.
11. Do you provide any eco-friendly options?
To many, this is a very important feature of any vendor or partner, not solely a catering partner. Ask about on-site eco-friendly options such as recycled cutlery, plates and utensils, but also ask about waste disposal and in-house recycling operations. A great caterer does their part to promote earth-conscious initiatives. Read about how Kahn’s Catering does their part with our Green Initiative.
12. Do you have any special promotions?
How often are the menus changing? Does the caterer offer any type of promotion? This is something to consider if you frequently cater and will be looking for new menu items every once in a while to mix it up, but keep in mind – if your chosen caterer has an extensive menu there will be plenty of options available to select, even if the menu doesn’t change every season.
13. Do you offer multiple presentation and plating options?
Sometimes companies just need catering for the everyday type of meetings. However, there are times you might need a finer presentation or display. In those instances, it is important that you are working with a caterer who offers different levels of presentation and plating options and who offers those items as your single partner. It is a hassle to have to independently rent equipment as your own.