Start the New Year Off Right with Catering and Big Profits – Part 3
by Sandy Korem
Last week, in the Start the New Year Off Right with Catering and Big Profits – Part 2, we discussed drop off and set-up catering options for your restaurant. In the final installment of this article series, we will explore the concept of full-service catering:
If you want to provide full-service catering at your business, think “feast in a field.” With experience, you should be able to prepare a beautiful meal in the middle of a cow pasture without water or electricity. And you must have key staff that can carry out your clients’ expectations. Don’t even think about full-service catering if you don’t have a detailed and creative implementer. Clients pay a lot for full-service catering and they should be given exactly what they pay for.
It’s not all in the name. Many times a catering menu is more upscale and has more variety than your typical restaurant menu. If your niche is barbecue and the word barbeque is in your name, but you also cater other types of food, you may want to consider changing the name of your catering division. If the name of your company indicates barbeque or Mexican cuisine, the chance of a bride hiring your restaurant for upscale food at her wedding reception is slim.
Don’t panic… punt. You must have a non-kitchen event supervisor who can handle anything. You need a commanding supervisor who can deliver under any circumstance. My personal motto is “don’t panic… punt.” I once had a water main blow 15 minutes before 350 guests were to arrive for a seated dinner reception in a tent. Trust me, we found water for 350 people in record time!
Be prepared. I am not trying to scare you, but think of the worst circumstances for an off-site catering event. You have to be prepared for anything and have the ability to be resourceful. Do not let these issues panic the staff or most importantly, the client.
Checklists, checklists and more checklists. Most of the time special event venues do not have a full kitchen. You are lucky if you have running water. You must have detailed checklists for all of your supplies and materials. Our company has “sets” of event and kitchen supplies in large plastic tubs that are ready to go at a moment’s notice. They go with us to every event so that if the site comes up short, we don’t.
Train versatile staff. I prefer to hire and train staff that can work in the kitchen and on the floor. Cross training is important.
Have the right staff. The character and background of the staff is critical. Background checks must be done on all staff going into someone’s home. Your clients trust that you have hired reputable and safe personnel to be in their residence.
Dress the staff well. A good looking staff goes a long way to impress your guests. Dress them alike, all starched and pressed. Cummerbunds and bow ties are out. Long sleeves are preferred. You may not mind tattoos, but does your client? My company owns the wait staff shirts. They are cleaned and brought to each event. Each staff member is charged per event for the use of the shirt. Don’t let them buy their own and bring it to the event. If you do, you will be disappointed by what some people consider cleaned and ironed.
Pay your staff well. You get what you pay for. We pay $15 – $20 per hour per staff member. Captain is $24 per hour. We have some staff that has been with us for more than 14 years. We charge the client $30 – $33 per hour for each staff member with increased rates per hour during the peak, holiday season.
Visit www.thecateringcoach.com for additional information on how to start a catering revenue stream at your restaurant
Sandy Korem, is the CEO and founder of one of the Top 20 Catering Companies in America, The Festive Kitchen, based out of Dallas, Texas. She was awarded the White House Food Service Medallion in 2008 for outstanding food service to President George W. Bush. Her company, www.thecateringcoach.com, helps restaurateurs take their off-site catering revenue stream to a different level. Korem uses her 20-plus years of catering expertise to offer insight into how to price catered events, the importance of testing and testing again, and how to train your staff so that you don¹don’t have to be at every event. Plus, learn why “charge for it” will become your company’s catering mantra!