The Fall is packed with events, peaking in October with weddings and continuing through the holiday season. With so much going on, it’s not the best time to make appointments; experienced and popular caterers will be busy.
So if you want to have a relaxed talk with a caterer about your event, wait until after the new year. January is a good month to start, except…
…except in the case of Catering-by-Design, in Cary. This year, Catering-by-Design’s owner and head chef, Greg Lewis took some off to be with family, and now he’s venturing out to El Salvador.
Hope Chapel has a team participating in a medical mission trip to El Salvador; Greg will be among them. They will brave the language difference, water you can’t drink and conditions very different than in Cary and the Triangle.
Here are a few ways you can get the most value from your caterers for your business.
Make an easy-to-read list of the caterers you use and their phone numbers.
Give them a call to make sure they’re still in business, and find out if any terms have changed.
Have a file for each one that includes answers to these questions.
Do you have billing arrangements with them? What are they?
How late can you request food and still get it?
Can they handle special requests?
What is their average cost per person?
What kind of presentation do they have?
Are there certain orders that different groups prefer?
Find out who to talk with if something goes wrong, someone who can make things right.
If there’s something else you need, ask for it.
Take notes on your experience with the caterers.
Lastly, consider calling some peers within your company and at other companies to expand your list of good caterers.
While you may know all of this because it’s part of your job, sometimes someone else has to fill in when you’re out. The more you have organized and written up, the more likely you can continue business without interruption, even exceed expectations.
Catering by Design has hosted many wine tasting dinners. With hundreds of wines available to choose from, guests really enjoy the chance to hear about and taste specially chosen wines.
A number of restaurants in the Triangle currently offer monthly wine tasting dinners and guests really like these dinners.
Consider having a wine tasting dinner for your next party or event. At Catering by Design, we even chose to have a wine tasting dinner for a benefit event in December. We invited wine expert Bill O’Neill to introduce the five wines chosen to match each of the five courses.
Wine tasting dinners are both fun and informative.
It’s not every day that caterers get to be part of a centennial celebration, so we were very excited at the honor.
There were some challenges – which we’re always up for – because an unusual venue was chosen for the event to accommodate the large number of guests. An old warehouse that had neither running water nor electricity was the site of this gala.
Over six hundred guests attended this historic event. The menu included a rich assortment of Hors d’Oeuvres; fresh baby greens salad with pine nut, goat cheese and strawberries with citrus and champagne vinaigrette; a dual entree of Grilled Filet Mignon with Port Wine Demi-Gloss and Pan-Seared Breast of Chicken with tomato caper chutney; accompanied by green beans and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
This event was definitely memorable, and it went without a hitch on our part. Catering by Design was proud to be part of Fuquay Varina’s 100th anniversary celebration.
In business people say “you only get one chance to make a good first impression.”
Experienced people used to coach young people out of college to dress up and dress for their next promotion. Creating a good first impression is worth the extra effort.
At 7:30 one morning, a business man walked into a local cafe in Cary and picked up an elegant tray of gourmet pastries, wrapped in see-through wrapping with a bow. Someone asked him what the tray was for, so elegant at 7:30 in the morning.
“Whenever I invite a group of potential clients to my office for a presentation, I order a gourmet tray so I can make a very positive first impression with them. When it looks this good, they know I’m serious about valuing their time and their business.”
Marketing and event planners recommend making your clients’ experience of your business an event. Make it memorable. Make it distinct from other experiences.
A fancy lady’s boutique at Southpoint serves cold bottled water and fresh chocolate chip cookies to customers during the summer. A Chocolatier at Crabtree Mall offers a free chocolate. Grocery stores give away balloons to children.
Quality catering is like a gift, it looks good, smells good and tastes good, leaving your clients with the impression that you care to treat them well. It doesn’t have to be expensive to give everyone a great experience.
Many businesses are eager to reduce un-necessary expenses in these times, and while they could bring in home cooked hors d’oeuvres or brownies, the impression that an attractive presentation by a caterer makes is much more professional. Maybe it’s no longer shrimp from the Gulf that is served, maybe it’s a fresh quiche with seasonal fruit.
Talk with your caterer about your budget and the kind of experience you’d like to give your clients, and see what suggestions they may have.