Catering is a business of providing food service at the event venue, hotel or entertainment site and as we are fully aware that catering is not about just cooking food but having a well cooked delicious delicacy.
Catering as a business involves more than just cooking a nice food but it also covers the aspect of hospitality which involves some special skills.Like many careers, catering takes a combination of training, hard work, and carefully honed skills to succeed. While there is much in common with being a chef, caterers face many additional challenges. Caterers have to handle such business matters as accounting, marketing and customer relations, in addition to the quality of the food.
However, learning all the skills to become a professional caterer will require you undergo some special trainings at any of well equipped catering schools in Nigeria.
Most especially when dealing with new clients, catering can be overwhelming. Whether you are ordering for your company’s meeting or events , or your wedding is coming very soon and you are planning a very big party, there are still ways you can simplify your catering activity and save money while doing it. But in cases where by you have options of determining the delicious food needed for the events, going through dozens of menus, it can sometimes be very tough to determine where to start. So we thought we would share some tips but effective ways to help.
A good place to start is to understand the different types of catering. Each type has a slightly different type of planning, pricing, and ordering procedures. Once you can narrow down to one of these, it will help simply your menu choices, while also saving you time and money on the ordering. Here are the four general types of catering to consider:
While we are all familiar with wedding catering, we can also agree that catering makes a huge impact on that special day. From the special guests to the bride and groom, you want to makes sure everyone eats (and celebrates) well. Decorations, dinner, dessert and what to drink along are just part of the planning.
From small office meetings and trainings to large regional events, the ability to have great food delivered on site saves time & money while allowing you to focus on the more important task at hand, your business! Continental breakfasts, box lunches and buffets are all popular for corporate catering.
SOCIAL EVENT CATERING
From birthday and retirement parties to big backyard BBQs, social events cover a wide range of events (and food). Appetizers, bartenders and balloons are just some of what you might see catered at events like these.
Seasonal, sporting major public events all fall into this category. Where you will find lots of people, you will always find catered food. Planning for these takes a pro to make sure you have all the right menu choices for your audience. Here you will find all the crowd favorites from hot dogs and hamburgers to chili cheese fries and ice cream.
Having done the above, there are still many reasons you need to learn the skills and get certified if need be before starting the business. Some of these are:
You will know how to cook continental food
A professional caterer is not restricted to just only one variety of food. As a caterer, you must be able to cook exactly what your clients want you to prepare. The training school is where you will learn how to cook different food such as Chinese delicacy, Spanish delicacy and more.
You will know how to cook and manage food for masses
Catering business deal with the masses, it is beyond the food prepared in our kitchen. Caterer gives the estimate of what will cook the particular food as demanded by the client. Not only that, they will cook and serve the food for the masses. This is what you need to know for you to be a professional caterer.
You can easily build your network
Another reason you need to learn the skills is for you to build a good network. For you to start getting good clients building network is necessary. This can be possible if you attended a good training school where you can meet with people.
Now that you have your category determined, let’s talk about some ways to save. You have to remember that you are in control of what you order. Sounds simple, right? The reality is with so many choices it’s easy to overlook your budget and end up with more food than you can afford (or can eat!). The following four tips will help your caterer save you time and money when ordering for your event. Keep these in mind as you consider your next order:
Know the number of guests
The most important factor you should is your catering costs and this should be based on how many people you are feeding. You would be surprised how many people try to order when they don’t know how many people are coming. Knowing your guest count before you call to get an estimate will help you better budget and eliminate confusing and unnecessary menu changes at the last minute.
Make Decision On Your Delivery Method
Most people think catering only comes one way, but a good professional caterer will offer you up to 4 different ways to have your food delivered including:
Pick Up: you pick up the food at the caterer’s location. Not as common, but an option to save on your delivery fee or save time on a rush order.
Drop Off: One of the most common, particularly for corporate and social events, where the caterer simply delivers the food in disposable containers (foil pans, coffee boxes, etc).
Real Display: For buffets and banquets you may consider this option as the caterer will prepare the tables and food serving area including linen, glasses, tableware, etc.
Full Service: In addition to the real display, you can also choose to have the food professionally served and even cooked on site!
How Do You Want to Enhance Your Event
Think of these like the “optional or upgrade items” you can choose to add to your event. Although this may not seem like much to do with the food, it’s an integral part of the event planning that any professional caterer should offer. Enhancements may include decorations, linen, china, servers, on-site chefs, bartenders, DJ, and more.
Know Your Budget Before You Order
Although this is often the first thing you may think about, it’s often the last thing that is figured out. For most caterers, pricing is determined on a dollar/person pricing model. So an easy way to create your budget is just to determine the total amount you want to spend and divide it by the estimated number of people. Having this number to start with will help the caterer get you more for your money!
Remember, professional caterers are part artists and part servants. There is nothing we want more than to provide you amazing food that fits both your event and your budget.
Qualities of a Good Caterer
It’s important to be well acquainted with quality you need to posses that classified your expertise as a very good caterer.
At its most basic level, catering is all about food. No matter how beautifully the venue is decorated or how carefully the place settings are arranged, clients won’t return if the food is awful. You also need enough cooking experience to make recipe substitutions, plan menus, and safely prepare, reheat and transport large amounts of food.
A good caterer (and their staff) should be aware of and comply with the most-up-to-date food safety laws in their particular state. The Food and Drug Administration is in charge of food safety regulations throughout nation, and FoodSafety.gov allows you to find your state agency. Further training in this field is offered many culinary institutes and local colleges.
Caterers work with clients to design a menu. Being courteous, tactful, and diplomatic is necessary, as you may need to persuade a client to substitute an ingredient or change a dish. Good communication and people skills are also vital to building up a client repertoire and catering a successful event. A satisfied customer is the best recommendation, and word-of-mouth remains some of the most effective advertising out there.
Flexibility & Creativity
Recipes may need to be adjusted to cope with food allergies, and cooking methods may have to be altered to conform to religious dietary requirements or personal preferences. An imaginative and adaptable person will be able to triumph in these situations, and instill confidence in their clients in the process.
A caterer has to manage a staff of cooks, servers, cleaners, and dishwashers, while ensuring their team is aware of their schedules, place settings, serving customs, and food safety regulations. It may also be necessary to provide direction and advice to customers.
Caterers must be enthusiastic and proactive, to promote themselves and bring in business. During the busiest times of year, a caterer may work long hours, seven days a week, which demands stamina. It’s also important for caterers to motivate one’s employees (and stay motivated themselves) in moments when business is slow.
Fluctuating work is part of the job. The often busy periods, such as weekends and holidays, must be balanced with the times of year when business is only trickling in. Being able to financially plan and weather the slowdowns is particularly important to a caterer.
More than just cooking, a catering service has to be a profitable business. The administrative tasks in catering deal with pricing services, accounting, taxes, managing employees, ordering food, and organizing schedules and budgets.
Your food may be delicious, but the phone won’t ring unless people know about you. Getting your business noticed is important and in catering, a good network of contacts is essential. You’ll have to liaise with florists, venue organizers, event planners and a variety of other services that it takes to pull of a large event, but this also acts as your network of referrals.
Attention to detail
A caterer may also be in charge of some décor, table arrangements and food presentation. Setting up, running and clearing the dining room all fall under the task of a caterer. Here’s where you can impress your client and all of their guests – who are all potential clients themselves.
Taking time to study the field of catering and learn about its particular challenges and demands can make all the difference between failure and success. If you love cooking, interacting with people, and have a flair for parties, a career as a caterer may be a good choice for you.