When it comes time to hire a catering company for your next event, there are many things you will want and need to take into consideration. Things such as a specific catering menu and food preparations are essential to think about when hosting an event. So let's discuss twenty-five of the most important questions to ask multiple caterers before hiring a catering company.
1. Types Of Events
The first question you should ask any catering company is what types of events they cater. This will give you a good idea of their experience and whether or not they will be able to meet your specific catering needs. At Country City Catering, we specialise in many types of events such as plated dinner parties, corporate functions, private parties, food stations and more. This is a long list compared to many other catering companies in London that may only do one or two different types of events. Knowing the types of events that a catering company specialises in will help you determine what kind of caterers you will be working with.
2. Any Specialities
Most catering companies will have a few specialities that they are known for. This could be anything from a specific catering menu to certain types of events. Asking a catering company about their specialities will give you a good idea of their areas of expertise. It will also help you decide if they are the right catering company for your event. Additionally, selecting a catering company in London with a wide range of expertise is essential when seeking to walk a long and prosperous road with the caterers. We, Country City Catering, are one of the few catering companies in London that offer such a wide range of catering services.
3. The Catering Process
Once you have determined that a catering company is experienced in catering for the type of event you are hosting, you should ask them about their specific catering process. This will help you understand how they work and what to expect from them. For example, some catering companies will come to your event location and set up everything for you. Others may require you to pick up the food from their kitchen, bring it to your event location, and have to attend to the food presentation yourself.
4. Services Provided
Some catering companies in London will provide full-service catering, while others will only offer preparation services. If you're planning on having a large event, you'll need to ensure that the company can accommodate your needs. Full-service catering includes set up, clean up, and everything in between. Companies that only provide food preparation will be better for smaller, more intimate events where guests can help themselves as they please.
5. Are There Set Menus or Can You Make Your Own Choices
Some catering companies in London are very flexible and will allow you to create your own menu. Others have set menus that you can choose from. Knowing this in advance will help you decide if the company is a good fit for your event. If you have specific dietary needs or want to be able to customise your menu, you'll need to make sure that the company can accommodate that.
6. Dietary Restrictions
If you or any of your guests have dietary restrictions, it is vital to ask the catering company if they are able to accommodate these restrictions. Many catering companies in London are able to make special accommodations for guests with dietary restrictions. However, not all catering companies can do this. Asking about dietary restrictions ahead of time will help you avoid any potential problems on the day of your event.
7. Guest Estimations
When you are intervewing catering companies in London, it is crucial to know how many guests they can accommodate and the minimum number of guests required to book their services. Most catering companies will be able to give you an estimate of how many guests they can accommodate based on the catering menu that you choose.
8. Fees Calculation
Catering companies in London typically charge either per plate, per event, or per person. It is essential to ask about this ahead of time so that you can budget for your event accordingly. Additionally, some catering companies may have additional fees for things like rentals, delivery, or serving staff. Asking about these costs ahead of time will help you avoid any unexpected charges.
9. Event Schedule
If you're planning a last-minute event, you'll need to make sure that the catering company has the availability to accommodate your event. Some companies may have already booked other events and will not be able to do yours on short notice. Asking about their event schedule will help you understand if they can cater to your event and what type of notice they'll need.
10. Cancellation And Refund Policy
Life happens, and sometimes events need to be cancelled. Asking about a catering company's cancellation policy ahead of time will help you avoid any potential problems if you need to cancel your event. Most catering companies in London have a written cancellation policy that they will be happy to provide you with. Additionally, you should also remember to ask about the refund policy if you need to cancel your event and are not able to reschedule. Most companies will require a certain amount of notice in order to process a cancellation and/or refund, so be sure to ask about that in advance.
11. Liability Insurance
It is essential to ask a catering company if they have liability insurance. This will protect you in case anything goes wrong at your event. In addition, if your event is being held at a venue, the venue will require that you use a catering company with liability insurance to protect themselves in the event of an accident on duty.
12. Food Tastings
Another way to determine if a catering company is right for your event is to ask them if they can provide you with a food tasting. This will allow you to try some of their food and get an idea of their catering menu options. However, it is important to note that not all catering companies are able to provide food tastings.
13. Reviews And References
Asking for references is a great way to get an idea of what it is like to work with that catering company. Most catering companies will be happy to provide you with references upon request, or you can usually read reviews about them online. Additionally, at Country City Catering, we have numerous reviews on our website as well as pictures of some of the dishes we have prepared previously. This will give you a good idea about our food presentation and the quality of the food. You can also take a look at our social media pages to better understand who we are and what kind of service we provide.
14. Catering Packages
When you hear the word catering, your first thoughts are probably food-related. And while food is a big part of what they do, it's not the only thing. Catering companies also provide servers, bartenders, set-up, clean-up, and sometimes even decorations. Knowing what is included in their packages will help you plan your budget and to-do list better.
15. Vendor Lists
If your caterer does have a preferred vendor list, ask for it. This list will likely include vendors that they've worked within the past and have had success with. It can save you a lot of time and energy to use a company they've already vetted. Additionally, you should also speak to your venue (if your event is being held at a private venue) as some venues may require that you use vendors from their preferred vendor list.
16. Final Guest Count
When planning your event and selecting a catering company to help you with meal preparations and service, you need to know how far in advance they need the final headcount. This answer will help you plan your event better and give the caterer ample time to prepare.
17. Timeline On The Day
It's vital to know how long they will be on-site so that you can plan accordingly. If the caterers and crew are only going to be there for a few hours, you'll need to make sure that everything is set up before they arrive and that someone is available to take care of the clean-up afterwards. Knowing their schedule will help you keep your event running smoothly.
18. Food Safety And Sanitation
Caterers handle food all day, so it's essential to ensure that they take the necessary precautions to ensure that the food is safe to eat. This includes ensuring that their kitchen staff is adequately trained in food safety and sanitation. You should also ask about any additional measures they are taking in light of the current pandemic.
Some catering companies will donate leftover food and drinks to charities or local shelters. Others will dispose of them. If this is something that's important to you, be sure to ask about it in advance. That way, you can make arrangements accordingly. Additionally, selecting a caterer that donates to charity is a great way to give back to the community and prevent unnecessary waste.
20. Catering At Venues
Not all catering companies are able to cater at any venue. Some only cater for certain types of venues or have restrictions on where they can set up. It's important to know this in advance so that you can select a caterer that will work with your chosen venue. We at Country City Catering are able to cater anywhere. We can set up outside or inside depending on your needs. Our team is experienced and always ready for any event!
21. Alcohol Licence
If you're planning on serving alcohol at your event, you'll need to ensure that the catering company has a liquor licence. This is important for both legal and insurance purposes. Some catering companies will have their own licence, while others will need to obtain a temporary one for your event. In addition, if your caterers do not have an alcohol licence, then you need to ensure that your chosen venue has one; however, if neither have a liquor licence, you will not be able to serve alcohol at your event.
22. Last-Minute Requests
Last-minute requests are inevitable, but knowing how your catering company will handle them is essential. Some companies may be able to accommodate last-minute changes, while others may not. For example, if you have a guest that forgot to advise you about a dietary restriction, you need to be sure that your selected caterer will be able to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate your guest. Asking this question will also help you understand how well your caterer will be able to do their job under pressure. Country City Catering is proud to say that we are always willing to assist with any dietary restrictions to ensure your guests enjoy the evening!
23. Overtime Fees
Overtime fees can be a high added cost, so it's important to know what they are in advance. If you're planning a longer event or one that might run over schedule, this is an important question to ask. That way, you can budget accordingly and avoid any surprises.
24. Staff Tips
This is an important question to ask to plan your budget accordingly. If tips are not included, you'll need to factor that into your final costs. Catering staff work hard to ensure your event runs smoothly, so they deserve to be compensated for their efforts.
25. Event Contact Person
It's crucial to have a point of contact at the catering company who can answer any questions that you may have. This will help to ensure that your event runs smoothly and that everything is taken care of. This person should also be available on the day of the event in order to assist with any unforeseen hiccups which may occur.
Choosing the right catering company for your event is an important decision. Asking the right questions will help you narrow down your options. When selecting a caterer, be sure that they are experienced and qualified to cater for your specific event. Keep these questions in mind when meeting with potential catering companies, and you'll be sure to find the perfect caterer for your next event!