Ask the Expert: The Top Five Questions to Ask a Potential Caterer

by Ryan Conner | January 27, 2016

Thanks to Wendy Krispin, president of Wendy Krispin Caterer, for answering this week’s Ask the Expert question focusing on caterers.

What are the top five questions to ask potential caterers?

With such a large expense looming and now, in the time of Yelp and Facebook, it is much easier to look for any supplier or vendor based on their online presence. However, that does not necessarily reveal their real reputations. Once you’ve done your online research, I suggest you make a phone call or schedule a face-to-face meeting to really vet your top catering candidates. Here are the key categories I suggest for discussion points.

  • COST – What is the average cost of the weddings/events you cater? How much is the average cost per guest? Do you offer packages?
  • EXPERIENCE – How many years have you been catering weddings? How many weddings do you do per day in the popular months, October and April? How many weddings have you catered in your career?
  • SERVICE – Do you provide full service catering? Food, servers, beverages, alcohol, bartenders, rentals (dishes, glasses, etc.), tables, chairs and cloths? Do you allow clients to bring their own alcohol as a cost savings?
  • FOOD – What sets you apart from other caterers? How is your food and service exceptional? Do you customize your menus? Do you offer free tastings of the menu? Do you work with fresh (not frozen) food? Can you prepare gluten free, vegetarian or menus for other dietary needs?
  • RELIABILITY – Will you be there for me? May I have three references? Do you have licenses, liability insurance, workers comp? How do you hire and train your employees? Do you assign a party lead to work with my planner or coordinator to make sure everything happens just like I want it? Can we do a tasting? Will you do a walk-through? Do you charge for tastings and walk-throughs?

After you’ve interviewed your candidates and had tastings, you will have a better idea of food quality and personality of the company and be closer to the choice of caterer you want. Ask questions and listen for the answers. Demand answers that can be qualified. If the answer can’t be qualified to your satisfaction, choose someone else. Make your best decision.

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