Catered events range from wedding banquets to school picnics to funerals. The catering objectives for different types of events vary widely, and you can set yourself up to do the best possible job by taking the time to get to know your clients and fully understand their needs.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
The mission of catering services is to satisfy clients while also earning a profit.
Full-Service Formal Events
A full-service formal event such as a wedding or auction gala requires high-quality food and service as well as decor and presentation. The objective of a full-service formal event is to create a lavish dining experience. Guests should be impressed, but the staging should also feel effortless.
Low-Cost Informal Events
A low-cost informal event usually requires just bare-bones food and service. The spread for such an event will usually be a buffet, saving the clients money on service. The objective of a low-cost buffet is to offer the best possible value. Although you won't be plating each meal individually, you should still attend to the food line swiftly, restocking serving dishes as they are depleted.
Conference Catering Events
Conferences are great catering opportunities because you have the opportunity to feed large groups of people with minimum fuss. The objective of a catered conference meal is to feed a large group of people quickly so they can get back to their conference activities. For this type of event, it often makes sense to have multiple lines serving the same selection of food so more people can get served in minimal time. Keep conference catering menus simple to avoid slowing things down with too many choices.
Family Party Events
These tend to be relatively small affairs, and the objectives can vary relative to the importance of the occasion and how much the client is willing to pay. Have an in-depth conversation with the client before planning a family party to get a sense of whether it makes sense to provide a standard menu or something adapted to the family's favorite dishes.
Business Proposal for Catering Services
A business proposal for catering services is your opportunity to lay out the ways that you will achieve your catering objectives. Some catering clients will be satisfied with basing a proposal on a brief conversation about their needs and vision for the event. These clients tend to have relatively simple needs and don't want to spend more time than necessary hashing out details about food and service. They may be more interested in keeping things simple rather than controlling every aspect of the meal.
Other catering clients are deeply invested in the logistics and menu of their catered event. They may ask for multiple meetings and conversations before looking at a formal proposal. Ideally, the clients with the most specific, detailed demands will be willing to pay for the extra costs that you will incur attending to their specific needs. Your catering proposal is the opportunity to address the issue of pricing all the specifics that will be included in the catered event.
Make sure to craft your proposal to include specific food items, service requirements such as plated dinners or a buffet line, hours of operation and whether you will need to provide dishes and decor. Include as much detail as possible.
Catering Profitability Objectives
In addition to satisfying your clients, the mission of catering services also includes keeping things profitable on your end. Don't promise more than you can deliver for the price you offer. Develop a limited range of menus based on what you do well and what you do profitably and charge extra when customers make additional requests. If you're clear about what you can offer and what you cannot, you're more likely to stage an event that achieves your catering objectives by meeting your needs as well as those of the client.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.