Let’s talk about hiring on-site contract staff for an event. Specifically catering. Hiring for this role is different than others. To do it correctly, I recommend you hire someone with a background in catering management.
People try to cut corners by using someone who enjoys food or has minimal food knowledge. When that happens, the inexperienced managers almost always shoot themselves in the foot.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Food often is one of the highest meeting spends any group will have, yet I find that banqueting staffs are rarely as well-trained as they should be. I’m constantly cleaning up after them — finding items they forget to put on the buffet, like napkins, stir sticks, condiments, etc. I was at a five-star resort in New Orleans last year, for example, that didn’t put out lettuce or cheese with $35 sandwiches. If you use a catering or former banqueting manager as your on-site person, they’ll know what to look for and get it corrected.
You also need someone who’s comfortable reading and reviewing banqueting event orders (BEOs). These must be reviewed before an event so any charges that have been “snuck in” or items that have been over-ordered (like coffee) can be caught. Catering and/or banqueting managers live on BEOs, so they’re already familiar with the paperwork.
The person you hire should not be shy about directing the staff when it’s time to clear tables or take care of other chores. There are these things to consider as well:
- Long hours. Working as the on-site catering manager on behalf of a client means a long workday, especially if the staff is doing breakfast, coffee breaks, lunch and dinner.
- Billing. Very important and very overlooked. Doing group meals is not cheap, so it’s important that someone mind the cash register. Someone without training won’t know what to look for.
Hire the proper person to manage your on-site catering and this decision will more than pay for itself, especially on consumption of items such as coffee, and the bar bills.
That’s my story for now, and I’m sticking to it.