This month I’m going off the grid. My Morsel is certainly applicable to the culinary world, and most certainly can be the difference between having a successful event and being stuck in a deep dark hole of frustration. It’s a subject I have written about before and will continue to harp on until I no longer write: time management.
I recently returned from working a trade show in Geneva, Switzerland, and what should have been a successful journey became a bit of a black hole. This was a large exhibit that I designed for an aerospace company. I used the stand builder from the previous year, with an American affiliate as my middle person.
The stand builder had time-management problems the previous year, but after sitting down a few months later at a U.S. show, she assured me her company had addressed the problems. Turns out they hadn’t. When I started moving the exhibit in, she fell behind the eight ball right away.
Here were the signs:
TIMELINES. I would ask her a couple of times a day to give me timelines of when the next steps would be completed. Her company failed to meet any of those timelines.
STAFFING. Her company didn’t have nearly enough staff to build all the stands contracted, so her people were working 20 hours straight. This was after I confirmed her staffing for our exhibit and was told differently.
LOGISTICS. She didn’t bring the entire exhibit at one time. It came piecemeal every couple of days from Poland.
Out of self-defense she looked me in the eye and demanded to know if I trusted her, which leads me to the crux of this Morsel. It got me thinking a lot about what the word “trust” means to me, because it’s used more and more in the business world. I explained that trust had to be earned based on meeting agreed-upon goals. If she isn’t meeting any of our goals, how could I trust her?
Here is the balancing act. My booth needed a lot of work yet, so I couldn’t upset her too much. She was great in pre-planning, but the on-site was a problem. I trusted that the work would eventually get done. That was the best answer I could offer.
Now, let’s look at this in catering terms.
When you sit with the banqueting department in pre-planning, make sure you discuss staffing ratios well in advance. Many times I’ll add staff because I’m not comfortable with what the property is providing. My experience will always overrule them telling me to “trust” them. I don’t care how often they do it. I’ll even point out that based on the gratuity they’ll receive, there’s room for more staff.
Ask the banqueting staff when they will dry-set the room, what time the kitchen staff will arrive, when the cold food will be placed, when the hot food will be placed and where backup food or dry goods will be stored. Find out what time the banqueting staff will arrive, how much staff is scheduled and at what times.
By asking these questions and getting answers in writing, you’ll have peace of mind. It shows the banqueting and catering staffs that they aren’t to mess around with your event(s). Plus, if you see things aren’t happening according to your agreements, you can start kicking up a lot of dirt. And that, my friends, is exactly what I did.
This is my time-sensitive story for now, and I’m sticking to it.