Our Director of Catering, Luke Woodward wrote the blog below, and was a guest, with John Cohen – President of Total Party Planner – the preeminent catering software program in our industry on their podcast. Their podcast series is typically geared towards sharing tips and tricks as it relates to the catering and culinary industry. Read below and feel free to watch, as Luke leverages his experience in catering to share 3 BIG ideas to keep you on track for always executing incredible catered events. Watch the entire episode live on YouTube or read the summarized excerpt below. We hope you enjoy!
Staying on-task to pull off an average sized event or wedding can be enough of a challenge, in and of itself for any catering company. However, when involving the requisite additional details, vendors, intricate scheduling, final touches and a complicated or challenging menu – advanced planning is absolutely crucial to successfully executing an incredible event. There are so many moving pieces to an event, many of which are largely out of the control of a caterer, so ensuring all controllable variables have been discussed with your team is a great place to start setting yourself up for success. Furthermore – having as many different facets of the operation present (i.e., sales, operations, culinary, on-site captain) does wonders to ensure everyone is on the same page, but you’ll also find that there’s no substitute for having as many different perspectives as possible and skill sets present to question every piece of an event and solve an issue.
The end result of this advanced planning should be a fully flushed out plan of attack; both in general terms, but also as it pertains to a highly detailed schedule, broken out to cover each individual staff person’s responsibilities and timelines throughout the event.
Anyone in the catering and events industry understands that it “takes all kinds” to have a healthy, functional and successful team and company. Just like the composition of a great soup – the key to a perfect team is balance and quality. Being acutely aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the team on-site, and then subsequently putting each one in the best possible position to succeed is so important. Additionally, understanding which staff show tendencies towards leadership is important, so they can be paired with staff who may be new, or require more direction to ensure all staff are efficient and productive when you need them to be.
For as much planning and organization as can be done – having a strong captain (and placing them in the best possible position to succeed) is critical. We’ve all been at events where we were short-staffed, or perhaps where something went wrong and threw everyone for a loop. For an event that has multiple moving parts and is several standard deviations outside ‘normal’, it’s of the utmost importance not just to have a terrific event captain – but also, doing the best you can to let them manage the event, instead of work the event. Akin to a healthy and well-functioning kitchen – you don’t want your executive chef prepping vegetables or frying appetizers; but instead, you want them not assigned to any task whatsoever, checking in with each sub-team regularly to ensure all parts of your well-oiled machine are working as intended.
As the venerable Mike Tyson so eloquently put it, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”. Do everything you can to set yourself up to succeed in your catering business by bringing your valuable team together, planning well, adequately staffing your event – and staffing your event with purpose with a strong leader, set up for success. Ultimately however, this is the events world, and we know what happens with the best laid plans… your team and your event will sink, or swim based on the quality of training they’ve received, the tools they’ve been given on the event – and quality leadership.