Know the Ten Hallmarks of Excellent Wedding Catering Services
Now that you have decided to tie the knot, it is very easy to be overwhelmed by all the details you have to work with. There are just so many things to keep on top of-from the wedding list, the wedding invitations, overall planning, to yes, the food at the reception. It can all be a bit too much. The excitement of your upcoming wedding might soon give way to the mind numbing stress of having to juggle so many wedding day planning-related balls in the air.
Given all the things you need to plan (and the things that can possibly go wrong), it is not surprising that most couples just end up hiring a wedding planner. The planner assumes all the headaches. Well, if you don’t have the big bucks for a wedding planner or you just want to make sure your wedding’s food service is handled properly, you have to know how to find the right wedding catering service. This is actually one of the most important elements of your wedding.
If you ask people who have been to many weddings in the past, they’ll tell you that their main experience has something to do with the reception and the food. Make no mistake about it, the quality, the presentation, and the service associated with your wedding’s food are the subjects that your wedding guests will continue to buzz about weeks, months, or, in the case of epic fails or glorious results, years to come. Food is a big deal and you need to make sure you pick the right wedding catering services so your wedding reception will be an unqualified success.
The good news is that you only need to keep the ten hallmarks of excellent wedding catering services in mind to steer you in the right direction as far as potential service providers and caterers are concerned. These considerations are gleaned from previous nuptials and the regrets of newlyweds. Instead of you saying ‘should have, could have, would have,’ learn from the mistakes other other couples who took their eyes off the ball as far as the catering for their wedding day was concerned.
Reliable One-point Contact System
Planning a wedding is like air traffic control-there are tons of things to keep track of and it seems that everything is whizzing around you at all times. It is too easy to miss important details and truly drop the ball in an epic way. This is especially true for catering services.
If you deal with a catering company that has many different ‘official’ contacts, you might end up confused and frustrated. You might have covered something with one person only to be asked the same question again by another person. You might think you are getting a particular cake or decided on a particular menu only to be confronted by a completely different cake or menu. All this can stem from the fact that you’re talking to different people about different stuff. What happens if they get sick or fail to show up to work?
Truly professional catering services have a one-point contact system to avoid unnecessary confusion. When you reach out to the contact, you can confirm or decide on a key feature of your wedding’s catering and you can be assured that this decision will be faithfully carried through. Compare this with having to check with many different people only to find out that your decision wasn’t carried out.
Uses a Transparent and Documented System
One crucial hallmark of any truly professional service provider is when they give you a paper trail. This doesn’t have to be fancy. As long as you can clearly see what service you bought, how it’s being handled, when it was delivered, and some other details, you’re good to go. When a company goes through the bother of documenting its operations, you can rest assured that they aren’t likely to screw up details or get wires crossed regarding important features of your wedding’s catering.
At the very least, a service provider that uses a highly documented system can at least backtrack easily and figure out what went wrong and take remedial action. Compare this to a company that is run strictly by the seat of the pants of the staff. There is no comparison!
Solid Track Record
If you want the very best food and the very best experience, you need to deal with a provider who has been around the block at least a couple of times when it comes to providing great food for a large number of people. Insist on a track record. The more years a company has under its belt, the better.
Put simply, you don’t want to be the guinea pig or training wheel of a new chef cutting his teeth in the wedding catering game. So many things can go wrong. This, after all, is the meal that celebrates the happiest day of your life. You want everything to go off without a hitch. No need for you to be the test dummy of a new company.
Life isn’t perfect and neither will your wedding. There is no such thing as a wedding that has gone off with no hitches or snafus at all. At the very least, a small detail will be wrong. There is no such thing as a perfect event. Keep this in mind. This is why it is crucial you deal with a company that can roll with the blows.
You can easily tell a solid professional outfit from a fly-by-night operation by the way they handle small emergencies. Companies that are badly run can easily be thrown off track by small mistakes or small ‘disasters.’ Truly professional and experienced caterers would simply brush off such distractions, find a work around, and the party goes on. Insist on flexibility-your wedding reception memories might depend on it.
Works in an Integral Way with your Wedding’s Theme
Every wedding has a theme. Themes are crucial for centralizing the impressions and experiences guests have of your wedding. This is why it is important for you to pick the right theme and have everything that takes place in your wedding be consistent with that theme. We’re not just talking about making all the bridesmaids and grooms wear consistent outfits. Everything must fit together. Truly professional caters get this. This is why they work in an integral way with your theme-from waitstaff outfits to table dressings to all points in between. They can deck out and present your wedding meals in such a way that the central theme of your wedding stands front and center.
Uses a Service Checklist
High quality services don’t just happen. They are never products of accident. Sure, people can get lucky from time to time but consistent quality service isn’t something you aim for by simply crossing your fingers. Truly high quality caterers are able to produce a high quality experience time after time because they use certain organizational practices that ensure quality. In other words, quality control is built into how they do business.
This is the principle behind operations checklists. You might think a checklist is just an empty ritual or it might be something that people don’t really read. You might even think that it is just a formality. Well, you would be absolutely wrong because truly high quality service providers use checklists to ensure standardized quality time and time again. Regardless of the wedding setting, high quality caterers do everything according to a protocol that is designed to ensure maximum wedding guest enjoyment. Their checklist ensures customer satisfaction. Best of all, they actually make sure the checklist items are implemented fully and with the highest level of attention to detail. This is what separates a real class catering operation from some random collection of people dishing out food.
High quality service providers know that the essence of any service business turns on the quality of person to person interactions involving their staff. They know that they not only have to hire people with the right people skills, they have to give these individuals the training they need to truly shine and provide the very best experience to event attendees.
Professional catering firms step their staff members through the process of proper service etiquette, manners, and operations and protocol. We’re not just talking about covering these topics in passing or in general-like some sort of theory. No, real high class, high value caterers make it a point to hold a quick ‘heads up’ or ‘informational briefing’ regarding specific events so all staff members are completely clued in regarding the customer service needs of the people in attendance. This is the best way to make sure everybody is on board and all attendees get a minimum threshold of service quality. This is the kind of attention to detail that produces truly memorable wedding catering experiences.
Customer Service-focused Staff
Believe it or not, great customer service doesn’t just involve smiling at people and leading them to the right table. Customer service is all about making sure the guests’ needs are taken care of smoothly and unobtrusively. Great customer service is more than that-it is all about maintaining a kind of ambiance.
Every wedding has a central theme and professional catering staff weave in theme elements into how they go about their duties and help guests with their food. This may seem like a small thing but it is how the seemingly small details weave into a greater picture that separate truly memorable wedding receptions from completely forgettable one. And your choice of caterer goes a long way in determining how memorable your wedding is to your guests.
While there is a lot of value to be found in subcontracting parts of a catering service, the risks of failure outweigh the benefits. Truly professional catering outfits that focus on weddings make it a point to vertically integrate their operations. This is important because vertically integrated operations not only save money which can be passed on to customers, vertical integration ensures that the overall quality of all the elements that go into a service are controlled and monitored. This increases the likelihood that the company can pass savings on to the client.
Beyond just the great savings a vertically integrated provider may offer clients, the whole ‘one stop’ solution is very important because it deliver a key fundamental benefit anyone looking to manage a wedding event or reception needs to pay attention to-peace of mind. That’s right-instead of feeling that everything is spinning out of your control, you only need to contact one person for you to get the information and reassurance you need. This frees you up to do other organizational tasks. Considering how crazy the to-do lists for most modern American weddings can get, this feature is definitely a lifesaver. It can definitely save many event organizers as well as the wedding couple themselves from lots of unnecessary headaches and drama.
Uses Only the Freshest and Choicest Ingredients
Usually, this criterion is the first on the list when it comes to any kind of food service provider. However, I’ve put this last because if the wedding caterer took care of all the other features above and the concerns behind those features and elements, the food will essentially take care of itself. Great food, after all, grows from great customer service and feedback. Regardless of how bad the food a caterer starts out with, the quality of the food quickly improves if the caterer actively listens to client feedback and has a systematic and methodical process of providing top notch wedding catering services.
Keep the elements above in mind if you are looking for the very best wedding caterer. While it is too easy to think of ‘best’ as purely subjective, you’d be surprised as to how applying objective operational parameters can help you zero in on ‘best’ time and time again. In many cases, it would be safe to say that great catering is the product of organization and customer service as much as talent and infrastructure. Keep the factors above in mind so you can increase your chances of finding the very best wedding caterer for the most important day in your life together as a couple.