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If starting a personal catering company is your dream, consider these 10 tips from a professional caterer.

1. Be realistic.
Catering is not glamourous!
It’s hard work and long hours.
When others play, you work.
Try these truths on for size before you invest any money, time or effort into an extension of your endeavours. Only the strong survive!

2. Cool as a cucumber.
Above all you must be able to handle tension and never appear flustered.
And that’s not just your stress, but also the “freak-out” levels of stress your client might be experiencing.
Realise what’s at stake for them. Trust and powerlessness can be scary emotions for anyone.

3. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.
Time is unforgiving in the catering business. Five or ten minutes leeway is acceptable when serving, but half an hour late is not, unless the client has pushed back the clock. Are you reasonably punctual? Examine your ability to deliver in a timely manner.

4. Find your own niche.
Remember there are many categories of catering; from barbeque and beans to pheasant under glass.
Establish your own area of excellence and interest. Something you enjoy, something that makes your product different.
If successful, you’ll be making lots of it!

5. Listen to your client.
Naturally your thoughts and suggestions are what they are looking for, but most clients have some preconceived ideas regards their event. Prize these out. They’ll provide you with guidance and insights. It’s the client you’re trying to please.

6. Never apologise for your price.
Your product will always cost more than the frozen semi-equivalent bought from the warehouse megamarket.
Don’t be brow-beaten or back off your price with a client that wants to negotiate a “discount”, or promises you all their friends’ events. Nobody wins.

7. Start early.
Catering is like Christmas. If you leave it until the last minute, you’ll wish you’d started sooner. Many things can be organized in advance such as rentals and the work force.
Over time, you’ll become familiar with the natural sequence. Until then, make lots of lists.
8. Friendly and flexible.
Ten minutes before serving you’re told to hold dinner – the guest of honour’s flight is late.
Can you slap on a smile and reassure the hostess that you can ratchet down and maintain the meal indefinitely in a holding pattern? Do it anyway!

9. Remember your place.
Probably an old fashioned idea, but it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of an event.
A good rule of thumb for you and especially any extrovert servers you might employ is “if you’re having too much fun, then you’re not working.”

10. Belle of the Ball
Clients love to know they have thrown a social smash. Share some of the comments and compliments that came your way.
Part of the point is to glow in the glorious aftermath of the event – and that goes for you too!

 

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