While your guests won't give much thought to how their food was prepared and brought in, this is one of the most important aspects to consider when planning an event. Catering services can help to ensure your guests are served properly and on time.
The catering contract stipulates important terms and conditions about the event and governs the conduct of service providers and clients to ensure that everything goes according to plan. It is also useful in the event of a mishap to determine who takes responsibility and/or liability. Like other business relationships, having a contract is the best way for everyone to understand their roles. This article discusses the most important features to have in your written contract.
There are many aspects to be considered under insurance. If you have an event, you are required to apply reasonable care to ensure your guests are protected. However, the catering company should have protection for its staffers in case of injury to their staff at your event. They should also have liquor liability insurance to protect you in case guests cause harm to persons or property after getting drunk at your party. Therefore, the contract should stipulate the extent of liability that the caterers are responsible for – usually their staff and all their meals/drinks. You will bear full responsibility if your service provider isn't insured.
Caterers typically make their money in two ways: through discounts from suppliers and a management fee charged to the client. Every service company will have their own charging system. The full terms should be listed, including how much the client will pay, method of payment and terms of payment (e.g. x% before and after).
In addition, outline the terms for contingencies e.g. in case of over-attendance, how will extra plates be paid for? What are the terms of menu changes once the contract is in effect? How will cancellations be charged? All charges should be clearly listed in the contract, and nothing should be charged afterwards that wasn't written in the contract.
3. Labour and service
Often, a client will be given a per-plate fee which includes all charges that the caterer is responsible for. However, for your protection, you should write down the details of how your event will be conducted: How many guests are provided for? What is the overflow safety number? How many servers and waiters will be provided? Will the meals be passed around or served buffet style?
Of course, the venue, date and time of event should be listed. For longer events with multiple meals, you should set timelines within which guests will be served each meal. If the food isn't being prepared on-site, talk about transport and precautions that will be taken to prevent spoilage.
Your contract should have the complete list of foods that will be served on all courses at all times, as well as drinks if you have an open bar for the guests. If guests buy their own drinks, then you have no responsibility over the drinks – you'll be interested only in the drinks served with your meals. Include any special considerations according to guest RSVP details – how many of each main course, people that don't eat certain foods and alternatives for them, food preparation specials (such as halal meats for Muslims) etc.
When catering for events, there are many minor details to be considered. If you have an event planner, take them with you to help you with negotiation and contracting, to ensure that all your interests are well protected.