Most off-premise caterers would like to have an on-premise venue they can call their own, but most on-premise caterers have little desire to become involved in off-premise catering. It’s more complex, filled with exceptions and much, much harder work. In an on-premise banquet facility, the owner knows where the circuit breakers are when the lights go out.
On-premise caterers are steps away from their walk-in coolers and other supplies. On-premise caterers don’t need directions to get to the event! Off-premise caterers always play away games, while on-premise caterers are always the home team. On-premise catering isn’t boring because everything is familiar and runs smoothly. On-premise banquet facilities have their own challenges and need constant oversight by managers.
Both on- and off-premise caterers can make vast amounts of money from their efforts. Shoppers calling an on-premise caterer are looking to buy a location, event space and a specific time period more than food. It’s not that the food isn’t important, it’s just that the other things are more important. Shoppers calling an off-premise caterer are looking mainly for food. Shoppers first ask on-premise caterers if they are available, while they ask off-premise caterers what their price is. Off-premise caterers often have difficulty obtaining deposits and final payments, while on-premise caterers get money much more easily. No money, no guaranteed hold on the event space.
On-premise banquet facilities sell romance, photo ops, fountains, fireplaces, gazebos, bride’s rooms, built-in bars, beautiful views from windows, tree lined lawns, dance floors and menus. On-premise shoppers will pay more for a facility that permits guests to exit their cars under overhangs that prevent them from getting wet. Off-premise caterers mainly sell menus and service. Off-premise shoppers want to haggle down the price. The exception would be when an off-premise caterer is on a list of approved caterers at a public or private venue or when they have an exclusive venue.
Overall, however, shoppers are looking for different things when they buy from off- or on-premise caterers. In most cases, shoppers give more respect to the on-premise caterer. Sometimes after an off-premise caterer spends hours working with a shopper, the shopper won’t even answer the caterers follow-up phone calls or emails.
Shoppers of off-premise catering will not give a deposit check until the menu is determined and approved, while on-premise caterers receive deposits to hold the date and space with the menu not being selected until a short time before the event date.