When interviewing a candidate for an important position that interfaces with customers, test their ability to react in strange situations. One caterer simply says to the person being interviewed, “I’m going to ask you to do something that will seem strange to you when you hear it. Please do what I request.” Then he says to the interviewee, “Please stand up and sing a verse from Jingle Bells.” How the interviewee handles this tells a lot about their ability to think quickly. If they don’t stand up and sing it doesn’t disqualify them. Whatever they do, it is more about what and how they do it than if they do it.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Really? Maybe. Many other industries are adopting a four-day workweek or letting staff work from home. At first, this doesn’t seem to make sense in catering.
The economic logic of this should prompt caterers to think about how to use a shorter workweek in a way that will fit the catering business model. You might close the company down for one day a week. If you run the numbers of expenses vs. costs, you can see that the concept needs to be considered. At least think about the idea for your slower seasons.
Caterers who close one day a week tend to select Sunday or Monday, since these are the days many businesses are closed. The advantages of having everyone off on the same day are huge. For example: You now have everyone off on the same day of the week, which strengthens your team on all the other days because everyone is involved. Some caterers close everything else, but keep their sales offices open on Monday to insure that possible prospects don’t skip them in the buying process.
Corporate business tends to be on weekdays and social catering tends to be on weekends. Some companies make the decision to become an exclusive weekday or weekend caterer. This means weekday caterers work Monday through Friday while weekend caterers work Thursday through Sunday or Monday.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
For all the acclaim the restaurant has garnered, however, the idea of regularly recreating the menu isn’t revolutionary to catering companies and our chefs. We too serve different themed menus, except, rather than changing them seasonally, we do it constantly. It is not unusual for a caterer to prepare anything from Mediterranean to Asian, Classic French to Texas BBQ…all in a single week!
There are other challenges unique to the catering world. For example, while a fine dining restaurant serves dozens of guests at various intervals, caterers may be required to serve hundreds simultaneously on a strict timeline. Caterers are often responsible for designing different visual themes that may extend to equipment, décor, and even server uniforms. Add to that the challenges of producing events in historic venues, tiny galleries, private homes, or a tent under the stars, and you begin to understand how complicated the job of “Caterer” can be.
How many times have I heard catering chefs say they yearn for the familiar routine of working a restaurant line? How many times have I seen fine restaurant chefs, stripped of their normal surroundings and equipment, wrestling with their first off-premise event? Caterers should take heart! I believe that if you can master the off-premise event with its ever-changing demands, curveballs, and peculiarities of cooking and serving spaces, you are prepared to succeed in any hospitality setting. Consider that you are positioned to be the industry’s “Next” big thing.