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Catering Resilience: A Guide to Surmounting Event Hurdles

The realm of hospitality and event management is one built upon efficiency and perfection. The catering industry is no exception. Chances are professional caterers have had to work through their fair share of challenging situations.

Because of this, many catering companies have backup plans ready to go to ensure their service is always at its best. But many of the most challenging situations are well outside of the control of the caterer, so having a plan for unexpected mishaps–ranging from an unruly guest to a sudden emergency–is a must.

The things you can control

One piece of advice that anyone in the catering business should live by is that pre-planning prevents poor performance. Don’t go into any event with the expectation that things will go smoothly or that it will be another run-of-the-mill evening. Go in having checked all of your boxes and knowing that you are ready for whatever the evening throws at you. You should also ensure that your business is properly insured ahead of time.

Often this means speaking to your client and seeing if you can proactively scout out a venue before the main event. Doing so can help you and your staff out by allowing you to make a plan for how catering will operate throughout the evening. Likewise, it gives you a chance to ensure that you’ll have the right amount of power available and that all of the equipment provided is in working order.

You can also make sure that any potential hazards are dealt with ahead of time–for instance, make sure that any chemicals are properly stored away from food and fuel sources. You can also let the building manager know if any of these materials should be disposed of because they are leaking or stored improperly.

Viewing the venue early and speaking with the event host in advance can also help you prepare for the things that can, and inevitably will, go wrong. For instance, if the wedding you’re catering is an outdoor event with no backup plan for poor weather, it will definitely be worthwhile to come prepared with a pop-up tent to cover the food in the event of rain. Additional items that can help in inclement weather include coolers, ice, power cords, and generators.

And the things you can’t

Although there is a lot you can control when planning for your catering event, there are just as many things that you really can’t. The best you can do in many of these situations is make your way through them as they come up. Perhaps the best preparation is to sit down with your staff and work through how various scenarios might need to be handled if they come up.

One of the most common situations that you’ll likely deal with as a caterer at events is the unruly guest. Speak with the venue manager and with your clients to see how they would like to see things handled if this situation arises. Alcohol has a variety of different effects on the body, so it can cause people to act out of character and potentially disorderly.

Another unfortunately common situation at many events is the potential for fights to break out. Your staff should never feel as though they need to put themselves in danger to break up a fight, but learning a few tricks of the trade related to talking down potential instigators and general peacekeeping can definitely go a long way toward keeping the evening moving along smoothly.

You and your staff may also eventually find yourself in a situation where a real medical emergency occurs during an event you’re catering. In these situations, you and your team may be able to make a real difference if you have a bit of first aid and medical emergency knowledge, such as how to treat cuts, sprains or other small injuries. It can be worthwhile to cover the cost for your employees to earn and maintain a CPR/First Aid Certificate.

Things happen during catering events. It is wise to never assume that everything is going to go smoothly. The best strategy is to prepare for the unexpected by checking out venues in advance, coming up with a plan of operations, and attempting to prepare for events that might be outside of your control. 


Ainsley Lawrence

Freelance Writer

Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer that lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings.