Working Documents Create Customers’ First Impressions

The moment you provide your customer with digital communication or written documentation, whether that be an email or an invoice, your brand and identity are on display.

Customers are requesting information faster than ever before. Thanks largely to social media, every window into your company needs to have a consistent message. This includes your website, Instagram and Pinterest.

This is also true of working documents. Working documents, the proposal and the contract, are the heart and soul of day-to-day business.

Using catering software to create working documents

All documents, whether they’re for the customers or the internal team, should have a consistent message and structure.

A lot companies like catering software because it makes their proposals “look pretty.” That’s the simple way of describing a process that usually involves advanced publishing tools and other programs that require some time to use. Translating a proposal from one program to another, Adobe to Word, for example, adds to the proposal creation, especially when graphics are involved or being implemented.

The latest catering software simplifies this process. It provides you with a template and additional tools to customize your document.

Understanding the function of each document

The key to creating these documents is to first understand their functions. First, you must create a template that relays information to the client in a particular way. It should have appropriate verbiage that is pre-approved for specific parts of the event cycle.

For customer-facing documents, there is generally a three-tiered set of documents with specific purposes or unique stages in the lifespan of an event.

A proposal provides the customer with generalized estimates of their event. It helps them establish interest in your food and services. It also allows them to create an image of you. If the image is strong and consistent enough, you may be the caterer for their special day. Every proposal should include:

• Introductions to your team and services

• Suggested menus based on initial conversations

• Average pricing summary or per person cost of food and beverage

• Summary descriptions and estimated charges for additional services

• Call to action statements for next steps

• Contact information for direct company contacts

A contract is the legal document that enters you into an agreement holding both parties to specific requirements and deliverables. This includes additional meals, service fees, rental items and staffing details. Contracts are driven by specific details and financial commitments and can put limits on what you are actually supplying as conditions to your services. Contracts must include:

• Detailed menus items and descriptions with quantities and unit specific pricing

• Itemized third party rentals and services

• Detailed summary pricing including taxes and fees

• Date specific deposit and payment schedules

• Gratuity statements

• Signing conditions

• Terms and conditions based on the specific event details

The invoice is the final bill. It summarizes the financial transaction after the delivery of services. It is a line-by-line summary of actual charges due and paid as well and opportunity for the customer to apply any additional gratuity.

Catering software allows you to create templates for each of these documents, which should be pre-designed and approved by your leadership and marketing teams. This will ensure that the unique details of each event are presented to your guest in a consistent manner that best exemplifies your company’s brand.

John Reed

Owner, Custom Culinary Solutions, Chicago, IL

John Reed is a professional chef with over 30 years’ experience. He is the owner of Customized Culinary Solutions, a culinary consulting firm located in the Chicago Northshore area. He works with restaurant, catering, and foodservice companies to provide the highest quality food possible. His contributions include menu and recipe development, emerging concept development, and transition management for companies introducing culinary and production software programs. His company specializes as an on-demand culinary department supporting out-sourced culinary project management.

An active member of the ACF, he has earned certifications as a Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator, and American Academy of...