There are few relationships more valuable than that between a planner and a caterer. After all, they bring together the two most fundamental parts of an event: a smooth, efficient timeline and the food and beverage service.
Thus, the planning process requires a lot of careful planning and communication between the planner and the caterer. It’s easy to see why it helps to have an existing relationship that is already strong and harmonious.
Here are a few ways to cultivate strong, mutually beneficial relationships between planners and caterers (or any vendor, for that matter).
Whether personal or professional, every relationship is built upon a foundation of communication. If you’re the type to ignore emails or disappear between events, it will be a challenge to develop mutually beneficial relationships with others. Be open with vendor partners during the planning process, but also stay in touch after the fact. The strongest relationships are those that have time to grow and flourish outside of the parameters of planning an event. Follow each other on social media, send referral business their way, and check in to see what they’ve been up to — staying top of mind is key to a great connection.
Become a resource
People like helpful people, it's as simple as that. If you can be a valuable resource throughout the planning process, it will stick with your creative partners, and they'll be inclined to send business your way and work with you in the future. In my local market, my industry colleagues know that I care about them and will stand up for them when I need to with clients. They also know that I lead with example on event day and will treat them as valuable members of the team, keeping everyone abreast of important updates. Always be prepared to offer a hand (or two) to support your partners, and you will earn the same respect from them.
Practice mediation skills
Most events aren’t without their share of discomfort and unpredictable obstacles, which impacts productivity and motivation for the whole event team. You should never be an instigator, but that's not to say you shouldn't get in the middle of a situation to put a stop to it. Try and address all issues quickly and assertively so they can be handled, ideally without the client’s knowledge. Be clear about expectations, but also offer up your assistance to help resolve the problem. If you can navigate the waters and get everyone on track in a peaceful manner, you’ll earn the respect of everyone on your vendor team.
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When it comes down to it, building strong relationships with other vendors is all about fostering mutual respect through open communication, honesty, and thoughtfulness. Take a moment to think about your closest industry friendships — what do you love most about those relationships? Is it a steady flow of referrals, the candid meetings over coffee, or a mix of both?
It may go without saying, but the effort you put into a relationship directly impacts what you get out of it. If you genuinely want to strengthen your catering connections, be intentional about nurturing those relationships regularly.
Lead photo courtesy of Toque Catering.