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The importance of presentation

Many Catersource attendees were taking photos of the many unique buffet configurations that were available for viewing at the show. We all want that "wow factor" for our upscale wedding and reception events, and many caterers left the show with some great ideas.

At CSES2016, the Monday night party, The 5 @ Tao, provided attendees with plenty of opportunity to photograph various presentations. 

Not just for weddings anymore

With our competitive space becoming more crowded on a daily basis, drop-off caterers seeking a larger market share need to set themselves apart from others.  An innovative and exciting presentation is a great way to do this.

Not this way

I was recently speaking with a friend who owns a law firm and my buddy was describing the deli sandwich buffet he received from a local caterer last week. While the sandwich trays looked nice, mostly due to the multi-colored meats, nice green lettuce and fresh red tomatoes, the salads were just dumped into black plastic bowls with very little garnish, the mustard and mayonnaise packets were carelessly thrown into a paper lunch bag, the only utensils provided were cheap plastic forks—those also came in a lunch bag—the paper plates were those flimsy scalloped edge things you can buy at 7-Eleven out of desperation, and the chocolate chip dessert cookies were separated by K-wax and placed in two plastic clamshells. All of this was just dropped onto a counter by the delivery guy who quickly left.

Almost anyone can do it

Let's face reality: a turkey sandwich is a turkey sandwich. You make them, your competitors make them, Whole Foods makes them, and so do many unlicensed caterers who work out of their home kitchens. You don't receive patents for turkey sandwiches. There are ways to set yourself apart from other food delivery services, however.

Make it pretty and set it up

My oft-quoted Midwest colleague told me this: "Michael, we went from zero to $1.2 million in sales by never letting ANYTHING out of our kitchen without being garnished. Even a half pan of refried beans was sent out with a line of cheddar cheese and green onions down the center. All of our guest's plastic utensils were put in baskets, and this was done whether we were delivering an inexpensive $3.95 continental breakfast or a $20 dinner. We ALWAYS sent a paper tablecloth, a bowl of ice for beverages, and a neat basket of condiments.

“Then, we taught our drivers how to set-up the food, paper products, and beverages in an attractive manner. We NEVER merely dropped off food without setting up the buffet. Sure, for drop-off we used wire chafing racks and aluminum pans, but we always lit the Sternos, loosened plastic tray lids, and partially opened aluminum pan covers.

“Our drivers were shown exactly how to display beverages. When it was time to eat, our customers only had to remove a couple of plastic or aluminum lids and they were ready to go."

What this does

When UberEats brings your food, you have to meet the driver as he or she hands you your food through the open car window. If your drivers are trained only to drop off boxes, bags, and beverage 12-packs, you are no better than an app food delivery service. 

Believe me, your customers will remember that nice Italian buffet that was highly garnished and came with a white tablecloth. You have the power to accomplish this while many of your competitors don't, or won't.

In today's uber-competitive marketplace, I don't think you have a choice but to do everything possible to make sure that your product is superior. Your turkey sandwich may taste the same, but the totality of your food presentation can really set you apart from the rest.

An invaluable source of information about the corporate drop-off business, Michael Rosman taught two classes at CSES2016.

Catersource was great and I met a lot of my valued clients there. I'm recharged and refreshed and ready to continue providing you with the tools you need for success. Call me and let's talk!


Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman

Owner/Founder, The Corporate Caterer, Boston, MA

Michael Rosman is the founder of, a consulting, coaching and lead generation company for businesses that aspire to take their corporate catering business to the next level or start a new division. He is also a Senior Consultant with He can be reached at [email protected].