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A Guide to Work-Life Balance for Caterers

For many caterers, most hours are spent in the kitchen. We love our profession so much that it can be hard to turn off; and, with such high demand, it’s easy to lose track of time and find oneself unbalanced.

However, it’s essential that we do make time for ourselves outside of work. Not only does downtime preserve our sanity, but it also fosters increased creativity and innovation that you can channel back into your business.

 “You can’t do the best for your family, your employees, and your customers if you don’t take care of yourself,” reminds Alan Berg CSP of Wedding Business Solutions LLC. “Pursuing interests outside of work makes you more creative at work due to the diversity of the experiences.”

A healthy work-life balance extends to your staff as well. If you want a team that is productive and empowered, you must provide ample time off for them to rest, refresh, and rejuvenate.

Here are four ways to instill a happy work-life balance within your company.

Focus on the “why”

A reminder of why you got into business in the first place is a good way to bring yourself back from the brink of burnout—and the same goes for your team. People tend to perform better and more productively when they have a purpose that drives them.

“Burnout occurs when people stop loving what they do,” explains Anthony Lambatos of Footers Catering. “It’s not necessarily about how many hours they work. As managers and leaders within our organizations, we have to be cognizant of this and talk about the ‘why’ every day.”

Of course, the “why” is different for every company. But, for most, it involves looking at the end result of your work and the value you provide to your customers.

A screenshot of the Footers Catering team page

Lambatos shares: “We talk about the people and companies we are creating events for in our kitchen, so our team isn’t just making appetizers—they are making the groom’s favorite item that he’s excited to have on his wedding day. If you’re asking people to do extra work, make sure they understand why that work is important and then follow up with recognition and praise when they do it well.” 

Break down responsibilities

Staring down a never-ending to-do list is the quickest way to lose steam and shut down. Instead, break down larger projects into bite-sized tasks that don’t seem so overwhelming. Assign out daily responsibilities to your employees as well, as opposed to dropping a load of work on them and expecting them to complete it all by a certain date.

“In business, we need to focus on the day, not the week or month,” encourages Adam Gooch of Common Plea Catering. “The amount of steps/items/tasks involved in a wedding of 300 guests are very overwhelming when looking at them. We need to manage our team and give them an attainable list to complete daily.”

Daily accomplishments build motivation and empowerment, so help your team out by keeping them on track with careful delegation.

Teach by example

Employees will find it hard to achieve a healthy work-life balance if they always see you working in the office until midnight. Do yourself a favor by giving yourself a break and taking time to unwind. Better yet, bring your team with you and show them that life isn’t all about work.

“Treat them and their families to a ball game, movie night, date night, or whatever you can do to let them know you care and their work is important,” says Lon Lane of Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions. “Plan company outings for drinks and hors d’oeuvres after a particularly stressful week. The best step is to lead by example and be concerned about the physical and mental health of your staff. Let them know you are watching out for them.”

In addition to promoting self-care, you also get the added benefit of teambuilding. Staff members that engage with one another outside of work will grow stronger relationships that will play out in the kitchen as well.

Reward accomplishments

Incentives are a great way to prevent burnout and maintain a motivational environment within your company. Don’t lose sight of your or your team’s wins; celebrate them for what they are.

“If you keep working and don’t let yourself celebrate your victories (even the little ones), you are going to burn out,” states Meryl Snow of Feastivities Events. “This tends to be the result of too much work combined with stress and very little reward.”

Everybody responds to different rewards, so get a feel for what works for you as well as each employee. Some are driven by financial incentives, whereas others may be motivated by an extra day off or an out-of-office celebration.

“You need to let yourself know that you have done well and a treat in any form is the best way to do this,” Snow continues. “Whatever works best for you, make sure you do it. It will reduce stress and keep you motivated while achieving your work goals.”

Work-life balance has become a buzzword, but its trendiness doesn’t discount its importance. Feeling the pressure of working at all hours is detrimental to mental health and limits your ability to innovate new ideas and reach peak performance. Take care of yourself and your team because, at the end of the day, your business will be better for it.

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Clint Elkins

Clint Elkins is the VP Sales for SB Value located in Charlotte, NC. Clint, a former professional race car driver, was one of the top motorsports promoters in the country by the age of 35. Clint used that experience and passion for business to launch his second career in a sales and marketing. Outside of work Clint enjoys spending time on his family farm and coaching his two daughters softball teams. Clint is also an avid cook and self proclaimed badminton superstar.