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Five Steps to Rebuild & Strengthen Your Catering Team Post-COVID

It’s finally happening. After a difficult year of pivots, furloughs, lay-offs and unparalleled creativity to stay afloat and weather the storm, business is back. Many catering teams across the country are planning events of all sizes as states start to open up with great demand. People missed gathering, and the numbers are telling us that. So, as demand starts to pick back up, how do you ensure your company and team are ready to rise to the challenge?

The International Caterers Association hosted a webinar entitled, “Steps Companies Are Taking to Rebuild and Strengthen Their Teams Post-COVID” to inspire and educate catering companies as we navigate this new chapter. The conversation was led by Francisco Christian, managing partner at Taylor Hospitality Solutions, and Jennifer Perna, principal at Fulton Market Consulting, who shared the top five steps each catering company must take during this transition to recover and move forward profitably.

Step One: Confirm Your Company’s Products & Services, Mission Statement, Brand and Message

The last year has led many people and businesses to question who they are and what they offer. It’s been a transformational experience for many, and it’s led lots of caterers down avenues they never thought they’d see themselves.

So, now is the time to decide how to proceed.

The benefit of the last year is that many had time to evaluate what they’re doing as a company and what they want to be doing. It’s time to reformat that into a marketable mission and services you can use to attract business.

See Francisco Christian and Jennifer Perna in Miami this July at Catersource + The Special Event during their session, "Rebound with Frank & Jen." Learn More.

Craft a mission statement that helps clarify your purpose—something short and sweet that exudes your company’s unique personality and services. Use this mission statement to guide your brand and messaging development. Your brand is the creative visual that sets you apart, from your logo to the font on your menus. What do you want to look like to your prospects? Your messaging is the way you conduct yourself and speak about your company. Ensure your staff are informed of all these changes so that they can be ambassadors! Sometimes a revived look and purpose is enough to get a team excited.

Step Two: Identify Your Leadership and Management Teams

After you clarify what you’re offering and who you want to be in this new era, it’s important to have the right people at the helm driving change and inspiring your team. It’s been a tough year; coming out of this crisis has not been a walk in the park, and people are tired. You need versatile team members who will ask questions, exude entrepreneurial spirit, and be up for the challenge despite the tough year we’ve had.

To get started, look at a blank organizational chart and fill it in with roles you will need for the future, starting with just the next 12 months, since we are still in an ever-changing landscape. Ownership needs to be transparent and open with the direction and needs of the company to ensure everyone is up for the challenge and motivated.

Step Three: Determine Three-, Six- and Twelve-Month Revenue Targets

Once the team is in place, it’s time to get down to the numbers. Right now, projection is hard because the landscape of the industry—and the world—is so fluid. Remember, it’s okay if goals change, but you do need something on paper to work towards.

A few tips to work through this: 

  • Start with your pre-COVID numbers as far back as 2016 and determine your annual growth percentages year-over-year. 

  • Look at your sales associates’ past numbers and factor in if and when those team members will be brought back. 

  • Take a peek at industry analysis and leads coming into your business—what segments are seeing the most demand? For most right now it is social, with corporate coming back later this year and strong in Q1 2022. 

  • What new business is calling? Do you now have a catering mailer box that is generating high demand and good profits? Factor that into your projections, as well as your service, brand and messaging conversations.

Once you have all these factors laid out, it will be easier to develop a sales projection for the next few months through the next year. Use this to guide how many people you may need to support these sales efforts should the business be won as you are projecting. 

Step Four: Assess and Continue to Employ a Productive Sales Team

You have leadership and sales projection, now the next step is bringing back the sales team to make it happen. But understand that their job may not be the same as it was pre-COVID, and it’s important to revise job descriptions before bringing anyone back. Many catering companies are hiring and bringing back sales team members to sell and service their own events until the level of business warrants hiring event coordinators back.

Right now, many stellar hospitality industry workers are still searching for opportunities. This is a prime time to find versatile candidates who can help make big moves for your company going forward!

Step Five: Finalize Your Necessary Operations and Production Team 

Last but certainly not least, after the sales team gets back to selling, you’re going to need a skilled team in place to support and execute with stellar customer service that mirrors pre-pandemic quality.

Many catering teams are unsure when it’s time to bring their operations and production teams back. The short answer: when you have the sales to support it. Those projections need to guide your goals, and once the sales are closed, it’s time to look at who you need to support the execution of the flawless events your company is known for.

One solution, if you’re not quite ready to bring people back, is temp staff—just understand that may take a little more oversight and management. Regardless, it’s important to do what you need to do to get your team ready for the action, but not overpromise with part-time and full-time roles if you don’t have the business to support that quite yet.

It will happen! Just be patient.

Let’s Get to Work 

These steps are the building blocks for the future of your catering company. When things seem overwhelming, just think about all we’ve weathered so far. Brighter days are ahead! We can’t wait to start seeing teams come back together to produce impactful events across the country. Let’s get to work, friends!

For more information and to be notified of future catering industry webinars and education opportunities, visit []( 


International Caterers Association

For motivated caterers, International Caterers Association is a resource that provides Education, encourages peer to peer Relationships and Inspires creativity while embracing all segments of the catering industry. For more information, visit