Avoid “Whining” and Dining This Holiday Season

December 18, 2013

Sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the cooking, but there are a few things to keep in mind before hiring holiday party caterers. Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan wants hosts to throw memorable gatherings without any hassles.

Decide what is needed. Some caterers provide full-service options—where decorations, table settings and lighting is provided—and others only provide food. Determine the desired services and budget accordingly.

Start with Trust. Begin the hiring process by browsing BBB Accredited catering services at bbb.org and using the Request a Quote feature to collect estimates.  Make sure to check BBB Business Reviews for complaint details.

Gather names. Arrange meetings with organizers during the planning stages to ensure good working relationships; also, find out who will be in charge during events in case there are problems.

Get everything in writing. Written contracts should include total prices of service, the costs per guest and lists of specific menu items—including beverages and any alternatives, if applicable. Contracts should clearly outline dates and times of delivery and set up or teardown fees.

Talk about conditions and agreements. Make sure that terms and conditions of deposits and refunds are understood and how they will change if original plans are altered. Agreements should itemize the number of staff involved, charges for overtime and the start and end time of events.

While caterers tend to receive fewer BBB complaints, it’s important to research food service providers to confirm they’re properly licensed and free from serious complaints.