How to Become the Kings of Corporate Catering
Catching the Big Fish: Attention to Detail
We cannot think of a single word to sum up the way to make it to the top of the corporate catering tree but we can think of three: attention to detail. Whether you happen to be based in London, Hertford, Maidstone, Basingstoke or anywhere else in the South East, paying attention to the details is how you can differentiate what your establishment has to offer from whatever the competition can muster. Among the most important details to keep in mind when preparing for a large corporate booking are the following:
- The Greeting – Large companies spend a great deal of money on staff outings at Christmas and usually have generous corporate entertainment budgets to oil the wheels of industry by treating their clients to a first-rate dinner every now and then. Bearing in mind the amount of cash they are spending when visiting your establishment, you need to make sure that they are left in no doubt as to how much you value their custom. There is no need to go overboard by rolling out a red carpet and smothering your guests but by putting a little more effort into your normal welcome procedure, you can provide the perfect start to a great evening.
- The Service – As with the greeting, the service at table needs to be a little special to justify the amount of money being spent by corporate clients in the South East. Hold a pre-event meeting and give your service team a pep talk to ensure that they know just how important it is to please your guests. If any should fall short of the standards you demand, take them off the team until they have received remedial training to correct any faults you identify.
- Table Setting – If you take a booking for a large corporate lunch or dinner, the first thing that will happen after your clients receive a warm welcome from your reception team is that they will be led to their tables. This is when you can reinforce the great impression you have already made by ensuring that each table setting is faultless. Crisp white linen tablecloths, perfectly laundered napkins, along with spotless crockery, cutlery and glassware will all help to ensure that you manage to achieve this goal.
- The Food – Set menus work best for large bookings so be sure to push your best offerings in this area whenever you take such a booking. If you can convince your corporate clients to choose a menu that you know your kitchen team excels at, half the battle will be won. If you take smaller bookings for clients that prefer to order à la carte, brief your waiting staff to push the specials and make sure that whatever is ordered is cooked to perfection. A little flexibility can create a lot of good will as far as corporate clients are concerned so if a party that has chosen a set menu should wish to deviate from it to a certain extent, it is worth accommodating their wishes if you possibly can.
- The Drink – Not all corporate parties turn into booze fests but a fair percentage do so no matter what other preparations you may make, ensure your cellar is well stocked! Small business dinners are unlikely to turn into a free for all as far as alcohol is concerned but fine wines could well be on the menu as far as the diners are concerned so they should definitely be on yours. As you get to know each client that you welcome to your establishment, you will be able to tailor your wine list to suit their tastes for future bookings.
- Entertainment – You may be running an upmarket restaurant at which the entertainment normally consists entirely of polite conversation between diners but for a large corporate party, you may want to consider laying on extra entertainment to keep them happy. Whether it is best to go for a loud rock band, a restrained classical quartet or a bawdy stand-up comedian will depend on the type of clients you are entertaining. If you are running a small bistro rather than a large restaurant, your options may be a little more limited but it is nevertheless well worth considering doing something a little out of the ordinary if you want to make a lasting impression.
The Finishing Touches
You’ve prepped the service team, the kitchen team and the reception team; the cellar is fully stocked; the tables look resplendent, draped in pure, white linen; and you’ve even laid on a little entertainment to ensure the evening goes with a swing - what else can you do? There are a number of nice touches you can add to your normal dining package, to make sure that you stand out from your local rivals, some of which may be more practical than others.
If your establishment is located in a more remote part of the Kent, Berkshire or Essex countryside, you might like to offer a transfer service to the nearest large town. Hiring a few minibuses with drivers may sound like an expensive endeavour but if the money coming in from the booking justifies the expense, it is well worth considering. If you require any help in the table linen department, you can of course always rely on the team here at Stalbridge to meet your needs.