What to ask your Sydney corporate caterer before you book

Corporate catering isn’t as it used to be. There was a time, not too long ago, when you’d be served a set menu of traditional food items, such as sandwiches, wraps, salads, and fruit platters. These menus were often pre-determined and rarely varied – so employees knew what to expect each time.

Now corporate catering has evolved significantly with a greater emphasis on customisation, personalisation, and innovation. There’s, most notably, an extraordinary amount of food options, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, as well as international cuisine, which can be, at times, a bit intimidating. Despite all this, corporate events remain a source of tremendous fun, and there’s rarely a better reason to do at work. Catering in 2023 just requires you to know the right questions to ask. 

Why catering for corporate events should be planned and organised in advance

When planning your corporate event, one of the most important things to keep in mind is getting a good caterer and venue early on. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute and end up paying a fortune for a mediocre place. The best venues are often booked months in advance.

 Many caterers, such as Boardwalk Catering, have nurtured strong relationships with specific venues and can advise you on the best venue to have for your corporate event. Working with a corporate caterer first will help you understand which venues work best for your event type and size. Aside from catering, premium corporate catering companies can also recommend suitable themes and décor.

Planning, some might argue, is just as important as the day of the event. So, you don’t want to rush it. Choosing a caterer early on provides you more time to consider what you want in terms of food, menus, and drinks. Your corporate event won’t look disorganised or rushed, and you’ll be able to keep your guests informed and prepared for the big day. Many aspects of catering require time, such as collective RSVPs and ensuring everyone’s dietary preferences are met. You simply cannot rush these things without making the corporate event look unprofessional.

Questions to ask your Sydney corporate caterer prior to booking

#1 “How Many Guests Can You Accommodate?”

If you already know the guest count, ask the caterer whether or not a corporate event of that size is possible; otherwise, ask about the various event sizes the catering company can accommodate. Some caterers specialise in smaller, more private parties, while others are equipped to manage large-scale events.

At Boardwalk Catering, we take pride in our ability to cater to events of any size. From intimate gatherings to large corporate events, we have the expertise and experience to ensure that your event is a success. Schedule your free consultation to talk details.

#2 “How Much Space Do You Need at the Venue?”

Congratulations on finding the perfect venue for your event! To ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day of your event, it’s important to make sure your caterer has plenty of space to set up. If you haven’t already checked with your caterer, reach out to them to see if they have experience working at your venue. If they haven’t, contact the venue to find out how much space is available for catering. With a little bit of planning, you’ll have all the space you need to run a successful event!

#3 “How Long Before The Event Will You Arrive?”

Say you’re planning on serving dinner at 6:00, the question becomes: Have you thought about what time your catering company of choice will need to arrive and set up to make your event memorable? 

The answer will depend on so many factors, like your menu, the size of your event, and even the layout of your venue. You definitely want to make sure you can accommodate the caterers’ chosen arrival time so they can work their magic and make your event even more fantastic.

Don’t forget to reach out to your venue to make sure the caterers’ arrival time works for every party involved. It’s important to ensure that the caterers won’t interfere with another party or event when setting so that your special occasion goes off without a hitch!

#4 “Can You Customize the Menu?”

Some premium corporate caterers provide a pre-fixe menu or multiple menu options. This may work if you like everything on the menu. However, it’s usually preferable to hire a more flexible catering service. This way, you’d get to incorporate meals you know your guests will enjoy while eliminating ones you know they won’t.

#5 “Where Do You Source Your Ingredients?”

Good tucker comes from good, fresh ingredients. Don’t trust any catering companies that won’t tell you where they get their food from. The ones that use local suppliers are usually happy as a clam to divulge that information. Plus, sourcing your grab locally is better for the environment and keeps the quality top-notch.

We take ingredient sourcing seriously at Boardwalk. If you want to know more about our providers, just give us a holler, we’re always happy to talk food.

#6 “Can You Accommodate Our Guests’ Specific Dietary Needs?”

Perhaps you’ll have a few vegetarian guests. Perhaps most of your guests are kosher or halal. Regardless of your dietary needs, make sure to ask whether or not the catering company can meet them. Specific is the name of the game. Ask what they’re going to do to make sure everything is prepared according to your guests’ preferences.

#7 “When Do You Need a Final Head Count?”

As the event gets closer, headcounts tend to fluctuate. You can’t always rely on your initial number of guests to remain the same. That’s why it’s crucial to communicate with your catering team about when they need the final head count. By doing so, you can set an RSVP deadline that gives you ample time to adjust the guest list.

Understand that, while caterers are typically willing to be flexible, they must establish a headcount cut-off date. This is because they need to order ingredients from their suppliers well in advance. If you request a change in headcount after they’ve placed their order, they may be unable to get extra ingredients or request a refund for those they’ve already purchased.

#8 “Will You Provide Linens and Table Settings?”

If you’re planning to host an event at a caterer’s own event centre, it’s common for them to either offer the linens or contract with a company that provides them. If, however, you’re looking to hire a caterer to serve at an off-site venue, you have a little more leeway. Certain catering companies supply linens and table settings as part of their services, or if not, can still provide them upon request. That said, if your corporate caterer doesn’t provide these items, they can facilitate your connection with a separate linen company. Just be sure to book them early as they can run out fast! 

#9 “What Is Your Cancellation Policy?”

Event hosts want their events to go in as smooth a manner as possible. That’s a no-brainer. Unfortunately, sometimes unforeseen circumstances, like illness or emergencies, can cause them to cancel. Before committing to anything, ask about the catering company’s cancellation policy. There may be a deadline by which you must cancel in order to get a refund. Alternatively, the contract may state that the caterer has the right to keep a deposit if you cancel after a certain date.

#10 “When Is Payment Required?”

Typically, when you book an event catering service, you’ll be required to pay a deposit to secure your date. The remaining balance may be due on the day of the event or a few days before. For larger gatherings, the payment schedule may be broken down into multiple instalments. At Boardwalk Catering, we understand that every event is unique and we’re happy to discuss how we can meet your specific needs. Call us at 0434 917 069 or send us an email if you’re looking for a premium corporate catering company in Sydney.

Parting thoughts

There are no right or wrong answers to the questions you may have for a caterer, but it’s crucial that you feel comfortable and in agreement with their responses. If you don’t, don’t hesitate to search for a corporate caterer who aligns with your preferences and needs. Once again, it’s critical that you gel with your vendor. We cannot stress that enough.