When we ask the question, ‘what is corporate catering?’ we all know that it means to provide food and drink for a business or organization. It’s not rocket science! The art is in finding the right caterer for the right event whilst delighting clients and guests alike and sticking to the budget. Too often, the job of organizing company catering services falls to someone who already has a ‘day job’ and this becomes just another item on the to-do list. Let’s take a closer look at corporate catering to help you deliver and delight without a headache.
Corporate Catering Companies
Any Google search will highlight the vast array of corporate catering services and companies out there. Deciding who to choose can feel overwhelming; so many choices, so many great food shots!
First of all, decide what is important to you. Do you know exactly what you want in terms of menus and timings or do you need someone to walk you through the options? Do you have a particular cuisine in mind? Do you need staff to serve the food or are you looking for simple drop off? Do you have all the equipment needed to present and serve the food or will you need rentals for the event?
National Catering Companies
Corporate caterers range in size from national to local, large to small. National and international catering companies can offer branded catering concepts, venue options, and in-house teams. You get all the benefits of dealing with a large corporation such as choice and preferential pricing through bulk purchase. However, the downside can be uniformity of offer, lack of creativity, increased pricing (through bigger overheads) and loss of personal service.
Local Catering Companies
The benefits of working with a smaller, local organization are, of course, that they are in-tune with your geography and culture. They are able to purchase from smaller local suppliers, which enables chefs to showcase seasonal produce packed with flavor, ingredients that have only traveled a short distance rather than taste-draining travel miles. Catering companies like Eco Caters pride themselves on their local organic produce – these great flavors barely need any enhancement. It’s also worth noting that you will most likely be dealing with the senior team or owners of the company, ensuring you get that highly personal service.
If you are lucky enough to have kitchen facilities within your building, you can employ your own chef or catering team to cook daily on-site. This way food can be served as fresh as possible. However, this option requires a scale of catering to afford this luxury. Plus this can lead to creative fatigue if the chef is not exposed to a wider range of events to flex his/her creative muscle!
The rise of the food truck has created some ingenious opportunities to provide niche catering on a smaller scale to a wider audience. If you have a secure, large area close to your building in which a food truck can park and work, this can give you fun opportunities to trial a wide variety of cuisines and companies.
Events and Occasions
There are a wide variety of needs and occasions that catering for corporates cover.
Everyone has to eat and this type of catering is more about sustenance than promotion! Think of working lunches, breakfast meetings – all about squeezing more productivity into every working hour and not losing time for eating. Corporate lunch ideas are a regular chore for many HR person or Personal Assistant. Companies like Eco Caters have hit that challenge full on with creative, daily organic lunch offerings through their Simply Lunch program.
Things to consider when ordering this type of catering are
- Any dietary restrictions – to ensure your entire team can enjoy the offering
- The speed of service – do you have the luxury of a leisurely plated lunch or do you need a grab and go option so there is no interruption to meetings?
Boxed lunches (think grown-up Happy Meals!) can be a simple corporate lunch idea: easy to distribute, no wastage, no crockery required (just silverware).
Buffet lunches offer your employees more choice but if you are working to a tight budget, having station attendants can be a sensible option to act as ‘portion police’ and make sure that Sam in IT doesn’t hog all the protein!
Plated lunches offer a high-end service with attendant servers giving you the restaurant experience. Cost is higher as more staff are required and time required is longer to ensure that the meal is enjoyed. This is a great option if you are entertaining clients – sharing your table is intimate and personable and such a good environment to develop relationships.
Not all catering to corporates is functional. Allowing staff to let their hair down and celebrate is a way to build community and culture for an organization. Corporate events such as holiday parties are an enjoyable reward at the end of a hard working year. Reaching targets can be a good reason to bring the company together in a social setting.
When planning these fun events, think about whether you have the space to host the event on-site or whether you would prefer to take staff away from the day to day and host in a venue more suited for the occasion. Caterers often have great relationships with venues around your city, many being preferred vendors on site. They are a good place to start looking for the right venue.
Caterers can also be a resource for planning your event as their experience and talents will understand the pitfalls and take away the angst of showcasing your company. They will understand what rentals you might need (like furniture, tableware); help you plan your timeline so your CEO is not trying to give his motivational talk whilst everyone has their heads in their meals; organise your bar service so no-one is left thirsty; have relationships with entertainers and photographers to make sure you capture your special event.
Catering for corporates is a great way to reward your team, recruit new talent and wow your clients. Don’t get lost in the detail. Turn to the experts and find a catering company that fits your ethos and budget. They are all out there waiting to turn your working lunch into a culinary delight, your holiday party into a never forgotten team night out, your client breakfast meeting into a deal-making success! Caterers are waiting to share their table with you!