Five Questions to Ask Your Caterer
We believe in transparency in our contracts. It is for this reason that we show all our costs, breaking down every charge to its lowest common denominator. We will coordinate any sub-contractors for you, and we encourage you to pay them directly to avoid markups.
Here are a few questions that may help…
1. Do you charge a gratuity on your bill, and what is that charge based on?
At Waters we believe that gratuity is at the discretion of our clients, and as such we do not automatically charge a gratuity.
Tip: When looking at another firm’s contract, check to see if a gratuity is added, and if it is applied to the food cost or to the entire bill.
2. Is your staff trained, hired and scheduled by your firm?
Our staff is hired and thoroughly trained by us, and as a result is very familiar with our service styles, food and company beliefs. We hold training seminars to ensure that we have a well informed, trained and polished staff. We believe seamless service is imperative to a successful event.
Caution: Many other firms use staffing agencies so you could receive whomever happens to be sent to that party: the good, the bad and the indifferent.
3. May I pay for the rentals directly?
The Tax Board considers catering service a taxable service, therefore everything on a caterer’s bill automatically becomes taxed. By paying rental companies directly you pay no tax. Most firms put the rental cost onto their bids, so you are paying an extra 7.75 percent on your bill for that. Additionally, that cost is usually “marked up” by adding yet another percentage anywhere from 10 to 20 percent more.
As part of our service at Waters, we will do all the work for you, organize the rentals and present you with an invoice directly from the rental company. It is as if you did all the work yourself; you pay direct with no tax and no markup.
Tip: Always ask to pay subcontractors directly!
4. What is the labor breakdown?
We show exactly who is working your event, how many personnel, what their positions are, how long we expect them to be at event site, and how much you are charged per hour for staff.
Caution: Be wary of abstract line item costs for labor (or anything for that matter). Ask what the ratio of waiter to guests is, how many culinary staff, per-hour costs, etc.
5. Do you prepare your food on-site? Do you prepare all your food yourself?
Our cuisine is made from scratch. We subscribe to a regional and seasonal philosophy and believe in simple handcrafted food. No mixes, no tubs of industry food, no cans, no frozen pre-prepared product. We cook and assemble most of our cuisine at event site to ensure that it is at its prime.
Caution: Be wary of “outsourced” industry processed food products, or warm prepped food arriving to event site. If there is a limited kitchen staff, this is more than likely the case.