Tips For Caterers: How To Stay Organized During A Chaotic Event


Working in the catering industry is not an easy task. Usually there are late nights and odd hours. The success of your catering operation usually relies on a bunch of moving parts.  Catering an event can get chaotic depending on a variety of factors. You could have a large guest list and you could’ve forgot some of your cooking equipment or you could have an extremely unruly guest. How you handle and prepare for these situations will make you a successful caterer. 

Checkout the following tips on how caterers can stay organized during a chaotic event!

Have a Schedule

One of the most valuable tools a caterer can have is a schedule for the big event. Everything should be timed from when you bring out the appetizers to when you do clean up. Remember that not everything will go to plan, so you will want to leave time in your schedule for unforeseen scenarios. Such scenarios such as a longer wedding speech or an unruly guest can make food courses fall behind. Your schedule should be your guide in both the event run through and at the event. Make sure you give your staff the schedule days before the event happens. That will give them time to understand and visualize where they need to be. 

Make a Packing List

There is no such thing as being over prepared for catering an event. Items can be easily forgotten if you’re in a rush and you didn’t prepare accurately. A packing list can ensure you have what you need. These days when it is so important to create a unique experience, it can be extremely easy to forget things like the corn on the cobb holders or the right serving equipment for the main entrée. Remember to never take your customers exact word for people who will show up and how much they will eat and drink. They could over-estimate so they think they have enough food and beverage and end up wasting a bunch of items, or the opposite and you could end up underdelivering.  Having 10% more food and beverage on hand is a good way to go. If you have quality processes in place for handling extra event after the event, then food and beverage waste shouldn’t be a problem after.

Keep it Professional

No matter how busy and chaotic the event becomes, it’s important you always keep a cool head and act professional. How you act will impact everyone around you. When one person feels overwhelmed it can almost become a trickle affect to other staff members. If you and other staff members are running around with your heads cut off, it will concern the guests and come across as very unprofessional. 

Keep Your Staff Inline

When chaos happens, it’s very easy for people to get distracted. One of the hardest things as a catering manager is keeping staff inline. Make it a rule for employees to not be on their phones during an event. When staff is 100% focused, they can alleviate some of the chaos and bring down some of the stress of the entire environment. The event is game time for the catering industry. Give your staff a pep talk before the event starts. 

Use Technology to Your Advantage

These days technology can be your asset when it comes to managing your business. You can automate most of your processes so your staff can concentrate on the most important areas of making the event a success. If you have it in the budget, purchase tablets for ordering and scheduling. They can go mobile, and it will be more efficient for your staff. Mobile technology is huge these days. Many caterers who are stuck in the older way of doing things don’t realize how much mobile technology can result in enhanced guest engagement, improved customer satisfaction, and increased customer spending. 

Keep it Clean 

When things are in chaos, it’s very easy for your catering operation to get messy. When everything is clean, it makes it easier to find things, and therefore you stay more organized.  As a catering business, you should invest in storage containers and labels. When a plate or dish is done being used at an event, clean it and put it away in a storage container when you’re done. 

Have a Backup Plan

Catering an event is all about planning. Accidents and unexpected scenarios will happen at any event. You or your staff could forget the napkins or one of the guests has an accident and breaks some of your dishes.  Make sure you have a backup plan for scenarios for things that you know can happen. Plan to have a portion of your staff on call in case of emergencies, have extra utensils and serving equipment, and don’t forget to have ways to stall if your food is taking longer than expected to be prepared or presented. 

Just Breathe

You can do this! If you see things getting out of hand, take a step back and asses your situation. Remember that your goal should be to control the chaos. There are two types of catering disasters; ones you can control and others that blind side you. When you’re in chaos, don’t let the scenarios you can control blind side you, and don’t be oblivious to scenarios that can come out of nowhere. Your catering business is not perfect, and it’s how you handle the chaos that will make you a success. 

Brittany McDaniel is the Digital Marketing Manager at Caterease. She writes on various topics within the catering and event management industry and helps manage the overall web presence of Caterease . Caterease is the world’s leading provider of catering and event planning software serving over 50,000 users worldwide. Find Caterease online by going to

Posts Of Interest:

Important Tools For Running A Successful Catering Business

Best Event Caterers

What You Need To Know Before Hiring A Caterer

Top 10 Questions To Ask Your Caterer


Collaborate in real-time with vendors and clients to increase efficiencies.