In The Catering Kitchen With McClain Lodge
This month, we spoke with Joni McClain, proprietor of the beautiful McClain Lodge, an idyllic event destination located in Brandon, Mississippi, to see what brought her to Total Party Planner and what advice she has for others in the catering and events industry.
Tell us about your business.
McClain Lodge is an event destination located in Brandon, Mississippi. We are located on 830 beautiful, serene acres. We have a quaint chapel that holds up to 120 people for weddings, an area called “Under the Oaks” for outdoor weddings and events, as well as a banquet hall that can accommodate guests of up to 400 people reception style. We also have accommodations – an 1840’s Guest House with 5 bedrooms, a lodge with 5 bedrooms, and a new addition is 16 cabins.
We have a catering company, McClain Catering, that serves our in-house guests, and we also do catering at a customer’s venue of choice.
What brought you to begin using Total Party Planner?
We grew rapidly… within one year, we opened our catering company, and added 21 additional sleeping rooms. We needed a computer program that could help us manage these additions.
How has Total Party Planner helped your business?
Total Party Planner has helped us tremendously by giving us the tools to meticulously manage each room (accommodations), catering jobs and event venues. Before Total Party Planner, we were managing our business the old fashioned way… through pen and paper. Now, at any given time, our chef, our Event Director, and I can look on our laptops, smart phones or iPads at any time and any place to review details of an upcoming event. Now we’re cooking!
What sets your company apart from others in your area?
We have 60+ combined years of experience in the Event Planning, Catering and Restaurant Operations for total event production services. We are unique in the fact that not only do we offer a beautiful, serene setting to hold a special event, we also have on-site accommodations. The addition of 21 rooms in one year has escalated our business. We have found that guests love to have one central location to host their event, have a superb catering company to prepare meals, as well as having the luxury of spending the night on the property.
What do customers expect when doing business with you?
Each of our customers expect us to treat them as though they’re the only one we’re dealing with… and we do. As all of us know, no two events are alike. We spend countless hours going over the details of their special event as if it’s the only one we’re working on. McClain Lodge is blessed to have an incredible staff equipped to work with each customer through the entire process of an event.
What advice would you give a new caterer?
I would advise a new caterer to hire the right people. Pay more if you have to for your chef(s), front of the house and back of the house employees. We feel that it is critical to have all members of our team to be at their best at all times.