Meltdown Management in Catering

Large events can be stressful, especially for those who are not used the hustle and bustle. High stress levels can result in meltdowns, from your staff or from the client. What do you do when your employees or clients seem to be having a breakdown in the middle of the event? This seems to be a question that stumps many. Here are three suggestions if someone at your event is having a moment:

1. Get them off the floor – if you’ve ever waited tables you know the key to not making a scene is getting the individual having a meltdown off the floor, or in this case, out of the party.
2. Determine the problem – is it a personal matter or an issue that is under your control? Sometimes people are just overwhelmed and need a minute to breath by themselves. If there was a conflict between one of your personnel and a party attendant find out the circumstances and details of the conflict before you approach either party.
3. Address the issue – once you’ve determined the cause of the issue, determine the right resolution. If your waiter is simply overwhelmed because it is their first event, they may simply need a few minutes to refocus. If the issue resides with the party host or an attendant, determine if the issue can be resolved in that moment or if you’ll have to find a resolution post event.

If you’ve been a caterer for several years you know the tips and tricks to keeping wait staff calm and event hosts happy. You may rarely experience the meltdowns we spoke of, but if you’re new to catering or experience issues often during catering events, the following can help you avoid some major event drama.

1. Train and prep – this is the key to keeping your staff comfortable and ultimately helping them stay collected during the event. A well trained staff member can answer questions, feels comfortable serving, and knows what to expect when they walk into the event. Be sure to inform both new and old employees about important details such as food ingredients, not just the main ingredient, the proper signs to look for to see if people have finished their meal, and how you’d like them to dispose of extra food or finished plates.
2. Communicate openly – this goes for clients and for staff. The more upfront and clear you are about expectations for the event, the less people will have to question or be frustrated over. Do not assume clients know exactly what they’re getting, even if they tell you they’ve had a caterer before. Be clear about your role and what you provide as a vendor.
3. Be understanding – should a problem arise, remember you are the one everyone will be looking to during the event. Remember your staff may be nervous or a bride a poor handler of stress. Deal with what you can in the moment the best that you can and move on.

Meltdowns get the best of everyone. Just remember, you were probably in someone’s shoes just like that. Do your best to prevent what you can and resolve what was unavoidable.