Poorly Trained Catering Employees

We asked the caterer to provide tray-passed hors d’oeuvres during the cocktail hour, assuming that anyone in the catering industry knows how to serve hors d’oeuvres in that manner. Wrong!! Imagine our horror when the servers walked into the room (at an upscale venue) carrying large plastic trays used to clear tables. On each tray they had placed paper plates with one each of the four hors d’oeuves. A plastic fork was placed pitchfork-style in each plate. The servers walked around handing out their concoctions to the guests' horror. To make matters worse, later in the evening one of the servers, who had been carving prime rib, took off his chef’s coat and walked around in his undershirt.

Less than a month later a different caterer sent only one employee to handle an event for nearly 100 people. The employee set three trays of hors d’oeuvres on a table then exited. When I asked him where the plates were, he said “They can use their fingers.” I then asked if he had brought plates for the dessert, which they were providing, and he said no. Consequently, I had to make a quick trip to a store to purchase paper plates and forks for both appetizers and dessert.
 
The following week that same caterer was engaged for another event. This time the employee arrived with several gallons of lemonade in plastic buckets with no way to serve it. He had failed to bring pitchers or a punch bowl. His solution was to place the bucket on the beverage table with a cup beside it and expect each guest to dip the cup into the bucket and fill their own glasses!

Today we live in a casual society and many young people have little, if any, training in the social graces. It appears they are not receiving training of the most basic type from their parents or their employers. But, perhaps the catering managers themselves lack knowledge of how to handle a nice event. In the first instance mentioned above the catering manager was present and he found nothing wrong with his employees’ actions. Appalling, appalling, appalling!!
 
What the caterers fail to consider is that the actions of their employees reflect negatively on their business in several ways. Not only will guests tell others about the poor experience, resulting in lost business, but the caterers won't receive future business from event hosts and planners. In the case of the first caterer mentioned above, that business has been placed on an "unacceptable" list by the venue where the event was held. Anyone planning a future event there will not be able to use that caterer. In the current economy businesses need every client; they can't afford to offend. One way to compete is by providing exemplery customer service. Caterers, take note.

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