Since opening for business 18 months ago, we’ve proudly hosted 157 meetings!

We’ve compiled the most-commonly asked questions about planning a meeting and provided the answers.

Q:   How much should I tip the caterer?

A:   There are two things you need to ask yourself:  Is the catering being dropped off (think boxed lunches or sandwich platters), or, is it  being set up with Servers present (think hot buffet or passed hors d’oeuvres)?

For dropped off meals, most caterers charge a small delivery fee, such as $15, to pay for the delivery driver’s time and gas.  You’ll want to add gratuity to commend the chefs and the people responsible for packaging everything and including all the necessary accouterments.  When the job is done right and delivered on-time, I recommend paying a fixed amount, such as $30, versus a percentage of the bill.  You’ll want to pay more if your order was complex with meals prepared for people with dietary restrictions and “Special Orders”.

For full-service catering, you will typically see a service charge on your invoice.  In most cases, the service charge is a percentage, usually around 20%, and is used towards gratuity.

TIP: While these are helpful guidelines, know that each caterer is different and it’s always best to confirm what the delivery and service charges do and don’t cover.

Q:   If I have 50 RSVP’s, how many will actually attend?  

A:   Knowing your Flake Rate contributes to substantial cost savings in food and materials, and it mitigates disappointment on the day of  the meeting. There are a few considerations for calculating Flake Rate.

First, do your attendees pay for your meeting, and if so, how much?  People will give themselves permission not to attend a business function at the last minute if the registration fee is $10, and you could have a Flake Rate of 20-30%.  However, if they are going to be out $50 or more, they’re likely to attend and you might have a Flake Rate of 5%.

Second, is there food at your meeting?  If the invitation reads, “Delicious hors d’oeuvres by Restaurant X”, then people are more likely to come versus having no food at all.  Food is an excellent motivator and investing in quality meals and including it in your marketing efforts will significantly reduce your Flake Rate.

Third, do you have a “Looking forward to seeing you!” campaign in place… someone making phone calls to each of the attendees, reminding them of the function, or an email blast that goes out to everyone who has registered?  Reminders will cut your Flake Rate in half.

Q:   How much food should I order?

A:   Unfortunately, there’s no science when it comes to ordering the right amount of food.  Perhaps a better question to ask here is, “What type of food should I order?”

For the casual business function, people are shying away from heavy meals.  For some, they’re a contradiction of the healthy personal eating habits they’ve established.  For others, large meetings present certain anxieties which decrease one’s appetite.  For breakfast, consider a lighter buffet with a Greek yogurt parfait bar including berries and granola, and provide a variety of protein bars and whole fruit.  Have a bowl of Cuties on your buffet table… it’s a popular fidget-food!  If you want to provide pastries, be sure they’re fresh-baked and not over-sized.  Most people are intimidated by a jumbo breakfast burrito, so if you’re going to have them, consider cutting them in half.  Gourmet sandwich platters and salads made with locally-sourced ingredients are always a crowd favorite for lunch.  Lighter eaters can grab a half sandwich and a little salad, and heartier appetites are fulfilled with a variety of deli delights.  If you want to provide a sweet treat, the smaller the better.  No one is going to gobble down a gigantic cupcake in front of their peers.  Fresh-baked and bite-sized cookies and brownies are the way to go.

TIP: Order your food from a local eatery.  Every local restaurant owner I’ve talked to is passionate about reducing food waste.  They’re not going to provide you more food than you need.  Plus, your attendees will feel good about supporting a local enterprise and enjoy eating meals made with locally-sourced ingredients.

Q:   What can we do with leftover food?

A:   Perform a random act of kindness.  No matter how well you understand your Flake Rate and plan the perfect menu for your meeting, leftover food is inevitable.  Due to regulations enforced by the NM Environment Department, shelters are not able to receive food that    has been leftover from a function.  But there are many people in the community who could benefit from a meal.  Don’t let food that’s been leftover from a meeting go to waste.  Have to-go containers on hand after your function and encourage attendees to take leftovers with them.  Chances are they’ll have an opportunity on their way home to offer it to someone who is hungry.