a meeting planner’s guide to catered events chapter six staffing
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Post on 17-Dec-2015
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- A Meeting Planners Guide to Catered Events Chapter Six Staffing
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- Staffing is Critical Customer satisfaction and repeat patronage are influenced primarily by food and beverage quality, service, sanitation, and cleanliness. An inadequate, undermanned, undertrained staff is incompatible with successful events.
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- Volume Swings Many caterers experience severe volume swings. Convention centers in particular have a unique challenge in terms of volume and staffing. One day they may have a breakfast for 5,000, which requires a large staff. They may not have another similar function for two weeks. Difficult to keep qualified employees who prefer more predictable work schedules.
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- A List In addition to full-time management and permanent hourly employees, many caterers maintain two lists of service-staff (i.e., banquet- staff) employees. A-list personnel are the steady extras; they are called first when help is needed. If enough people are not available on the A list, the manager will call those on the B list.
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- B List The B-list personnel are casual labor who are used to fill in the gaps. They present more of a challenge than A-list people because the typical B-list worker is probably on the B-list of every caterer in town. As a result, major functions can go begging for adequate staff. To overcome these obstacles, the caterer must be a creative personnel recruiter and a superb planner.
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- Union Labor A unionized caterer usually is required to go through the local union hiring hall for its steady and casual servers. The union generally keeps lists of steadies and extras similar to the A and B lists kept by nonunionized properties. If the union has enough advance notice of caterers requirements, especially during peak demand periods, chances are it can satisfy their needs.
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- Payroll Expense Most catered events are very labor intensive. Especially those that include many foods made from scratch in the facility's kitchens. It is not unusual for payroll costs to be one-third, or more, of a function's total price.
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- Payroll Expense Payroll expense includes the cost of wages and salaries, required employee benefits, and discretionary employee benefits. Salaries are determined by the caterer and are usually consistent with local labor market conditions. Wages may be determined the same way. In union shops, wages are determined through negotiations with union representatives.
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- Payroll Expense Required employee benefits are also referred to as payroll taxes. These include such expenses as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and workers compensation. Discretionary benefits include such expenses as health insurance, 401k contributions, and holiday pay.
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- Benefits According to National Restaurant Association statistics, on average, benefits add approximately 28% to the cost of each employee. If a caterer pays an employee $10.00 per hour, the total labor cost for that person will be approximately $12.80 per hour.
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- There is a great deal of pressure to hold the line on payroll costs. This puts the meeting planner in a very awkward position when planning an event. To control payroll, a caterer may need to purchase more convenience foods, reduce menu options, and eliminate menu items that require a great deal of expensive expertise to prepare and serve. The other alternative is to charge more and/or charge separately for labor. Scheduling fewer servers and/or compromising other services are unacceptable options.
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- The caterer and meeting planner must stay within payroll budgets, but it is equally important to avoid alienating attendees. Instead of cutting labor, it is better to pay a modest labor surcharge so the function can be prepared and served correctly. If a caterer feels that a labor surcharge is the best option, he or she should suggest it and plan for it in advance. It should not be a last-minute consideration.
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- Food Production Planning Meeting planners usually are not involved in determining the amount of food production labor needed for a meal function. Most menu prices for a meal function include the cost of production labor. Occasionally a meeting planner will need to consider paying extra for an action-station chef or a carver. But the bulk of the food production labor expense will be reflected in the menu prices, particularly if the meeting planner plans and purchases a standardized event.
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- Food Production Planning The number of food production hours and the type of labor skills needed for a meal function depend primarily on: Number of attendees Amount of time scheduled for the event Union and caterer human resources policies Type of service style needed Amount of convenience food used Amount of scratch production
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- Cont Amount of finish cooking needed Types of menu items offered Number of last-minute requests Number of special diets Accuracy of mealtime estimates Caterers work-scheduling skills
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- Number of Bar Backs Needed Depends On: Number of bars scheduled Capacity of each bar to hold in-process inventories Distance between the bars and the kitchen and storeroom (or from the storage truck in an off-premise event) Degree of ease or difficulty associated with retrieving backup stock Number of attendees Hours of operation Variety of liquor stock, glassware, garnishes, and other supplies needed at the bars Applicable union and company human resources policies
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- Number of Bartenders Needed Depends On: Number of bars scheduled Types of drinks that must be prepared Number of drinks that must be prepared Number of attendees Hours of operation Amount of bar-back work that must be performed by the bartender Applicable union and company human resources policies
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- Bartenders You will need at least one bartender per bar. For large events, you should request two bartenders for each bar plus any wine-service personnel needed for the meal. For small beverage functions you may need two bartenders, or more, if the event is scheduled for only 45 minutes to one hour. In this case, speed is a high priority. With such a short time frame, attendees normally swamp the bar to make sure they get their desired number of drinks before it closes. One bartender may be unable to handle this onslaught.
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- For large beverage functions, such as a convention's opening-night cocktail reception, a caterer generally will try to get by with one bartender for every 100 attendees. This is a standard ratio in the industry. The meeting planner should consider a ratio of one bartender for every 75 guests, which usually is the minimum necessary if you expect all attendees to arrive at the same time. If there are not enough bartenders when a crowd hits the door, some attendees may have to wait too long to get a drink.
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- Cashiers Cashiers are used to sell drink tickets. Normally you need only one cashier if the catered function is small and/or if it is a leisurely event where attendees are not pressed for time. Larger functions, as well as those where speed is essential, require more cashiers. In such cases, generally you will need to request one cashier for every two bartenders.
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- Servers Depending on the type of event, the caterer will have to schedule one or more of these types of servers: Matre dhtel Captain Food server Cocktail server Sommelier Food runner Busperson
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- Server duties Napkin folds Table settings Placing table pads and tablecloths Presetting foods and greeting/seating guests Taking food/beverage orders Serving food and beverage Submitting F&B orders to chefs and bartenders Opening wine bottles Pouring wine Hot beverage service Cold beverage service Crumbing tables Bussing tables Carrying loaded trays Stacking trays Emptying trays Tableside preparation Using different service styles Handling last-minute requests and complaints Directing guests to other facilities in the property Handling disruptions Dealing with intoxicated attendees Refusing liquor service to minors Requisitioning tableware and napery Requisitioning tableware and napery
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- Service Ratios Number of service personnel needed to handle a given number of attendees is established by the caterer. The number of service personnel needed depends on many factors. The primary ones are: Number of attendees Length of the catered function Style of service used Menu, especially its length and complexity Timing of the event
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- Cont Room setup Location of function room Overtime required Number of head-table attendees Number and type of extraordinary requests Applicable union and company human resources policies
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- Service Ratios Many caterers will budget one server for every 32 attendees at a meal function regardless of the style of service, the type of menu, or whether the servers are responsible for wine service.
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- Service Ratios Service is critical. Many excellent meals are ruined by poor serv
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