In this lesson, you will understand how to lead, manage, and oversee your own staff as well as temporary/partner staff whose skills may be unknown to you. From the beginning to the end of the event, you will determine when to delegate tasks and who to delegate them to, as you manage prep before the event, during the event and at tear down. A production schedule is mandatory when managing large groups of people detailing multiple tasks at the same time. It should be provided for you, if not, create your own!
See the big picture. You may be called on to work with company staff, temporary or partner staff, oversee the unloading and loading trucks, handle pre-event staff walkthroughs, check equipment, manage by walking around during the event and oversee department set up and tear down. Supervisors also interact with stakeholders to measure and exceed customer expectations, liaison with vendors and oversee the venue guidelines. Those are huge tasks. The company is dependent on the leadership for future events and sales for repeat customers.
Working with Partner/Temporary Staff. Check in or assign someone to check in all company and partner staff upon their arrival to get their assigned duties. Sometimes this staff arrives later for a 5-hour minimum. There might be a lead person at each station or area to inform them of their tasks. Make sure that they meet with the lead staff to oversee the partner staff (assistant captain) and explain all the duties for all the partner staff in case they need to cross departments during the event. The partner staff might come with a lead as a liaison to their own staff at the event. Usually partner staff will shadow company staff to perform proper tasks and meet the high standards of the company.
If time allows, include the partner staff in the pre-event meeting. Each company may have different styles of service and different equipment. Be sure that the partner staff are familiar with the equipment or need additional training before the event. Delegate duties to partner staff capable of assisting with distribution. Temporary staff should be dressed properly. If not, they may be asked to leave or given the proper clothing like logo shirts. Clear guidelines about appearance should be communicated when requesting partner staff about the standards of each company to avoid reduction in staff. Supervisors should make sure that the partner staff get a break in the middle of their 5-hour shift.
Initial Walk Through. The event captain may conduct the initial onsite, but usually the Event Chef (EC) reviews location and setup with the sales team. The event chef usually drives the truck to the site. The EC must have a working knowledge of Fire Marshall rules and regulations as well as adherence to all municipal codes for fire and risk management (i.e. evacuation.) Copies should be made and provided to EC before the event. He/she should have a copy of the risk management plan & contingency plans for rain, wind, moving the venue, and the location of the nearest markets. EC should make sure that a copy of a blank incident report is in the event binder. The event manager should know where to find the fuse box and the power distribution of the venue.
ECs could take general safety occupancy code formal training as each venue has its own guidelines, but general crowd control is not venue specific. The supervisor usually enters first into the property and does a walkthrough with assigned leads to each department. They may liaison with, and give direction to, photographers to make sure that some of the photos focus on company initiatives. They oversee core staffs’ unloading of trucks and organizing equipment to be unwrapped, sorted and counted.
Large quantities of rental equipment are usually dropped before the caterer arrives., If not, the company might pick it up and take it to the venue the evening before or earlier in the event day. Upon arrival, delegate a staff member to check the rental pack list to make sure that all items are accounted for. Rentals may be already set up as the caterer is one of the last vendors on site.
Delegate Truck Unload. Delegate FOH & BOH leads to assist company and partner staff to perform FOH functions like setting tables, stocking bars and arranging buffet décor. Once all staff are working, meet with stakeholders for a last minute check of details: for example; bride’s food and beverages, allergies of any stakeholders, any changes to production schedule, liaisons with event planners to work with all rest of vendors like lighting, and dance floors.
Equipment Check Check that all staff have enough gloves, utensils, food, supplies and that all departments are not missing anything. Avoid going back to the commissary or going shopping. Know how to use/operate/clean/ and emergency rig all BOH and FOH equipment. Understand all job duties to be able to jump in at any level. It is important that the EC knows how to do a catering wrap for travel, how to effectively use a hot box and to remind staff to put a rag at the bottom before closing the hotbox to prevent drips. Chat with the EC to make sure all cooking facilities are in working order, placed according to the diagram and operated in a safe and an efficient manner. The kitchen should have nothing on the floor. All areas must be safe and sanitary to be viewed by clients, staff, the health board and the venue manager.
Event Set Up Introduce the host to lead staff members and mention the function that they will serve, especially if it is in a private home, a new venue or you are working with a new event planner that you have not worked with before. Explain the setup diagram, check in with the kitchen, and make sure the scullery is far enough away from the food service so as not to contaminate stations. Confirm that the staging area is as close as possible to the food and beverage stations and load out.
See the Big Picture – Manage by Walking Around Do not lose sight of the big picture so as not to get into the weeds (in trouble) by clearing tables or transporting food to buffets. Avoid doing staff duties unless necessary. It should not be a norm. During the event, the captain should mingle with guests, listen for comments and delegate any tasks needed, unless staff is in the weeds, then he/she will step into the fray. EC should see that staffers receive short breaks in shifts according to the timeline. Captains should manage by Walking Around. Great supervisors observe guests and staff members, multi-task and keep everything in perspective while making it look easy and calm. Support and nourish staff to give them energy. Stay calm and do not deplete their energy.
Oversee Tear Down Announce the time to break down the event. Assign staff members at the end of the event to perform some end of event duties. Count all equipment and return it to a safe place near the catering vehicle for loading and bag trash and recycling to ensure it is put in the proper place for disposal or taken in trucks. Do not put linens in black trash bags. Deal with any leftovers decided by contract in a safe and sanitary way. Debrief staff members quickly before allowing them to leave the site. Check out staff. Collect any funds from the client if applicable. Oversee packing of all equipment and food on to the truck. Safely return the catering vehicle to commissary. Have a safe event to be invited back again!