Catering During a Pandemic
We know we've been missing for awhile on social media and really, there's no excuse. The thing is, is no one has really done this before. We have yet to experience this global circumstance during our time so...there's no handbook. Your entire work schedule and routine is unraveled and you have to learn to work from home. We aren't complaining, as its for the safety of all - just merely stating that it's quite hard and as it was unseen. The other thing is, it's hard for all. So, today we are writing as an update to not only what our experience has been during this pandemic behind the scenes.
As this was all unfolding, our first thoughts were in office - how to make sure our employees were kept safe while completing events scheduled, how to complete scheduled events that were pretty immediate at this time, and trying to plan what would happen/how to handle a potential shut down for weeks? months? You try not to panic but no one can deny a little bit of uneasiness and worry.
Then of course, there are your future clients and events that have been booked. These are not only essential to keep your business running in the future, but people you have spent time communicating their hopes and dreams for important milestones events such as graduations and weddings. People you've created bonds with that are also in a form of unease and worry; unsure if they are going to even be able to follow through with such monumental, dreamy plans. For us, the intake of future proposals kind of stopped. Which makes sense, not only are planned events starting to come to a halt at this point but so is the idea of making future plans.
This was hard. Large corporate and school events had no choice but to cancel due to mandates. Then operational mandates kicked in and we were forced to temporarily close our catering kitchen. As we are owned and operated by Sadie's of New Mexico on 4th St., there was a small time that we were able to still provide our famous restaurant items in delivery and pick up. Though, after about a month or so, the restaurant decided to shut down temporarily as well after reducing business down to to-go pick up orders only.
At this time, we were solely trying to keep track of the events we had scheduled for the next few months, creating a plan that helped our clients and was open to the rapidly changing circumstance. Some ways in which this was made possible:
Chances are you know just as much or more about the situation than your clients. It's our job in the food industry to be aware of government mandates and how that affects your business as well as your clients wants/needs. Being able to consistently keep your clients aware of your businesses' situation and how that may affect their business with you is important. This goes vice versa! Asking your clients to be open and consistent in communication as plans progress with them helps keep you prepared.
2. BEING FLEXIBLE
Again, there is no handbook! We had a lot of clients asking us about postponements, cancelation policies, and expressing worries/hesitances to go forward with any other plans. You have to do what is best for you, your employees, and your clients here. There is also no consistency in this situation. Things were changing by the day at one point. Being clear about any policies you may have while having compassion and empathy regarding the situation is essential. These are people you've created bonds with and you want to treat them as such. Community understanding and cooperation helps keep everyone calm. It would be simple to just tell your clients to read your original contract and keep it as that but that isn't what we felt was proper. Instead, we had to circle back to the above mentioned "open communication" as you need to assess the individual events, their hosts, and all other parties that may be involved.
Like with anything, we learn on a daily basis. We learn how to do things better and progress more efficiently. This last what - month and a half now? - has been eyeopening in many different ways. There are things we definitely would change and go about differently if we had to do this again at any point. A few words of advice would definitely be:
This is the area we lacked in. You know the long work days where your head feels kind of fuzzy from an intake of mass information and full day of problem solving? Yeah, this was us but for days at a time. Once more, no handbook! We were actively communicating to all clients (potential and confirmed) but during this, our social media got put on the back burner when instead it should've been used to openly communicate all these changes we were going through at the public scale as well.
Like with anything, we learn on a daily basis. We learn how to do things better and progress more efficiently. This last what - month and a half now? - has been eyeopening in many different ways. There are things we definitely would change and go about differently if we had to do this again at any point. This and the next are some of them.
4. LEAN ON THE COMMUNITY
Again, this is something that is effecting everyone. Looking around, reaching out, and learning from the small businesses around you is essential. I would say that media wise this is definitely a place of improvement and maybe some regret. Though, another experience to learn from. Don't take those local small businesses and outreaches from influencers such as NM's The Wedding Collective for granted. You wouldn't try planting a garden without seeds and tools would you? Of course not!
Let us know if you have any questions, advice, or even if you want to share your own experience. Hope everyone has been well and safe! We look forward to future days of celebration in good health. Stay tuned for more information on catering going forward for weddings, graduations and more.