March 28

A Guide to Hiring Catering Staff


Staying Ahead of Every Event With Our Tips To Help You Find and Hire Catering Staff

Whether you’re an on-site or off-site catering company or just a restaurant that does events on the side, your business’s success depends on your catering staff

Unfortunately, hiring isn’t easier in the catering world. You not only deal with the same staffing challenges as everyone else but also need flexibility to ramp up or down your staff depending on the event.

Finding a team of workers willing to go through the motions of a fluctuating business model can take time. 

For many catering companies, building an on-call team, in addition to their full-time staff, has proven to be the best option to get coverage for fluctuating events. It allows employers to have a list of people willing to fill in when needed, but without committing to full-time employment. 

If you’re getting ready for the busy season and considering building a roster of on-call workers to fill in when necessary–we have some tips to help you get started! 

Review Your Potential Staffing Needs

Before any busy season, it’s in your favor to carve some time out and review your staffing needs. 

Check your reservation book for events you’re committed to and the events you plan to fill in to meet financial goals. 

Once you know what your season will look like and a realistic number of people you’ll need on the clock, check in with your current catering staff. You’ll want to be aware of their availability and any potential conflicts. 

If things are tight, an on-call team is a cost-effective way to get the coverage you need (and peace of mind). 

Plenty of hospitality professionals out there would love to pick up extra work when it’s available, but of course, they might have conflicts of their own. So building a more robust network is the best way to guarantee someone can fill in. 

Find Your People 

Start building an on-call team by reaching out to your network—it’s a much easier way to get people you trust to fill in when needed. Usually, a friend, family member, or even a previous employee will be willing to help if they’re available.   

I worked on-call for a few of my previous employers, and it was an excellent opportunity to pick up extra shifts when needed. Since I was a former employee—I could jump in quickly with little direction.  

Of course, your network might not result in a large enough pool of people to get you the coverage you need when you need it— so posting a job is your next option. 

Be transparent in your post about the realities of the role. It isn’t consistent work, so you want to be sure your applicants know what they’re applying for—otherwise, it won’t work out. 

Mention all the cool stuff about the job—learning opportunities, potential pay, types of events they’ll be working on, etc. This is the stuff that gets people excited and a great way to make your listing stand out, even though it’s a flexible job.  

Put ’Em To Work

After you have a few people lined up to fill in as needed—you should fit them in for upcoming events, even if you don’t necessarily need them. 

Use the opportunity to train them, get them comfortable with your systems, and see if they are reliable and fit for your needs. 

Additionally, scheduling workers to come in quickly after they agree to work on-call is vital to building trust in each other and showing this is a serious opportunity. If they don’t hear from you for weeks or longer, they might not take the role seriously and fall out of the system. 

Keep Your Call List Organized

Okay. You did the post. You did the networking. You found your on-call team. Congratulations, it’s going to save you some severe headaches. 

Now, you need to organize your on-call list. You’ll want the person’s name, phone number, general availability, and what role they’re suitable to fill in for. 

Then you can take your list further and organize your on-call team by whatever is most important to you. 

For example, maybe from most experienced to least, or most available to least—that way, when you call down your list, you’re optimizing the outreach and hopefully able to get the position filled. 

A good rule of thumb is to give yourself a two-week advantage. That way, you catch people before they have solid plans, and if no one is available, you can make other arrangements. 

If you do get someone to commit — it’s common courtesy to remind them a few days before and provide them with details about the event. 

Use Poached Shifts To Hire and Manage On-call Catering Staff

If you’ve made it this far and think this sounds like a lot of work, you’d be right. 

It is a lot of work to build an on-call team, but being able to fill in for large events without committing to hiring staff you don’t need makes it worth the effort. 

Luckily, we’ve made finding and managing on-call workers much easier with Poached Shifts. 

All you have to do is post the shifts you need to be covered, and we’ll connect your open roles with skilled hospitality professionals willing to fill in. 

You can add workers who do a fantastic job to your Shifts Roster and prioritize them for future shifts. 

The roster also allows you to browse through our network of worker profiles and invite those who seem like they could be a good fit. 

We wanted to build a tool to give employers more flexibility and peace of mind to get the coverage they need. All our workers are vetted and covered with insurance—so we take care of all the technical aspects of hiring and managing an on-call team, saving you time and money.  

If you need on-call workers, take a moment to see if Poached Shifts is right for you!

About the author


Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.


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