Our goal at Catering by Michaels is to wow the guests at every single event we cater — not just to serve them delicious food, not to make the venue look beautiful, but to leave them feeling genuinely delighted with all of the details of their event.

That’s no easy task. The only way to do it is to nail every detail. Everything from the table setting, to the linens, to the food, to the service is tailored to provide the perfect night for our clients. But surprisingly, some of the details that let us provide clients a great experience are things they’ll never even see. One of those details that is really important to us as a caterer, is the tool we use to schedule our staff: Nowsta.

Nowsta is a workforce management software that we use to build our staff’s schedules, track their hours, pay them, and rate their performance. I know, it sounds a bit mundane but stay with me. Why would our clients care how we handle scheduling, as long as it gets done? But as with the events themselves, the devil is in the details. Below, I’m going to outline some unexpected ways Nowsta helps us better wow our clients and give them an outstanding event experience.

We Can Build the Perfect Roster for Each Event

Most caterers, especially bigger ones like us, rely on a big network of part-time staff to work events. It’s difficult to manage relationships with all those employees when you’re not seeing them every day. There’s a huge range in the frequency with which these people work with a given company — some of them may only work an event with us once a month or so, while others may work with us multiple times a week. Plus, these people are taking on multiple roles. One day they might be a waiter and the next a bartender, so it’s hard to keep track of who’s qualified for which jobs. It also allows us to keep overtime in check and spread the workload across everyone who is available for shifts.  

Before Nowsta, our staffing managers had a list of all our part-time staff, and would contact them by text or email as needed to ask if they could work events for us. This tended to limit the pool of people who could actually work for us at a given event, since our managers would naturally gravitate toward staff whose names they recognized. As a result, we may find ourselves needlessly asking the same server to work three events back to back which is no fun for him and increases chances of errors due to tiredness — when we actually have a great server we could call who happens not to have worked for us in a few months.

Nowsta fixes this by giving us a database of all our workers. As we schedule the shifts for our events, we can easily sort staff by the positions they’re qualified for, availability, and number of hours worked that week to find the ideal person for each event. We can even tag the preferred staff for specific clients we work with often, which is a huge boost to our clients. Many of them like to bring back the same function director, bartenders or waitstaff for corporate events or to venues that we have someone already familiar with the space.  No matter the circumstances, we’re able to ensure that every client gets the right staff for their event.

Our Staff Are More Reliable

While caterers typically have extra staff on call to work in case of emergency, tardiness or absence, adding staff last minute or rearranging staff can throw off the rhythm of any event. A truck driver getting a late start can keep us from getting food in the oven and delay a dinner’s start time. A missing coat check attendant can lead to a bottleneck of confused guests. A late bartender can cause a rushed and unorganized bar set up which leads to slower service and bar lines are not a great way to kickoff any event.   

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