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Hosting a special event is a great way to bring people together. To have your event achieve its maximum potential, careful planning is essential. This is true for businesses holding corporate events to attract customers, specialized industry conferences, and even catering companies. Along with choosing the right venue, developing the perfect menu, and providing entertainment, you will need to develop the right staffing plan and hire staff with the right skills, experience, and attitude.

Here’s our guide to getting staffing right for your next big event. This feature mainly focuses on the critical component of food and drink, but there’s some good advice in here, even if you’re not managing the catering.

Consider All of the Areas Where You Will Need Staff

It’s not just at the event itself where you are going to need staff. Think about where else you will require proper manpower. Consider needs before, during, and after the event, both at the location and offsite.

Gathering Information Before the Event

If you’re holding a big event, you will need to get information about who is coming and their specific needs. This might involve making emails and phone calls, gathering customer details, understanding dietary requirements, and much more. Work out exactly what data you will need and how you’re going to get it. Start your information gathering early so you can plan for specialized requirements and have  contingencies ready.

When staffing this area, focus on people who can make phone calls, gather requests, and collate information.

Developing Menus

If you’re providing food and drink, you need to have the right people in place to ensure everything is ready on time. Start planning your menu well ahead of the event, so you can work out exactly what you will need. Pay special attention to:

  • The ingredients for the food and drinks.
  • How meals will be prepared — for example, onsite or off.
  • How food and drinks will be served — silver service, on trays, buffet, or other serving methods.
  • The time it will take to prepare food.
  • Special dietary requirements.

When staffing this area, focus on people who have menu design and cooking experience who can help you source and purchase ingredients and integrate special diets.

Preparing Food and Drink Offsite

Work out exactly how much time and space you will need to prepare food, based on the planned headcount and the availability of chefs, cooks, and food preparers. Ensure you plan enough time to prepare and cook the food, allowing for contingencies while ensuring the food arrives at the highest quality.

When staffing this area, in addition to preps and cooks, focus on people who can load and unload food, in addition to driving your transportation.

Staging and Event Setup

If you’re responsible for setting up the event itself, you will need enough staff on hand to transform the location. Make sure you have the manpower to set out tables, chairs, displays, booths, food stations, bars, and anything else the event needs to go off without a hitch.

Preparing Food and Drink Prior to Service

Even if you’ve completed some off site food and drink preparation, you will need to complete food preparation when you arrive at the venue. Whether that’s cooking, heating up meals, plating food, or pouring drinks, you will need enough staff on hand to ensure food and drink is served quickly, elegantly, and effectively.

When staffing this area, focus on people who can plate up and present food effectively.

Serving Food and Drink

Your servers, waiters & waitresses, and bar staff are the public face of your event. You will want well-trained, impeccably dressed, professional staff who represent the event in the best way possible. Think about all of the food that needs to be served — the meals themselves, hors d’oeuvres, drinks, snacks, and other appetizers. You will also need to plan for drink service — whether that’s from a tray, as cocktails, or a regular bar service.

When staffing this area, focus on people who have great interpersonal skills, good poise, and food serving experience.

Cleaning Up During and After the Event

While the event is underway, and after its over, you will need to have staff collect glasses, plates, and other items. You should have enough kitchen and dishwashing staff to take care of dirty items.

Teardown Once the Event is Over

If you’re responsible for furniture and furnishings, you will need to dismantle everything after the event and return the venue to normal. Make sure you have enough staff at the end of the evening to take care of teardown.

Planning Your Staff and Shifts

Once you know exactly what’s required across each of these areas, you can calculate the size of workforce that you need. For each area:

  • Estimate roughly how many workers you’ll need to allow you to run each part of the operation comfortably.
  • See if you have multi-skilled workers who can provide help in more than one part of the operation.
  • Review your permanent staffing levels to identify gaps and shortfalls.
  • Plan your staffing for the entire duration of the event, especially if it lasts more than a few hours, or across several days.
  • Don’t forget to allow time for breaks.
  • Plan in contingencies in the event of sickness, no shows, or other circumstances.
  • Identify special skills that staff will need to have for working in each area.

Once you’ve completed this, you should have an accurate idea of all your staffing needs.

Training and Uniform Requirements

Staff who work in certain areas will need specialized training — for example food hygiene or knowing how to make the perfect Margarita. Review all of your requirements, and look for temporary staff who have the necessary skills in any specialist areas.

You may also need to provide uniforms to certain staff — chef whites or clothing for servers. In some cases, you will be able to specify this when you’re getting temporary staff, but it never hurts to have some spare uniforms available.

Get Extra Staff to Cover Any Gaps

It’s likely you will need some temporary, on-demand staff. That’s where a service like Wonolo comes in. We can find the perfect staff for your event within less than a day, at a fraction of the cost of traditional temporary recruitment agencies. We specialize in providing event staff who can cover gaps in your permanent event workforce. We can find workers for any of the roles you’re looking for.