Whether your banquet is big or small, at some point you will need the assistance of others. The right balance of additional hands and minds in the execution and planning will depend upon the size and scope of the banquet, along with your personal experience.
Your primary responsibilities will be to effectively recruit, motivate, organize, delegate, train, and manage your assembled staff. Your success depends entirely upon your work force of 3 types of helpers:
- Hired Employees
- Contracted Staff
With each member serving 1 or more of these 3 primary purposes:
Each type of worker has a distinct set of characteristics. A hired employee is anyone you are paying directly and takes direction from you or someone you designate. Contracted staff workers are employees of someone you have contracted to do work for you. Services you may contract include: catering, bar service, marketing & advertising, parking, transportation, entertainment, rigging, electrical, carpentry, equipment delivery, setup & breakdown.
Typically, you do not provide specific direction to contracted employees, but to the contact designated by the vendor. In addition to negotiating the cost per hour, or flat rate, and overtime for each employee, establish serving times, dress code, ratio of servers to guests, name of the person overseeing the staff, and name of the person responsible for setup, cleanup, and breakdown, if applicable. The person overseeing the staff and the person responsible for setup and breakdown will be your contacts.
Volunteers are persons that are not directly paid for their labor. Volunteers are limited in specific skills and are compelled by intangibles, such as social motivations, recognition, and/or monetary benefits.
Creating a program that effectively attracts, motivates, and retains volunteers will provide a solid foundation integral to the success of your organization. In fact, many groups plan and build activities and staff around the needs of the volunteer program.
Choosing and/or assignment of collaborators may begin as early as day 1 with the organization of a steering or planning committee. This group is likely comprised of advisers and experts with experience and knowledge of planning a banquet.
Or, for a much smaller event, you may simply use a friend or colleague as a sounding board for your ideas. Regardless of the size, it is very beneficial to have one or more persons accessible to help plan and discuss solutions.
As with any group, approach your planning committee meetings with clearly defined objectives and specific solutions to issues. For example, if selecting a site, present the committee with 3 possibilities, which you have researched and selected.
The remainder of your staff will be your managers, captains, or directors and their workers. Ideally, each director will be your point man for delegating responsibility, while they assign tasks and manage workers.
Managers and workers are typically a combination of hired employees, contracted staff, and volunteers.
There are five primary areas of responsibility, which may be divided further, depending upon the size of your event. In building your team, assign a director to oversee each of the following:
- Guests & Fundraising
- Food & Beverage
- Physical & Facility
- Program & Entertainment
- Administration & Finances
If your banquet is not a fundraiser, you may move the guest responsibilities to one of the other captains. Typically, the chairperson oversees Administration & Finances, and, for smaller banquets, you may also serve as one of the other group managers.
The next step is to effectively lead your work force by planning goals, organizing responsibilities, delegating tasks, and coordinating activities.