W2 Employees vs 1099: What’s the Secret to a Successful Catering Event?

As the sun sets on another scorching summer, the event season is gearing up for its busiest phase of the year. From harvest festivals and outdoor weddings set against a backdrop of changing colors, to corporate galas embracing the cozy ambiance, catering companies are stepping into a season teeming with opportunities.

But when the temperature cools down, the demand for heartwarming delicacies and impeccably organized events heats up—and catering businesses need to be thoroughly staffed for the rush. While hiring 1099 contractors may seem like a cost-effective solution at first glance, a closer look reveals a host of potential pitfalls that can jeopardize the quality and reputation of your catering business.

Read on as we explore the unique challenges and opportunities this time of year brings, emphasizing the criticality of hiring W-2 employees for catering companies aiming to stand out this fall.

The Perils of Hiring 1099 Event Staff

Imagine your company has been entrusted with catering for an important corporate event. You’ve hired 1099 staff through an on-demand gig worker platform like Instawork or GigSmart, and your team is unprofessional and underprepared. Your client expresses their disappointment due to service inconsistencies and an overall lack of commitment. Worse yet, potential legal ramifications and financial strain arises from misclassified staff members.

It’s evident the allure of short-term savings from hiring 1099 event staff can quickly transform into a nightmare of compromised quality, damaged reputation, and unforeseen financial turmoil. Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the cons:

  • Lack of Accountability: When you rely on 1099 staff, they may not feel the same sense of loyalty and responsibility toward your business as W-2 employees do. The result? A lack of accountability that leads to subpar service, tardiness, and even no-shows.
  • Limited Training and Experience: Independent contractors often lack the training and experience required to deliver seamless and professional service. Inconsistent service quality undermines the reputation you’ve worked hard to build, leaving clients dissatisfied and hesitant to work with your catering business again.
  • Legal and Financial Risks: Misclassifying employees as independent contractors can lead to legal and financial repercussions. If authorities determine these staff members should have been classified as employees, you may be liable for unpaid taxes, penalties, and back pay. This unexpected financial burden can take a significant toll on your business’s bottom line.

Benefits of Hiring W-2 Employees for Catering Companies

As we’ve mentioned, the quality of service provided can make or break your business. Here’s why opting for W-2 employees is a game-changer for catering companies.

  • Consistency and Reliability: W-2 employees are committed to your company’s success, which translates into consistent and reliable service delivery. Unlike independent contractors who might not have a vested interest in your business, W-2 employees have a sense of ownership and are more likely to go the extra mile to ensure your events are a resounding success.
  • Training and Professionalism: Catering companies often have unique service standards and expectations. With W-2 employees, you have the opportunity to provide comprehensive training tailored to your specific needs. This equips your staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to uphold your brand’s professional reputation, enhancing the overall experience for clients and guests.
  • Enhanced Customer Relationships: W-2 employees have the potential to build stronger customer relationships over time. As they become familiar with your clients’ preferences, event nuances, and service style, they can create a personalized and engaging experience that resonates with your brand values. This fosters client loyalty and repeat business, which are essential for your sustained growth.
  • Adaptability and Versatility: Events can be dynamic and unpredictable. W-2 employees are more adaptable and versatile due to their deeper understanding of your company’s operations. They can seamlessly adjust to last-minute changes, evolving guest needs, and unexpected challenges, ensuring your events unfold smoothly regardless of changing circumstances.
  • Legal and Financial Peace of Mind: Hiring W-2 employees ensures compliance with labor laws and regulations. This eliminates the risk of misclassification and the associated legal and financial consequences that come with using 1099 independent contractors. By adhering to proper employment practices, you shield your catering company from potential legal disputes and financial liabilities.
  • Improved Event Quality and Reputation: The professionalism, expertise, and dedication of W-2 employees reflect directly on the quality of your events. By consistently delivering exceptional service, your catering company gains a reputation for excellence in the industry. Satisfied clients become brand advocates, attracting new business and solidifying your position as a reliable catering partner.
  • Long-Term Relationship Building: W-2 employees contribute to the creation of a cohesive and motivated team. Over time, they become familiar with your company culture, values, and goals, leading to stronger teamwork and collaboration. This contributes to a positive work environment and a sense of belonging that resonates with clients and enhances their overall experience.

The Party Staff’s Approach to Ensuring Quality and Reliability

Recognizing the inherent risks of hiring 1099 event staff, The Party Staff takes a fundamentally different approach that prioritizes the success and reputation of your catering business.

  • Dedicated W-2 Employees: At The Party Staff, all our event staff are W-2 employees. They’re covered by Workers’ Compensation and disability insurance, providing both you and your clients with peace of mind. Our commitment to transparency means you won’t encounter hidden taxes or surprise fees, either.
  • Vast Pool of Experienced Talent: With the largest roster of on-call hospitality staff in the West, we have access to a diverse and experienced talent pool. Our staff arrive punctually, dressed appropriately, and fully equipped to provide exceptional service. This guarantees consistency and reliability that 1099 staffing platforms simply cannot match.
  • Personalized Service Tailored to You: We understand every event is unique. By building a long-term partnership with us, you can develop a personalized list of preferred staff who are aligned with your service style and well-versed in your business. This allows you to focus on other critical event details, confident that your service staff are a perfect fit.

We can place people in positions such as:

  • Food Servers
  • Bar Tenders
  • Bar Backs
  • Dish Washers
  • Cooks
  • Set Up Staff
  • Anyone else your catering event needs to be spectacular!

Make a Smart Investment in the Quality of Your Team

The consequences of hiring 1099 event staff for your catering business can be severe – from compromised service quality to legal and financial troubles. The Party Staff offers a robust solution that prioritizes professionalism, reliability, and long-term success.

By choosing W-2 employees and benefiting from a diverse talent pool, you’re making a strategic investment in the quality and reputation of your catering business. It’s time to elevate your events with staff who are not just employees, but dedicated partners in your success.

Ready to take your catering company to the next level? Reach out to The Party Staff, and we’ll connect you with the event staff you need for event success.

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4 Conversation Starters for Every Server to Break the Ice

A good server is a jack of all trades. They’re able to quickly bounce between tables, memorizing orders while reading social cues. Although running drinks and serving food are relatively easy skills to develop, understanding the social dynamic of clientele is a much more difficult task. Servers are expected to be attentive to guests yet not overbearing; striking this delicate balance can be tough. Every server should keep a few conversation starters in their back pocket to help gauge the temperature of their customers and break the ice. Here are a few examples.

Prepare an introduction

Immediately upon meeting your guests, you should introduce yourself by name. Off the bat, this builds rapport with them, establishing a personal connection. Welcome them to the establishment and let them know that you’ll be assisting them throughout their experience with whatever they should need. This is a great opportunity to get a feel for the table – do they seem engaged or distracted? Also, by facilitating a relationship right from the start, your guests will feel more at ease, increasing the likelihood that they’ll enjoy their time with you.

“How’s your day/evening so far?”

This is a great icebreaker because it allows guests to indicate whether they’re interested in having a conversation or not. They may coldly brush you off and place their order, clearly displaying their disinterest in further interaction. On the other hand, they may launch into a story about the crazy traffic they had to navigate through on their drive in. This question provides an easy way to kick-off a conversation, as well as fodder for follow-up questions. For example, if a guest says they’re excited to kick back and relax after a long work week, you can respond by asking what they do for a living, if they work locally, or if it’s their first time there.

“What other exciting plans do you have this evening?”

As the night begins to wind down, ask your guests where they’re headed to next. Maybe they’re going to a show you’ve never heard of or a restaurant that you’re a regular at. Regardless of their answer, it’s another way to connect with them on a personal level. Also, if they’re not familiar with the area, it’s a good opportunity for you to provide suggestions based on the atmosphere that they’re seeking. Overall, this question is a simple way to wrap up conversation for the evening and end their experience on a good note.

Preparing Your Server Conversation Starters

Regardless of the conversation, it’s critical to stay away from controversial topics to avoid guests getting heated. Also, make sure that the focus of the discussion is still on the guest. If they seem disinterested or are becoming terse, turn the exchange back to them or change the topic of conversation.

There’s a common theme here: servers should pose more questions than answers. As guests share their stories and opinions, they feel more comfortable and connected with their environment. Also, by asking subtle questions, you’re able to customize your service for their specific wants and needs. By expressing genuine interest in patrons, servers can provide every guest with a personalized experience. Facilitating light-hearted, positive conversation is a surefire way to break the ice and provide a memorable evening for all.

Your next hospitality job is right in front of you. Learn more about our employment opportunities and apply to join The Party Staff team today.


*The Party Staff does not condone excessive alcohol consumption. Our employees participate in alcohol awareness education and follow strict protocol to ensure the safety of all guests. For more information, please reference our alcohol awareness handbook.

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4 Ways the Gig Economy is Failing Its Workers

The “gig economy” is a buzzword that, in recent years, has taken the workforce by storm. With the popularity of ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft, which employ millions of independent contractors, along with major retailers, such as Amazon, supporting independent delivery drivers or task based work, a foray into contingent work may seem like a solid career move. The truth is, contract work isn’t nearly as glamorous as these  “platform provider” corporations make it out to be. Yes, the gig economy has its perks, but quite frankly, the benefits of employment far outweigh them. Don’t fall for the hype – here are the top 4 ways the gig economy is failing its workers.

1. Flexibility

Early supporters of the gig economy were drawn to the flexibility offered by freelance life. The independence that comes with contract work is still very appealing to individuals with responsibilities and commitments that interfere with a typical 9-to-5 schedule. But contingent work is far from the only way to achieve a solid work-life balance. There are plenty of full or part-time employment opportunities for workers who are seeking a more flexible schedule. There’s more to life than work, and whether you’re attending school or staying at home with your children, employment doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your priorities for a paycheck.

2. Benefits

That said, as a contractor, autonomy is just about the only benefit that you receive. State and local minimum wage rules apply only to employees, meaning contractors can possibly make less than that after considering hours worked or expenses incurred. As an employee, state and federal tax contributions for sick leave, social security, and unemployment are all handled on your behalf, shielding you from big tax “surprises” at year end. Additionally, companies are responsible for workers’ compensation coverage, a mandatory expense that contractors must handle on their own. Eligible employees can also obtain company benefits like health insurance, 401k match, and more.

On the other hand, even if gig businesses wanted to give benefits to their contractors – they can’t. Companies legally can’t offer contract workers benefits, and the few perks they can provide to their workers, such as discounted services, don’t come close in value. Furthermore, contractors must pay social security and Medicare taxes – 15.3% of their full income – while companies cover half of these taxes for employees. Not to mention, contractors don’t receive the reduced group health insurance rates, if eligible, offered to companies, often forcing them to pay higher individual premiums for the same coverage.

3. Professional Development Opportunities

As an independent contractor, you’re not guaranteed future opportunities. Without the support of an employer, workers must constantly hunt for new work and can run the risk of not being paid on time, or at all, by shifty clients. Competition for “gigs” can be fierce, leaving many contractors twiddling their thumbs, waiting for work to present itself. The gig economy business model depends on this to make sure there is enough labor supply to meet consumer demand. Contractors have far fewer opportunities for advancement – they can work in a position for months, or even years, without the role turning into a permanent position. Also, their pay is likely to remain stagnant and they remain at the mercy of platform providers lowering their pay rates at any time, for any reason.

Alternatively, companies are more likely to stay loyal to employees. Working with individuals on a consistent basis builds camaraderie between decision-makers and their colleagues, allowing them to develop deeper interpersonal relationships. Working in groups with other employees provides great opportunities for networking and friendships versus contracting alone. This opens employees up for raises and promotions, while reducing the likelihood that they’ll unexpectedly lose their job. Companies also offer paid training courses and programs, so their employees can learn or develop different skill sets. As an employee, you’re not just a cog in the machine – you’re a part of a team.

4. Liability

Possibly the largest reason that the gig economy falls short is due to the personal liability that contractors take on. While an employee would more likely be aware of major internal changes, in the gig economy, contractors likely have little idea what’s going on at an organization. If a company unexpectedly goes bankrupt, they could quickly be out of unpaid wages. Due to the limited relationship between most contractors and businesses, independent workers also put themselves at risk of being underpaid or taken advantage of. Even companies that seem the most trust-worthy have been accused of inadequately compensating their contractors. If you get injured on the job or need a paid sick day, you’re most likely on your own. You also may have issues collecting unemployment insurance, should the need arise, as employers pay into that benefit on your behalf as an employee – not as a contractor.

Take the Smart Route

To put it simply, the gig economy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And the numbers agree – an in-depth study completed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only about 10% of American workers were employed by “alternative work arrangements” in 2017. Despite the narrative that contract work is the way of the future, it seems that employees aren’t quite ready to part with traditional employment quite yet.

Many venture capital-backed disruptors are blatantly skirting around labor laws, hoping to grow large enough to absorb lawsuits as they take advantage of less expensive contract labor. Luckily, many states are taking preventative measures to avoid this in the future. In California, lawmakers recently passed an independent contractor test known as an “ABC” test. It targets entities using their workforce to deliver company goods and is used to determine whether an individual is legally an employee or a contractor.

Reap all of the benefits of employment without the stress that comes with contract work. Here at The Party Staff, we have a variety of flexible opportunities for hospitality workers, in addition to benefits like 401k match, health insurance, and paid training classes for eligible employees. Learn more about what a career with The Party Staff could mean for you.

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Behind the Scenes at the Primetime Emmy Awards

This past September, Party Staff had the honor of supporting the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards with our passionate hospitality staff. When it comes to high-profile events like the Emmy’s, it takes an army of event staff to ensure they’re a smooth-running success. For more than two decades, Party Staff has been a trusted vendor for the Emmy’s, providing exceptional staff to serve food and drinks to some of the top names in Hollywood. We sat down with our Staffing Operations Director, Tim Jacobs, to get the inside scoop on what takes place behind the scenes at one the biggest events in Hollywood. Here’s a breakdown of what it’s like to work the event:

Setting the Stage

The Emmys can be more challenging than other events because of the prep work required to make sure the evening is executed perfectly. Before the big day, additional background checks and security clearances must be completed for every employee that will be working the event. Staff members also have to prepare their mandatory attire – servers wear a white dress shirt, black pants, shoes, and belt, while bartenders opt for sleek all-black attire.

The Opening Act

Employees receive staggered call times throughout the morning, with 50 staffers arriving at the Microsoft Theater every 30 minutes. Upon arrival, employee’s check-in and receive wristbands that give them access to the exclusive event. More experienced staff members are given the opportunity to work the red carpet, serving champagne and hors d’oeuvres to arriving guests while guiding them into the theater.

Around noon, staffers are served lunch and given a briefing that includes a run-down of their schedule as well as client expectations for the evening. Then, employees are separated into various groups, depending on the sections they’ll be attending to.

The Main Event

Insider fun-fact: while typically the Emmy Awards dinner is served as individual plated meals, this year it was done as a family style tray pass. Servers deliver large plates of each dish to their tables and guests share the food between themselves. One of the main reasons this new serving technique was implemented was to encourage communication between guests. There’s nothing like delicious food to get the conversation started – this year’s menu also featured more vegan and vegetarian options than ever before.

As the evening winds down, our employees bus tables and serve night caps to their esteemed guests before they continue their night at nearby after parties. Staffers are gradually cut as guests file out. When they leave for the evening, they sign-out with the client and return their wristband for security purposes.

Join the Encore Performance

Tim offered sage advice for incoming employees looking to join the world of hospitality staffing with Party Staff: “Be positive, be proactive, and be confident. Take advantage of the training that Party Staff has to offer, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re a team, and having the confidence to say that you don’t know something is the first step to success in the hospitality industry.”

Outside of the Emmy’s, Party Staff works a plethora of other prominent events. From serving the Waste Management Open in Phoenix to catering personal lunches at Microsoft’s Seattle headquarters,  Party Staff’s 13 teams across the west coast are constantly providing unbeatable guest experiences at our clients’ most important events. Party Staff also offers unparalleled opportunities to our staff, including the ability to manage your own work schedule, attend skill sharpening courses, and work job sites that give back to the local community.

Ready to jump-start your hospitality career? Learn more about opportunities with Party Staff by reaching out to our team today.

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The 3 Keys to Providing an Unbeatable Guest Experience

In the service industry, every interaction you have with your guests holds an equal amount of weight in the eyes of your customer. From when they’re first seated until they finish off their nightcap, guests should receive exceptional and attentive customer service. While basic hospitality skills are essential, it’s the soft skills that set great service apart. By merely focusing on a few crucial fundamentals, front of the house employees, servers, and bartenders can create quality relationships with their guests and develop loyal clients. To master the service balancing act, you must practice these three keys to providing an unbeatable guest experience.

Be Personable

Maintaining a friendly and upbeat personality is essential for guests to feel welcome at your event. Try to personalize their experience as much as possible. If you are a bartender or waitress, start with your introduction. While communicating specials, making menu recommendations, or taking special requests, take the time to facilitate conversation to make them feel at ease. Remain patient while guests make decisions and offer your expertise whenever possible.

Exceptional service means taking a genuine interest in your customers. Do your best to remember details, like drink orders or first names, to make your service memorable. Also, keep open lines of communication throughout the evening. Whether the bar is backed up or the kitchen is running behind, you’re still responsible for executing quality service. If an issue arises, provide your guests with definitive solutions and keep them consistently updated. If you set the stage with confidence and kindness, guests will usually respond in the same fashion.

Be Efficient

With numerous responsibilities on your plate at all times, prioritization and time-management skills are a must for the service industry. Events are fast-paced, with an ever-growing to-do list of urgent tasks. Instead of getting caught up in the rush of it all, you have to remain level-headed.

Customers’ needs should always come first and be taken care of in a reasonable timeframe. Having to wait ten minutes for a drink refill or for a side of sauce can quickly turn even the best guest experience sour. Write down a special request, so you don’t have to waste time returning to a guest or repeating multiple questions. Also, while you shouldn’t hover over your guests, it is essential to consistently check-in to make sure their needs are being met.

Be Adaptable

In event service, no two days are alike. While that means the work is never dull, it also means that there are unique accommodations for every event. Ensure that you’re adequately prepared by studying banquet event orders, the menu, and learning about the venue before the first guest arrives. Throughout the event, you also have to be flexible, adapting to a wide range of demands and requests. The ability to think on your feet is valuable and the more knowledge you have, the more easily you can confidently manage a situation.

Make Your Service Exceptional

Guests don’t attend events simply for great drinks or delicious food – they come for the experience. They may not remember their drink order or the meal they ate, but they’ll surely recall the way that you made them feel. Take the time to hone these three skills. By developing your abilities, you’re guaranteed to take your service from good to great.

Ready to join the Party Staff team? We’d love to get to know you.

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How Party Staff Can Revolutionize Your Event

Entertaining friends, family, or colleagues should be a time for you to unwind and focus on having fun instead of worrying about the logistics of managing a full staff. As a leader in hospitality staffing services, The Party Staff has spent the past 30 years perfecting our organization, providing our clients extraordinary service when they need it the most. Simply, our goal is to meet your unique and ever-changing event needs in every way possible. So, what makes our services unique?


No hospitality staffing service is complete unless they’re able to shield their clients from liability. The last thing you need on your big night is additional stress, so we meet the highest standards of staffing compliance possible. Our hospitality staff have always been W2’d employees, we protect you by paying all payroll taxes and workers comp for their and your protection. We would never put our clients or staff at risk by utilizing unprotected 1099’d independent contractors, like some recent platform gig staffing companies have been doing. Our processes and procedures adhere to local, state, and federal HR requirements at all times, sheltering you from a number of possibilities such as potential workers’ compensation and unemployment claims. We safeguard you and your guests by carrying general, liquor, and employment practices liability insurance. At Party Staff, we treat compliance as a matter of procedure rather than just guesswork. Working with a partner that emphasizes compliance allows you to focus on other priorities and grow your business with less stress.

Quality of Staff

Ensuring that your staff leaves a lasting impression for your guests can be tough. That’s why we ensure that our team is just as excited about your event as you are. We hire service-minded and motivated employees who can seamlessly integrate into your workspace to create an unparalleled guest experience. We maintain consistently high appearance standards, with all of our employees in matching attire chosen by you.

Before entering the field, our staff is required to attend paid training seminars that assist them in gaining field experience and refining their skills. These skill addition sessions include formal service, home parties, leadership, bartending, and TIPS certification, amongst others. Our training is on-going, with our current staff also encouraged to join training sessions throughout their tenure to assist them on their career path in the service industry. We’re extremely proud of our tenacious and hard-working staff, as they often go beyond the call of duty to guarantee that our clients are satisfied and that your events run smoothly.

Ease and Experience

From hosting a few guests in your home to inviting thousands of attendees to a corporate function, Party Staff has you covered. Our seasoned managers are able to coordinate your event – overseeing staff, ensuring proper service techniques, and problem-solving if need be. We also have experienced kitchen and culinary professionals, running the gamut from executive and sous chefs to dishwashers and stewards. They’re supported by our front of house team, who serve, bartend, and run food to your guests. We’re able to tailor our staff to meet the specifications of your event, even if that means making same-day adjustments. We’re there when you need us and you carry no costs when you don’t.

Additionally, we use specially customized software, so our clients can access their account information online at any time. Through our online portal, you’re able to place orders for staff, view upcoming orders, print staff names, view past and current invoices, give event feedback, and more. We also have after-hours customer support services, so you’re able to contact a representative of the Party Staff team day or night.

How Party Staff Can Revolutionize Your Event

Since 1989, Party Staff has established relationships with a wide variety of notable clients, including top catering companies, hotels, resorts, colleges, and movie studios, along with thousands of residential clients. Our passionate approach to service has allowed us to staff over 150,000 events in the last 30 years and expand our organization to include 13 different locations in the West. At the end of the day, we strive to deliver the highest quality service possible for your event. Our compliance standards, exceptional employees, and flexible procedures are just a few of many factors that allow us to provide top-tier service to you and your guests.

Let’s make your next event extraordinary. Request a quote for your upcoming event, today.

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