I work for a mid-sized off-site catering company. We have used Total Party Planner (TPP) for more than a decade, so we have lots of experience in using this product, over 25,000 events. We started off on the stand-alone version and ran it for about 8.5 years, then switched over to the web-based version more than a year ago.
Before we purchased TPP, I tried 3 or 4 other pieces of event planning software over several months. TPP was clearly the best: The most organized, and the easiest to use. And the web-version is easier and faster to use than was the stand-alone version.
TPP is an excellent piece of software. It is stable, and just plain works well. You can tell that the people who designed the software have a background in catering, because it does the things you need it to do to help automate the process.
Many of our sales people (5) are not what I would call 'computer people', and one in particular took some time getting used to TPP, but now they are all lost without it.
One thing we do that is somewhat unusual (for a catering company) is we do a fair number of deliveries where the food is delivered in disposable containers, with no servers, mostly business lunches. We use a different report for these to make clear to the kitchen at a glance that this is a delivery and not a full-service event, and the people at TPP helped us to 'tweak' that report to include everything we needed in it. That was hugely important to us, and TPP was glad to help modify the report.
To be fair, I cannot comment on a couple of features. We don't use the room reservation system, as we have no rooms to manage. I also cannot comment on the recipe section of the software, as we used different recipe software before TPP came along and have stuck with it, because the kitchen people know how to use it.
The best part of TPP may be their Tech Support. It's simply the best I have ever used, for any software. 95% of the time when we call them, a real person answers the phone, and our issue is generally resolved in 5-10 minutes. On the very rare occasion when we get the answering machine, we always receive a call back within 10-15 minutes.
No software is perfect, and TPP is no exception. Occasionally it feels like there is an extra mouse click or two required to do some simple thing, but at least the program is consistent about that from section to section.
For event planning, it would be hard to improve upon Total Party Planner.
Great Customer Support. Consistency from section to section. Ease of use. Speed of screen updating.
Some things feel like they require an extra mouse click to handle. The report on what has and has not sold over time needs some improvement.
I was you, 1 year ago. My restaurant was running me, requests for catering were pouring in and we had just put our catering food truck on the road. I was stressed to the max, drowning in Excel Catering Event Order spreadsheets and missing catering pick-up orders and panicking my kitchen.
I know.. you assume that I'm a newbie, and that's sweet.
I'm in my 30th year of cooking for a living, and at the age of 43 own one of the top restaurants in my industry category in our Province. We staff 40 plus people for a 15 table full-service restaurant that turns 10 to 11 times a day from Thursday to Sunday - every week. That doesn't include six figures per year in take-out and six figures in Catering now a year later. Add to that, I'm no slouch on the computer and can code in Excel like it's second nature.
Why do you need to know this? It gives you context for this review.
Without Total Party Planner to take away the headaches of searching for pricing, building proposals, databasing clients and providing seamless continuity for all of our communication, we wouldn't be able to grow like we have.
Yes... evaluate how much the software costs, and look at your business and determine if you can afford it - it's not cheap. However, bear in mind this one caveat.
- How much is your time worth?
- How much are you spending in repairing your credibility with clients, when you miss a detail?
- How much are you losing when you forget to add a detail to an order and have to take it at a
- Are your skills being utilized in the right facet? I'm a chef, not an event planner and certainly not an accountant. TPP assists me to be a better business person. I could have designed a database in MS Access, or continued in Excel - but why? My results would not have produced the package that TPP offers.
I know what you're thinking... this reads too good to be true, and in fact, there is one thing that needs to be cleared up.
This program came easy to me, it all made sense from a Culinary perspective and the types of information required to utilize the program to its fullest were familiar to me. There, I said it, this is a professional level program. Not that it's just for enterprise level clients, but, hospitality professionals. Just be prepared. The learning curve here is quite steep for the uninitiated.
But.... Their customer service is outstanding... really... they care - a lot. I use 8 different subscription business services, and TPP is the best!
This software allows hospitality professionals and entrepreneurs who own small to medium sized operations present themselves in a polished and consistent way
The steep learning curve would be a con for those who aren't computer savvy. This was not my case, but teaching other staff members has presented these challenges. With proper coaching, which TPP does so very well, and which I have modelled my internal training on, you can be up and running in a fairly short time.
Be prepared though, no matter which software suite you choose, there is a ton of hard data that needs to be inputed. TPP handles this really well, and after using it for a year, I can navigate around and produce proposals and maintain my financials with ease.
Chef Steven, thank you for such a detailed and informative review! In addition, thank you for your business. I'm glad we were able to help relieve some of the stress that comes with restaurant catering. We are always working to make the software easier for new clients to learn. In fact, we will be releasing a brand new interface in 2017 that streamlines the entire event building process. We are super excited about it! If there is anything we can do for Memphis Fire barbeque Company please let us know.
-- John Cohen
First off I want to say that I am not being paid or compensated to write this review.
I have been using total party planner for over 20 years. As a professional chef In my career I have owned a banquet facilitiy, 3 restaurants and five catering companies. I have also consulted for many clients starting up new catering or banquet operations and seasoned veterans focusing on organizational management and culinary .
The things that I always look for when implementing a new organizational management piece of software or system is speed of integration and ease of use. Total party planner never fails. Ever.
Event bookings client management party planning culinary integration costing all done effortlessly. When the software was first introduced I had zero computer experience nothing. I booked my first party in 10 minutes without even doing a tutorial. The reason I mention this is to emphasize the ease of use. In this modern age of ultra simple apps and dumb down software many times we find ourselves sacrificing attention to detail or the ability to do something specific and unique to our business. This is another area that total party planner shines. The guy that invented the software is the son of a caterer and was probably working weekends in a professional kitchen when he was 10 years old . He knows all the little details and things that make our lives easier when doing a catering job or running a banquet. All the details like what items to pull for a party staffing and client special notes are integrated into a easy to follow format.
When I have consulted for clients either starting up or running a catering or banquet business the first thing I always notice is they have multiple salesman and secretaries handling all the paperwork and Client details. I have always been able to cut at least half of the office and sales staff by implementing total party planner. Yeah, do the math in your head, how much money would that save a year? LOL for solo operators the time savings alone is monumental. Allowing you to focus on the fun stuff like developing new recipes designing new menus or making a clients party extra special. No one wants to spend time doing paperwork this allows you to get back to what we all got into this business for, creating great events.
If you would like to chat with me about this software and how it works hit me with an email and I'll give you a ring.
Ease-of-use and speed of integration with little or no computer experience.
There's really nothing that I don't like about this software. It is designed by a food service guy for food service people so it really nails it on all levels.
Total party planner is awesome! We've had it for about 10 years and continue to grow and use it more and more! The biggest thing it has helped with is showing us when we are making money! I love the features and ability to plan and account for labor in the kitchen and at events. I LOVE that once I have my recipes in, it will generate for my staff exactly how much of each ingredient to use as well as PRINT ME OUT an ORDER list!! As we have grown over the years, this order list feature saves considerable time and the event production keeps our staff on proper useage. I also use it to run my sales tax report - SO FAST, better than adding all my events by hand. Creating proposals, checking accounts receivables, so many reports, and there are even reports and features that we have yet to take advantage of. We are able to take credit cards thru TPP. The site is never down, I use the webbased program so that myself and my staff can access and work from home or our phone or anywhere we can get online - creating a flexible and family friendly work environment for us!
In the catering industry, in international catering groups that I belong to, myself and a multitude of others are known as the tpp groupies! We are always promoting and singing TPP praises as the go to catering software program. I recommend them to everyone and have even suggested using this program in other industries to associates of mine. That the founder came from a catering family business background is evident in this success of this program.
That it is web based, no info is lost if my computer dies and is accessible from anywhere for myself and my staff thus creating a flexible family friendly workplace for us. I love all the reporting capabilities from sales tax to labor needs and projections, sales projections, order list, ingredient needs for recipes. I love that all my clients info is in TPP for life and I can find and copy previous events, that I can take credit cards through them, that they are always helpful and quick to respond to issues, and that they select update times during the middle of the night so that I don't have to worry about accessing the system due to updates . The system is always available to us while also being on the ball updating with improvements.
The only downside is that I am still realizing all the features. TPP has helped us to grow and we're so busy now, it's hard for me to find time to play with other features. We continue to notice features and realize new and helpful updated features.
I have been using Total Party Planner for my catering business the last four years and I can honestly say I don't know what we would do without the software. It is the lifeline to our business and helps to keep us organized in the office and in the kitchen! The value of time savings and the functionality of the software is invaluable. They are constantly adding new features and functions to make life easier for the end user. I can honestly say every person that uses the system and program learns quickly and is able to use the components of the software that apply to their job position very easily. I honestly recommend any one with a catering or food related business to check out Total Party Planner for their software solution. It has changed how we do business and has increased our revenue streams as a result of the added organization and time savings the program provides our company. From pack lists to recipe analysis to food cost tracking this software has it all! Highly recommend!
Ease of use, functionality, and professional presentation
The speed of the program. I wish some actions within the program had a faster loading time.
Brian, we have enjoyed serving you for the past 4 years. Congratulations on the new Venue and we hope that Total Party Planner will assist you in growing that venture. Our new screen designs (coming soon!) have all new optimizations that I think you will find very speedy. If you need anything, please feel free to reach out to myself or the team. --John Cohen
TPP is a robust piece of software. You can really tell that John and his team have had every experience in the catering industry and that they have put these experiences into the software. This has been very helpful for us as we fell into catering. Now we are looking to fine tune our operation. The plug in services have worked very well for us as well. TPP has helped take us from a 30k company to just under 7 figures. Thank you.
This software has the capability to bring together all the disparate parts of our business (admin, kitchen, delivery, service) under one roof so we can all communicate and grow together. That in and of itself is HUGE. It is also web based. Another major coup for small business owners. And the customer service
UX is not very intuitive. The flow is a bit clunky for my tastes. I prefer the drag and drop simple flow with colors to illustrate the differences in the sections/functions.
Craig, I'm glad that TPP has helped Pinx Catering in it's rapid growth. We agree with you that initial data entry is important to companies just starting out with the system. As far as the UX, we will be releasing an entirely new event module design very soon. It's currently in limited release and getting some great reviews! I think you will be happy with it's new intuitive flow and design. We look forward to sharing it with Pinx Catering in the next few weeks. --John Cohen
From start to finish TPP's customer service was always friendly, and above & beyond helpful. If they didn't have a feature, they worked on creating one. They have great work-arounds to manage almost anything you need. The use of the software increased our efficiency, productivity and therefore profitability almost instantly. It takes a little bit of practice to get everything sorted out and create proposals but once you get the hang of it you fly through them send customers professional and thorough proposals and invoices super quickly and close the deal. I can't say enough good things about the service and the staff! Totally worth the cost.
The details and the ability work around and create your own options. The menu details and invoicing ease was great too.
At the time I was using it (I stopped 2 years ago to raise our son and hire someone to take over for me) there was very little I could do on a mobile device or phone. The ipad version was very difficult. I think that's been worked on but I believe it still lacks a lot of features of the full computer version.
I just wanted to let you know what a great product that we believe that you have!
I first researched your product, after a rave review from another local caterer, I then convinced the company that I was working for to get your software. When I made the change over to Jonz Catering, the owner was still using 'Hammer and Chisel' (Office Word and a calculator, not EVEN excel!!), to do catering proposals. I told her that even as AMAZING that I am, my typing skills leave something to be desired! If she wanted productivity and an updated, professional look, I needed to bring her into the 21st century!! She dragged her feet for about a month and then finally looked at the website'she was hooked! At least once a month for the last year she has thanked me in one way or another for 'revolutionizing' her life! About 6 months ago, we got robbed and they stole her computer. We lost a lot of history for the business, but now that we are in the cloud, we didn't miss a beat. She was so happy!!
The fact that it has so many functions and can provide so many different reports
That there isn't a room diagram function with it.
Well, I started out as a desktop user and I cannot say enough about how TTP changed my life--it cut my time planning events in half and my food cost went down 10%. Making a shopping/ordering list is now something that I can do in 10-15 minutes for a whole week's worth of orders.
Customer service is A+++++. They are personally invested in my use. It is unbelievable how helpful the staff is and their follow up. I love the way support calls back to check on me a day or two after a question or a problem.
If you take the amount of time you save on event planning, menu costing and ordering and put an hourly dollar value on it, you will find that TPP costs probably half of that a year. I'm just a small business with around $300,000.00 in annual sales and it changed my life. There are also features that a larger catering business would find extremely helpful. I use some new feature regularly and I am always surprised at how much time it saves me.
Just do it! The cost will never be an issue because Total Party Planner pays for itself!
menu costing, event costing, financial information
Nothing you can do anything about--the data entry.
I have been using TTP for approximately 4-5 years. It is the most convenient way to do menus, keep track of menu items, do proposals, invoicing, checklists, almost everything I need for my catering company. They are super responsive to emails and calls and very very nice to work with. In addition to the benefit of your information being stored OUTSIDE your computer (which is much safer - yes I've lost mine), they do frequent updates to the program resulting in easier use and better applications.
They have an app. It doesn't have too many functions yet. I'm hoping that will improve soon. But it's useful for looking up basic event information on the go.
Try it out! It's one of the best out there! (And, yes, I've used others)
Ease of use, easy to figure out, training videos, responsive staff. Takes care of my whole business in one place!
Mobile app is almost useless to me. I wish it had more functionality.
I started using TPP's desktop solution in 2005. We wuickly switched to their online solution within the year. In that time TPP has helped City Catering grow to over 10 million dollars in annual revenue. Their catering background shows in the forward thinking updates to the program and their support team is fast and responsive. We use the program to its fullest and have had excellent results. TPP is a valued partner in growing my business.
Very user friendly. Knowledge of the catering industry was used to design it.
I don't have any. As with any product there are always small bells and whistles you would like but they are frequently added in the constant updates.
Lendy, Thank you for the 11 years that you have entrusted Total Party Planner to manage your company data. As an early adopter in 2006 of our hosted cloud version, I know you have seen a lot of evolution from both our product and our company. We hope to continue working with City Catering Company Company for the next 11 years so you can see even more growth. --John Cohen
Total Party Planner has been an amazing tool for our small, but quickly growing catering company. The features are exactly what we need, and the program is extremely intuitive to use, which makes it a breeze to learn for our new event coordinators. TPP's customer service team is extremely responsive and will get back to you within hours (if not minutes!) of a report of any issues or questions. We highly recommend this software!
How intuitive it is to use for event planning (I honestly haven't delved deep into the rest of its features yet at this point, but I'm sure I'd love them too!).
It does run slowly on occasion, or even freeze up and you have to wait a few minutes before you can access your events.
Arin, so glad to hear that TPP has been an asset to B.Lin Catering. Definitely try some of our extended features outside of the event planning. We know you will love them! As far as the issues you mentioned, the team is working on a new server architecture coming very very soon. TPP has been receiving a tremendous amount of positive buzz in the industry which added thousands of new users this year. Our new load balancing model will definitely better prepare us for both the present and future in terms of response time. -- John Cohen
At a glance you can see upcoming events, schedule staffing, run payroll reports, initiate event workshetts for the culinary staff as well as the packing department.
Every once in a while when you need customer service, I want to talk to a person. I do not want to leave a message and wait for someone to get back to me and if I am not standing by the phone when they call we play this ring around the rosey for hours. This area definitely needs improvement.
Neal - thank you for the feedback for our Client Care team. Our commitment to providing unparalleled support in the industry has always been the cornerstone philosophy of our entire company. We've had a significant spike in new business this year so it has put a temporary strain on the Client Care team.You'll be glad to know we are adding 3 additional staff members to the Client Care team and I expect to see a significant decrease in needing to leave a voicemail. A new Live Chat option is also coming soon too. --John Cohen
TPP was very easy to set and customize to our specific business model. The pricing and inventory functions have saved us hours and hours of man time. The uniform and professional "look" of our proposals, contracts and invoices are top notch.
For me it is too easy for user error in Xing out of program. No stop of warning before you exit out. Not being able to emails staff from other areas is a big concern.I like to track conversations between other staff members and staff in order to decrease redundant queries and have a record.
Cymbre - thank you for your review. I'm glad to hear we are saving you hours and hours of time. As far as communicating with staff within the program... stay tuned! We are currently working on an internal notification system within TPP that will greatly enhance communication and reduce redundant queries. I have also put a ticket in to see if we can set a warning before closing the program. --John Cohen
We found TPP a couple years back when we first started Tuscan Hall Banquet Center, and needed an online option. I was working here part time, working from home, so online access was needed for my boss and myself to be able to log in and see what I was doing. Mobility was a big asset. We like the functionality of TPP, there are so many things we still are not using because our business has boomed so quickly, but I use TPP every single day!
We rely on TPP for everything. Who know as a full time events specialist that many hours of my week would be spent on data entry ( and I type FAST!!! ) . What I enter has such an impact on our daily events and catering lives, its super important that I understand each and every aspect of TPP and that it works correctly! We use our calendars daily and the export feature is still giving me issues, but I am so busy I have not had time to call.
We really like the customer service, the quick responses, and the fact that you care about our small business makes us happy. We will stick with TPP! We cant function without you!
I have been a TPP User for well over 9 years (in business 11) and have to say it's THE BEST investment I have ever made for my business.
I looked at all the big players - you know the systems with unlimited marketing budgets that their customers pay for. Then I spoke to TPP.... they were friendly, hungry for the business and intelligent. After a while with the desktop version I upgraded to the online version.
What's great about this program is that updates are made seamlessly, the information resides on their servers and I can retrieve the information pretty much anywhere with an internet connection. Try that with some of the others.
What really blows me away, however, is their customer service. I recall several years ago, migrating form the desktop to the online version. Some of what I had become accustomed to was now "new" to me. I had been working on a HUGE proposal for what seemed like hours and when I went to format it, the information was in completely different order than what I was used to. I called the owner, John Cohen, who alleviated my stress and asked me what I would suggest to correct it. I asked about drag and drop which back then was somewhat new online. John told me he'd look into it and take it under advisement. Not even one week later, he called me to introduce me to the not yet released update. After that I was completely sold!!! I have heard from others who were early adopters who share similar stories about how great this company is to work with.
Personally, I wouldn't even consider any other company - even if they offered their product for far less money (which they won't). If you want to make your life easy and your business much less stressful, there truly is no other catering software to consider!!!
Thank you so much for the kind words!
The feature that you mentioned we implemented for you on the event menu is STILL affectionately called the "Kerzner Drag & Drop"!! And yes, back in the day that was a relatively new technology for web-based applications. To this day, our developers continue to push the envelope to always remain on the cutting edge of technology.
Founder & President
We have been using Total Party Planner for about 10 years. We LOVE the software and the benefits it has to offer. We really wouldn't recommend any other software for catering companies.
Very straight forward once you learn the program.
Since we are on the beta, we tend to have some glitches-- but nothing major!
Sarah, many, many thanks to you and Camille for being such long time clients of Total Party Planner. Creative Hands Cuisine was one of the EARLIEST adopters of our revolutionary cloud based solution introduced back in 2006. Your input on our BETA team is invaluable and is helping to pave the way for future evolutions of the software. We apologize for the BETA team glitches. I know it comes with the territory, however, I'll make sure the team is aware. Sometimes it's just that we get so excited to release all of the great new things out to the BETA team for feedback! -- John Cohen
I have been using TPP for over 7 years now. I love this software because it is good with all the different areas of catering. Some software is good with Invoicing and Sales but has no function for BOH. TPP is good at many different categories.
All the different categories that this software provides. Also being web based it is easy to jump on from anywhere.
Would like to be able to arrange inventory according to our inventory. Would like for info to be able to put on the menu item reports.
Chef Gooch, thanks for believing in Total Party Planner for the past 7 years. It's been a pleasure to work with you and we will continue to work hard to evolve the software. Your suggestions for improvement have always been a huge benefit to the entire user community. We'll touch base soon about the inventory sort.
-- John Cohen
We have been very happy with TPP for the past 4 years that we have been using them. Their customer service is second to none. One of the initial things I loved and made me choose them over some of the pother options was their upfront pricing. The price they quote you is what you pay. No surcharges for upgrades and they integrate seamlessly with other 3rd party software that we utilize in our day to day operations.
Customer service agents are always available when we need them.
There is an initial time investment on the clients part getting set up, but I pays down the line.
John, we appreciate and thank you for your business over the past 4 years. The Client Care team was absolutely thrilled to read your comment about being second to none. To them it makes all of their hard work so worthwhile. As far as pricing, we have always believed in a fair model that includes the important functionality you would need to run a successful catering company. --John Cohen
I started with a Competitors software some 20 plus years ago. I immediately found it to be OVER priced. The promises made by that competitor about Customer Support- didn't happen. Then, by fate, I was presented the dreams of a young man that created Total Party Planner (TPP). I have NEVER ONCE, in all these years, been denied the help that I needed in Customer Support almost immediately, every time! I know others that use TPP and they agree with me. Additionally, I am 70 years old, technology challenged, and guess what? I learned in a few hours how the master the program ! I am not only pleased with the quality of those people at TPP but can't understand why a consumer would go any where else. My thought, you might find a whistle or bell somewhere else but in my Catering business its called Customer Service !
Easy to Use
access the Cost analysis page, it would be helpful to see that link on the menu page where the retail cost is decided.
I shopped around for software for our catering business, tried one other company but discontinued the service, when I did a trial for Total Party Planner, I switch right away and have been using it ever since. TPP software is very user-friendly for people like myself who are not extremely tech savvy.
The help desk has always solved my problems or answered a question within minutes of calling, which is a greatly reassuring feature, for the fast pasted work of catering and needing solutions quickly.
I would highly recommend TPP software for any catering company who is growing and needs to organize, streamline and make their operation more efficient.
Efficient overall tracking of food sales, staff, and inventory, helping our business grow by making it more organized.
The one thing we've had troubles with is not being able to delete menu items but only making them a discontinued item.
it just works
Allows my company to generate professional quotes with all information that a client needs. Prices, product with description and amounts.
I can built menu items quickly and accurately allowing me to food cost each unique event menu.
I can staff events quickly and know my labour cost as well as allowing the client to see their cost.
There is so much more Total Party Planner does.
If there is a question I may have I can email and get an answer back quickly, if I need an answer NOW, I can phone the tech line and there is always someone there, oh wait, 1 time I had to leave a message, and was called back within 5 minutes.
Terrific company, software and service.
Been a TPP user for almost 8years now. They have a great product and they know catering. I also like how responsive they are. I've made a few suggestions and they made changes that helped not only me, but the rest of the TPP users. Such a valuable experience!
Flexible, easy to use, very responsive. They are a small, family owned business.
They are a small, family owned business
Mark, thank you for your 8 years of business. Please feel free to keep those suggestions coming! Our team loves feedback from the community because it helps to shape the future road map of TPP. Although the company started out as a small business, we have grown to be one of the largest catering software vendors on the market today. We serve thousands of users across the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Italy, and even in the Philippines. -- John Cohen
TPP has changed our business. Gone are word docs, spreadsheets and calculators. We are fast, efficient and can track food costs, sales and many many other details with the click of a button. It is intuitive and easy to use. WE ADORE customer support who have helped us through our many questions and help us to progress using the crazy amount of possibilities with the software. They also listened to our previous processes and help us to fit them into TPP or offer other more efficient options.
The software was easy to implement on the fly.
It understands catering the way we do it.
Customer Support ROCKS!!!
It was so easy to jump into we missed some important details in the initial stages so are having to redo to take advantage of the many, many features 2 years later.
We have been using Total Party Planner for 10 years now. It only gets better and more powerful as time goes by.
I used to put proposals, menus etc. on Excel, not professional enough in this day and age.
TPP makes us look professional.
Food costing is so important if you want to stay in business, I did not do food costing and it was killing us. In TPP you can build recipes down to the Nth degree, you will know what the menu cost is. This also goes for building staff for events, having it pre-costed so you will know if the price you give is correct.
Stopping in at the TPP booth at Catersourse, I met John Cohen, the owner. I am still thrilled that he listened and was able to understand my needs and get me signed up.
If you need catering software you owe your company to call Total Party Planner and get onboard.