What a strange few weeks we have had, with a series of cancelled events in the weeks following 11 September and an alarmingly slow month in October - only to find that the hire operation is growing at a steady rate and that bookings for November and into December have materialised at fairly short notice.
In addition, we have been surprised by recent requests from clients - a fact-finding visit resulted in us being asked to quote for a function for 12,000. Thanks must go to Churchill's, which helped create a sample presentation plate to go with our proposal in record time - it's not often you get that level of support from a supplier.
A further surprise occurred when I cold-called on an old client to simply pass the time of day and catch up on news, only to find that their catering operation was out to tender. We received a request for us to participate as a result of my call.
Throughout the operation we are required to keep records, and it is such processes that keep us in the clear with the VAT man, the Revenue and EHOs, but there was some concern about a recent visitor from the Vehicle Inspectorate, asking to see and check our tachograph records (which monitor how and when commercial vehicles are used) for the past 12 months.
The importance of accurate record-keeping and processes has also been highlighted by the unfortunate possibility that we may have to sue a client.
We have a published scale of cancellation charges and the client had broadly confirmed its requirements and accepted our deposit payment terms, only to decide later to cancel.
We had invested significant time and energy in this event, turned down other functions and, given the type of function and the expected numbers, anticipated a significant profit.
The client is offering to pay our expenses incurred and there appears to be some distance between our views at the moment. Watch this space.
Next month's will be my last diary piece. After three years of writing this, I may even manage to get the copy to Caterer's offices on time but, hey, they'd only fall about laughing. My thanks, though, go to Niki, Neil and the rest of our team who have put up with my ramblings as each copy date and article loomed - your patience is much appreciated.
ROBERT ALVAREZ is proprietor of Phoenix Hospitality event caterers in Towcester, Northamptonshire
Next diary from Robert Alvarez: 13 December