If you’re one who enjoys cooking and providing catering services to people, you might want to consider venturing into catering as a business. As one who loves trying out new recipes and stretching your creativity, catering might just be the right business for you.
Catering from time immemorial is one of the most lucrative businesses you can find anywhere. Finding the right niche and knowing what works right in this business is what makes you successful.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the things you should know before starting a catering business. Read along.
1. Choose Your Business Name and Entity Type
It is necessary that you get your business name and define the entity for it as well. After choosing your niche and knowing what aspect of catering you want to cover either social events or formal, you would want to choose a name that will give a clue as to your niche.
Your business name is your brand and identity; therefore, it is best advisable that you choose a simple name. A word or a phrase is okay. Do not go for sentences.
Furthermore, you might want to consider the business entity you want your business to operate as. Whether, a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or another business entity.
Whatever you choose comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, so you should do thorough findings or even seek professional help.
2. Research The Marketplace And Know Your Competition
This is an important step to take before starting the business. Firstly, survey the marketplace to know if there are more people willing to demand your catering service.
Secondly, check out the location where you’ll love to situate your catering business. Also, check if there are companies in the area offering catering services. If there are, check out the menus.
Moreover, you can visit the websites of famous restaurants in the area to find their unique selling points. Make findings of how they offer their services relate to their customers and how they present their foods.
All these and more will give you an idea of what catering service really entails and it will prevent you from making unnecessary mistakes.
3. Identify And Study Your Target Audience
This could be done through online surveys or face-to-face conversations with potential customers. You may decide to approach your target audience to find out their needs and preferences.
Furthermore, you may get in touch with people you know who regularly host parties for their feedback. This way the risk of offering what the populace won’t demand is reduced. Get an idea of what people expect from the catering service.
Additionally, you can approach your friends and acquaintances who are in the corporate sector to know about the catering services they use for their formal occasions. This will help you build a positive relationship with your target audience and also help in promoting your intended business.
4. Get Your Catering Permits, Licences, And Insurance
There are a lot of legal requirements that need to be taken care of before you venture into the catering business. Regardless of where you choose to start from, be it in your home or a space secluded for this purpose, you will have to check with your health department to see if it is permissible or not.
You will also be expected to get a service license and fulfill certain legal requirements related to the catering business setup.
In some states, you will be required to study a course in food health and safety before you can start a catering business. Furthermore, it is important that you get liability insurance so you can protect yourself from any claim of food poisoning or other food-related lawsuits.
5. Decide On Your Niche
This is another important thing to know before starting a catering business. Firstly, you need to decide on what you want to be known for. Whether pizza, pie, chicken, tacos, hamburgers, and the likes.
Secondly, you’ll need to decide on how you will love to position your business in the market. You have to identify and decide on your unique selling point. That is, what will make you stand out from the rest of your competitors.
Additionally, you will have to focus all your efforts on meeting the needs of a particular target audience. Moreover, your topmost priority should be satisfying a specific set of your target audience.
You could also choose to cover family events or weddings. You might also want to consider providing services for formal events. More importantly, don’t try to provide all sorts of services in a new start-up, to avoid getting too overwhelmed.
6. Financial Factor
Considering the financial requirements needed to go full-fledged into the catering business is an important step. You need to be aware of how much you’ll be needing to start and how much you will be earning from it.
Also, how do you want to start, either big or small? How many hands do you want to employ? And what area are you looking to situate your business? All these need careful consideration.
Furthermore, you should consider the risk associated with the business and plan ahead for unforeseen events. You will also need to get professional help in managing your finances and to have a clear record of your expenses and income.
7. Find A Suitable Working Space
If you’re starting small, probably working for two or three days a week or a few hours a day, you may consider starting from your home.
But starting big will require that you rent a place that you can access 24/7. You will need a space that can accommodate equipment like an oven, refrigerator, and processing machine, to mention a few.
Furthermore, you might need a separate storefront area if you’re considering offering food to potential customers and selling goods to the general public.
8. Create A Marketing And Advertising Plan
Just like every other business, the catering business needs a lot of promotion and publicity. After figuring out your target market and finding your niche, whether you choose to cover social or formal events, you will need to promote your business.
For example, if you’re venturing into social events like weddings or anniversaries, you can showcase your menu at bridal expos and contact event planners for recommendations.
Moreso, you will need a brand logo and an identity for people to recognize your brand. Also, print out menus or pricing info to hand out to potential customers, form relationships with event planners, and offer to taste at local fairs or charity events.
9. Hire and Train Your Staff
It is very unlikely that you cater for an event all by yourself, therefore staffing is important. Your best bet might be employing the service of caterers or servers per event.
But you can choose to hire them full time. Moreso, you will have to train them in serving protocols and food safety.
Additionally, you wouldn’t want your business to be disruptive and disorganized. So, it is best that you have a uniform or a dress code for your staff so they will be easily identified.
10. Have A Contingency Plan
You should have a contingency plan in case things do not work out as planned. An emergency plan can entail extra capital, an extra hireling in cases of an employee’s sudden absence or health challenge.
Others include food storage, an extra menu and pricing list if the initial one doesn’t work, and much more. All these would help minimize the sudden winding up of growing catering businesses.
Is the catering business profitable?
Yes, the catering business is highly profitable if you know what you’re doing.
How much can I make from the catering business?
You can make an annual income of $30,000 for a start, and $80,000 annually as an established catering firm.
Can you start this business with no capital?
No, you can’t. Though, you can start a small-scale catering business with little capital.
The catering business is not just about knowing how to cook, it involves proper planning and research to start and maintain the business. You need to understand the details of what you’re going into, so you won’t become stranded and unable to continue.
However, it is easy to sustain this business after taking the necessary steps listed in this article. Furthermore, your dream of owning a renowned catering business can become a reality if you follow due process.
I hope this article was helpful. Thanks for reading.