With a flair for cooking and serving others, you have dreamt of starting a catering business. The best fact is that this business does not need a high initial investment. Moreover, the food catering industry is growing rapidly, and you can take advantage of this trend.
Initially, you may not be ready to serve meals to more than 200 guests at a big corporate event. You can start a small business by serving 20 to 50 guests at a family get-together.
Although you love cooking, you must have the entrepreneurial spirit to ensure a successful catering business. Thus, how do you start your catering business?
Identify your specialty–
To start your own business, you need to choose your niche in the catering industry. Ask a few questions yourself.
- Which type of cuisine will you choose? Gluten-free, vegan, non-veg, and several other options are available.
- Can you serve any type of party? (Cocktail party, wedding party, staff lunches etc.)
- What is your serving capacity? An established catering company is ready to serve multiple parties every week. However, when you have a shortage of staff, you may limit your activities.
- Who will manage your business? Catering business operations cover different activities ranging from food preparation to accounting.
Research the market and know about your target customers–
Before buying equipment and creating your menu, you have to do some research. For instance, you may have thought of serving wedding events. But there are several other wedding caterers in your locality.
Try to make your catering service unique in every way. Learn about your competitors and find their weak points by reading reviews. You may also team up with event coordinators and office managers, as they like to engage professional caterers for their businesses. Analyze the services and trends of the local catering sector.
Select your business name- Decide on your entity type–
As you like to start a catering business, you need to choose a relevant company name. In some states, businesses have to check the availability of the preferred name with the Secretary of State.
You can think of operating your business as the sole proprietor. In this case, you will be the only owner. But you may also register the business as a limited/general partnership.
Create a proper scheme for your catering business–
After choosing an entity and business name, you need to decide on the business model. Your business structure determines the way you provide your catering services. You can use a catering contract template to make your task easier.
While making your business plan, you must not overlook your vendors. Find the most reliable vendors to source tables, chairs, linens, and utensils. So, you need to invest in these non-food items. In the first few months of your business, you can rent these things. However, with the growth of your catering business, you may purchase them.
Learn about permits and licenses–
A catering business license is important for providing your legitimacy. However, licensing rules are different in every state. You can talk to a legal professional to know about them. You will need health permits, zoning permits, and a general business license. You can also contact the health department in your locality to learn about the permits and licenses for your business.
Make your budget and analyze pricing–
Operating costs can vary with the location of your business. Moreover, before creating a pricing chart for your customers, you need to think of your packages. Some companies provide multiple price tiers to provide particular amenities and services for a definite amount. The price per person can make a difference in the overall costs. Moreover, the prices will be different for plated dinners, buffets, and light appetizers.
Create a food menu–
You can write a draft of the menu before serving customers. As you have learned about your target customers’ preferences, you can easily create an attractive menu. Make sure that your customers can customize the menu. Moreover, your team must know the process of preparing the chosen dishes.
Your commercial kitchen facility and your capacity are some relevant factors affecting the menu. Furthermore, the availability of ingredients is another important thing that influences your decision.
Buy equipment for cooking purposes
You may need a big investment in your cooking and catering equipment. It can range from an industrial-grade mixer grinder to a freezer.
Make a list of appliances and cookware you need for your business. Try to get the estimates of these items before placing your order. It is also good to take an equipment loan for your small business.
Hire staff and start a training program–
You can never serve several customers on your own. That is why you can hire staff to establish a successful business. Quality manpower plays an important role in the growth of your business and your revenues.
You may have hired qualified chefs and trained professionals to serve your customers. Still, you have a unique business structure that they must know. Both in-house staff and catering staff should undergo training. Moreover, you need to decide on custom-designed, logo embedded uniforms for your staff. It will add a professional touch to the overall setting.
Your catering agency needs insurance to ensure protection. You can purchase general liability insurance along with other insurances-
- Commercial automotive insurance
- Unemployment insurance
- Insurance for commercial properties like kitchen equipment
Without marketing, you cannot reach your potential clients. You can create an official website to show your catering business details. You may also distribute leaflets in different places like banquet halls, malls, and venues of school functions. Digital marketing is also effective in drawing more customers to your catering business.
Thus, you have now learned how to start a catering business from home and any commercial facilities. However, you can engage an accountant to manage the finances of your business. You may also consult a lawyer to learn about compliances and avoid legal issues in the future. These steps will make your catering business successful.