Starting a catering business can be lucrative but you need to know how to put all your ducks in a row. Here’s some step by step tips on how you can start your own successful catering venture.
How to Start a Catering Business
Pick A Starting Focus
Catering is one of the easier food service businesses to get into because you can start small and scale up. However, like any other business you need to have a clearly defined focus. If you’re taking food to customers rather than serving it in your own location you’ve got three choices.
- Artistic Places: Symphonies and art museums are just some cultural places that you can cater an event in. There’s a big range of food usually served here from light appetizers to formal dinners.
- Business Places: Here, you’ll be serving the kind of food that works with business meetings like lunches and platters that get served at team building functions.
- Social Events: As you might have already guessed, there’s big money in wedding receptions and other social events like birthday parties. Bat mitzvahs and graduation dinners are two of the other big draws. This is where the big money is in catering and you’ll spend the most on food here.
Of course, there’s a lot of crossover between these categories but they give you a scaffolding to build your business on.
Hammer Out a Budget
If you have a budget to start your catering business with, your chances of success go way up. For example, if you’re just starting out you might want to make your first few events self-serve. That way you can save some money on hiring staff.
Pricing out the mandatory staples for your menu at first gives you a good ballpark to work in. Remember some of the add-ons like chocolate will have big price swings. All the numbers should be written down in your business plan.
Get the Equipment
One helpful notion is to look at sourcing some of the equipment you’ll need like tables and chairs, linens and utensils. It’s easier to find the right companies if you rent before buying anything if that’s the route you’d rather take.
You’ll be to have room and the right equipment to store the food before it gets delivered. You can look into a vendor to make sure it gets transported or do that job yourself.
Create the Menu
Now that you have all the tools in place, it’s time to plan your menu. This requires some careful consideration about where you want to focus and on what group of prospective clients. Here’s a few hints in this article about how to set your menu apart from the competition.
Knowing the people that will be attending helps tremendously here. For example, older people like milder foods and a fitness crowd will demand healthy meal choices.
Market and Advertise
There’s lots of options on how you can begin to advertise and starting out simply is usually a good idea. In today’s digital marketing world, you can’t really afford to ignore mobile and video as avenues to pursue. That doesn’t mean you should ignore brochures posters and pamphlets either.