8 Steps You Need to Know to Start a Catering Company
Do you find joy in hosting parties? Do you like watching people socialize and enjoy the sumptuous buffet you’ve prepared for them? Do you often wish that you could turn your love for cooking into a full-fledged business? If your answer to any of these questions is a resounding “YES!”, then starting a catering company might just be in the works for you.
No matter where you are in the world, you can’t have a successful event, whether for business or for pleasure, without good food. People in general love to wine and dine, creating all sorts of opportunities for caterers to cook up tasty dishes and enjoy their profits.
In fact, the catering industry has seen steady growth in the past years. With annual revenue of $716M in New Zealand alone, it’s no surprise that more and more entrepreneurs are trying their luck with their own food businesses.
The great thing about starting your catering biz is that you don’t even need a huge capital to get it off the ground. What’s important is that you have an idea that will wow your target market.
And according to the catering geniuses at Gobble, there is no better time to shake up the catering industry than now. If you can bring something unique and exciting to the buffet, you’ve already won half the battle.
So, if you’re serious about building your own catering company from scratch, here are 8 steps to help you get started.
Decide on your niche
Just like any other business, you need to decide on a specific niche to specialize in. Why? Because your menu, pricing, and even marketing strategies, depends on the niche market that you’re targeting. Your success as a foodpreneur depends on this first step.
Catering for a wedding requires a different setup and theme than catering for a corporate event for example. By deciding on a niche, it will be easier for you to come up with catering packages and set-ups that your target market will want to book.
Create a catering business plan
Not all great cooks make great caterers. Without a catering business plan, you’ll have a hard time going through the motions of your operations. Setting up a catering business isn’t just about preparing food. You also need to know how to get capital, manage your resources, execute marketing strategies, and take care of your staff.
At the end of the day, your goal is not just simply to feed people. You also need to earn some profit. And as the old saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Get capital for your business
One of the requirements of getting funding for any business is a business plan. This document isn’t just a blueprint for getting your business off the ground, but it’s also crucial in helping potential investors see if a business is worth investing in.
Once you have a well-thought-out business plan, put it to good use by applying for a business loan at your local bank. Small businesses often fail during the first year of operations because they fail to get the capital they need to navigate the ebbs and flows of a start-up business.
Acquire the necessary permits and licenses
As with industries that involve food handling, you can’t just book clients and get cooking. You need to acquire the necessary permits and licenses from the government that will allow you to operate your catering business.
Since permits and licenses vary from state to state, make sure to check with the chamber of commerce in your local government for the complete list of requirements that you need to sort out.
Sort out your equipment list
Whether you’re catering for a small intimate dinner or a grand wedding reception, you’ll need catering equipment to execute your vision. Having a complete list will help you keep your operations more organized and hopefully give you better sleep at night.
If you’re unsure of what you need, here’s a helpful list that will ensure you have everything you need to pull off a successful event.
Look for suppliers you can work with
After sorting out your equipment list, it’s time to look for suppliers that you can work with. Aside from fresh produce, you also need to look for suppliers for non-food items like linen, tables, chairs, china, and even utensils.
For those starting out with limited capital, you can always rent first before purchasing your own. This way, you can use your capital to source quality ingredients for your dishes instead of blowing it all off on equipment.
Set your pricing
Since most people hire caterers based on what they think is value for money, your pricing scheme can make or break your catering business. It may be tricky to get your pricing just right, but there are ways to deliver food and service to your potential clients at a rate that they will be more than happy to pay for.
The best way to meet your potential clients where they are when it comes to pricing is by sitting down with them and offering custom proposals. It definitely takes more time to put together, but it gives you a higher chance of getting your proposals accepted.
Hire and train your catering staff
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to successfully cater an event all on your own. Even if you’re the most efficient person on the planet, you can’t pull off a complete catering setup without delegating some of the tasks to your staff.
When it comes to the hospitality and services industry, you’re only as strong as your staff. This is why you need to hire people who embody your brand’s values, and more importantly, equip them to do their jobs right.
While starting your own catering company isn’t exactly a walk in the park, this shouldn’t stop you from building a successful catering business. Make it your goal to offer top-rate culinary delights and excellent customer service and you’ll be raking in the profits in no time.
Ray is the Digital Marketing Mastermind of OPDM and the Community Manager of Gobble. He is highly passionate about blogging and aims to be one of the best marketers in the business someday.