How to start your own catering service

Starting a catering business is not something that comes easy. It requires a lot of work and dedication, but it can surely be worth the effort if you are truly interested in working in this industry. Many entrepreneurs start a catering company to supplement their income and escape the 9-to-5 rat race. But if you want to open a successful business, there are several things you should consider before taking the plunge. For instance, can you handle late nights and odd hours? Can you work with youngsters just looking for some part-time work? Can you motivate yourself and your staff to get the job done? And finally, do you have a passion for cooking? Below are some steps that can aid you in your culinary endeavours.

You need equipment

Regardless of the size of your outfit, you’ll need equipment and you’ll need to keep an inventory, especially once things to start to take off and you find yourself graduating from cocktail parties for 12 to wedding receptions for 150. Keeping an inventory of all the equipment you’ll need is vital not just to keep track of things like table cloths or bain-marie’s, but also because you’ll be transporting a lot of things – plates, serving dishes, sometimes the food itself – this depends if you’ve cooked prior or you’re cooking on the premises.

Research the market

It would be a good idea to find out who in your area or suburb is offering catering. Find out what kind of menus they offer and if they’ve got a website and/or a social media profile. Remember, successful caterers don’t just provide good food, they provide a service which could entail great pricing and an efficient manner of delivery. Also, the modern-day palate is quite different and diversified. You may find that serving up vegan food is the way forward. In fact, vegan foods have become incredibly popular and profitable. Many investors and share holders in the food industry products such as Beyond Meat have turned a profit. The market is ripe for vegan products. Finally, do a small survey amongst your friends and ask them about caterers they’ve used in the past and why; a lot can be revealed by such a simple task.

Find a niche

Try and find something that the competition has overlooked or something that you have complete confidence in. Perhaps your chilli con carne is the best ever – what a pleasant starter it could make? As a newcomer to a relatively competitive industry, you won’t just be able to dive right into the big time. Instead you’ll need to find something small and not way above your paygrade. So, as opposed to catering for a wedding, start off with wedding showers instead or engagement parties. Children’s parties and festivals are also viable options. If you’re doing a festival, you can rent a food truck and get by with just one or two extra staff. You could also visit a bunch of restaurants that provide catering as an optional extra. Take a look at their menus and to get an idea of what’s popular. See if you can offer something similar or on par and at a better price while still making a profit. Pricing can be a tricky issue as you’ll need to take into account things like preparation time, the cost of the ingredients and the distance you stay from the event or venue.

Write your business plan

Regardless of the business you intend to start, your odds of success are much better if you take the time to draw up a business plan. Remember, you might need some start-up capital, and this is where a bank can come in handy. If you present your catering business plan to a lender, your intentions don’t just appear more genuine, but you’ll also come across as being a lot more professional too. There are various online tools and resources you can use. Alternatively you could employ the services of a financial planner.

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