What You Need to Know Before Starting a Catering Business
Does drinking and working in the kitchen while everyone else is eating and socializing in the living room seem like your idea of a great time? If you want to start a food catering company, the answer should be an emphatic YES.
Americans’ love of entertaining and dining have produced a market for all types of caterers. An assortment of business and social occasions are currently providing an opportunity for caterers to cook up tasty and tasty dishes profits. In fact, catering has seen some of the fastest growth in the overall food service industry this year, and that trend is expected to continue.
A dash of skills, determination, and grace under fire can go a long way in the catering trade. There is no precise recipe for a successful home-based business in catering services, but these tips will help you launch. Catering companies can be run from home full or part-time, and earn between $30,000 and $80,000 per year, on average.
Catering companies can be run from home full or part-time, and earn between $30,000 and $80,000 per year, on average.
You can begin by catering small events, with a few helpers to find out whether there is a business that you want to pursue launching. Costs depend on how large you decide to begin much, how many workers you hire to get started, and your state’s requirements for selling food made from home.
Normally, you can expect to spend $10,000 to $50,000 to begin, on average. But if you start with occasions that are small, you should be able to start your business.
By serving a focused market, catering start-ups triumph; focusing on a particular type of food events will keep your advertisement cost low and well-focused for success. As an example, if you’re a great cook of Jewish dishes try focusing on events like Bar Mitzvah to start. Other profitable catering niche markets include party events, such as wedding or baby showers, family reunions, birthday parties, seminars and classes, company or non-profit parties, and small weddings.
Succesful caterers are consistent, organized and creative. They like working in an environment which in some ways changes while in other ways remains the same.
The areas to which you will travel can differ while lots of the preparation, serving, and cleaning becomes a little routine. “Most restaurateurs despise catering for the precise reason that I really like it: It is different every day,” says Susan Riley, owner of Tasteful Catering at Newport Beach, California. “A restaurant owner is happy in a confined space where they are in control and they do not need to be worried about anything leaving the building. With catering, you can get your interior operations down to the wire, but then you need to put all of it in a truck and take it somewhere to set this up and you could lose control.” Of catering another appeal, she says, is. “This is something that’s really private.”
From this perspective, catering is the most flexible of the businesses. You can begin small and build your equipment inventory as you will need to until you will need a dedicated location. You might even find a current commercial kitchen which you could rent, as Charles Ralph did when he began Cuisine Creations, his Chicago catering operation. Before going into opening his own facility, she operated.
Initially, if you want something unusual, like a champagne fountain for a wedding reception, you can rent it rather than purchase. Because you know beforehand precisely how many people you are cooking for, and your food supply is easy to control.
Off-premises caterers who take the food to their customer. The usual catering department operates on site at a hotel or convention center — as an outsider, you can serve everything from a romantic breakfast in bed for honeymooners to elegant dinners for charity galas of 1,000 attendees. Some caterers specialize in one type of food while others provide a wide assortment of services, including arrangements, costumes and technical props for theme parties and wedding coordination.
The three major markets for caterers are:
1. Corporate clients. The principal need of this sector is food for breakfast and lunch meetings, although there’ll be a need for cocktail parties and dinners. Service can vary from preparing a platter of food that is delivered to the customer’s offices to cooking an elaborate meal or a place and organizing it.
2. Social events. Millions of dollars are spent every year on wedding receptions — with a lot of that being spent on food. Other events which are catered include anniversary dinners, bar and bat mitzvahs, birthday parties and graduations.
3. Cultural organizations. Opera homes, museums, symphonies and other ethnic and community organizations often have catered events which range from light hors-d’oeuvres to formal dinners, sometimes for as many as several thousand people.
You’ll see an enormous amount of crossover between these market groups. Susan sold boxed lunches and started out serving a business clientele, serving breakfasts. The clients began hiring her to deal with their social events, like parties and weddings as her business grew. And while she still does easy breakfasts and lunches, she is also catered such events as the wrap party for the 50th episode of the TV show Modern Family on ABC.
There’s a vast assortment of specialties and markets. You might cook for people such as kosher, gluten-free, macrobiotic or other food preparation requirements. You might concentrate on party breakfasts, afternoon teas or even picnic baskets. Another niche market that is popular is cooking.
You can prepare the meals there or cook in your facility and provide the food ready to be served and go to their houses. Another alternative is to offer days’ or a week’s worth of foods prepared that your clients can heat and serve. Let your creativity run wild with market ideas that are potential do some market research to learn what’s very likely to work in your region. See what caterers are currently serving your area.
Good caterers receive and can demand top dollar for their services — but your meals and you have to be the rate. You should remember some general market trends. For the most part, foods that are heavy rich and lavish meals are a thing of the past.
People are eating less beef and fish and poultry nowadays, and they are drinking beer and liquor and wine. They are also worried about the bottom line than they were. Caterers say these trends have forced them to be creative chefs, working with dishes and spices instead of with sauces.
Establish Relations with Suppliers
Find vendors for your event planning needs. Catering is more than just cooking, Frequently the caterer is expected to provide the linens, china, glassware, utensils — even the chairs and tables at some events– oh and the food too! Find out more about the suppliers in your town in advance so you are ready to accept new business when it comes.
Set up Business Legally
Develop a business plan which covers the additional investment you will need to begin and the first three to six months of earnings and expenses. Obtain the necessary business licenses. You’ll require a business license in the country and possibly from the county and city in which you reside. The state or county health department will inspect your kitchen for security to see whether it meets health codes. Many residential kitchens don’t. Plan on upgrading or locating a kitchen which has already passed inspection. A restaurant which works only for dinner may make it possible for you to use the kitchen at the off hours to get a rental fee. A food handler’s permit will probably be required. The Regional Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Development Center can help you find out what licensing is essential.
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Focus on Sales & Marketing
Develop a marketing program to achieve your potential clients. Design business cards, stationery, and a brochure.
Make some of your signature dishes and shoot photographs for the brochure along with your site.
Despite the fact that you want a small catering company an increasing number of people use the web to comparison shop. ZDNet says that 74 percent to 80 percent of individuals between the ages of 29 and 69 utilize the web for product research.
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