How to Start a Catering Business in 5 Seriously Simple Steps
If you’re looking to get into the catering industry, you might be wondering how to start a catering business. Wonder no longer! Here’s a simple guide!
Are your friends always asking you to bake their wedding cakes? Are you the first person your family asks to cook holiday meals?
Is your spouse constantly telling you to apply to MasterChef (and not because they want Gordon Ramsay to yell at you until you cry)?
Do you love throwing dinner parties?
If you’ve answered a resounding “Yes!” to any of these questions, starting a catering business may be right up your alley.
Now, don’t panic. It may sound a little scary but once you know how to start a catering business, you’ll realize it’s not that scary after all.
Check out our five simple tips and you’ll be well on your way!
1. Find Your Niche
You need to figure out what kind of food and for what events you’ll target. You may think it doesn’t matter because you can cook anything!
But it actually does.
For instance, some dishes are more cost-effective than others. Traditionally, Italian food is both easy for caterers and a few ingredients goes a long way.
You’ll want to watch your budget, but make sure you’re using fresh quality products. You can trim your costs in other areas.
2. Get a Plan Together
Speaking of budgets…
You’ll need to write a business plan that includes on. Figure out how much you figure you need to operate. You’ll also need to account for expenses like catering equipment.
Your Cuisinart blender has probably been good to you over the years, but it’s time for something that can handle a full-scale catering business.
Also, make sure you have all the proper licensing and insurance. You don’t want to run into any issues once you cater your first event.
Think about if you’ll need to hire employees or lease a specialized van.
3. Test Your Menu
This is a key step in the process. While you may have nailed down cooking for a dozen people, do your dishes have the same flavor when cooking for double or triple that?
Cooking for your family — regardless of how large they are — and cooking for a massive group of strangers is completely different.
You need to know if your scaling formula works. So, ask your boss if you can cater the next company meeting or holiday party. Leave comment cards with your dishes and ask your co-workers what they liked about them.
Then, use that feedback to tweak your menu.
4. Secure Your Space and Supplies
While the catering industry is booming in the U.S., it’s surprising to find out that 50% own their own kitchen. So, are you going to work out of your own home or rent space?
If you rent space, make sure you have enough in your budget to cover the added overhead expense. If you’re sticking to your own kitchen, make sure it’s big enough to accommodate all that food!
5. Market Your Catering Business
Marketing is a key to every business but when you first start your catering business, your techniques will be a little different.
You may have to work for “word of mouth” reviews and recommendations. This means you may have to cater some events for family and friends to get the word out. For free.
No one in business likes that word but you’re not going to cater the next Royal Wedding as your first event. You need to build clientele and you’ll do that by getting good reviews.
Make sure you have a website set up and that you put photos of your menu items on it. Also, ask everyone to review your food and add the reviews to your site.
Now You Know How to Start a Catering Business
So, now that you know how to start a catering business, you can see it’s not as scary or intimidating as you first thought. It takes smart planning, a strong work ethic, and good organizational skills.
The more events you cater, the easier it will be. Before you know it, your labor of love will become a fruitful, successful business!
For more info on how to promote your website, check out this post!