How to Start a Catering Business

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There are certain businesses that are easier to plan and put into practice than others; they require minimal studies or knowledge, and mostly rely on your hard work and dedication. The catering business is one of them, and you don’t need to be an insider to know how to start one; you do need to have certain skills and be a very organized person, but these qualities are always required from someone who wants to get into business, otherwise they won’t make it in the harsh competition. Because many of you may be interested in this, we are going to give you a few tips on how to start a catering business.

Before learning how to start a catering business however, you have to ask yourself whether you’re a good cook; there is, of course, the option of hiring other cooks while you deal with organizational and managerial aspects, and with providing the funds for the business. But it would be much easier to do so if you were the cook and knew how to cook, because finding good chefs is difficult, and keeping them in your business even more so. You can tell you’re a good cook when your food gets compliments from anyone who tries it, not just from family members; furthermore, you need to be a versatile cook, because you never know what orders you might get. You need to be able to cater to different kinds of tastes and preferences, and even be able to cook traditional foods, or items such as kosher meals.

Therefore, not matter how you want to go about it, first make sure that you have the right cook, and the right skills for this endeavor. Afterwards you can start thinking of more practical aspects of the business, such as locations, certifications, costs and so on. Here are a few steps to help you learn how to start a catering business.

  • Be unique – The catering business is already quite competitive; many skilled chefs or normal individuals with a talent for cooking have already had this idea and put it to practice, so you’re facing large competition in the catering business. Moreover, people tend to go back to the same caterer when they’ve been satisfied with their products or services, so you need to bring something new in order to attract customers. That is why it is important to find a niche, or to specialize in something unique that other catering businesses don’t offer. Think about your best qualities and strengths; perhaps you are best with roasts, or with desserts. You will probably have to cook whatever the customer asks for, and it is in your interest to do so because it translates into more orders for you. However, if you put the focus on a certain specialty, you are likely to attract another demographic just for that alone; it will also give your business an identity and something that people will easily recognize it by.
  • Business plan – The most difficult task of all is figuring out all the practical aspects; ask around, do some research and try to approximate how much you would need to invest to start up the business. You need to consider purchasing tools, dishware, pots, pans, uniforms and work clothes; you need to think about how big your business will be to begin with, and how many employees you will need. Although you may be a good cook, you still need some assistants, and, as a catering business you will also have to take the food on location and serve it. You will also require authorizations and health approvals from the local authorities; if you’re thinking of cooking in your own home, check to see if this is allowed, because in certain states it is illegal. Nevertheless, you need to prove you have all the sanitary conditions to offer quality services and food. Think about transportation as well, and how you intend to get the food to the clients. Hiring a permanent accountant might be the simplest solution, otherwise you could get entangled in all the numbers and get in trouble with the taxes, bills, paychecks and so on.
  • Insurance – Lots of things can go wrong in a kitchen, so you need to take a liability insurance for the business, so you and your employees are ensured in case something bad happens.
  • Employees – After you’ve figured out how many employees you need and what you want them all to be, start giving ads and looking for them. It can be difficult to find the right people, but you can hire a consultant to help you choose and train the people you want.
  • Marketing – How you present your catering business is essential. Like we mentioned in the beginning of the article, you need to make an image for yourself, and even think about getting a logo. This will make your business easily recognizable to people, and easy to remember as well. Because you probably won’t have a location, like restaurants, where people can get an idea of what they’re dealing with, you need to create an environment that helps people envision that. An Internet page would be the best solution, because there you can write about yourself and post pictures with your food, list a menu and even get customer reviews, which can be the best recommendations you get. You should also be visible on social networks, and create an identity for the business, and interact with people; this will bring them closer and make them trust your business. Furthermore, if you have the means, invest in ads for local newspapers, the radio and even banners throughout the city.

We hope this information has helped you get an idea on how to start a catering business; other details will depend on where you live and the laws and regulations in your area, and the type of business you actually want to start. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to offer full meals, but you can concentrate on snacks, aperitifs, desserts or something else, and your customers don’t have to be only individuals, but companies and firms as well.

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