Starting a catering business can be born out of the desire to enjoy cooking and it’s a profitable business if you would like to start a food business, it could start as a small scale business to grow into a new bigger one. Where most people get stuck is how and what it would take to start a catering business. What most people choose to neglect is the fact that you don’t need to start with a larger crowd of 500, it could just be with 50 people, a restaurant hiring, a small house party, and so on. 

If you’re looking for a business in the line of food production and provision. You’re in the right place, this article will work you through a step-by-step process in establishing your catering business.

Before starting any business, you need to know who is your audience. Here are 3 major audiences for caterers.

1. Professional clients

The main services provided by caterers to this set of people are majorly for corporate events like office breakfasts and lunch meetings, it can also include cocktail parties and late office dinners. Services here don’t need much elaborate cooking as it would take for wedding celebrations, it would just be a series of food platters and drinks for the official celebrations.

2. Social events

Every year there are millions spent on celebrations that include weddings, burial ceremonies in Nigeria, housewarming parties, baby showers, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, and even graduations. People are big on food in such social celebrations and they serve as the main prospective customer and consumers for caterers.

3. Cultural services

They are separate from social events because they have a larger crowd than other social gatherings. Cultural organizations have frequent annual celebrations and formal dinners that will involve thousands of people all over the world and in turn would create a lot of work for the caterer. 

After knowing your target audience and you’ve established your business for a while, you have to decide if you want to stick to a particular people or grow to increase your audience, so here are tips to help you start as a beginner in catering business. 

1. Have an equipment inventory

It’s of great importance to have a list of items you’ll need to begin a catering business. The inventory contains the equipment that you have and the ones you’ll need to purchase. In the purchasing of equipment, you need to think ahead of the growth you envisage for your business. You’ll need bigger pieces of equipment even if you’re starting a small-scale business. 

2. Find a niche

For every business, there’s a niche so that the business can build on that and thrive before diversification. As a beginner caterer, you may not have the capacity to cater for a big event yet but you can do other smaller events that won’t involve a lot of crowds. You can build upon catering for only smaller parties for a long while before taking on bigger jobs. Research about your competitors and other thriving catering companies and learn from all that they have to offer. 

See restaurants or eateries that need catering services and you can also be a supplier for them either for fresh food products, equipment, and even help make their food. Finding a niche is not so hard as long as you’re making a profit. It’s also important to note that location mostly determines the pricing and cost of ingredients. It’s good to calculate well so you don’t run into a loss. 

3. Build a relationship with vendors

It’s a popular saying that catering is more than just cooking. It means that to run a successful catering business you need to learn other things alongside cooking. Caterers are often expected to be the supplier of utensils like glassware, chinaware, linens, and even drinks in some situations the tables and chairs at the events. Building a solid relationship with suppliers and vendors will help you not to disappoint clients.

4. Have a business plan

Having a business plan is important for every business, you need to have a plan that can take you for like the first six months of the start of the business, it would include the revenues and expenses, profits, and loss that are to be expected.

5. Obtain the required licenses

Every business needs licenses to operate and for catering businesses the health departments of states or the country would inspect the kitchens and food to see if it meets the health rules and regulations, if they don’t, there will be no permit or license for the business to run. You need to make sure that your business environment passes the test. If you already have a license, there would be no need to go through the process over again. 

6. Marketing is important 

A lot of businesses want to thrive without marketing, but there will still be people who don’t know your business exists even if you have a lot of customers. Have business cards, a brochure that tells people about your business, utilize social media and web pages for the growth of your business, have a signature dish and you can even do a discount for the first few weeks of opening. You need to go all out to reach people and more people.

Research has shown that more than 80 percent of the people in the world with the age range of 25 and 65 use the internet while searching for a product. If you have a strong online presence, it’s of greater advantage to have only your family and friends patronize your business. 

Here are a few tips for running your catering business

• Mind your dressing, you need to dress neatly and professionally even while working in the kitchen. You can have extra clothes and an apron around for extra care.

• You don’t need to offer a menu of many dishes that wouldn’t be served but instead focus on offering a limited menu of your best dishes and honor clients’ special food requests.

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