Food for Thought: How to Start a Catering Business

You have unlimited growth potential when you’re in the catering business, so don’t waste the opportunity.

So, you’ve finally decided that you want to start a catering business. Well, you’re definitely on the right track. You see, it doesn’t matter if you plan to cater small, intimate affairs or huge parties with thousands of people, the result is practically the same – extremely high profit margin potential. “How”, you might ask. Simply because most caterers can keep their overhead expenditures very low … I’m talking virtually nothing.


Catering Begins at Home

For one, you don’t need to rent office space when you are first starting your catering business. You have your own kitchen at home, and this is the perfect place to set up your catering business. If you need a personal space in which to do paperwork, then you can just convert a spare room into an office.

Moreover, when you start your catering business at home, there is no immediate need to employ a full-time service staff. If you have a catering event on your schedule, you can round up your friends and ask them to help you out. If you have really good friends they would gladly do it without expecting anything in return. Otherwise, you can round up people in your neighborhood who may be in-between jobs. Many people would grab any part-time work opportunity presented to them.

In fact, the only immediate expense that would cut through your profits is your marketing and advertising cost. Marketing your catering services is something you need to think carefully about. What strategies will you employ to promote your business? Who are your target clients? What types of events will you cater? For instance, if you primarily cater for weddings it would be a good idea to build relationships with with florists, wedding planners, and wedding venues. Why should you do that? Well, these people will help you get the clients you need not only to jumpstart your business, but also to keep it afloat.


Food for Thought

Before promoting your catering business, it’s important to have a game plan. The last thing you want is to grope for answers when someone calls to ask what your catering menu consists of or where they can meet you for a consultation.

Since you already love to cook, expand your food portfolio by learning new recipes and experimenting on your own creations. Browse the Internet for ideas (i.e., Pinterest recipes and the best Instagram accounts for food lovers.) Meanwhile, learn international dishes that you can use to present themed-party ideas to your clients.


Flexibility Is Key

Keep in mind that if people desired to stick to a set menu, then they could easily hold their parties in restaurants. That’s why you need to be flexible. Be prepared to make suggestions to your client based on your prepared menu, but you should never be imposing. Let your clients decide for themselves or use their preferences as your guide to creating custom catered dishes for them.


Numbers Count

Next, sit down and calculate how much it would cost you to rent chinaware, flatware, glasses, tents, and other catering supplies each time you have a catering gig as opposed to buying your own supplies. If the latter is the best option, make sure to scour directories and the Internet for catering suppliers who can give you good quotations. The key here is to shop around for the best quotes to get the most for your money.


A Little Extra Goes a Long Way

At the start of your catering business, it wouldn’t hurt to add that little extra touch to the events you cater. More than profiting from your business, you want to build your reputation, as this is equally as valuable as your income. In fact, your reputation can sustain your business for years on end. No amount of advertising can compare to the good name you can make for your new catering business, so don’t cut corners.

You have unlimited growth potential when you’re in the catering business, so don’t waste the opportunity. You don’t need to start big. Take all the baby steps you need. By keeping the simple tips outlined here, you’ll be in the catering business for the long haul.


Lionel Luigi Lopez is a business writer, entrepreneur and a musician. He is also an active blogger and marketing strategist. He runs a small business in Manila and still active in music. Follow @lionelluigi on Twitter.


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