How to open a catering business
You can have many reasons for wanting to start a catering business. Maybe you just graduated from culinary school and are looking for your first job. Maybe you want to expand your restaurant and get an extra paycheck.
Or maybe your passion is preparing food at your friends’ parties and events. In either case, the question is, “How do you open a catering business?
How to open a catering business
Follow these 5 steps when opening your catering business to ensure that you comply with the law and that your business will be successful:
Find out about the rules and regulations in your state
The less fun but more important part of catering is making sure your business follows all the local rules and regulations.
The key question is: Do you need a license to start a catering business? To operate any type of food business, regardless of size or the foods you serve, you need a Food Establishment License.
Your state health department is the institution that provides this license. In addition, if you hire staff, they must be trained to obtain Food Certification.
It is impossible to explain all the regulations in each state here, so you will have to do some research. Most cities have online resources for the specific requirements of opening a catering business.
Create your menu
If you want to start a catering business you need to create an extensive and consistent menu. Obviously, you will have to include dishes that you and your employees are comfortable with.
However, for best results, you may need to find out what other catering businesses are doing in your area, so that yours can offer unique and original dishes.
Consider making a themed menu, based on a concept not found at other catering businesses in your area. Read more tips on menu design and pricing here.
Controls the financial aspect
There are many aspects that you will need to deal with when you start your catering business. The question “how much will it cost me?” is probably the most important. Find out here about all the costs involved in a restaurant. A key factor to consider when it comes to finances is the number of employees you will be hiring.
That will determine your type of business, which is key when it comes to taxes. You will also need to determine a way to keep track of your sales and what you pay for ingredients.
A Point Of Sales System (POS) is an excellent tool for managing the finances of your catering business. Find out more about POS systems for restaurants here.
Choose the right transport
Many catering businesses have a delivery system or even cook the food at the destination. You should consider this: how will you transport the food? Even if you have a large vehicle, you may need to rent or buy a large van to get all the food to its destination.
You will probably also need to transport your cooking equipment, tables, and food containers. Your choice of transportation will vary depending on your goals, so you will need to carefully consider all your options.
Advertise your catering business
Setting up a catering business takes a lot of work, and you don’t want all your effort to be for nothing: to have a successful catering business, you will need to advertise it effectively. You can celebrate the opening with a big event, and advertise it through flyers, social networking, and word of mouth.
By having a large group of people taste your food, you can get new diners and build a network of customers. You can also talk to other restaurants and businesses in your area, to see if any need catering services. The important thing is that you stay active when looking for customers. It may take a lot of work, but it will pay off when you start taking orders.
Other frequently asked questions about the catering business
Setting up your catering business involves a number of requirements and considerations. Be sure to review this list before you begin:
How much does it cost to start a catering business? Your initial costs will vary widely depending on the size you start with, the resources you already have to get started, and your state’s requirements for selling homemade food.
Expect to invest between $10,000 and $50,000 to establish a professional catering business. However, if you start with small events or focus on only one part of the menu (such as cakes and desserts), you can open your catering business for much less.
Do catering businesses serve food as well? Yes, your catering company should coordinate not only the preparation of the food, but also the delivery and presentation of the food. That means that you must create a team of waiters for your company (the number will depend on the size of your company and the size and nature of the event you are organizing).
Of course, you don’t need to hire full-time employees for this task. Just have a list of freelancers or even students you know you can call on when you’re organizing your next event.
You will probably need to increase the size of your team during the high season (which for most catering businesses extends from April to July). Be sure to read How to Hire Employees During the High Season.