Do people fight over trying to get you to host their dinner parties or to take care of the food and décor at business luncheons, conferences and their bridal showers? What about engagement parties? If you’re in demand because you have a knack for planning events then you might just have what it takes to launch a catering business – but how do you start a catering business?
It’s a solid business if you can get everything together to make it work, just remember that it’s a business. It’s not a small one either, as the industry as a whole brings in more than $7 billion a year. Here are some tips on how to start a catering business and get your chunk of that:
How to Start a Catering Business – Make a Menu
Do you need to make a menu and only offer certain types of foods or drinks? There are numerous catering companies that will cook just about anything their clients are requesting and will adapt their offerings to suit the event. Others limit themselves to what they know and offer a few selections with limited customization.
How limited? HMS Cocktails grew from a focus on offering specialty cocktails and a wide assortment of drinks for cocktail parties. These mixologists were less about the food and more about the drink when they realized that most cocktail parties had humdrum selections when it came to the drinks.
It might work to be a jack of all trades in a smaller community but there’s a benefit to specializing and getting really good at a specific assortment of delicious eats (or drinks.)
How to Start a Catering Business – Find a Specialty
You can go broad or specialize in certain types of foods but that doesn’t address how you approach the venue. Will you do corporate parties? Weddings? Bar Mitzvahs & other cultural events? Graduation parties? Conferences and Seminars? Are you limited by the number of people you can serve?
Some caterers will do anything. Some choose only small events due to equipment or crew limitations while others will only work with parties that have at least 300 people. It’s up to you what type of events you want to cater. A specialty focus is a great way to stand out among competitors and gain market share in 1 or more areas.
How to Start a Catering Business – Master the Money
There’s a lot that goes into the logistics of running a catering business. The major benefit to pursuing your dream of how to start a catering business is that you have relatively low start-up cost. From using your vehicle for transports, to renting simple kitchen space and renting tables and supplies, you can save a lot of money.
Note that a number of states make it illegal to cook out of your own kitchen but you can also save money in cooking elsewhere: rent a small commercial kitchen space. You can look for shared kitchens that operate in shifts. You can also talk to restaurants that are closed during the day and rent their kitchen space while they’re closed.
Also think about food transportation if the destination or event location doesn’t have a full kitchen. No matter how you decide to transport your food just remember that hot food needs to stay hot and cold food has to stay cold.
Even small events can take a toll and require some creative logistics and money management. When you’re trying to figure out how to start a catering business, consider that you have to load trucks or vehicles, travel to events, market yourself, set events up, break down the event when done, head back to the shop, return equipment – Just to do an event for 40 people could require a van full of equipment.