Starting a catering company can be an incredibly lucrative business venture and is often a much more attainable goal than opening a full-service restaurant. Though a catering business does operate on a slightly smaller scale than most restaurants, there are still many moving parts that you’ll need to fine-tune in order to maintain a successful operation. A catering company also has the potential to grow exponentially—one day your company may be catering a small company barbeque and the next you might cater a wedding with over 200 attendees. The following tips for starting a catering business will help set you up for success during the first few months of operation.
Choose your niche
One of the most important tips for starting a catering business is to set yourself apart from the competition early on. The most effective way to do this is to establish a niche market for your company. Catering companies can span a wide variety of venues and cuisine, so it’s important to find a market that’s not yet become oversaturated. When choosing the niche for your catering company, try to think critically about the type of food you will offer and the type of events you will likely cater. This will help you focus your marketing strategy and business plan toward the best events for your business. It will also help you craft a strong menu with a cohesive theme that complements your company’s overall mission.
Establish a strong staff
Teamwork is extremely important when operating a catering company. A catered event must run like a well-oiled machine, and without the proper staffing and training, this will not be possible. Hire employees that will conduct themselves professionally and understand the importance of teamwork. Be sure to also provide employees with ample training and development opportunities to ensure that they complete their work thoroughly and correctly. If you notice signs of animosity between staff members, be sure to take a step back and examine the dynamic of the group as a whole. One weak link can throw off the whole system and can cause business operations to suffer significantly. Conducting regular team building activities and seminars will help inspire employees to reexamine their own work ethic and how it affects the team.
Create an organization system
Your catering company will be shuffling between vendor sites, event venues, and company kitchens on a regular basis. As such, it’s important to have a stable organization system in place to ensure that things go smoothly. Start by creating an equipment inventory list. Take stock of all the tools, equipment, and ingredients currently in your arsenal, and build a reliable storage and organization system for all items. Create an organization system for managing internal operations, as well. Utilize digital scheduling software to better manage your events and the staff you will schedule for them. You may also want to establish a digital banking system, as this will help keep your invoices and company purchases organized in one central location.