How to Start a Catering Business at Home in Ten Steps
By Robert Sutherland
Catering is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US and is the fastest growing segment of the food service industry. If you enjoy working with food and people then catering could offer you a great small business opportunity. This article sets out ten basic steps that you can follow if you are looking for information on how to start a catering business at home.
Start by finding out as much catering business information as possible. Also make a point of learning about general business marketing and management if you are not already knowledgeable in these areas. Taking a few classes to prepare to be a business owner is one good idea.
You also have to research the catering market locally so that you can understand as much as you can about your competitors and your prospective clients.
Sourcing ingredients and other supplies is an important part of the business. Look into a variety of local options and find out about what discounts are available to you if you buy in bulk. Restaurant owners will be able to give you a lot of tips here.
Local Health Regulations
Talk to local authorities and find out what permits you would require to run a business operation involving the commercial preparation and distribution of food. Look into the requirements for setting up and running a catering business from home. Zoning bylaws may restrict your activities here too so make sure that you are fully informed before proceeding.
Get some experience in commercial food preparation by working in a restaurant kitchen or for another catering service for at least a couple of months. This can be a great way to learn how to scale up from making four servings for your family to making 150 servings for a wedding.
Make sure that you look into the insurance policies that you will need for your company assets and your company's liability. You must reduce your risk in the event that anything goes wrong and damages result that your company is liable for. You also need to make sure that you have appropriate policies to cover your home, contents and business assets.
Using your Home Kitchen
Assess your home kitchen to see what it is capable of and if any upgrades or equipment purchases are necessary.
Put some Menus Together
Put together some sample catering menus that may suit various occasions and run them by others in the food service industry for advice. Get an understanding of what the current market demand is like by looking over the menus of other catering companies. Do some research into modern trends in cuisine.
Try to thoroughly understand the cost and volume of the ingredients required and how many people the menus are designed to cater to.
Have a Practice Run
Before jumping into catering why not try it out first and see how you go. This is easy if you offer to cater a dinner for a number of friends or work colleagues. They can contribute to the cost of the groceries and you can prepare a dinner party for 15 or 20 people. This will give you a chance to get a small taste of what it is like to cater to a crowd. After the meal you can ask for honest feedback about what they thought of your food, presentation and service.
Decide how you will fund the business. Get a decent idea of startup costs for a catering business and then work out if you will be able to fund the business independently. You may need to consider a small business loan or some other form of financing.
Think about a suitable catering business name and have a graphic designer do some logos for you to consider. Creating a solid brand is important when starting out in business as this will influence customer perceptions of your company. It can be hard to change course later so you should think hard about what your brand's values are and how you want your brand to differ from those of other caterers.
Put some thought into how you will go about doing your marketing. Clarify the market that you want to target, define your products and services and working out how you will go about pricing them. Look into different advertising and marketing methods to understand how a catering business can get leads. Lastly you need to work out a sales process to take you from the point of a customer enquiry through to a deposit being paid.
A Catering Business Plan
Look into completing at least some form of business plan. This will allow you to run a simulation for how you expect the business to run over the first one or two years so that you can work out if your proposal is profitable or not. It will also be a useful place to compile all of your research and to set out your goals and intentions.
The catering industry rewards those that plan ahead and are highly organized. Follow these ten steps and you will be well prepared when you start a catering business at home.
Looking for more information on how to start a catering company at home? Visit -
Starting a Catering Business for more details.
Also check out our review of the Starting a Catering Business Start-Up Guide
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