Starting a Catering Business: What You Need to Know

If you’ve always dreamed of running a catering business and feeding people for a living, now is a good time for it. The world is starting to get back on track and more and more people are doing their own private events to avoid large crowds. You can easily begin your business these days, but it is still going to be a challenge.

This article will give you the information you need to know to get started in the business of catering.

Select a Specific Niche

There are dozens of catering companies in most cities and you need to stand out. The best way to do this is to pick your specialty. What will you do better than anyone else in town?

Will you provide food for private events such as weddings and birthdays? Or will your focus be more corporate, for networking events, office parties, and other such events? You should also look at what specifics you want to offer. Will you provide buffet or drop off service? Will you provide wave service with a pre-set menu and serving each plate at the table?

You’ll want to determine the type of service to offer so you know whether you need servers for the events.

You can further break down your specialty into specific types of food. Are you offering amazing Italian dishes? Elegant Asian fusion, Indian food, or stunning baked goods are also options. Some caterers prefer to focus on local food, while others offer vegan options only. At this point, you don’t need to get into the actual menu, but you do need to select your unique selling point.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

With the paperwork out of the way, you’ll need to make a great impression with your food. While marketing and promotion can be a good way to get people to hire you in the first place, it’s the food and service that will keep them coming back for more.

You’ll need to register your business, but it’s also important that you get the proper food licences. Check with the local business council to find out what you need to have. In most cases, you’ll need to have approval of your premises in order to prepare food there. You’ll also need an alcohol licence if you’re going to sell any alcohol.

Plan for Safety

A safety plan must also be in place. This means you’ll need catering insurance and should be ready for any potential issues that may arise. Food safety is, of course, the most important thing here. If someone gets sick from how the food is handled, your business will be ruined. This means everyone working there should be thoroughly instructed in how to manage food safety.

You’ll want to invest in the right equipment to ensure everything is kept at the right temperature, as well. Cold food should stay cold and hot should stay hot. Keep this in mind for everything from preparation to transporting and serving.

Another thing to keep in mind is fire safety, as this is also very important. You should have fire safety equipment ready to go, no matter where the food prep is taking place.

Plan a Wonderful Menu

What sort of menu are you interested in producing? Most catering companies offer a few options for each part of the meal. For example, you may offer six to eight choices for appetisers, another few choices for salads and soups, then a half dozen choices for entrees, etc. The dishes don’t need to be elaborate, but they do need to be perfectly executed. You may wish to test out some different dishes on friends and family to see what is preferred. Then you can put the best dishes on the menu. It’s a good idea to have well done recipes for them, as well. This way, if you fall ill, someone else can still prepare the food.

Establish Your Suppliers

The next step is to find the best possible suppliers for your food. You need fresh, quality ingredients. Remember, you will be judged heavily on your food and that means you need to start with the best.

When looking for a good food supplier, you should choose a company that offers a variety of products. This ensures you can place just one or two orders and get everything you need. Usually, you’ll have one supplier for vegetables and fruits, another for meat, and another for dairy and bakery products.

As a catering company, you may not have a steady flow of work and your ingredients will vary constantly. This means you also need suppliers who can adjust to your needs each order. Once you’ve connected with a quality food supplier, you will want to keep them around for years to come. It’s essential that you can trust exactly what you get from them and that they will deliver on time, every time.

Organise Your Ingredients

Every catering company needs to have their ingredients set up. You’ll pay less if you purchase in bulk, so products that are not fresh and can be kept for long periods of time should be purchased in larger amounts. They will keep for when you need them. However, this means you’ll need proper storage.

Fridges, freezers, and closed pantries are a necessary part of running a catering business. Be sure to keep everything sorted so you can easily find what you need, when you need it. For example, you may have large, airtight bins for flour and corn flour, etc. while sugar is in a smaller bin. Rice, beans, and other items can also be stored in bins, too. These may be added as needed.

Promote Your Business

Now that you have everything in place, you can begin to really get the word out. There are endless ways to do this, but you need to find the highest impact methods.

Website: Your website should be easy to navigate and ought to contain sample menus, catering information, and everything your clients need to know in order to hire you.

Social Media: Choose one or two social media platforms where you can really do well and make sure you post regularly. Image heavy social media platforms tend to do best with catering, so you can share images of food and events to entice people.

Testimonials: Be sure to get testimonials and feedback from as many customers as possible. If someone liked your service, ask them to rate you online. These reviews can also be shared on your site, and even on social media.

Branding: You should have branding on everything, from your delivery van to your boxes. Keep every logo the same and use the same colours across the board. This will create a consistency that encourages brand recognition.

SEO: Everything you do online should use keywords to help people find your business. If someone is looking for local caterers, you want your business to come up quickly.

Marketing is a huge part of running any kind of business. You’ll eventually get a reputation and will likely pick up more and more work from word of mouth. As people tell others about you, they’ll begin to book with you.

As you expand your catering business, you’ll need to ensure your suppliers and your business plan expands with you. With more events, you’ll need more equipment and more employees. This can be an exciting time for your business!

If you’re in the beginning stages of running a catering business or have already started, you’ll need an excellent supplier of fresh bakery and dairy products. Freshways is here for you. We offer excellent quality products and a wide variety, as well.

Whether you need cheeses, milk, jams, or butter, we can provide you with the amount you need, large or small. Contact Freshways now to learn more about how we can help you launch your business.