You’ve decided to take the leap and start your own catering business. That’s good news! #Catering businesses tend to have high success rates within the highly competitive food industry. Unlike restaurants and food production businesses, catering requires less overhead and has the potential to provide its owner with more financial freedom.
However, it takes a lot of work. Long hours will be spent on your feet and in front of a calculator figuring out costs and budgets. If you’re able to overcome these challenges, catering can offer an exciting and lucrative career path.
We rounded up some of the best tips from experienced caterers on how to get a start in the industry:
1) Get experience working for a catering business: This rule applies to anyone who is planning on becoming a business owner, but it is especially crucial in catering. The experience will train you on how to handle a high pressure environment. You will learn how to develop the skills to think quickly and acquire the ability to problem solve. But the real reason you should work for someone else first is to get a taste of what running a real catering business actually takes. Only then will you be able to determine if catering is the right #career for you.
2) Network with event and wedding planners: These are the people that will bring you business. If you develop a good relationship with even just two planners, you will have enough business to keep you going. Your job as a caterer is to work for the planner. Make sure you attend networking events with these people and put your best foot forward. Catering is a referral-based business. If one planner raves about you and recommends you to someone else in the industry, this is the start of a promising client book.
3) Take at least one business class: As a catering business owner, you most likely fall on the creative side. That’s perfect because that’s what it takes to be able to create any business, but especially one that involves food! However, a catering business still needs to produce an income for you and your employees. At first, you likely won’t be able to hire an accountant to handle the financial side of the #business. You need to learn how to keep books and manage a budget. You need to be able to account for your overhead costs and determine how to make a profit. Take a class at any business school or look for free alternatives online. There are many resources available. The point is: do not neglect the financial side of the business.
4) Be active on social media: Many old-school businesses refuse to adopt #socialmedia. However, as a newcomer to the industry, you have the opportunity to bring in a new audience. Find the social media platform that suits your business best. For a catering business, you’ll want to be on a platform that appeals to visuals, such as Instagram or YouTube. Creating a YouTube channel may take time, but it is still the fastest way to build a relationship between yourself and potential clients. Your content should be curated and engaging. You could share recipes, document your business growth and create video blogs tracking a day in the life of a catering expert. Get creative with social media. This is the chance to show off your skills.
5) Establish a niche: You probably won’t be able to identify your niche until you’ve worked a few events first. Do you excel at creating a wedding menu or do you specialize in corporate events? Sometimes your niche will come to you accidentally by working one event and getting so many referrals in that niche until it becomes your specialty. Other times, you’ll find that you are more comfortable in a specific setting and decide to narrow down and specialize there. Either way, finding your niche allows you to become an expert at something. When someone needs a caterer within that realm, your name will be the first to come to mind.
Author - Hager Eldaas