The market size of the catering industry was close to 14.22 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. And half of the caterers believe that the biggest growth areas are in corporate sales and off-site catering opportunities.
But there is a rise in the number of catering businesses in the country, which leads to great competition in the industry.
If you are considering starting a catering business, you should avoid the mediocre approach of getting the essential resources and registering your business with the local health department and authorities.
It is important to know in-depth details about how to start a catering business and scale it to new heights.
So, without further ado, let’s get the learning started.
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Benefits of Starting Your Own Catering Business
Looking at the opportunities in the catering industry. It’s a great time to kick-start your new catering business and stand out to achieve new business heights.
But starting a catering business also provides you with many perks that are hard to find.
1. No significant investment
You don’t require a large investment sum to start your catering business. You can focus on small-scale parties and events to initiate your catering operations. A catering business doesn’t require a dedicated office space, a large workforce, and different heavy resources.
You can start a catering company from your home with a little investment needed to cover the basic expenses of the event. You can also ask for an advance fee from your clients to avoid any financial crunch and be safe with your client’s booking.
2. Opportunities to explore different industries
The catering industry has different niches to focus on. You have different target markets where you can connect and strengthen your presence.
The versatility offers you the freedom to unlock the opportunities available in the industry and provides you the platform to build countless work possibilities.
3. Minimum advertisement and promotions
You can save your advertisement and promotional costs because the catering business is more dependent on recommendations and word-of-mouth marketing. Once you deliver a quality experience to different clients, then you’ll get a steady client inflow.
You can utilize the additional marketing budget to scale your business operations and build a successful catering business.
4. Open to modern adoptions
Apart from traditional catering services, you can start modern online catering services where you need proper delivery service, and it can help you serve your customers with finesse.
Your delivery team should integrate professional delivery route planners like Upper to ensure on-time and quick deliveries to different locations.
These benefits are hard to achieve if you don’t consider different factors before starting a home-based catering business.
Things to Consider Before You Start a Catering Company
Multiple factors can be considered before you execute catering company operations. But we have filtered the most important factors to help you set a strong foundation.
1. Choose a speciality
You can find it easier to scale your catering business if your business structure is focused on a specific niche. You can set up a solid base of repetitive clients and help you attract potential customers through positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Providing special catering services to specific niche-oriented groups to increase the impact of your business operations.
- What food types do you want to serve your niche?
- Is it vegan or gluten-free cuisine?
- What type of events or parties do you want to serve?
- How will you manage your catering service?
These questions can help you tailor your small business and help you with effective food preparation for your audience. The niche-specific business structure determines how good and focused catering companies are.
3. Understand your market
For a successful business; you must understand your industry, audience, and competitors. Ensure you dig deep with your research and set a solid foundation before starting your business.
Look for your area’s special cuisine and what the customer demands in a catering service. Integrate different modern-day technologies and famous cuisines to deliver a quality customer experience.
Ensure you understand your competitors and focus on their strengths and weaknesses. Deep research can give you a great idea about executing and scaling your catering business and ensuring you stand out.
4. Enable on-site and off-site catering options
You also need to filter what type of catering service you prefer for your clients. Decide whether you want to integrate an on-site or off-site catering strategy for your business.
Running an off-site catering business means you need to prepare food outside the event location and deliver it to the site. While on-site catering means the food is prepared at the event and served to the guests or attendees within no time.
You can also adapt to the suitable method based on the customer’s requirements and scale your business operations to new heights.
5. Follow home-based catering
Ensure you follow the set requirements to run a catering business. Inquire about different permits and licensing requirements for your catering company, as different states have different requirements.
Also, check with the liquor license requirements to ensure you offer a versatile experience to your clients. Based on the scale and type of catering business, there are different permits and licenses you must procure, but here are the general licenses required to start your business:
- A general business license
- A zoning permit
- Health permits
Contact the local health department and the Secretary of State to understand more about the license and permit requirements for starting your own business.
Once you have completed the initial check, it’s time to start executing your business operations.
8 Steps to Start a Catering Business
Here are the simple steps that you should consider in order to run a catering business.
1. Create a business plan
Creating a business plan can help you streamline your catering business operations and follow a dedicated business path to unlock true business success.
You should also calculate your initial business startup costs based on your catering business niche and scale. It can help you understand how to arrange the required funds and start business operations.
You should create well-vetted plans for different aspects of your catering business, like marketing, financing, hiring, management, work management, etc.
Ensure your business covers:
- The vision and mission of your catering business.
- The problem you are solving for your customers.
- The business resources essential for your business success.
- What are the stand-out points you have compared to your competitors?
- Future hiring and project management strategies and goals.
A brief overview of your business plan can ensure your workforce can align with your vision and help you unlock your desired business goals within a limited time.
2. Choose a business name
Ensure you choose a reliable business name and register your business with the local authorities. You should choose a catchy or trendy business name that represents the type of business you run and the niche market you target.
You can take inspiration from different competitors or global-leading catering food businesses and come up with a creative name.
While registering your business, you can choose between multiple business structures, like a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, etc., to make your business a legal entity.
3. Prepare a menu
Ensure you have prepared a menu of magnificent meals you’ll serve to your clients. Draft a rough menu to highlight the best dishes that can be prepared in your residential or commercial kitchen.
Based on your catering niche, you should tailor your menu. Ensure you cover corporate events, buffet-style catering, or other catering occasions with finesse.
You can customize your food business menu based on the client’s requirements and project demand. But it’s better to create a list of options to help your team create reliable supply orders and preparation processes. You can make changes in your business structures based on the catering options.
4. Purchase business resources
You need the essential cooking equipment, workforce, and kitchen space to operate and begin a catering business. Connect with the best retail distributors to get the best pricing for your food products and other essential ingredients required to deliver a quality customer experience.
Hire a few reliable and trustworthy individuals who can help you handle your catering business operations. You can also outsource different segments of your catering business to streamline your initial business operations and get efficient results without compromising on quality.
You can rent out or purchase different commonly used catering equipment to ensure you can achieve the desired outcomes for your customers.
5. Use affordable marketing strategies
Catering is highly reliable on word-of-mouth marketing, but affordable and impactful marketing efforts won’t harm the business.
You should keep a decent online and offline presence to strengthen your position, reach, and visibility in the industry. Create different web and social communication channels to communicate with your customers and solve their issues.
You can also create a referral system to boost client loyalty and increase your customer base for more business opportunities. Here are a few affordable and effective marketing strategies for your catering business.
- Post consistent images of your successful events on different social media platforms.
- Create local Google listings or create business profiles on different listing websites and answer honest feedback from your customers on these platforms.
- Integrate membership and referral programs to attract more customers and scale your business numbers.
Ensure you optimize your marketing strategy and adapt to modern techniques and strategies to stand out in the catering industry.
6. Get business insurance
It can protect your catering company if the untoward happens. Even if your state doesn’t require business insurance, you should buy different types of insurance to protect your business assets and shield you from being sued.
General liability insurance is the most common insurance for catering businesses. You can contact a limited liability company to get different insurance covers for your business.
You can also apply for:
- Commercial automotive insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Unemployment insurance
- Wrongful termination insurance
- Key person insurance
You can also consult a professional insurance company to get more clarity on which type of insurance is suitable for your catering business.
7. Start bookkeeping
Bookkeeping enables you to ensure you get paid by your customers, make payments to your supplies, track your cash flow, and handle different financial aspects.
Good bookkeeping practice can help you improve the backbone of your catering business operations and makes the tax filing process smoother.
You can use professional software or hire accounting experts to handle your own bookkeeping process for your business operations.
8. Choose a reliable route planner
Once you prefer off-site catering options, you must deliver delicious food to different event locations within the specified time. Also, delivery drivers must follow the shortest path to reach the destination and avoid inconvenience to your customers.
You need a professional route planner to handle the planning and optimization of your routes. It can also help you handle multiple-stop routing and streamline your food delivery process. You can get up-to-date information about your delivery driver’s location and communicate with them to handle different delivery complexities.
Our team has filtered the best route planner for your catering business to boost your overall business operations.
How Does an Upper Route Planner Help Your Catering Business Grow?
Upper Route Planner is an end-to-end route planning and optimization software ideal for improving your delivery process.
You can boost your off-site catering business structure by integrating a professional route planner like Upper that offers quick and accurate route planning results.
You can create multiple routes at once and help your delivery drivers reach their destination on time. Avail of the 7-day trial period now and experience the transformation.
Follow Cost-effective Routes for Catering Services
Set yourself free from manually planning routes and get Upper Route Planner to find efficient routes. It takes less than a minute to churn out cost-effective routes on Upper. Automize your route planning tasks now!
Catering business can be highly profitable if you set the basics right and ensure you don’t have the best resources to deliver the desired results. The catering industry offers excellent business opportunities.
Catering businesses host different events and provide the essential food supplies to the event to deliver quality customer service. Many catering service providers offer their space and other facilities for organizing different events.
No. It’s not hard to start a catering business. You must ensure you get the basics right and set up a solid foundation to start your business operations. Handle the operating costs and ensure the process of preparing food and serving dishes is excellent.
Catering business owners prefer an off-site business structure because of the freedom and access to all essential resources. But delivering food to different event locations can be overwhelming. We understood the different factors you need to consider for starting a catering business and learned about its multiple benefits.
Referring to an 8-step process, we hope now you won’t have difficulty while launching your new catering business. We recommend you use Upper Route Planner to minimize the route planning job whenever you are out to provide catering service to different locations. Book a demo with us to know how Upper can be a go-to tool for your catering business.