Starting Your Small Catering Business

Your friend is visiting Salt Lake City to catch up with you but also to check out a metal fabrication company known for making customized range hoods made of copper, brass or aluminum. He owns a fancy restaurant up north in Tremonton. You were classmates at the culinary school, but things took a different turn for you, and you couldn’t finish your course.

Cooking is still your passion. On occasion, you would cook for friends and families. Some had suggested that you go back to school. You also wanted to pick your friend’s brain and see what ideas he might have. After the prodding by family and friends, you started to think about opening a small catering business. Your friend will undoubtedly have insights on how to go about it. You can ask him about how to start a catering business.

And here are a few things that he might share with you.

An Overview of the Catering Industry

As of July 2019, the catering industry in the USA already generated a total of $11 billion in revenue. Companies have been spending on events, and this has significantly contributed to the growth of the industry. There are nearly 68,700 businesses across America, powering the 4.6% annual growth rate for the past five years.

Launching Your Business

The restaurant industry is probably one of those industries that are always in constant flux—from what’s offered at restaurants to the way people access and consume food. Food delivery service, for example, has been thriving. For setting up your catering services, here are a few things you need to consider:

  1. Serious reflection. Competition is tough. The market is saturated in some places. That’s what you are facing, so the first thing that you need to do is to reflect on what you want to do. What were the things that work for you in culinary school? Are you good at preparing a specific cuisine from a particular region or country? You need to start hemming out what drives you in terms of food and what you are good at making.  Your reflection should be followed by research to determine what the market wants. Identifying your niche is not just about what you can offer; it’s also about what potential customers want.
  2. Design your menu. Once you have completed your reflection, it’s time to let the creative juices flow and create your list. This step is crucial because it will have an impact on the kind of space you need to occupy. Make sure that the ingredients you will use are readily available each time you have an order. If the ingredients are seasonal, it might be challenging to sustain a menu over the long term.
  3. Equipment list. Your menu will also help dictate the equipment that you need. Are you including Mexican dishes on your menu? Do you need to by a tortilla maker? What about the other logistical aspects of your operation, like transporting your food? Do you have the proper container and the necessary vehicle? All of these are important considerations for your catering operation.
  4. Fix the organization. From the get-go, make sure that you devote some time to the organizational and business aspects of your operation, from properly setting your official company to filing for the necessary permits and licenses, and from understanding your financial position to running your marketing campaign.

These are some of the critical steps you need to take. There are still a few in between. You’re going to have to create an online presence, and before that, draft your business plan. When things are running smoothly, you want to ask for your customers’ feedback so that you can grow the business.

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