Do you enjoy cooking food for others? Can you make a mean chicken Kiev or some particularly impressive buffet? Others might like your dishes too much that you might consider starting your own catering business. But just because you can cook or bake well doesn’t mean you have what it takes to run a flourishing catering business.
However, it doesn’t mean you can’t turn your passion. By following a step-by-step research plan, you can decide in advance how much you can realize your dream of starting and operating your own small business.
While there are no reliable guidelines for a thriving home catering business, there is a long way to go with a few culinary art skills, courage, and grace under fire. According to Shmoop, the restaurant business can be run from a home full-time or part-time, earning between $30,000 and $80,000 annually.
You can begin small catering events that you can handle yourself or see with some assistants. Startup costs depend a lot on how big you want to start, what your state needs to sell homemade food. Besides, what you already need to get started. On average, you can assume an investment of $10,000 to $50,000 to get begun, according to Entrepreneur.com. But if you start small, you can at least be able to inaugurate your own business at a low cost.
What you need to get started in the home catering business
Before embarking on the restoration, there are a few points to consider:
- Would you focus on a particular type of food or program? For example, would you just make cocktails?
- Will you cook at the customer’s premises or cook and serve at home? This can mean buying special items to keep food hot or cold during transport.
- Does your state allow you to do home-based catering, and if so, do you need an inspection or special authorization? Touch base with the professional licensing agency or your state’s health department. They will help you to determine if you need to be licensed to run a home catering business or not.
Once you have decided on the above, you need to gather the necessary equipment and supplies. Most states that allow home-based catering have particular rules to start this business. For example, you may need to have a set of cooking utensils, appliances, pans, servers, etc. Used for professional purposes only, not in your personal kitchen. The same can be said for food ingredients. In some cases, you may need a separate kitchen.
Steps to start a catering business from home
Here are a few steps to make a home-based catering business a success.
Create a business plan
Before taking a risk in any business venture, you need to have a concrete business plan. In fact, if this was the only way to start a prosperous business, there might be more around Richard Branson – the most challenging part is the implementation of the plan.
However, if you don’t have a sensible and strenuous business plan, you will fail. How to grow your catering business and give yourself the best chance for success.
Determine your target market.
To begin your catering business, you’ve to find your target market. Everyone needs catering at weddings, parties, and business conferences. If you just pay attention on one niche, you have a much better chance of success.
It’s vital to choose a clearly defined target market and build a business around solving one of their specific problems. You can then create your brand around that segment, which will influence your overall marketing efforts and the way you interact with your customers.
Consider it in a way: if you are organizing a wedding, would you go with a typical catering company that doesn’t really suit your needs or a caterer specializing in weddings and having a website with good bridal reviews? Certainly, you want to be the latter for whatever niche you choose to serve.
Find a market niche
Find a place in a market that is not very competitive, or you think you can do your best here. As a small caterer, you will not be able to arrange to seat for 100 guests at the wedding. Still, you can find comfort in wedding showers, engagement parties, and bachelor parties. Set up the menu you want to offer to the catering customer. Check out what your competitors are offering.
Visit local restaurants in your area that offer catering services. Modify the menu according to your business features and the strength of your market. Pricing your food items so you can stay in the game but make revenue. Pricing is always nerve-wracking. Before setting your rates, decide where you live, the time it takes to prepare a dish, the cost of ingredients, and the profit you intend to make.
Identify potential customers.
Contact with your business community peers to find out what their companies are looking for in caterers to help you find out what your potential customers want. If you do not have personal contacts, who can help you, call some potential customers. Let them know that you are not marketing anything, and you just want to ask questions about what they would like to recommend to the caterers. But make sure you take the time to find the right person to contact every business. Otherwise, you run the risk of moving too fast.
This will help you collect information about the services that corporate customers want beyond food (such as setup, takedown, staff, bar, etc.). Moreover, it also helps you know how these companies make a financial plan for catering and how they often use catering.
Establish relationships with suppliers
Find a reliable vendors. Dennis Vivald, in his book, “How to Start a Home-based Catering Business,” wrote that “Dining is more than cooking.” Caterers are often expected to provide clothes, crockery, glassware, utensils. Moreover, they also provide tables and chairs at certain events, as well as food. Investigate suppliers in your area in advance.
Plan your business
Develop a business plan covering the additional investments and the first three to six months of income and liabilities. Obtain the required license. Business license from the state and possibly the city and county where you live is also crucial for your home-based catering.
Licenses and permits
The county or state health department will inspect your kitchen for safety and comprehend if it encounters the health codes. Many residents’ kitchens do not fulfill their requirements. So, it’s imperative to renovate your kitchen or find a kitchen that has already been examined. A restaurant that only serves dinner allows you to use the kitchen outside of opening hours for a rental fee. The food handler’s license will also be mandatory.
Focus on marketing
Make marketing programs that help you to reach your targeted clientele. Prepare business cards, stationery, and a brochure to promote your business. Make some of your signature meals and take good photos for ads and your business website.
Always wear a professional uniform that should be clean without any food stains. Wear an extra shirt or apron when you’re at work.
Instead of offering a wide range of dishes, focus on offering a limited menu of leftover food. However, if there is a special request from a client, try to respect it.
Call your insurance agency. Because you use your home for business and your car for enterprise, your insurance coverage may vary. Find out if you need accident liability coverage and if anyone is sick or thinks they are suffering because of your food.