Catering simply refers to availing food at wide-ranging events. A catering business is a very lucrative business to start, with huge profit margins. No matter the prevailing conditions people will always need catering services. The customer base is large, as you can offer catering services at corporates events, weddings, birthday parties, social gatherings, sporting events, political events and even religious events. It is usually the norm that the majority of these events outsource catering services. That makes a catering business very viable. There is no end to the types of events where catering is usually needed. Since it is such a huge market it is strategic to start a catering business. Understand that the nature of catering business is so broad, diverse, and dynamic. That is why niching is a common element in the catering business. The choice of niche is often informed by a number of factors. It could be how the food is prepared and served. It could be how the food is priced. It could also be type of event to be served. At the end of the day you need to come up with well-defined catering services and the menus on offer. This article will outline how to start the catering services business, and the catering business plan – PDF, Word and Excel.
There are several approaches to the catering business. You can offer catering services for corporate events. One of the most common ones is providing catering services for weddings or engagements. You could do catering for social events. This is quite broad; it includes events such as parties, official launches, bridal showers, and the like. The other common one is providing catering services for big events. This can include live shows or sporting events. How you will make money is based on which niche(s) you will be serving. Other than the catering services, there are always several other ways to incorporate to make more money.
Due to the colossal size of the catering industry it becomes even more important to conduct research first. You need a good understanding of how the catering industry works, its trends and financial viability. Find out and closely study how existing catering business players are doing it. We are talking about things like services provided, food packages, markets served, pricing and marketing strategies amongst other things. In this age of the internet and social media this can be done by looking them up online. Alternatively you visit such service providers to learn about their business structures and models. Even when you attend events or are being served as a customer by a catering business service provider you can always find a way to draw insights on how they operate. If you do this diligently you are rest assured to build your own catering business with a strong value proposition. Most importantly you require a detailed catering services business plan before you venture into this business.
Location And Premises
There are basically 2 ways in which you can prepare the food that you will serve to your clients. You will either prepare it onsite or offsite. Preparing it offsite implies you will need a working space and that branches off into basically 3 possible options. You can set up a working area at home, you can have dedicated office & kitchen premises or your pay to use an already established working space. Operating from home might somehow be cheap but it is not recommended unless you build a professional working area. Bear in mind that catering businesses can be inspected by local and health authorities so it is important to have a standard working area. Generally, preparing offsite requires excellent logistical management to avoid inconveniences for the clients. Preparing the food onsite might be the best considering the elimination of other costs plus providing the food whilst still fresh. At the end of the day you will have to assess and see which approach works best for you. The approaches might not be cast in stone since you might have to alternate amongst them according to the dictates of each new client or scenario you encounter. If you are to establish a fixed working area it must be visible, accessible, clean and distanced from any possible contaminant factors. Your catering business plan should take into account the costs of renting or buying the premises.
The catering business is marked by stiff competition. It is often the case that there are several competitors in your target location or market. You need to closely examine all those competitors. What type of foods do they serve? What are their prices? What is their niche(s)? It is essential to not forget that you have indirect competitors too. People can sort out their catering needs themselves; that is a competition element you cannot ignore. There is a wide range of other businesses that can provide catering services.
Examples of such are supermarkets, hotels, or fast food joints. You have to study all of those to figure how to find your place in the market. Also take time to analyse their digital footprint. This will help you know how they reach out to people and generate leads. Your aim is to identify areas you can improve to become a superior catering business.
There are different kind of equipment that you will need for the catering services business. Examples are working areas (fitted with necessary items such as tables, sinks, taps and so on), freezer units, stoves, ovens, fryers, grills and the like. It is better to acquire or use industrial-grade equipment rather than makeshift with domestic equipment. Especially when the business grows to medium or large scale you will see how important this is. You will also need utensils some of which are knives, spoons, graters, scales, chopping boards, bowls, pots and so on – the list is endless. Transportation vehicles might also be vital for delivery purposes. When starting with a limited budget, you can consider buying preowned equipment, as this will lower your startup costs. Your catering business plan should include the costs of purchasing the equipment.
Products and Services
There are several ways of doing the catering services business. You can partner with event planners and provide food and beverages at a wedding parties. Most wedding clients prefer full service and real display catering services. You will provide all the equipment required to prepare and serve the food including silverware, plates, napkins. Also you prepare and serve the food. Catering services can also be offered to corporates & organizations, whereby you prepare and serve the food daily to company employees, or at corporate seminars & training events, business conference catering etc. Social event catering also has a big market, you can offer your catering services at music events & concerts, social parties like birthdays etc. Sporting events, religious events and political events also require catering services. Your products/menu will depend on the need of your clients. Practically you will end up preparing different kinds of meals as clients have different requirements. The catering services business plan should outline the services you will be offering.
Permits/Licenses, Insurance & Business Bank Account
Permits Or Licenses
Avoid the temptation to operate as an informal catering business. Build your catering business into a brand and get is registered as a business or company. It is even wiser to set up a proper office for your catering business. Catering entails food services so you need to be licensed. Apply for an operating license from your municipal or local authorities. It is also strategic to hire or work with properly certified catering staff. This will cement your brand image. Plus it will make your catering business more preferable; clients love getting served by professionals.
Insurance & Business Bank Account
Due to the nature of processes involved in catering, getting insured is paramount. That is why you need proper premises from which to operate from. This will make it easier to get your catering business insured. When looking for an insurer, do not just consider one insurance provider. Explore several of them so that you can compare. Handle the finances of your catering business via a business bank account. Every banking services provider has a facility specially tailored for businesses to open such accounts. This will help you manage your catering business finances separately from your personal finances.
Staff And Management
The required staff depends on the size of your business and the nature of the services that you will be offering. At the minimum you need chefs, waiters and logistics personnel. Some of these employees may be part time workers which you can call in whenever you get a contract to do. This maybe necessitated by the fact that offering catering services may not be a daily thing. Other required staff include accountants, supervisors, security team, stock controllers and managers, though this depends on the size of your catering services business. Your catering business should have sufficient number of well trained staff. This is because repeat purchases and ever-growing customer inflows are a product of swift, good and quality service from the staff. Having a small or skeletal staff makes it very difficult to provide swift service. Remember we are living in a fast-paced world where people don’t want to be kept waiting for too long. The salaries of all your employees must be catered for in your catering services business plan.
Marketing And Sales Strategies
Be Known Online
Get a website set up for your catering business. Include e-commerce functionality on the website. In fact, make it a web app so that it is also optimized for mobile access. There should be functionality for clients to order online. Have high definition visuals showing your catering business offerings. These will also be instrumental in your digital marketing efforts. This includes social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, and social media influencer marketing, amongst others. Getting known online is enhanced by propagating positive reviews and testimonials for your business. Any client you serve must be a source of social proof to buttress your catering business brand image. Get included on local online business listing platforms.
As a catering business you have the advantage of being able to make a difference in the community. There are lots of charitable activities you can do to put your catering business name out there. You can be involved by providing your services at community events. For instance, there can be sporting or entertainment events. There can be a wide range of conferences that can be held e.g. church conferences. You can always find a way to prepare and sell food to anyone participating in such events. You can even consider sponsoring community-based causes or events. This solidifies your catering business’ brand image.
The demand for catering services is huge. Catering services can be offered to weddings, business seminars, corporate canteens, training events, business conferences, funerals, sports events, political events, birthday parties, social gatherings, picnics, universities, religious events etc. A good reputation for reliability, consistency and good products & service are the key ingredients for developing the customer base for your catering business. You must also invest in proper branding and extensive marketing drives (especially on the internet and social media). Figure out competitive pricing regimes that can tip your competition over. One way to attract customers is by coming up with regular specials. Hygiene and presentation of your service offering and products are paramount to a favourable brand image. Take your time to conduct customer surveys in order to fully acquaint yourself with what exactly your customers like or dislike. Your catering services business plan should have a proper marketing plan.
Keys To Profitability
No Substitute For Quality And Efficiency
When it comes to preparing food, clients always expect efficient services and quality food. When you are expected to deliver lunch at 1pm, it has to be so. The food must exceed expectations in terms of quality. Quality should also be in the form of general cleanliness and presentability of catering staff. These are the most important considerations clients make when choosing catering businesses. They of course also consider the pricing but efficiency and quality can overshadow pricing.
Explore Cost Control Strategies
In order to offer competitive prices you need to control costs. In order to widen profit margins you need to control costs. Find areas you can tweak to reduce your operating costs. One area to explore can be your raw materials, ingredients, and the like. A catering business involves several inputs so factor in everything and seek to keep costs low. You should not compromise on quality though.
A catering business thrives on having a good reputation. Providing the best customer experiences is the core aspect your catering business must strive for. You should also look to perpetually expand your clientele.
Pre-Written Catering Business Plan (PDF, Word And Excel): Comprehensive Version, Short Funding/Bank Loan Version and Automated Financial Statements
For an in-depth analysis of the catering business, we encourage you to purchase our well-researched and comprehensive catering services business plan. We introduced the business plans after discovering that many were venturing into the catering services business without enough knowledge and understanding of how to run the business, lack of understanding of the financial side of the business, lack of understanding of : the industry, the risks involved , costs and profitability of the business; which often leads to disastrous losses.
The StartupBiz Global catering business plan will make it easier for you to launch and run your catering business successfully, fully knowing what you are going into, and what’s needed to succeed in the business. This is a complete business plan for catering services. It will be easier to plan and budget as you will be aware of all the costs involved in setting up and running the catering business.
Uses of the Catering Services Business Plan (PDF, Word And Excel)
The catering business plan can be used for many purposes including:
- Raising capital from investors/friends/relatives
- Applying for a bank loan
- Start-up guide to launch your catering services business
- As a catering business proposal
- Assessing profitability of the catering services business
- Finding a business partner
- Assessing the initial start-up costs so that you know how much to save
- Manual for current business owners to help in business and strategy formulation
Contents of the Catering Business Plan (PDF, Word And Excel)
The business plan for catering services includes, but not limited to:
- Marketing Strategy
- Financial Statements (monthly cash flow projections, income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, break even analysis, payback period analysis, start-up costs, financial graphs, revenue and expenses, Bank Loan Amortization)
- Industry Analysis
- Market Analysis
- Risk Analysis
- SWOT & PEST Analysis
- Operational Requirements
- Operational Strategy
- Why some people in the catering business fail, so that you can avoid their mistakes
- Ways to raise capital to start your catering business
The catering services business plan package consists of 4 files
- Catering Business Plan – PDF file (Comprehensive Version – 84 Pages)
- Catering Business Plan – Editable Word File (Comprehensive Version – 84 Pages)
- Catering Business Plan Funding/Bank Loan Version- Editable Word File (Short version for applying for a loan/funding – 43 pages)
- Catering Business Plan Automated Financial Statements – (Editable Excel File)
The business plan can be used in any country and can be easily edited. The financial statements are automated. This implies that you can change eg the markup, salaries etc, and all the other financial statements will automatically adjust to reflect the change.
Click below to download the Contents Page of the Catering Business Plan (PDF)
Get the Catering Business Plan (PDF, Word And Excel)
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We wish you the best in your catering business! Check out our collection of business plans , and more business ideas.