Starting a catering service of your own is a very lucrative business idea. It’s something you can start with a small investment and a bit of effort. However, if you want to make the most out of this business, you need to consider a few things.
#1 Deciding on a budget
Budget planning is the most crucial part of starting a business. Once you have a good idea as to how much you can spend on your business, you can then allocate the budget accordingly. While planning, make sure you take everything into account. Whatever it is that you need to spend money on should be included in your plan. After you’ve prepared the final budget, you can then decide whether or not you want to exclude certain things from it.
#2 Type of events you want to work with
As a startup, you should start small and choose events where you have to cater to only a handful of people. You could work with small corporate events, birthday parties, engagement parties, etc. However, once you’ve grown a little and established yourself in the industry, you should consider working with specific types of events only. You must have a niche of your own as it helps in the branding of your business.
#3 Preparing the menu
Ideally, your menu should reflect your expertise. For instance, if you specialize in Asian cuisine, a large portion (or even your entire menu) should consist of dishes from that specific area. Since you’re just starting, it’s better to stick to a specific type of cuisine at first and diversify the menu later on. Always prioritize quality over quantity (or variation).
#4 Hiring the right help
No matter how good a cook you are or how small the order is, you must have a helping hand with you. This will allow you to take a break now and then, and get more work done in less time. The person you hire doesn’t need to be an amazing cook. As long as they know the basics of cooking, cutting, or seasoning, it’ll do.
You could even divide the type of food you two make. For instance, if you’re handling all the savory items on the menu, let them take care of desserts.
#5 Setting up the kitchen
You don’t necessarily need an industrial kitchen to prepare the food. If the kitchen in your home is big enough and can accommodate at least two people working at a time, it should work too. Just make sure you’re following the guidelines set by the FDA while preparing the food.
#6 Purchasing the ingredients
Whenever you buy ingredients, try to buy them in bulk or from a wholesale market, as this can save you some money. Always look for fresh ingredients. If you’re buying packaged items make sure to check the expiry date first.
#7 Knowing your limits
As you start to grow, you’re likely to receive more and more orders. However, just because someone wants to order from you doesn’t mean that you have to comply. You need to limit the number of orders you handle in a week or daily. Otherwise, in an attempt to maximize quantity, you might end up compromising quality.
#8 Managing deliveries
Most of the new catering services use third-party agencies to manage the deliveries. You can either do that or handle the deliveries on your own. If you want to do it by yourself, you should at least hire some additional help to carry the food or drive you around. You’ll also need a refrigerated van to carry all the food. If buying a van (new or old) seems too expensive, you can just hire one for the day of your delivery.
BHRV has a wide range of refrigerated vans to choose from, both for sale, as well as for rent. So you might want to check that out. If you’re handling multiple deliveries at once, you should have a system to keep track of each delivery.
#9 Receiving the orders
You should have a specific ordering policy for your catering service. For instance, if the order is for more than 10 people, it should be placed at least 3 days before the delivery date. One of the policies that you must include is that of advance payments for large orders. You should only accept a large order if the customer is willing to pay you 50% of the total amount in advance. The other half of the payment can be taken after you’ve delivered the food.