The 10-step Guide on How to Start a Catering Business

Jun 24, 2021

Your friends constantly rave about how mouthwatering your dishes are. Whenever you host a party and cook for your guests, everyone goes gaga over your recipes. Even your parents have long known that you’re destined to dominate the food industry. And now, you finally wish to materialize that idea of you being an exceptional caterer. So you turn to the internet for help and start typing these words  - How to Start a Catering Business?

Well, I’m thrilled that you land on this page. I used to own a restaurant and catering business for more than a decade. Thus, I do have substantial knowledge of the subject matter. So, without further ado, let’s dive in! 

Step 1: Select Your Catering Niche

Finding your niche makes it easier for you to determine the particular services and foods that you must offer to the market. For example, you love baking pastries and cakes; then a desserts-only catering niche would perfectly suit you. On the other hand, if you know that you make fabulous, plant-forward dishes, consider the vegetarian catering niche. The niche market you select will significantly help you specify your business’s other components, especially your menu and pricing. But remember that even if you’re offering a single type of food, your meal options must still vary - your menu must remain enticing among your clients. Here are some of the niche options for small caterers: Weddings, Corporate Events, Sports Festivals, Bereavement, Children’s parties.

Step 2: Decide on a Business Name

I know how exciting it is to decide on your business name. However, please don’t settle for a brand name only because it’s beautiful-sounding or cool. You have to understand that your business name is more than a name. It’s among the most crucial representations of your overall business. Not to mention that it also plays a massive role in your SEO rankings. So try to gravitate towards a practical yet striking business name. And if you’re struggling to come up with one, give this Free Keyword-Rich Business Name Generator a try

Step 3: Create A Business Plan 

Since you already have an idea of your target market, menu, pricing, and business name - it’s time to develop your business plan. This written document must cover the following: your executive summary, business objectives, company description, market analysis, competitor analysis, organization & management,  services & products, marketing & sales, funding request, and financial projections. A well-made business plan lets you better understand your customer, competition, strategies, and opportunities. 

Step 4: Secure and Set Up Your Catering Space

Many aspiring caterers wonder if it’s possible to use their home kitchens as their space for operations. Well, it depends on what state you are residing in since most states prohibit the use of residential kitchens as a place for commercial food production. If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend you temporarily co-op with other food establishments. Plenty of restaurants allow other people to rent their kitchens for a few hours or during downtime. 

And if fortunately, your state authorizes you to use your home kitchen, your place will be subjected to health inspections from your local health department. Plus, you have to ensure that your cooking equipment, plumbing, ventilation, refrigeration system, and food waste disposal meet the regulatory standards. 

Step 5: Acquire Proper Catering Equipment

Since you’ll now be preparing/cooking larger batches of food, your kitchen equipment game must level up! And because catering equipment is often pricey, try to evaluate the supplies and equipment you truly need. Base your purchase on your previously made menu. Will you offer a lot of baked goods? Then you might want to consider installing more ovens. Also, invest in the things you’ll mainly use upon operation, such as refrigerators, walk-in freezers, pots, pans, and sinks.  

Step 6: Do the Paperworks

A How To Start a Catering Business Guide would not be complete unless it talks about the paperwork you have to do to legalize your brand. Acquiring your catering business’s proper permits and licenses is a MUST and a step you should never skip folks. As you establish your business, you’ll need to apply for numerous permits, licenses, and certifications; state-level and city-based ones. 

Step 7: Hire Staff

Aside from the cooks that will assist you during food preparations, you also need to hire other staff to run your catering business smoothly. Servers, dishwashers, bussers, bartenders, supervisors - these are a few of the people you might want to recruit to your team to better your business performance. See to it that you train them for the quality of service you want to offer your clients. 

Step 8: Tackle Transportation Concerns

Figuring out the logistics of a catering business is never easy. Again, laws regarding food handling and transportation vary from one state to another. But this is what I’m sure about - your transportation can affect your food preparation and vice versa. So keep this in mind when you buy the vehicle you’ll use in your business. For instance, if you make ice creams and other frozen treats, you must look into a refrigerated truck to transport your products safely to the event. Similarly, if you specialize in wedding catering and often feature giant, fabulous cakes, you have to opt for a spacious truck to deliver your masterpiece efficiently. 

Step 9: Find Suppliers

Finding suitable suppliers for your catering business is like winning the lottery. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it does feel like that. Imagine the time and effort you’ll save when you exactly know where to get your ingredients and other catering supplies! With that said, do your research thoroughly. Looks for credible suppliers that will only give you the finest quality in the market. 

Step 10: Market Your Catering Business

Yes, the final step in this how to start a catering business guide is no other than to market your catering business! You can acquire the most expensive kitchen equipment and the best menu in the industry, but all of your preparations are useless without clients. With that said, you must invest in marketing to keep the ball rolling for your business.

There are countless marketing channels where you can showcase your business. Of course, you can try the conventional ways such as flyers, posters, and word of mouth. However, a considerable fraction of your potential clients is now on the internet. Thus, digital marketing is the way to go! With the right SEO strategies, you’ll capture more leads, orders, and clients. SEO experts can help you navigate your way into the top spots of Google, where people can discover your brand a lot quicker. 

Market Your Catering Business with Al Shan Marketing

For professional help with marketing your catering business, contact Al Shan Marketing. We provide a client-focused, customized catering marketing plan to attract more clients and bookings. Give us a call at (949) 424-7824 or mail us at [email protected]

Open your new catering business to endless growth opportunities. Contact Al Shan Marketing today! 

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