How To Start A Catering Business

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Image of a Catered event

How To Start A Catering Business: Are You Aware Of These Issues?

Catering Business Overview:

Your day as a caterer may start very early, with you preparing meals and organizing equipment and vans to drive to party locations.

Parties may be weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthdays, retirements, and so on. After cooking the meals, you will have to transport the food and your staff to the location and begin your setup.

After setting up, you must serve the food according to schedule and finally, everything must be cleaned up and packed up before you leave the party.

Skill Set:
  • A background in the culinary arts is plus
  • Party-planning skills are a plus
  • The knowledge of proper dining etiquette is a must
  • An eye for decorating
  • Time management skills
  • People skills
  • List of Common Business Skills

Employee and Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase or In The Future:
Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

Open for inquiries from 9 am to 5 pm. Actual events, however, may occur during morning, afternoon, and evening hours.

Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:
  • Kitchen equipment and utensils
  • Serving utensils, dishes, and silverware
  • Mixers, juicers, food blenders
  • Skillets, pots, pans
  • Tables and linens
  • Condiment trays with salt, pepper, sugar, cream, etc.
  • Means of transportation
  • Refrigeration unit(s)
  • Specialty equipment such as panini grills and chocolate fountains
  • Van or box truck
  • Essential office Equipment

Monthly Expenses and Operating Costs To Consider:

In addition to our list of common business expenses, your catering service will require a budget for the ongoing cost of acquiring required the food you will be serving, disposable supplies such as (Sterno cans, possibly plastic ware such as glasses dishes, for casual events, and cleaning supplies.

Licenses:

You will need a food handler’s permit for both you and your employees. If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages, you will also need a liquor license.

See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Approximate Startup Cost:

If you start out of your home, you may be able to start for around $2,000 USD. However, Entrepreneur Magazine estimates that startup costs can range from $10,000 USD to $50,000 USD.

Tips & Considerations:

  • Regular checks will be conducted by health officials
  • Food temperature must be monitored at all times
  • You must Conform to all applicable food service laws
  • Consider the type of catering you want. Some specialize in weddings. Others may only cook vegan meals. Some run a restaurant in conjunction with catering. There are even franchises such Café Ala Carte®.
  • It may take a full day, week, or even month, to prepare for a full-course event. Other events may only require finger foods that only take a few hours to prepare and set up.
Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • There is an opportunity for high revenue
  • Freedom of being your own boss
  • A wide variety of creativity in menu planning

The Cons:

  • You may encounter considerable competition
  • Working long hours, including holidays
  • Dealing with people at sometimes stressful special events, like weddings
  • Staying current with all food service rules and regulations
Type of Customers You Need to Attract:

The types of customers vary greatly. Caterers serve weddings, fundraisers, parties, religious ceremonies like christenings and bar mitzvahs, and many other events. Smaller caterers may serve breakfast or lunches at offices.

Statistics:

According to Inc.com, the catering industry is a $7 billion USD business annually.
A survey done by the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE) reports that in 2010, 44% of their members noticed an increase in business party clients.

For more statistical information, please refer to Valuation Resources and First Research.

Resources:

A Day In The Life of A Caterer:

A Day In The Life of A Caterer | Classic Catering

A working life: The mobile caterer | The Guardian

A Day in the Life of a Caterer | B & M Catering Company

Life of Brian: A Day in the Life of a Caterer… | Brianarcher

A Day in the Life of a Caterer | A Catering Life

One Day in the Life of a Caterer | Women’s Voices For Change

A Day in the Life of a Caterer | Taste Buddies

Business Plan:

Catering Company Business Plan Sample – Executive Summary | Bplans

Catering Business Plan Template – 9+ Free Word, Excel, PDF Format Download | Templates.net

Catering Business Articles & Tips:

6 Steps to Starting Your Very Own Catering Company – Smarty Cents

Starting a Catering Business | Entrepreneur.com

How to Start a Catering Business | Inc.com

How to Start a Self-Catering Business | Thebalance.com

How to Start a Catering Business | LegalZoom

How to Start a Catering Business | NFIB.com

Top 7 Tips For Starting A Catering Business |Investopedia.com

Catering Industry Tips:

Expert Catering Tips – Knowing How Much Food is Enough! Belvederebanquets.com

10 Things that make up a good caterer | Localcatering.com

10 Things To Be A Better Caterer | Crown Verity

10 Steps to Catering Success | Culinary Capers.com

Industry Niche

NICHES | Catering Sales Tips

Niches are caterers’ low-hanging fruit | Cashing in on Catering

Niche Catering Ideas | eHow

Catering Books:

Catering: A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation

The Everything Guide to Starting and Running a Catering Business

Off-Premise Catering Management

How to Start a Home-based Catering Business (Home-Based Business Series)

Catering: A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation

How to Start a Catering Business

How to Start a Home-Based Catering Business, 5th

Catering Training / Courses:

What Training is Necessary for a Career in Catering? | Learn.org

Education for Catering | Study.com

Caterer Training | Penn Foster Career School

Catering Training Courses | TISOH

The 20 Best Culinary Schools | The Best Schools

Best Culinary Schools in America | Edinformatics.com

Best Cooking Schools Around the World | Travel + Leisure

Catering Forums:

Professional Catering | Cheftalk.com

Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses | The BBQ Brethren Forums

Discussion Forum – The Association of Club Catering Professionals

Catering Software:

Best Catering Software 2016 Reviews | Capterra.com

The world’s best catering software | Caterease

Catering Management CRM | Eventpro.net

Top 11 Best Catering Software | Top best alternatives

Best Catering Software | Cheftalk.com Forum

Catering Supplies & Equipment:

Catering Supplies | Wholesale catering equipment

Catering Supplies specializes in wedding reception catering supplies | Catering Supplies.com

Catering Equipment | Webstaurantstore.com

Catering Supplies & Equipment | Atlanta Fixture & Sales

Catering Supplies Cheap | Shindigz

Catering Equipment and Supplies | Centralrestaurant.com

Associations:

National Association for Catering and Events | NACE

The International Caterers Association | Internationalcaterers.org

The Association of Club Catering Professionals | The ACCP.com

Hospital Caterers Association | Hospitalcaterers.org

Established Businesses & Websites:

Top 5 Caterers: San Francisco | Socialtables.com

Benchmarc

Tri-State’s Premier Wedding & Event Caterer

CulinArt Catering Site

Cleaver Co.

Tasty Catering

Jay’s Catering

Catering By Seasons

R&R Catering!

Pure Joy Catering

Rebecca Jean Catering

Catering by Uptown

Whoa Nelly Catering

Rocky Top Catering

Catering Franchise Opportunities:

Catering Franchise Opportunities | Franchising.com

Food Catering Franchise Opportunities | Thefranchisemall.com

Catering Franchise Opportunities, Catering Franchises for Sale | FranchiseDirect.com

Catering Franchise Opportunities | Businessmart.com

Catering Businesses For Sale:

Catering Services Businesses for Sale | Buy Catering Services Businesses at BizQuest

Catering Businesses For Sale in US | BusinessesForSale.com

Catering Businesses For Sale | MergerNetwork.com

Catering Business For Sale USA | BusinessForSale.com

Catering News And Industry Sites:

Catersource

Hospitality & Catering News

Catering Trade Publication

News, trends, and analysis for the catering equipment industry

Hospitality Net Industry News

Hospitality News

Catering Trends:

Trends & Style | Catersource

2016 catering trends restaurant operators should know | Restaurant Hospitality

12 top wedding food trends | CBS News

Catering Trends You’ll Discover in 2016

8 Hot New Wedding Food Trends For 2016

Catering Trends to Try at Your Restaurant

6 Event Catering Trends for 2016