Catering business are like any other business in that they require careful planning to achieve long-term success. Whether you are running it from your home, starting a mobile catering business, or running your services from a fixed site, there are a number of things to consider and plan for so that you can make a profit from your new venture. As long as you have the necessary space, facilities and hygiene in your home, you can use it as a base for your business and save on costs. Buying or renting equipment can be a huge investment, so if you already have some of the things necessary for your catering business at home, you can reduce your expenditure when starting up.
Choose a business model that suits you
Each type of catering business model comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. To make sure your business is sustainable for the future, choose the type that best suits your abilities.
Be realistic, however, as you will need a significant amount of space to feed anyone over 50 people. One small oven and 4 hobs might not be enough to handle your operations. And how about your freezer space? Are you able to keep things cool while storing your own daily food products? How many Euro containers (600x400) can you actually fit in your car?
Some people opt to re-purpose their garages to help with their home catering operations, with the addition of extra refrigeration units and preparation tables. Everyone loves street food today. The growth in street food businesses in the UK has contributed to the growing popularity of mobile vans or Ďfood trucksí, which are an excellent way to keep your catering business portable. All you need is a good mobile van and the necessary equipment and you can pretty much take jobs across the country, moving your van to various sites such as festivals or sports events.
If you choose this option, remember that the space limitations of a mobile van will have an impact on how much you can prepare at any one time.
Many fine dining professional caterers operate from a specially rented or purchased site, which allows them to keep their work life separate from their home life. It also offers more storage options and facilities. If you are investing in some stylish food preparation counters too, itís not a bad place to† bring your clients and show them you are more than capable of turning out high quality food.
- Fixed site catering business
Some caterers simply rent out small spaces in business centres or storage facilities to keep all of their dry stock and cooking equipment, bringing it out to sites or events as and when they need it.
Create an airtight plan
Whichever type of catering business you have chosen, a business plan is the foundation of any successful catering operation. Weíve outlined some of the important things your plan should detail:
Perform a SWOT analysis
- Create a business profile for yourself and outline the relevant experience and qualifications you have to run the business. This will also help to win clients when you are pitching to them.
- Identify who will perform the important activities of the business Ė cooking, serving, marketing, sales etc.
- What is the mission of your catering business, and how is it different from your competitors?
- How will this business be financed? Savings? Loans?
- What equipment do you need? (Chafing trays, Euro containers (600x400) etc.)
- What niche or market will the business focus on? This will inform many other choices for your catering business.
- How does the market look? (Past, present and future)
We always recommend that new business perform a SWOT analysis as part of their business plans. This includes the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in running the operation. This should highlight things like the ways your catering business is better than the competition? And the potential disadvantages that come with running it.
A sober look at your finances
Donít underestimate the impact that an accurate review of your start-up costs and sales forecasts for the year ahead will have on your business. Donít just guestimate, actually outline every single thing that is likely to impact your profitability. If things are simply too tight, itís better to know now rather than realise 2 months into an agreement with a client that you canít deliver because you donít have enough cash flow.