If you want to start a business and have a passion for food, consider opening a catering business. The food industry is one of the most thriving sectors nowadays. Plus, the initial overhead for catering is far lower than opening a restaurant.
But as you can expect, catering is highly competitive. Therefore, you must do your research well and ensure you come prepared. So, here are some business tips for catering start-ups.
Choose the Right Location
The location of your catering business can be a vital factor in its success. If you are in the wrong place, you cannot expect to attract the number of customers you need to make it stay afloat. And if you are in a location full of competitors or with poor visibility, your target customers can’t find you.
First, identify your target market to determine the right location for your catering business. Knowing your target market allows you to study the demographics of a potential area to see if it’s the perfect location for your business.
Once you have a potential location, determine the amount of traffic that walks or drives by the area. The higher traffic, the better your chances of attracting people from the street. Opt for a location with lots of foot traffic but few competitors.
The ease of access and visibility are also factors to consider when looking for a location for your business. Is it easy for your customers to drive to your area? Will they face any obstacles to getting there, such as ongoing construction and other obstructions?
Next, find out about parking availability. If you are in a busy area with limited parking, you may want to consider valet parking services or look for a lot nearby to lease for your customers to park.
Putting your Menu Together
The menu is the foundation of your catering business. It will display the different dishes you can serve to your customers. Thus, one of the first steps to starting a catering business is to put a menu together. Determine what specialty foods you can offer in your establishments. For instance, if you are good at cooking steaks, it can serve as your specialty. Of course, you must have several other dishes to complement the steak, such as salads and sides.
When planning the menu, think about your target consumers. For instance, if you want to cater to higher-end clients who prefer upscale dining experiences, your menu should have exquisite options for gourmet lovers. On the other hand, if you want to target families with kids, your menu should include kiddie favorites, such as hotdogs, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets.
Be imaginative and creative in preparing your catering menu to attract your target customers. For instance, a waffle may be a simple dish, but it can become fancier if you put fancy toppings and garnishing like ice cream and fruits.
Know your Food Hygiene
Food Hygiene should be at the forefront of every catering business. Failing to comply with food hygiene standards and regulations can result in the spread of foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli. Simple tasks such as not washing a chopping board after every use or cross-contaminating utensils can jeopardize your customer’s health and ruin the reputation of your business.
Knowing your food hygiene can eliminate the risk of cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses. Among the top rules to ensure excellent food hygiene is thoroughly cleaning all kitchen equipment and tools to avoid cross-contamination. Kitchen staff must regularly wash their hands with soap and water. Use a food thermometer when cooking to ensure safety and to determine the meat’s desired “doneness”.
The personal hygiene of your staff is as essential as food hygiene in catering. So, encourage everyone to practice good personal hygiene to prevent the spread of bacteria into food. They should make it a habit to wash their hands regularly and ensure that everything they use that touches the food is cleaned and sanitized. There are also some excellent food safety and hygiene courses that will help ensure you remain up-to-date and compliant when starting your catering business.
Research your Competitors
Knowing your competitors inside and out is one of the best ways to jumpstart your catering business. Once you know them, you can sell against them to every catering client who comes your way. Getting to know your fierce competitors allows you to understand the landscape better than you ever thought possible, and you’ll be able to expand your margins.
It’s worth knowing that not all your competitors are the same. If you want to sell against them, understand what kind of catering business they run. Every business establishment will have two different types of competitors, direct and indirect. Direct competitors offer the same catering services as you, and you both have similar business goals. Meanwhile, indirect competitors are those with the same catering services as you but have different business goals.
Once you have figured out who among them is direct and indirect, you will know how to scout them. Scouting your competitors can mean browsing their websites, following their social media pages, reading reviews, and checking out their menus.
Hire the Right Employees
When opening a catering business, hiring the right staff is absolutely essential. Your employees can help ensure your customers have a positive experience. If they are not friendly, this can reflect poorly on your business. On the other hand, having professional, kind, and friendly staff can leave a great impression on your customers, which is what you need when starting a business.
Choosing the right staff should apply to everyone, from dishwashers to cooks and servers. Everyone has a role in creating a positive experience for your clients.
When interviewing potential candidates for your catering staff, develop a core set of interview questions to determine if the person shares your values and has the experiences and personality you require.
Try to evaluate the applicant’s attitude based on your interview. Remember, they can learn and acquire skills through training. However, it can be hard to change a person’s attitude. Do not be wooed by impressive resumes. Instead, focus on the core values of the person.