Starting Your Own Catering Business

If you possess the ability to work under pressure and create visually attractive dishes that taste great, then you probably would be perfect for starting your own catering business? The possibilities of becoming a self-starter in catering are endless as the skilled field is well rounded offering both full-time and part-time opportunities. All at once, a catering business is entertaining, financially fulfilling, as well as a challenge. When considering entering this field of work, consider the following factors when establishing a plan for your new business:

Getting a License

Each state possesses a set of rules, guidelines, or laws relating to working as a food service provider. Typically, the Board of Health must give a seal of approval when food is distributed and sold to the public, which reviews preparation, handling, sanitation, and preservation. Some states require that food operation is kept separate from the kitchen within a home, such as using solid, self-closing doors. Separate sinks for food, washing utensils, and cleaning is another common prerequisite. Your local Health Department can provide additional details.

Products and Market

When developing a catering business plan, it is important to settle on the type of market you wish to serve. A few ideas include providing and organizing picnic lunches, scheduled dinners, children's birthday parties, dinner for two, special cakes, business meetings, dessert trays, or hors d'oeuvres. It is important to choose an existing market where demand surpasses supply in order for you to claim a niche. Checking out the local competition also helps new business owners shape their own plans.

Staff Considerations

In the beginning, some self-catering businesses involve relatives and friends, but often times, there is a need to figure in the possibility of hiring staff to help with service, production, and cleanup.

Start-Up Costs

Some people starting out in the catering business use rented supplies and items in order to keep primary costs at their lowest. Cutting costs may include renting kitchen facilities, tablecloths, tables, utensils, and servicing equipment. Your savings can then be spent on building a reputation, developing capital, or figuring out if this is what you really want to do without putting too much money into your plan. Typical start-up costs range between $ 1,000 (work from home) and $ 80,000 (professional kitchens).

Menu Planning

Depending on your catering focus, creative menu planning is a must, as you will not serve the same thing to children at a party as you would for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration. For each specialty menu, you need to take into account the type of event, time of day, number of anticipated guests, equipment needed, and estimation of how much it will cost. Before selecting a cater, customers like to see varying colors, shapes, sizes, flavors, cooking methods, and price alternatives added to menus. Another desirable feature includes a balance of the food groups.


Professional caterers need to create contracts, which clearly state the terms of an agreement. Some of the main details include time of event, location, room set-up, duration of event, estimated attendance, and pricing arrangements. A deposit is also required, which ranges from 25% to 50% of the total event cost, which is due when the contract is signed.

Additionally, when starting your own catering business – remember to include insurance costs (product and personal liability), record keeping, and food safety. In order to gauge final charges for your catering business, you will need to Incorporate Materials (cost of food and drink), overhead expenses (variable and fixed expenses), labor costs (food preparation and service), and anticipated profit in order to come to a suitable figure. In the end, final prices should reflect the amount you need to charge so you can maintain your business, as well as reap benefits.

Source by Munyaradzi Chinongoza

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