Catering can be a wonderful business, and profitable as well. It requires very little upfront investment and you may be able to work out of your own home. Your overhead costs are also modest and consist mainly of utility bills for cooking. Employees, if you don’t want to do all the work yourself, are usually hired on a per event basis.
Before you begin you must cover certain steps to make sure that you business will start on a sound footing. Here are some musts:
Check the law.
Don’t book a single party before you determine what kinds of permits are required. A lawyer’s advice can be valuable, but don’t forget to check with people who are in the business. Regulations concerning the catering business are usually covered by your local county health department. Some of these agencies can be insane with the amount of requirements that you have to meet. If your catering business will be off-premise —which it will be if you are working out of your home—you may have to purchase a trailer or a truck. You will have to comply with detailed rules on hygiene, including heating and cooling equipment. You may think that serving food safely is just common sense, but a health inspector wants to know that you are following the specific rules. It’s better to know your local laws than to begin your business by paying fines.
Most people who go into catering enjoy cooking and serving food, and they start a catering business to make money doing what they enjoy. In every business, however, there’s a right way and a wrong way to get the job done, and catering is no exception. Take a catering course. A few of the things you will learn include:
- Food preparation techniques.
- Food buying tips. Your food cost is the major expense item in your budget. You need to learn how to keep that item under control.
- Food safety. Yes, a lot if it is common sense, but you need to learn your local regulations.
- Marketing. You may be a great chef but if you don’t book events you’ll be cooking for yourself.
- Employee considerations. If you have to hire people, you need to know the practical and legal ways to do it.
Get Proper Insurance
Accidents happen no matter how careful you are. Catering involves a lot of hot food and sharp objects. Your insurance broker can get you the most appropriate type of plan.
Join Industry Organizations and Stay Active
Joining trade groups, both local and national, is an excellent way to keep yourself up-to-date on how to run your business. At conventions you learn from others who do the same work as you. It’s also a tax deductible way to travel.
Catering can be a great small business for you. You must make sure that you start your business by doing the things that will ensure your long term success.