Have you ever thought about taking your cooking skills and starting your own home-based catering business? If you have thought about but not sure how to get started then keep on reading!
If you know your way around the kitchen and can whip up dishes that never fails at getting rave reviews, you could be on to something there my friend.
When I think of catering I immediately think of the show Friends because Monica was a caterer and ran her business from her apartment. I found a clip on YouTube. The one where she catered a funeral and couldn’t get bring herself to collect payment from the widow. Enter Phoebe. Oh and watch Monica market her catering business at the end!
It might sound like an expensive venture but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I’ve learned if you plan it carefully, start-up costs can be anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
But before I get into that, I’d like to share some food for thought (pun intended :)) about starting a home-based catering business.
A lot of folks start a business on a whim and let the excitement of being their own boss cloud their planning which in the long run can bite ’em in the hamburger bun.
Here are some things to remember when starting a home-based catering business.
Make Sure You Are In It for the Long Haul
Whether you’ve decided to do this full time or part-time, a home-based catering business can be demanding and stressful at times. Like running any business, there’s hard work involved so make sure you’ll be dedicated to see it through from beginning to end and willing to go the extra mile for the sake of your business.
The Kind of Skills You’ll Need
You should be able to handle working under pressure and be firm (remember Monica trying to collect payment at the funeral she catered). You also need to comfortable interacting with people to build your clientele.
Apart from having killer recipes, you have to have a knack for presenting your dishes and be very organized. You’ll have to have top-notch planning skills to be prepared for little emergencies like forgetting the napkins or how to handle a last minute no-show with one of your servers.
Ideas for Keeping Start-Up Costs Down
As I mentioned earlier, start-up costs don’t have to be high. If there’s careful planning you can keep them at a minimum. Let’s go over some ideas to do that.
Start small. Don’t go booking an event to feed hundreds of people when you’re only prepared to handle less than that. Think of doing birthday parties, engagement parties, bridal showers, or even sports-themed parties like the Super Bowl.
Rent equipment like mid-range chafers, china, and linens while you’re getting started.
Suggestion: After you’ve earned some profit considered purchasing a piece of equipment once every quarter until you’ve completed your inventory.
Need a staff but can’t afford to pay for one? I you have teens in the family gather them up…you kids, nieces, and nephews. It’s a win-win because they can use this experience and put it on their resumes.
Partner up with someone who can help you with the food presentation and decoration like a party planner. It’s all about helping each other out with costs and exposing your businesses.
Ideas for Promoting Your Home-Based Catering Business
Work with a designer to create a website to promote your business. Some static pages like an about m and contact page, rates, and a page to post pics of events you’ve catered is all you need. You can also add a blog to share recipes and other cooking/baking tips with your audience.
Set up social media pages to connect and engage with your audience. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest would be my pick of social sites to promote a catering business. Just remember you don’t have to be on every social site out there!
Start a mailing list to clients updated on any promos and to gain new clients.
- Come up with a catchy name for your catering business.
- Cook up fabulous dishes like old family recipes or your own signature recipes.
- Offer an incentive to your clients like free drinks or dessert.
- Prepare as much as you can in your kitchen and use the client’s kitchen as some caterers do like to cut veggies, etc.
Other Things to Remember
Check with your state to make sure you are in compliance with licensing and insurance.
Even though no special training is required for this type of business, it would be a good idea to continue enhancing your skills by taking a vocational course to learn how run and manage a successful home-based catering business.
Resources For Your Home-Based Catering Business
Here are a couple of websites that’s packed with great resources for caterers.
I hope you found these tips and resources helpful. If you have any questions about anything in this post, feel free to contact me.