Starting a Catering Business – What Separates Successful Caterers from the Pack?

The catering business can be challenging but it is definitely an exciting industry to be in these days. In the catering business, just like any other, not everyone will be successful. Some caterers will go on to run multimillion dollar operations while others will struggle to build up their clients and end up feeling that they have just bought themselves a stressful job. What is it that separates successful caterers from the losers? What does it take to earn a six figure income from a catering business? Read on and find out.

Master your Marketing

Marketing is a key factor contributing towards success in the catering business. To be a successful caterer you have to be as passionate about marketing as you are about the cuisine that you serve to your clients. Become a master of marketing and you’ll be well on your way to success.

Catering is a highly competitive business no matter where you are. When customers have so many companies to choose from, how can you stand out from masses? You have to become that one remarkable needle that stands out in the haystack.

Start out by getting a solid understanding of your local market. Until you do some market research you won’t know what is going to work and what isn’t. Look at what your competitors are offering and then get out there and find out what the market wants and needs. You may find that there is a disconnect between the two. Look for niches that you may be able to exploit or think of a new way to approach a popular niche like wedding catering that is different from what the current market players are offering at the present time.

Once you have identified the right market and the people within it you have to work out how to get their attention. You need to have what they want at the right time and you need to sell it in a way that appeals directly to them.

Successful marketing is all about developing systems that work. Test new advertising and promotional methods until you find the ones that generate the most enquiries. Experiment with different packages, prices and sales approaches consistently so that you are able to increase the percentage of leads that you convert into new accounts.

In catering you should look to build up a portfolio of regular clients rather than clients that will only offer you one-off jobs. This can be done by targeting the right people and by doing a good job. Always provide the highest standard of service and they will keep coming back. If you are lucky your clients will also refer business to you.

Productivity and Cost Savings

The other essential success factor in the catering business is to focus on productivity and cost savings. The best marketing system in the world will not help you if you are unable to service your clients in a way that allows you to make a profit on each job.

Profits can be increased if you are able to make the most of the resources that are available to you. Leverage the work of others as you will not be able to handle catering without a strong, well managed team. Employ systems in your business to measure every aspect of your performance and make your daily business operations run smoothly. Always be on the lookout for ways to cut material costs and avoid wastage in the kitchen.

If you focus on running a productive, well organized catering business you will reduce costs, increase profits and avoid unnecessary mistakes. You can increase profits while providing your clients with a better standard of service at the same time.

The Right Mindset

Successful caterers have to have the right attitude. This business can be extremely stressful so you must be the kind of person who can remain cool under any circumstances. Success does not come easily and you will need determination if you are to get past every little failure or difficulty.

While you don’t really need qualifications or even a lot of experience you will need to do your research. Understand all aspects of the business and you will do well.

Your chances of success will be increased if you are an organized person. You must be able to manage your time well and ensure that the time of your employees is also used well.

Lastly, you have to be fairly social to make it in this business. If you are a good communicator and enjoy chatting to and learning from people then you are suited to the catering business. Communication skills will serve you well when it comes to building strong relationships with clients and suppliers and managing your team of employees.

Financial Knowhow

While you don’t necessarily have to be an accountant to be a catering business owner, it does help to understand the financial side of running a catering business just as well as the food preparation side. You need to gain access to funding and accurately budget for startup costs and operating expenses. Understand the numbers well so that you know how much money you are making on every job and on a monthly basis. Keep control so that you don’t lose money or stock due to theft or bad management.

Many businesses fail because they run out of capital. You must understand how to grow a business slowly at a measured pace while maintaining sufficient access to funds that can tide you over any quiet period that your business may go through.

Successful catering business owners leverage other people’s money to grow but they manage their risk with careful budgeting.

Steve Sutherland runs a site that is dedicated to providing startup advice to those wanting to enter the catering industry. For more details visit Starting a Catering Business.

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  1. When you shop for new restaurant equipment, don’t get too distracted by the flashy gadgets and features. Remember to read the fine print. Specifically, do your research about the equipment’s’ available warranties.

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