Have you ever found yourself counting the ways you could improve catering at an event?
Do you have a passion for serving food that elevates any gathering?
You’re not the only one who feels this way. Many other chefs wish to share their culinary talents at big events.
Starting a catering business is a great way to begin your entrepreneurial cooking journey. Keep reading to learn how!
- How Profitable is Owning a Catering Business?
- What You’ll Need to Start a Catering Business [& Associated Costs]
- Do I Need a License or Certificates to Start a Catering Business?
- Why You Should Consider Starting a Catering Business As a Side Hustle
- How to Start a Catering Business in 8 Simple Steps
- Things to Consider When Building a Catering Business
- INSPIRATION: Catering Business Ideas
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Similar Businesses to Consider Starting
- Wrapping Up
How Profitable is Owning a Catering Business?
Catering is a huge, rapidly growing industry.
High-end caterers can make an average of $80,000 per year. The top-earning catering companies have made up to $343.9 million annually!
The amount of money you can make from your catering business depends on many factors, including the type of service you provide, the size of your operation, and your ability to market effectively.
Most caterers charge per head per event, so they make money based on the number of people they serve at events. The more people they serve, the more money they make.
Some caterers charge a flat fee for the entire job, which means they make money based on how much time they spend on an event.
If you provide both types of services, it’s important to keep track of how much time and money you spend on each one so that you can determine which method provides the best results for your business.
What You’ll Need to Start a Catering Business [& Associated Costs]
First and foremost, you’re going to need a business plan. A well-designed business plan will help you determine the cost of starting your catering business.
A catering business can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, but there are some key factors to consider when planning your first event.
- Location and kitchen equipment: You’ll need a kitchen or commercial space and all the equipment (utensils, pots, pans, plates, and other supplies) to cook and serve food.
- Licensing and permits: Depending on where you live, you may need licenses and permits for your catering business, like a liquor license. Contact your city or county government office for more information about local regulations.
- Insurance coverage: Make sure your business is covered by liability insurance in case anything happens at an event that causes injury or property damage — such as a guest slipping on spilled soup.
- Food: You will need to purchase the food for each event you host, and ensure it’s appropriate for the setting.
- Catering equipment: This includes serving utensils, plates, glasses, and napkins; it also includes more specialized items such as trays and chafing dishes.
- Staff: You’ll need employees who can prepare food and serve it at events; these people should have experience in cooking or serving.
Do I Need a License or Certificates to Start a Catering Business?
Yes, you need a variety of licenses and certifications to start a catering business.
While there are no federal laws governing caterers, some states have their own regulations.
To get started, you’ll need to obtain licenses and certifications that cover all aspects of running a catering company, including health code requirements and liability insurance coverage.
You will need to obtain a food handlers permit from your local health department.
This is required for all businesses that prepare, serve, or sell food.
The best way to find out what license or certification you need is by contacting your state’s department of health or department of labor.
Why You Should Consider Starting a Catering Business As a Side Hustle
There are many reasons to start a catering business as a side hustle.
No matter who you are, you could make extra money catering.
- Flexibility: Catering is one of the most profitable side hustles out there because it’s so flexible. You can do it when and where you want, making it the definition of gig work.
- Requires little start-up capital: If you have some basic cooking skills and can afford to buy supplies, you can start your own catering business with minimal investment.
- Lucrative: Catering is a way to make extra money, especially if you are creative and have some skills.
- Provides social interaction: Although many people think of caterers as solitary workers who spend their time cooking alone in kitchens, there are also plenty of opportunities to interact with clients and other staff members.
How to Start a Catering Business in 8 Simple Steps
Starting a catering business is not as hard as you think. In fact, it can be more rewarding than you ever imagined.
However, you need to do your homework before jumping in head first.
1. Make a Plan
A business plan is a written document that details a company’s goals and strategies. It also includes a mission statement, competitive analysis, management team, and financial projections.
This document helps you identify areas that need improvement or expansion.
When creating your catering business plan, focus on:
- Setting goals and objectives
- Determining market research
- Creating a financial forecast
2. Find Your Location
A catering business can be started from anywhere. You can choose to start the business from home or rent a kitchen space.
It all depends on what kind of catering services you plan to offer and how many people you want to serve at a time.
If you’re going to run your catering business out of your home, make sure that you have enough room for storing food and supplies, and that you can prepare food safely in the kitchen.
If you want to rent commercial kitchen space, get quotes from different locations and find one with easy access.
3. Get Permits and Licenses
You also need to get your catering licenses and certifications.
This will ensure that you comply with local regulations and can provide a safe environment for your clients.
Common certificates and licenses include:
- Food Establishment Permit
- Food Handlers Card
- Alcoholic Beverage License
- Business License
4. Choose Your Name and Logo
Your business name and logo are your first impressions on customers.
A logo is a visual representation of your catering business that you can use on all marketing materials, including flyers and social media posts.
The name should be easy to remember and relate back to your brand.
You also want it to be unique so that when people hear or see it, they know immediately that it’s yours.
5. Create Your Menu
A catering menu is a list of food items that you can offer to clients.
You can create a standard catering menu for all your events or craft a unique menu for each event.
If you’re planning a large event, you may want to create a standard catering menu that can be used for all of your events.
A generalized menu will help you keep track of what food and drinks are available and make ordering easier.
6. Establish an Online Presence
Whether or not you have a physical location where guests can purchase food, it’s necessary to have an online presence where you can list all of your offerings.
This helps people know what they can expect when they come to an event at your venue.
You should also make sure that your website is easy to navigate so that people don’t get confused about what’s being offered during any given event.
7. Invest in Equipment and Supplies That Will Help You Grow Your Business Quickly
The right catering equipment will make it easier to manage your food and beverage service at events, which means less stress on you and more time spent with customers.
Catering equipment includes everything from knives and cutting boards to food preparation tools and serving plates.
All of these items are important for making sure that your customers’ experience is as pleasant as possible.
8. Hire Staff
As your catering business expands, you will want to hire employees. The first step is writing up subcontractor agreements.
It is important to do this before hiring employees so that they are aware of their responsibilities and liabilities as well as yours.
Then, you’ll need to complete all necessary background reference checks. These should be done on all potential employees before you hire them.
9. Always Keep Learning!
The catering industry is always changing, so it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies.
If you want to be successful in the catering industry, you need to constantly learn new things.
You can do this by attending seminars and workshops, reading books, and watching cooking shows on TV.
You should also network with other caterers so that you can learn from their experiences.
Things to Consider When Building a Catering Business
The food you serve is only part of the equation when it comes to decision-making for your company.
To create a successful catering business, you need to consider everything from your target market to your pricing structure.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when building your catering company.
Can You Run a Catering Business By Yourself?
You can run a catering business by yourself, but it’s not easy. You will have to take care of everything from ordering supplies to paying bills and cleaning up after events.
That being said, if you’re willing to do the hard work and put in the hours, you can make money in this industry.
Determine Which Type Of Catering You Want To Focus On
Are you going to cater private parties or corporate events? Will you be offering a delivery service?
Catering is a very competitive industry, so it’s important for you to carve out a niche for yourself.
If you decide to cater private parties and corporate events, focus on serving clients who want healthy food options or offer vegetarian or vegan meals.
How Will You Grow Your Customer Base?
If you’re willing to put in the work, there are plenty of ways to set yourself apart from the competition.
One way is by advertising and marketing yourself. Put out some enticing ads and flyers with information about your business and what it offers.
You can also try doing some social media or music streaming service ads if you have the budget to do so.
INSPIRATION: Catering Business Ideas
Catering is a great business idea for anyone who enjoys cooking and entertaining.
With this business, you can cater to any kind of event, from birthdays to graduation parties.
Here are some popular catering business ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.
Catering for Weddings
Wedding catering is one of the most important elements of a wedding, and it’s not just about the food.
It’s about creating an atmosphere that’s perfect for their wedding day.
Catering for a wedding is an art form in itself, so if you want to get into the industry, then it’s important to know what makes a great caterer.
Catering for Corporate Events
Catering a corporate event is a great way to build your business and make a lasting impression on your clients.
The best corporate catering companies will have the experience and expertise to plan and execute an event that will be remembered for years.
It’s important to remember that people will be looking for something different at each event, so research is essential before making any decisions about what type of food or drink you want to serve.
Catering for Charity Events
Catering at charity events is a great way to give back to the community.
When it comes to catering at charity events, you’re not just feeding the people who work for the charity.
You’re feeding the volunteers and donors who are helping out.
Knowing who will be attending will help you provide them with exactly what they want from their experience at your event.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are some common questions new caterers ask.
What are the Three Main Types of Catering?
The three main types of catering are buffets, plated, and family-style.
- Buffets are the most popular form of catering because they allow large parties with many guests to serve themselves.
- Plated service is a more formal and more expensive type of service. Plated meals require servers and require guests to sit down at tables to eat their meals.
- Family-style food service combines plated and buffet, with each table having a plate to pass around.
How Do I Get Clients for Catering?
You might not have a lot of experience with catering, but you do have some contacts.
Ask around and see if anyone in your family or circle of friends would like help making their party or event more special.
It might be worth asking the person who threw a large event if they’d hire you again for another event.
Post on social media that you’re available to cater events. Feature appealing photos of some of your best dishes.
You may want to develop a short bio that mentions what kind of food you specialize in, how many people you can serve, and your pricing.
Similar Businesses to Consider Starting
If catering isn’t for you, check out these alternatives!
- How to Start a Food Truck Business: Food trucks make chefs mobile and allow them to move to where the business is.
- How to Start a Food Business: Catering isn’t the only food-related business you can start, check out these alternatives.
- How to Start a Baking Business: Cupcakes, pies, cookies, and other sweet treats might be more your speed, so check out what it takes to start a baking business.
Don’t take our word for it—follow our guide for how to start a catering business and see how you feel.
No matter what type of business you want to start, we hope this article has inspired you to take action!
Feel free to reach out to us at any time if you have questions about starting a catering business.
If you have any questions or comments about this article, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave us a comment below.