8 Tips to Make Your Catering Business a Success
Having a passion for food and serving others would make a catering business a perfect option for you. You also get to enjoy many working experiences, as opposed to a restaurant which is the same day in and day out. However, the catering business isn’t easy. As great a job as it is, it’s still hard work. There are long hours and stressful deadlines, and you must juggle many competing responsibilities. That said, you can make good money and, on the whole, enjoy yourself, but you have to lay the groundwork. Here are eight tips to make your catering business a success.
Organization Is Important
Before you do anything, you have to set up your organizational system. You have a lot to manage and keep track of. You have your inventory, staffing, scheduling, and a million other things to monitor. You can use a spreadsheet for all of these things, but many people choose to use a software solution to help them. You must stick to whatever you choose as you run your business. If anything gets missed, then it could mean big problems. You have to have it in place ahead of time so you don’t start off on the wrong foot.
Serve Great Food
The thing about catering is that it’s not like a restaurant. You can’t draw people in with flashy advertising and then serve them sub-par food. Most of the time, they get to sample the food ahead of time. You won’t get the job if the food isn’t good. Plus, you serve events attended by hundreds of people. You want good word of mouth to get other jobs potentially. With catering, the food is everything, so you’d better deliver, or else you’ll be sunk.
You should also have the ability to be flexible with your food. If the client wants something that you don’t normally serve, then try to accommodate them. Also, have lots of options for people with dietary restrictions. For example, don’t remove all the ingredients from the soup until it’s only broth; call it gluten-free. Guests will remember these things and will select your business in the future because of them.
While the food is important, it’s also important to have various options regarding table decor, place settings, and utensils. Always have different options on hand in case they want to change things up. That includes things like bamboo toothpicks, decorative plates, different place settings, and much more. By having lots of choices of theme and being able to pivot at the last minute, you will save yourself a lot of headaches and look like you are on the ball.
Set Yourself Apart
There is a lot of competition out there, and you need to do whatever you can to stand out. Luckily, there are a million different ways you can do this. Think about what’s different about your catering company compared with all the others. If there isn’t something, then make something. It can be related to food, for instance.
Perhaps you’ll offer specialty vegan offers. It can even be about the way you present your food. Let your creativity fly and find your niche. Food is art, and you have a lot of room to play around on your canvas.
Offer Other Services
If someone is hiring a caterer, they might have other services they are hiring out. So why not offer it to them as a part of your services? You can do event planning, for instance, or themed events or party decorations. The client already trusts you with their food, so it’s only a step further to offer more. It creates a synergy in the event’s planning, and the theme or vision can come through seamlessly.
Make sure that your customer service is always top-notch. Your staff should all be trained, and you should make it a point to practice it yourself. Nobody wants to hire and work with rude people, no matter how good your food is. Always be courteous and kind. When planning the menu, listen to the client’s suggestions.
If there is something you disagree with or is not possible, then respectfully offer some alternatives and recommendations. The same goes for the guests at the event. A little kindness and courtesy go a long way.
Cleanliness and Professionalism
Since you’re in the food industry, cleanliness is crucial. Not only will it help prevent food-borne illnesses, but it will also put forward a good face for your business. Have very strict standards for cleanliness. Your dishes should be spotless, and your kitchen should be gleaming. This extends to how your employees dress.
If you don’t have uniforms, then there should be a dress code. Often it’s black or dark clothing. They should have good hygiene and be neatly groomed. Your employees represent you and your business, so they should be neat and professional.
You can take advantage of some affordable marketing options as a local business. For instance, optimize your site for local SEO to organically draw people to your website. You can also target social media ads to people in your area. Post often about what you’re making and what events you’ve catered to. Answer any questions promptly and certainly respond to any complaints. Don’t always post marketing content. Your audience wants to be informed and entertained. Most of your content should be informational, with the occasional marketing post mixed in.
Owning a catering business is an amazing opportunity if you want to pursue it. However, you can’t expect to do well doing the work. Use these tips to set up your catering business for success in the short term and for years to come.