Catering from restaurants is big business in the United States, which means plenty of opportunities to incorporate catering into your restaurant business. Catering grows your brand and significantly increases your revenue if you already have a brick-and-mortar food service business. With catering, you can expand your reach and attract new customers who cannot physically visit your restaurant. If you’re looking to start a catering business, here are a few things you need to consider:
Research the Market
Begin by checking the market for caterers in your area. Doing so enables you to size up the competition. It also gives you a clearer idea of what people are looking for.
Research helps you identify market trends and consumer needs in the community. Knowing this information will help you decide:
- Which menu items to offer
- How to price your meals
- Your starting budget
- Legal documentation, including licenses and permits
- Suppliers and equipment you need
Talk to people around your community. Consider this part of consumer research! Ask questions to establish things like:
- How often do they eat out
- Spending potential on catering services
- Popular spots they prefer to go to
Find out if there’s something they wish they had access to. Those are the niche markets you can take advantage of!
Define Your Market Niche and Create a Menu
To stay afloat against the big, one-size-fits-all catering competition, strive to provide specialty services for niche markets. Consider what type of food you’d like to serve. Then work with your chefs to create a menu that will be both satisfying and profitable.
If you run a physical restaurant, find out what people ask for most often on the menu. This will help you decide what should be on the menu for your catering service.
If Needed, Seek Financing
There are several reliable sources of financing to help kick-start your catering venture. The SBA (small business administration) offers entrepreneurs loans and funding to help them set up and grow their businesses. Lending entities also provide financial options for those who need extra money to get started in the catering industry.
Choose a Location
If you run a restaurant without a “storefront”, you need to find a location to set up. You’ll require more equipment, staff, and space for packing the meals before sending them out.
The site you choose for your cafeteria should be a safe and convenient place for customers and employees. Remember to check zoning laws before deciding on a location. You may need to get permits from the relevant authorities before setting up shop. You should also consider the space with the size of the establishment you wish to set up.
Get Proper Licenses For Catering From Restaurants
Depending on where you plan to set up, you may need to apply for the following:
- A general business license
- Health license
- Zoning permit
Your local government office is the best source of information. They provide guidance and issue the relevant permits and licenses to get your business off the ground.
Create a Marketing Plan For Your Catering Business
Marketing is critical to the success of any catering from a restaurant business. It helps you reach new customers and generate interest in your product or service. Here are six ways you can use marketing to promote your catering start-up:
- Create a branded website for your catering company that lists the services and pricing for each event. Include your contact information for the business.
- Hire a professional photographer to take photos of your menu items. This allows potential customers to view them on your website so they know what to expect.
- Start an email newsletter with updates about upcoming events and specials. Send out at least one newsletter per month to customers who have opted-in.
- Send out announcements about future events and promotions via social media.
- Utilize your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, including keywords and meta descriptions.
- Reach out to bloggers in your industry to see if they would like to feature you on their site.
Get Started With Catering Business
Catering from restaurants is a great way to make money while doing what you love. Choose the right menu, permits, and space to provide your customers with the best experience possible. Advertise widely to put the word out about your new services. Following the steps in this guide will help you hit the ground running when you start your catering business.