Are you the one who loves hosting people, cooking new dishes for them? Are you the one who
always cooks and creates new dishes using different techniques? Perhaps, my friend your hobby can
be turned into a full-fledged catering business.
Even though there is no recipe for a successful catering business, a dash of culinary skills, good team,
nice equipment and skills, passion, and hard work can help you go long way. If you are not the one
who is willing to run a large business, you can start with taking baby steps; work from home, create a
small team, and take up small orders. Once you get the experience and skills to manage the stress
and pressure, you can set your foot in big business.
If you love cooking and thinking about starting a business, we have accommodated everything you
need to know about the catering business so that you can make a wise decision.
Planning For the business:
- Find your niche: The first and foremost step towards planning a small catering business is to look
for your niche. As a small business, you won’t be able to host 200-300 guests. Some caterers only
plan on offering lunches and brunches while there are somewhat have a good hand with desserts.
Do good research, look at your competitors and market, and then make a wise decision.
- Business plan: Once you have realized your inch. It’s time for planning a business plan. Highlight
your investments, outline your long-term and short-term plans and draw a budget.
- Licenses and permits: A catering business does require you to have certain licenses and permits.
Research for the rules in your state and area and check for all the legal permits and license you to
need and try making your paperwork strong.
- Create a menu: By making a menu, you will get a clear idea as to how big space will you need to
cook and store raw materials. Try keeping your menu to a manageable size since it might lead to a
big disadvantage for you in the coming future.
- Set up your kitchen: A catering service does require a fully functional kitchen. If you want to start
small, you can work in your home kitchen. But if you want to hit a larger market, try renting a
kitchen space that suits your niche and requirements.
- Catering equipment: After renting a place and drawing your menu, it’s time to purchase kitchen
equipment, Apart from packaging containers and disposal, you might need certain equipment such
as chafing dishes with liquid fuel burned along with that silverware, plates, napkins, etc. Do good
research and hit the market.
Problems faced: Every business in any industry faces challenges and thus catering business is
nonetheless. Have a look at the problems faced and how you can solve them:
- Management: To open a catering business apart from good culinary skills, you must possess good
management skills as well. There might be times and situations when you are short f time or under
lots of pressure, resulting in bad food and services.
Solution: Even though the juggling is real, you must possess good management skills. Try getting as
much experience as you can before opening your business. Apart from this, you can allot jobs to
each member of your team this will help you focus on limited things and bring out the best version
- Long Hours: The catering business does require lots of time and focus. Even after working in the
kitchen for 6 and more hours. You have to be at your best when you are at the venue serving your
Solutions: Try working smarter rather than longer. Since you are the boss, you have to be at your
best and thus the jobs your juniors or other members of the team can do, hand over the jobs to
them and the places where you are needed, try focusing on that.
- Training: Every individual has his own approach to cooking. Thus training the employee is very
important to keep everyone on the same page. But this might also lead to risking your catering
business, since if they bring and dishes to the table, ultimately your business will be at stake.
Solution: Try training the employee for 1 day and then keep a supervisor with him or even you can
supervise them. Not only that, during the process of hiring, stick to those people who match your
way of cooking and go well with your food pallet.
- Wastage: Food wastage is a huge problem in this industry. Even though you are asked to make
meals for 100people, your food might be left and thus resulting in lots of wastage. For a catering
business, it is very challenging to manage food wastage.
Solution: Firstly feed your staff members and other vendors who represent the venue. After that, if
the food is still left, you can have car drives on the streets and look for the poor who are not able to
get food. You can even associate your business with some NGO or other organizations that feed food
to poor people. Ding this you can save food from getting wasted and even feed the ones who are
unable to buy food.
Tools Required: Being in the cooking field, there are many tools required for the business. Some of
them have been listed down below:
- Table Setting: For setting up the table you will need: napkins, table cloth, Dinnerware, glassware,
Flatware, Salt and Pepper Shakers, Charger Plates, Water Pitchers.
- Display and Decor: Adding simple decor enhances the beauty of the event. You can go with:
Cakestands, Centerpieces, Cupcake Towers, Risers, Candleholders and Candles, vases, Chalkboard
Signs, Table Numbers.
- Disposables: Adding disposables can be cost-effective. Go with: Paper Napkins, Appetizer Plates,
Foil Pans, Plastic Cutlery, Aluminum Foil.
- Transport supplies: During transporting food from your kitchen to the event venue; you might
need some equipment like Insulated Food Pan Carriers, Outdoor Coolers, Glass Racks, storage boxes.
- Serving tools: Some are: Chafers, serving utensils, trays, aprons, and uniforms.
Market: As per US statistics, the catering industry will have an average revenue of $11.6 billion in
2021 with an expected increase of 2% growth in the industry. The Caterers industry in the US has
ranked 10th by market size. The US catering market is expected to reach values of approximately
$63 billion by 2023. The focus will be more on new and innovative techniques to attract customers.
The average salary for a caterer is about $37,000 per year. Depending on your skills and talent; you
can earn anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 per year.
Catering doesn’t always mean serving 300-500 people at weddings or 200-300 lunches for corporate
events. You can start small and gradually set foot in the business. The road might get bumpy and
rough at some times, but if you stay strong and determined; you will certainly hit a smooth path.