So you’ve decided that the business is for you and that you’ve got the skills to succeed; it’s time to think about what sort of catering business to start. The key to finding a successful formula for any business is good research, but this is especially important in the fiercely competitive world of catering. You will need to focus closely on who your customers are, what they want, and what you can offer that no-one else can – your unique selling point.
As already mentioned, your possible client base will be business or private – although you may target both. Serving the business sector will predominantly involve lunches for business meetings and training courses (cold sandwiches and other pre-cooked snacks), but may extend to business breakfasts and evening receptions, which may involve providing drinks and servers as well.
The major advantage with corporate clients is the opportunity for repeat business. Businesses like having a regular supplier, so if you provide a good service at a good price and you’re reliable, you’ll become invaluable to them. They will remember you and call you whenever they need some catering.
The food you serve to this sector will need to be good quality and freshly prepared, but since you will be preparing it at short notice, many times to several different businesses over the week, the gastronomic qualities of the food will not be the main concern. Your organisational skills may be more important than culinary expertise in this sector.
Alternatively, you could aim your catering service at the private sector. Predominately this will be catering for large family occasions such as weddings, funerals and birthday parties. To run this type of business will require good culinary skills, since the quality and range of your menu will be a major selling point, and you will have to be flexible enough to cater for any special requests from clients for their big day.
Think about offering extra services in order to stand out in the highly competitive private market. If you can save your clients time, effort and money by providing crockery and cutlery, servers, decorations and marquee hire for example, you’ll attract business much more quickly.
If you don’t want to focus on weddings, you can find a niche through specialising in a certain type of cuisine, offering theme events such as Mexican nights or hog roasts, or gourmet cuisine for dinner parties.