On Starting A Catering Business

Those who want to venture into the food business should consider going into catering first. You need less capital to start a catering business than opening a restaurant. Capital that would otherwise go into renovation and rental deposits could be saved. That is, if you have a large enough kitchen.
What is important is a passion for quality food and excellent service. This is a business that is especially suited for those who are meticulous planners since you must be well-organized to function well in catering. Beginners should start first by mastering the basics of running a catering business:
Develop your suppliers. Spend a lot of effort in finding suppliers that could give you quality items at the lowest possible price. Here, you must negotiate hard to get the best deal. It is advisable to do the purchasing yourself, at least initially, in order to have better control over the price and quality.
Know how to cost and price. Learn to accurately determine your actual expenses for each item you will be offering. Factor in not only the ingredients and other direct materials used, but also the labor and overhead. Since you are just starting, it is suggested to price a little lower than the normal rates to get people to try your service.
Tap your networks to get your initial sales. The most important thing is to know how to get customers. It would be easiest to first try to sell to those who you already know. If they know that you are a reliable person, then they are likely to give you an opportunity.
Learn food and table presentation. Much of the value of your offering comes not only from the taste of the food but in the entire setting— from the dish and table, to the venue. People will pay more for an aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Join a catering association. If you are just starting out, people may question your credibility. Being a member of an association gives your company instant credibility for it is expected that you will be complying with certain standards. There is also the chance to learn from experts in the industry. Besides these, a trade association usually provides training programs to its members.
Never sacrifice food quality. Some caterers try to make extra profits by shortchanging their customers. This is usually done by reducing the amount of expensive ingredients or reducing the portions. This may work in the short-term. However, not only will you get fewer customers in the long-run, but even your current customers will desert you for those with better offerings.
It is easy to start a catering business, but staying in business and making a profit is far more difficult if you lack the know-how. You can learn this the hard way via costly mistakes or you can take a short-cut and hear the trade secrets from an experienced caterer.
BusinessCoach, Inc., a leading business seminar provider, conducts seminars on How to Start a Catering Business. Contact (02) 727-5628, (02) 727-8860, (0915) 205-0133 or visit www.businesscoachphil.com for details.

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*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-4, Sunday, March 17, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.