insurance are a must. “Also essential is proper staffing. You can always save a buck or two hiring Aunt Mary or your college roommate to serve food and drinks at an event, but it pays to hire people who have some training in food hygiene and preparation and familiarity with the industry. This goes for the chef, kitchen personnel, service staff, and sales team. Agencies are a good source to find help as well as party rental dealers, culinary schools, and word of mouth.
Longevity in the catering business demands stamina. Not just the ability to work for long hours on your feet and to labor over a hot stove, says Roman. You will work nights, weekends, and holidays, when caterers are in greatest demand. “You have to be willing to make sacrifices,” he adds. -additional reporting by Tamara Holmes
Starting a prosperous catering business shouldn’t be an impulse decision. It takes a good year’s worth of work _up front in planning and learning. Catersource’s Mike Roman offers this 10-item recipe for success:
- Caterers must be selective about to what and whom they sell-all sales are not wise. Refuse an event that is not profitable.
- Aggressive marketing is a must. Lack of business is the primary cause of failure among caterers.
- Proper pricing needs to guide all selling decisions. Never offer your B menu at C menu prices.
- Deposit, refund, and cancellation policies will determine future success or failure. You need to get paid, and on time.
- Prospective clients are looking for fair prices and a positive experience, not just great food. If the service is bad, clients may never give you another shot.
- The amount of full-time office and kitchen staff must reflect the amount of business booked. Don’t under- or over-hire help.
- Caterers are not bankers. Payment must be made on the event day or in advance. Never start a job without getting a deposit.
- Caterers have a right to have a personal life away from the business. Make time for yourself to avoid burnout.
- A catering kitchen is not a kingdom unto itself. It’s a place to produce quality products and a profitable bottom line.
- Owners and highly placed managers must provide leadership and maintain the professional and financial integrity of their companies.