Opening a Catering Business – Part II
Earlier, we discussed the first steps you should undertake before launching a new catering business. These steps included researching the local competition, finding a niche for your business, identifying potential customers, and writing a business plan. In addition, we discussed contacting your state’s occupation licensing authorities and health department to find out exactly what you need (the National Federation of Independent Businesses website can help you in that regard). With those preliminary actions under your belt, you’re ready to move on to the next and more enjoyable stages: planning your enterprise.
Creating a Catering Menu with Pricing
Creating a catering menu will help you figure out how much kitchen space you’ll need, what appliances you should buy and install, and how much you can expect to bring in financially. Base the menu on your specialties and what your targeted market niche wants on its plate. Price the items so that you stay competitive but still make a profit.
Pricing, always a challenge, is especially difficult for those just starting out. In general, prices are determined by the time it takes to prepare the dish, plus the cost of the ingredients, plus the profit margin you’re aiming for. Keeping your menu a manageable size, with foods you’re comfortable cooking and items that are made with ingredients you know you can source, are your best options for creating a realistic menu with fair pricing.
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Help Your Client Choose Between DIY and Professional Event Planning
As a caterer/event planner you have to balance your skills as a chef with your business acumen. Booking new business is obviously an important aspect of developing your company, but it’s particularly complicated in today’s event industry where costs are rising and clients are often looking for ways to cut back on expenses. Do-it-yourself (DIY) events are becoming a popular route for budget-conscious people, but it’s up to the business-savvy party planner to convince potential clients that some things are better left to the professionals.
Let the Client Arrive at the Right Decision
In the Harvard Business Review, author Michael Schrage explains how you can guide clients in the direction of a smart decision by allowing them to persuade themselves. Professional service firms, he says, should look for ways not just to better communicate the value of their work, but to give people the tools that let them sell themselves on the firm’s value. When a potential client is on the fence regarding professional services vs DIY, the hard sell is not the way to go. Don’t shower the customer with ominous warnings and bleak scenarios. Present all the angles of the upcoming event, along with something as simple as a colorful, well-organized, self-explanatory cost-comparison chart, and watch your clients draw the right conclusions by themselves.
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Venue Criteria: How to Find the Right Event Space
When you are hired to cater an event, you – and your client – are faced with a long list of decisions, ranging from date, to décor, to food, to timetable. Before anything else connected to the event can be decided, however, choosing the venue is priority #1. Since your clients already chose you to cater and manage their event, this means that you must play the role of psychologist, adviser, and friend from the time your involvement is established to the morning after the event (and, often, beyond).
Guide your Client to the Perfect Event Venue
From the outset, you have to follow your client’s lead: Some customers want and need just a little guidance, while others will rely on you for everything. Be prepared, patient, and knowledgeable – no matter what is expected of you – and you will be able to add one more satisfied customer to your resume.
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The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) “What’s Hot: 2016 Culinary Forecast” included not one, not two, but three ethnic cuisine-related trends in its Top 20 roundup. Continue reading The Ethnic Cuisine: What Restaurant Owners Need to Know