Before you get started in the catering business it is wise to learn as much as you can about the industry. You need to know about cooking, kitchen management, food preparation and service. As a small business owner you should also make sure that you know the basics of small business management and marketing.
Let’s take a look at how you might go about doing some research for your startup. You will find that there are a lot of good catering business information sources out there once you start looking.
There are a lot of books for sale that focus specifically on how to start a catering business. Look for the titles that have been written by catering business owners themselves rather than those that have been written by researchers without first hand experience. Most of the large online booksellers stock a wide range of titles related to catering and starting a business in general.
Firstly, you can try looking online. You will find some relevant information on the Internet although there is generally a lack of good content online relating specifically to catering.
There are some websites selling relevant books and guides. Some of these have been written by experienced caterers and they are usually filled with lot’s of practical information gained from personal experience. The advantage with some of these products is that you can download them and get started right away.
Online discussion forums or bulletin boards are a great way to interact with other catering professionals. They are an excellent resource for getting information and allow you to ask questions that may get intelligent answers. The Internet still lacks a specific catering forum but some of the forums for chefs or restaurant owners do have small sections devoted to catering if you look for them.
You can contact the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE) for lots of information about the industry in the US and to network with other caterers.
Industry publications like Catering Magazine and Special Events Magazine offer readers a great way to keep up with developments in the industry.
Another way to inform yourself on how to go about running a catering business is to attend a course. Such a course could help you to improve your culinary skills or help you to learn about small business administration.
Catering equipment suppliers are another good source of catering business information. If you get talking with them you can not only find out about the equipment that you need but you may also pick up some information on the current state of the local market.
Your competitors can be a great way to find out useful information. Approach them pretending to be a prospective client and you can pretty much uncover the entire way they run their business by observing their sales approach and asking the right questions.
Lastly you should talk to some regular people who have hired caterers. Try to find out as much as you can from a customers perspective about what they experienced the last time they hired a caterer. See if they have any suggestions for how the service that they experienced could be improved.
Get your business off to a great start by reading, learning and doing research before you take the plunge and open your doors to customers. You should also make sure that you continue to educate yourself throughout the life of your catering business so that you stay up to date with trends, industry developments and changes in your market.