Business Overview

Depending upon the way it’s structured, a catering company either delivers the requested food or takes part in its presentation, staying throughout the course of an event to ensure quality service. Some caterers forego private events altogether, opting to take part in seasonal, public events such as sporting games and festivals.

Who is this business right for?

If you’re a self-starter who is passionate about cooking and entertaining, owning your own catering business might be the ideal career for you. Due to the nature of the industry, you’ll need to live, eat, and breathe catering for the first few years, but the rewards far outweigh the risks.

What happens during a typical day at a catering business?

You’re probably envisioning yourself in the kitchen all day, every day. But there’s so much that goes into running a catering business.

Most days will include the following activities:

  • Answer email and phone inquiries from potential customers
  • Meet with potential clients to discuss details
  • Meet with new customers to discuss the menu for their event, offer taste-testing, and finalize details
  • Place food orders for upcoming events and accept deliveries
  • Coordinate with party planners, venue management, and all other individuals involved in a specific event
  • Coordinate with suppliers regarding china, glassware, utensils, tables, and chairs
  • Prepare and deliver food
  • Set up linens, china, etc
  • Set up food displays (if served buffet style) and/or serve food to guests
  • Manage staff who are working the event, so everyone understands their role
  • Clean up during and after event
  • Follow up with clients to ensure satisfaction and receive feedback

One of the many advantages to running a catering business, is that no two days are alike. Aside from the standard administrative tasks that come with running a business, your tasks will vary as much as the customers who hire you.

What is the target market?

If your business plan limits you to working public events such as football games and festivals, the food you serve will be informal, as will your clientele. If you choose to take the more formal route, you’ll want to appeal to customers who are hosting events for large groups of people. Clients will range from individuals to small and large businesses, all with one thing in common - the desire for you to serve their guests quality food and refreshments.

How does a catering business make money?

The needs of your clients will vary from event to event. Your catering business will generate revenue based on the number of meals and other services provided during each event.

What is the growth potential for a catering business?

Over the last 5 years, the catering industry has realized massive growth, bringing in over $32 billion in 2015 alone. More than half of that income was drawn from restaurants who realize the needs of their customers expand beyond the four walls of their restaurant. Depending upon your long-term goals and the strength of your service, your catering business has the potential to expand to include multiple locations, a restaurant/storefront, and/or a franchising opportunity for others.