Putting together a simple competitive matrix can help you see where you and your competitors overlap, and where you stand out. Practically every business has competition. Find out how your target customers are getting their needs met already.
What do they do when they want to serve 30 of their friends a huge meal? How do they make it happen? Make it your business to find out. You may be in trouble before you begin if your chosen niche is already oversaturated in the market.
So, find out who has been successful locally and why. What are people saying about them? Why do they get repeat business? Using a business planning tool like LivePlan can help, especially when you connect your cloud accounting solution, like QuickBooks or Xero, so that you can monitor and compare your financial forecasts to your actuals over time without crunching numbers in spreadsheets. It makes modeling forecast scenarios easier too, so you have a clearer sense of how different decisions will affect your sales trajectory. A caterer does many things and must wear many hats, all at the same time.
But, nothing is more central to the core identity of the business than the menu. Your service and presentation must be impeccable, but it is the food that will keep customers coming back and offering referrals to their friends and associates. For many, it is the single defining aspect of a catering business. Here are some things to consider when putting together your catering menu.
The larger corporate catering firms which often target large and expensive executive lunches can scale their operation up or down to meet any food request presented to them. Starting out, your focus will have to be more narrow, partly because for budgetary reasons and partly because that will help you create an identity. By targeting your menu to what you do best, you put yourself in a better position to deliver a top-quality product to your client.
This is something Warren Dietel believes is crucially important for new caterers. Food is no different from fashion, architecture, or technology in that it is nearly impossible to stay on top of all the current trends. Everyone now wants macarons for their parties. It would seem keeping current has never been more important in the foodservice industry.
Consider joining a food service organization or other professional group with a mission of helping food businesses succeed to help you keep your ear to the ground.
Like most other goods or services, catering businesses range from the very affordable to quite expensive. If you are going for high-end clients like corporate lunches or expensive wedding parties, you will need to price your meals and services accordingly. In either case, how successful you are in your targeted market is going to depend in large part on determining the right price point. The other side of this is putting together a sales forecast.
Once you have a sense of what your price point will be, and what your materials and other overhead costs will be, put together a simple sales forecast to help you model different scenarios. This may seem self-explanatory, but there is no faster way to put yourself out of business than by delivering amazing dishes that cost more to produce than what you are receiving from the client.
Be sure to factor in all food preparation costs when deciding what you will put on your menu. Before you can place that first order and take that first piping hot tray out of the oven, you will have to clear some logistical hurdles to get your business operational.
You can reduce your risk if you plan ahead. Always Objective. We went from having several hundred independent producers in Pennsylvania to very few. We have done our detailed market research and feasibility studies and we were able to secure fifty hectares of land to start our livestock breeding business. In order to operate as a food business you will need to get an Employer Identification Number from the IRS and register with your state as well.
Jean-Marc believes what is most important in choosing a location is what amenities are available rather than what part of the city you are situated in. We have office space plus a basement for storage with walk-in fridges and walk-in freezers. You will have to determine if it makes sense to buy a company van or simply rent one on an as-needed basis. You will need special units to keep the food properly preserved from your location to the function.
Anyone entering the foodservice industry absolutely must protect themselves with adequate business insurance coverage. Even with the most careful attention to detail, accidental food poisoning or other mishaps can happen and you must be prepared for all eventualities. Pay attention to workplace safety. Plan for the unexpected. Think about what can go wrong and come up with a few ideas for how you might deal with it. You can reduce your risk if you plan ahead. Do yourself a favor and check a few of those off the list, well before go-time.
Here are some things to consider when it comes time to start marketing your catering business. Not long ago, this was one of the go-to methods for getting exposure for a catering business.
Handing them out a wedding or trade shows was considered a no-brainer for any enterprising caterer. Instead, they now use a targeted cold-call method when they have on-site office jobs.
What we do is take business cards to the neighboring businesses and let them know who we are and what we have to offer. That has worked well for us in the past. This is by far the most effective marketing tool you will use. Having a strong web presence is an absolute must. Probably not. Think of social media as one arm of your marketing strategy, but not the entire thing.
Especially as Facebook and other platforms have evolved to deprioritize business-related content, remember that you get what you pay for.
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This is a tactic that Jean-Marc has found to be very effective during his years in the business. Find a great cause you want to support, and offer to cater the event as your contribution in exchange for the organizers using your company name and logo on all promotional materials and at the event itself. You will be incurring a significant expense at the outset, but it is a great way to penetrate a target-rich environment. Look to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with other organizations that frequently use caterers.
Establishing a great working relationship with the top two or three event planners in your area is a great way to keep your business going strong. One visit to Amazon will give you numerous options for published guides on starting a catering business. Both Jean-Marc and Warren stress the importance of patience and determination in those early days.
These concerns are common amongst classical retailers, but He Ma used its data to prove these concerns unfounded. The numbers are hard to argue with. For every people that download the He Ma app, a staggering 35 end up completing a transaction. That's it for this week in China Tech. If you have any stories you think we should cover next week, feel free to message me and make sure to check back for more stories coming from China next week.
Happy year of the dog, and xin nian kuai le. Well, the days of relying on foreign pig production are gone in China. I've supported technology startups for the last decade. Over half of this time was spent at Apple as a founding team member of their global SMB channel and as the founde