tips for starting a catering company on a budget

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the hospitality industry has developed. People used to enjoy eating in a bistro, a fast-food chain, a fine dining restaurant, and even in a small café around the corner. The virus came along last year and then, food and many other businesses had to close down for fear of getting the deadly illness. Some have even permanently shut down and cannot operate as before.

Times are hard but it must never stop anyone from pursuing their passions and skills, even if that means the food business. And if you are leaning towards starting your own food business, say a small catering company, then, listen up. You have to know the basics of starting one and how to effectively market it.

You do not have to open a restaurant just to follow your passion and make it into a business. Even restaurateurs these days, according to the article by Richard Gawlas of TouchBistro, stressed the importance of technology and marketing the food business through online ways. And how can it be done?

Here are some tips for marketing your food business, restaurant, or catering to the use of the internet.

  1. Create content that shows your journey towards starting the catering company, and of course, your food. People want to see reality during this pandemic with a touch of “wow.” Use your smartphone to take beautiful pictures of your food as you post it on your business social media accounts and pages like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. You can also document behind the scene acts, share a non-secret recipe, or better yet, do a live cooking tutorial. People love that and can add to your potential client base.
  2. People are using Google now more than ever, and with that, you have to optimize your online presence. You can check Google My Business on how to use Google to market your catering business for free. Also, you have to go back to your website or page, and update all your information (menu, about us, others), with the desktop and mobile view of your menu and sumptuous-looking pictures, email list, follow button, order system, and other content you deem is important.
  3. Collaborate with an influencer/food blogger or vlogger and similar personalities. They can help you market your catering business.

Restrictions are set up for a food business because of the pandemic, but it must not deter you. You will have to effectively communicate with your audience how you follow government laws and how you practice safety protocols within your business. This is the first thing you have to publicize.

Low-cost catering businesses may cost up to $10,000, as stated in Bryce Warnes’ article in Bench.co but it will depend upon your equipment, transportation, and marketing. It can be lower. Remember to cover the first year of your operational costs. The first-year revenue must also be intact.

Aside from marketing, the basic steps in starting a catering company on a budget will have to include these steps:

  1. Determine your specialty or the type of catering that you want to do. Will you operate from home or are you renting a space for your business? If you are working from home, the business kitchen must be separate from the home kitchen.
  2. Go to your local health and occupational licensing department, and ask for a list of how you can open up a catering business. Follow the permits and regulations set therein.
  3. Establish your business plan and business name. It is important to have a mission and vision statement, business goals, what inspired you to go into business, what sets you apart you’re your competitors, and detailing your business resources. Of course, you also have to determine and regulate your start-up budget and have financial projections. The latter will keep you motivated to work.
  4. It is also necessary to determine your market and competition, as well. Who will you be serving, and who are your competitors? Your business must be a limited liability company, to protect your non-business assets.
  5. Obtain your business and zoning licenses from your city, county, or state. Insurance must never be bypassed, as well. For that, Quote Radar can assist.
  6. Create your menu with pictures.
  7. Purchase professional-grade cookware, dishware, and other food equipment or tools for strict business use.
  8. Talk with your suppliers, ask for the best prices, and provide your flyers to them for added marketing.
  9. If you cannot do it on your own, hire a social media manager to handle your page. Testimonials are very important and must be displayed since you are online-based. Referrals are also necessary since your business can become a word-of-mouth type. If clients will provide referrals, give them a discount, voucher, or coupon.
  10. Hire a bookkeeper once your business starts to flourish so that you can focus on operations.

With proper planning, your catering business can become successful. Follow the tips and steps mentioned above, and you are off to a good start.

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