Special bonus - How to start your own catering business with catering services
Work from Home, Catering as a Business Opportunity
You'll find people seem to have more money to spend, and those with a bit more, want to show their status by flaunting their wealth - with large, catered parties. But not just the wealthy - when last did you go to a wedding where the catering services were not done by professionals?(Even if it is just the hotel staff)
With the same kind of reasoning, businesses of all sizes are
using catered lunches, cocktail parties and dinner meetings to
build their images and increase company sales. Even though it is not always a matter of
keeping up with the competition, it just don't make sense to have full-time staff to build a few sandwiches for that internal meeting, it also does promote a company to show professionalism on product launches and other do's.
On a smaller, but just as busy marketing scale:
Working mothers are paying to have catered birthday and
graduation parties. And, like I said, catering services for events like wedding receptions, also handled by caterers. The reasons are simple to understand--if she's working
outside the home, today's mother just doesn't have the time or
the energy to do all the event planning and staging of memorable parties.
Besides for the working angle, working moms also turn everything over to a caterer because they feel a little bit guilty. Thus, they're ready and willing to do anything(see money in your hand here) so the kids can have a lavish party to be remembered for years to come.
Caterers handle everything from birthday parties for children, to
company dinner parties for 50 and wedding receptions involving a ton of guests. Or what about catering events like a breakfast in bed or an intimate candlelight dinners for two. This kind of entrepreneurial business is definitely growing and becoming more popular with people of all
An imaginative caterer in one of our cities can easily
make a bundle each year, while a small part-time caterer in a
small town can count on all the local functions if she/he knows what they're doing. Just imagine pulling people to your plattelandse dorpie from the cities.
You don't need special education or training to become a
successful caterer. With a bit of people skills, or someone on your catering team with the skills, you can be up and running in a flash. You can start your catering business from home with no extra money needed, as long as you have the basic equipment, that is.
If you do decide to go with more professional equipment, like a commercial stainless steel spitbraai(link opens on new page), it won't cost you an arm and a leg either.
Some big spenders go full-out and order a few fully kitted trailers or everything needed to start a fully equipped restaurant. They see a big picture and go for the quick start with a long-term view.
An ideal business for an ambitious couple to
start and operate with very little capital investment required.
One person can spend his time looking for business while the
other would do the planning, organizing and do the actual catering.
As with any business, your success will be directly related to
the soundness of your planning and the working of that plan.
Understand exactly what your client wants, and give him what he
wants in the way of service that reflects upon the client in a
Basically, you can start with an advertisement in your local
newspapers. This advertisement need not be much more than a
simple announcement: Creative Catering-Specializing in personal
service - We can handle any party or special event from start to
finish -no idea to small or too big- Your satisfaction is always
guaranteed! We can handle everything for you.. Call us, and let
us make your parties worth remembering...
Later, when you have a few catering functions under your belt, AND took tons of photo's, start thinking about a web site. The best deal I could find is at www.TopServ.co.za - for your website hosting.(link opens on new page).
Basically you need a home for your new business. As a business we run our website domains on these South African servers, and in all the years had no problems and only great personal service from Louis Ferreira and his team.
Naturally, the first thing you want from anyone calling to ask
about your services, is that person's name, address and phone number. Then
you want to know what kind of party or event they have in mind.
As soon as you have this information, relax a little bit and
inquire to find out about the person or the company--the
people--sponsoring the party and their ultimate goals or reasons
for the party.
If it's to celebrate a birthday, graduation, anniversary or a
wedding reception--finding out about the interests, background
and ambitious of the guest of honor will be of value to you in
your planning. Taking a few minutes to learn everything you can
about whoever the party is for, and the people giving the party,
will also make it much easier to close the sale than any sales
pitch or special persuasive tactics.
People like to talk about themselves, and they especially like to
tell everyone why they're honoring someone, even when they
pretend to keep it a secret who initiated the idea. So, it's
important that you be a good listener, that you have the ability
to get people to talk about themselves, and that you take notes
on the things they tell you. (Side note - hidden business opportunity - not just on the topic of catering: listen/listen/listen)
This same principle applies to business people, regardless of
who's talking to you or the purpose of the catered affair. The
more polished and adept you can become in getting your prospects
to talk about themselves, the more information relative to their
background you can elicit, and the more you listen; the better
your parties will be, and the greater success you'll attain in
the catering business.
You take the information you glean from this first interview and
plan/organize the event on paper. This means you're going to have
to have contacts or at least working relationships with
innumerable service businesses.
If your client wants to stage a birthday party for a 12-year
old---he or she greets the guests as they arrive, makes sure
everybody knows who he is---then what about party favourites---a soft
drink and a conversation leader until all the guests arrive--the
opening of presents--icecream and cake--and games to play, a
thank you gift for coming, and a reason to end the party at a
Do you greet the guests, does the mother or father, or the little
boy or girl? Where do you come up with the party favourites at less
than regular retail prices? Where are you going to get the soft
drinks-your cost and the glasses or paper cups to serve them in?
What about ice? What kind of games to play? Who'll be the
conservation leader? Will there be a clown or someone special to
keep everything moving according to plan? Where do you get the
ice cream and cake? What games to play? How to get everyone
involved? And finally, a feasible and polite reason for ending
the party and sending everyone home...
All this takes planning, organization, and if you're going to
make a profit, a definite awareness of cost control. Get it all
down on paper as a proposal to the people who want to pay you to
do this event. Figure out your costs, the time involved in putting
it all together, and then get back to your prospect.
Always leave room for changes in your proposal. In fact, expect
them--invite input and suggestions from the client--and always
have an alternate idea in your mind for each of those on your
written proposals. Discuss your proposal with the client just as
you would a script for a television show, make the suggested
changes and ask for a 50-percent advance deposit. From there,
it's just a matter of following your plan.
Regardless of size or type of party--whether your client is a
working mother or a giant corporation--the format is always the
same: initial inquiry, interview, your proposal, 2nd interview
for any changes, agreement, deposit, staging the party itself,
and your final payment. As mentioned earlier, success in this
business comes from your planning--having a lot of contacts--and
working your plan.
An important word of caution: Try not to get "boxed in" to
setting or even revealing a tentative price until you've had a
chance to listen to what the prospect wants, to study your own
capabilities, and to make a formal written proposal. If a
customer wants to know how much you charge--and if you feel it
necessary in order to eventually close the sale--you can tell him
an amount per hour, plus expenses, and of course,
depending on the type of event the customer wants.
As for how much the average party costs, again tell him that it
varies anywhere from R250 to R10,000 - Once you've done a few functions, you'll be able to give a more accurate figure, but never commit.
Always keep in mind that you are a professional, and that if the
ordinary person had your knowledge, contacts and ambition to do
it himself, he wouldn't be calling you in the first place. He needs
your help for any number of reasons. You specialize in this kind
of work or service just as a doctor specializes in medicine and a
lawyer in legal matters. Therefore, you should, and do expect to
be paid accordingly.
Something else--this business thrives on word-of-mouth
advertising--referrals--and thus, is direct "freeway" to the kind
of customers where money is of no concern. However, in order to
gain access to this market, your business emphasis has to be on
service. These referrals are also important for you website. Get someone to put their "word of mouth" on paper.
Having the SEO of a big company say "This is the best managed private catering event we ever had. The caterers were giving top quality service and perfection is the only way to describe the food and ..........."
SEO mega company
This means the capability of handling everything for the
customer, from having the invitations printed and sent out to
cleaning up after the last guest has left. Businesses and people
in the upper income brackets, like to pick up the phone--tell
someone they want a party on a certain date--and then forget
about it, knowing everything will be taken care of without
further worry or time involvement from them. Once you've
developed your expertise and clientele to this level, you'll have
a huge business - does not matter where you are.
Definitely arrange for a display ad in your local newsletters and newspapers.
Working with restaurants, supper clubs, bridal shops and
entertainment business in general can bring in hundreds of
referrals for you. Rubbing shoulders with, and circulating as a
part of your area's civic and service clubs, like the Lions club and Round table, should also result in more business for you. Golf clubs and the likes produce gold.
Keep your eyes and ears on the alert. Where ever you go, and with
whomever you associate, always be ready to promote and sell your
services, if not on the spot, at least make a note to follow up
when conditions are more in your favour. Promoting and selling
your services will require at least half your time, and that's
why two people operating catering services are so successful from
The actual selling is quite simple so long as you emphasize the
service and time-saving aspects. The more time-consuming work you
can handle for the client, the easier it's going to be for you to
close the sale.
Handing out business cards is one of the least expensive ways to
advertise, promote and sell your services. One enterprising
caterer made arrangements with the sponsors of all his parties,
to see that each of the guests gets one of his business cards.
Another gives each of his clients a stack of his business cards,
and tells them he'll pay them R100 for each prospect they refer to
him. He tells them to write their name on the backs of the cards,
and to hand them out to their friends. And then, whenever a
person tells him that John or Jane suggested he call, and he
presents the card with John or Jane's name on the back, this very
successful caterer takes the R100 to the referrer in person - another chance to give more business cards.(And think about it, you'll always get an appointment, because you are not selling anything - you are giving this person some money).
Another very successful caterer pays commissions to a group of
housewives and college students who solicit--via their home
phones--interviews for him with brides-to-be. They get their
leads from announcements, and pictures of brides-to-be in the
Many caterers pay sales people a commission for letting them know
when they hear about a party or special event being planned by
one of their business customers.
The possibilities go on and on, and are seemingly unlimited.
Time is becoming more valuable to a lot more people every day,
which means there are more and more opportunities for great
wealth and personal independence as a professional caterer. In
reality the success for just about any person entering this
field, will be limited only by his or her own imagination and
Business opportunities are plentiful within the catering and function planning field. Anyone with a sense of service to others can succeed. Very little "ready cash" is needed to begin. Therefore,
the only thing standing between you and the realization of your
dreams, is the action it takes on your part to get started...
Good Luck and may 2014 be your year, as "Caterer of the Year".
-- For more info, Charmaine is waiting for your call - (072)286-9877