Caterer looking for advice or insight

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Joined Jan 13, 2022
Hello my name is Mike, and I run a small full service catering company in central Florida. I have been in business since Jan. 1 2020. Rough year to start but I muscled through and I am still in business today. I have over 12 years of serious cooking experience in various cuisines and restaurants in Miami, Fl. and this is my first business. I didn’t graduate from college and I did not come from a wealthy family. Homeowner, husband and father to 2 kids.

I currently have 3 main services
School Delivery - not a huge profit margin but makes an impact in my community. I feel good about broadening kids paletes and we’ve seen great results. 3 days a week. M, W &Th.
Meal plans - 3 diet options, 5 meals a week. I personally shop for all the food on Saturdays and cook on Sundays and Wednesdays. I deliver twice a week. Takes up most of my time and effort and it’s not my favorite style of serving food. I continue to do it due to demand for it in my area. Somewhat consistent throughout the year and has gotten me through 2021.
Events - Private dinners, cocktail parties, drop offs, weddings, showers, holiday celebrations, and on and on. Highest profit margin but less consistent. I would consider this my preferred way to cook, however, I don't see long term scalability and during the slow season, well, it’s slow. I have done very well in this area for being a new business in a new area.

Being a first time business owner, having pretty good success within my first year, starting from pretty much nothing and with covid very prevalent, I feel kind of lost. Although I am grateful that I have had success, I can’t help but ask myself “Am I running 3 different businesses?” And, honestly I am not sure what I should do. According to the “10 stages of the lifecycle of a business” I am at the infancy stage. I work around a lot of other caterers and food businesses and I have come to see that I am definitely ranked pretty high, even with the OG's in the area. I am a bit unorganized and time allocation is not my strong suit. I work out of a commissary/shared kitchen and I do pretty much everything in the business by myself.

Any advice? Has anybody had success running a catering business with this many services? I have a lot of questions so if anyone is willing to help, I’d definitely be thankful.
Thanks!
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Is there an area of your business that you could hire an employee for? Delivery seems most likely.
I look at all your activities as part of catering. You cook and deliver food to different people for different reasons. You have some steady customers and others not so steady but all being catered to,
So it would seem best to be able to stay in the kitchen and cook and manage the accounts while others deliver.
Long term I would be looking to own my own building and facility to insure more permanent status so you are less likely to have a landlord or other unforeseen circumstances pull the rug out from under you and you can expand and grow as needed.
 
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Joined Jan 13, 2022
I have a delivery driver that helps out sometimes. But this in no way can be a full time position, at least not yet, so it's hard to find steady help. My issue is I might be over-encumbered with cooking, office work, backend, etc. I am the only one running 3 different businesses so to speak.
But I was thinking my goal should be finding help by any means necessary which is exactly what you said. So that's great to hear. Thank you
I was also thinking I might have to drop one area of my business, or two, to focus on one.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
I have to agree with chefwriter.
It would seem that you have divided what you do into 3 separate business, when in fact they are not.
What you call them, are all part of what catering is. The business side, the actual preparation and service delivery are all what catering is about.
I also agree, that since you are getting busier, you'll need a partner or trusted employee. If you were able to get someone to do the cooking or the business side, plus the delivery, that should take a lot of the stress off yourself.
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Well dang, I wish Id known about you a few months ago, I just left the Rockledge/Melbourne area in October, was trying to get back into catering there but everything was too far south or toward Tampa. I'm back west now, in AZ.
Schools are great bread n butter
a accounts, with private, corporate, and weddings being the xtra gravy. Im with these other great chefs, youre describing several facets of one biz, and it just sounds like you need help with planning, maybe sales and the accounting end, just one or two as neededed basis who you can trust.
 
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