The business of catering

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by islandflava, Jan 16, 2002.

  1. islandflava

    islandflava

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    Are there any recommended books or courses that I could take to improve myself in terms of the business side of catering. While I am able to put out orders, I find that I need to increase the amount of orders for my business. There are many forms of advertising available to me but I don't have a big budget and whatever I choose to do must be as on target as possible. I am not sure where to turn in terms of marketing, accounting and general financial planning for a small business. I usually work alone but I am considering getting maybe 2 more people to work with me so that I can do small weddings and other functions. The way I figure it I need to be organized in all aspects if I want this to work and it is not enough for me to be able to cook alone. Especially if I want my business to grow to the point of giving me an income comparable to a normal 8-4 job. My vision for my business is to get it to a point of stability in terms of orders and income. Can anyone help me answer this, any and all advice would be appreciated! I have been turning this around in my mind for months now. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Well first of all, how long have you been in business? Depending on your growth curve, you might already be doing the correct thing. If this December you did 20% more than last December then you're probably on the right track. If you're not seeing an increase in figures over the same period last year, then you might want to take steps.

    1) Find out about your competitors

    2) Find out who your competitors' clients are

    3) Target those exact same customers

    I have a friend who owns a language translation business. During the first few months of operation she saw an ad in the paper by one of her competitors thanking all their clients. What a stroke of luck, her competitor just gave away their client list! You might not get as lucky, but see what you can dig up.

    Best of luck,

    Kuan
     
  3. anneke

    anneke

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    Hmmm... Sounds like a pretty predatory approach. Though common, I'm sure. Whatever happened to finding a niche and sticking to what you do best? From my experience in other fields, that's a more sustainable long-term approach.

    Of course, I have no catering experience...
     
  4. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I suppose it could be looked upon as predatory. But if you're in the same business as your competitors, why shouldn't you target the same customers? Finding a niche is really really difficult. Not many of us are "original" enough to have people flock to us even though as chefs we are expected to be. A lot of times you sorta find your niche as you develop your business. Trends change, people get older, sometimes concepts fail, sometimes new ones are introduced which all of a sudden put you behind. You just never know.

    You definitely do not want to be going out and finding a new niche when you're in survival mode. One half of one percent of a ten million dollar market is still $50,000 in revenue for the little guy. I'd just as soon ride the coatails of the big guys until my time comes along.

    Kuan
     
  5. islandflava

    islandflava

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    Well I have been catering for about 5 yrs now and doing cake decoration for about 4. I split the business into two parts for better accounting and recordkeeping of equipment purchases etc. I also focused more on cake decorating orders. But now I realize that for a sustainable income, catering is a safer route to focus on while the cake side grows. I usually take whatever orders that come therefore I have been doing many different types of catering, for example, last year I did the lunches and tea plates for a cricket team(A and B teams and their visitors) every weekend for 6 months yet every now and then I would cater a dinner party of 25-30 with more gourmet types of dishes. Now every year since I have been doing this I have seen growth, the issue for me is growth in which direction? Because of this too, in a way every caterer is my competition and everyone is a customer. I guess my problem is that I have no particular niche, and because of that work is too sporadic. Ok, I think I have the answer to my question, if I am more specific with my direction then I could research, market and plan to suit. Thanks alot, sometimes the answer to your questions are staring you in the face but you need someone to point it out to you before you see it. Thanks again. :bounce: :bounce:
     
  6. isa

    isa

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    I don’t know if such data are accessible in your country but in Canada there is a statistical branch of government that has data on just about everything. Should the same thing apply to your country, pay them a visit. Determine what area of the country you are interested it and look at:

    Average income of individual

    Statistic on individual, schooling, age, number of person per household, etc.

    Amount spend on food weekly. This can be break down into different categories. i.e.: Fruits & vegetables, meat, seafood, etc.

    How many time a week the residents eat out per week, month, etc.

    Average amount spend when eating out.

    How many time per week/month they buy ready to eat gourmet dinner ( I don’t mean TV dinner)

    How many specialty food shops exist in the area. How many restaurants, pastry shops, bakeries, etc.

    Average income of these business.
     
  7. marmalady

    marmalady

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    I've seen books on catering businesses, but offhand don't know names; you could do a search on Amazon.com, or if you have a good bookstore they may carry them. Try the library also.
     
  8. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    Check out this website-. I have attended a number of seminars given by Mike Roman and found his advice very useful. The website has quite a few resources that you may find helpful.

    www.catersource.com
     
  9. islandflava

    islandflava

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    Well I have been looking for the Statistical Office here but I haven't come up with anything thus far. I will keep looking. However, I went to Amazon and found a couple of catering books and I was wondering if anyone could advise me on which would be wiser to buy. I saw

    1. Catering-The Art, Science and Mystery- Micheal Roman
    2.How to start a home based catering business- Denise Vivaldo
    3. How to run a catering business from home- Christopher Egerton-Thomas

    Thanks again for all your input.