Can you make mouth-watering sandwiches, crowd-pleasing croissants, or decadent desserts? If so, you might have already thought about starting a catering business. People turn to caterers to take an important task off their plate: cooking. Whether it’s preparing food for a birthday party, wedding, baby shower, or other important event, caterers ensure everyone is fed with great-tasting food. If you’ve decided to start a catering business, how can you make it successful? Creating goals is a must.
Setting good business goals will help your catering business experience continuous growth. Without clear goals, you may find yourself struggling to retain clients and may also find it difficult to handle business operations. One of the reasons why goals fail is because of the lack of clarity. Don’t let that happen with your new venture. In this article, we list five important goals for your catering business.
1. Establish Your Niche
What, specifically, are you good at? You might say “I’m good at everything,” but get more specific. In order to be successful, you need to think about how your business will differentiate itself from the competition. What will you be great at?
Here are some questions to help you establish your niche:
- Consider where you think your menu will be the most popular. Where do you envision customers enjoying your food?
- Do you think your food would be most popular at casual, laid-back places like backyard barbecues? Or would it be most popular at formal dining occasions where there’s a black-tie dress code?
- Is there a dish that you make that you’re the most proud of? Is there one that you’re complimented on the most?
- Have you had a little success – or a lot of success- with accommodating special dietary preferences, food allergies, and the like? Think about the increasing demand for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free foods. Do you see your business meeting these needs in a unique way?
2. Improve Top-Selling or Most Popular Item
Over time, you’ll begin to see trends in your catering business. After establishing a niche, you may find that some items sell more than others. You may also see seasonal trends for what menu items are popular, particularly if you cater weddings.
Look for opportunities to improve the amount of sales of your top-selling items or your most popular items. Think outside of the normal places you cater and look for expansion opportunities. For example, you can evaluate the popularity of your dessert options. Since Valentine’s Day is a “sweet” holiday, brainstorm places that sell sweet items for this holiday. Pitch to them to sell your top-selling dessert.
3. Increase Profitability
In the early days of any business, profitability may seem far away. Money is being spent to just get the business started, and money coming in is often being used to pay back vendors or employees. So, an immediate goal for any catering business is to increase profitability. Creating a profit is what allows the business to survive.
Increasing profitability is not an option: it’s a must. This goal never goes away: it’s vital to ensuring that you’re able to stay in business.
Let’s say that a year into creating your business, you’re starting to make a profit. However, that trend might not continue. Five years into your business, you may find that you’re losing profits due to cost increases from your vendors. This simple example shows that profits are an aspect of your business that you’ll always need to keep your eyes on. Increasing profitability is a long-term business goal for any new business.
4. Develop Partnerships with Event Planners and Venues
Relationships with other businesses are an absolute must. The more connections you can create, the better. Developing quality relationships with event planners and venues will help you find new customers. These relationships will be part of the reputation of your business.
If there are groups you can join in the event-planning industry, look into how you can participate. You may be introduced to people that you can get to know, which will ultimately lead to more business referrals.
5. Have a Well Trained Staff
You may have decided to start your catering business alone but you’ll need a team to run and grow it properly. A catering staff will consist of one or more kitchen assistants and a serving staff. Your kitchen assistants will help with food preparation and the serving staff will be responsible with serving guests of the event.
Every day, your staff is enabling you to reach your goals. As you bring new employees into the business, consider your confidence level: how confident are you that your employees are trained to do their jobs? Think about training your staff in small steps. Here are just a few things to think about as you bring new employees on:
- Do they have prior catering experience? If not, do they seem coachable?
- Give new hires a full orientation of your business: provide your expectations, the hours they will be expected to work, and who they should approach if they don’t know how to do something, etc.
- Make sure employees know what to do if a customer complains about their food. Whether they’re told it’s too hot, too cold, or just not the right item ordered, make sure everyone knows how to respond to complaints.
- Consider the dress code for your staff. Uniforms with your business logo could promote your business.
- Make sure your staff is aware of any health and safety regulations that they need to follow.
Creating a catering business is exciting. Before you know it, you’ll be delighting your customers with amazing entrees, delightful desserts, and fun finger-foods. But in order to sustain your business long-term, you’ll need to have clearly defined goals. Your goals are important. You may want to achieve your business goals faster, but don’t get discouraged.
Establishing your niche can help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. Improving on your top-selling item can help you make more sales. When you build relationships with others, you’ll gain more customers. Always keeping an eye on profits, you’ll train your staff to achieve business goals. All together, it’s a recipe for success!