Cooking is an art and women, like me, love to do it. We find real enjoyment in making variety of foods and serving out them to the foodie person. We feel we are at the top of the world once getting appreciation and support from them. These days, culinary art is no longer restricted to women; men are also adept in managing kitchen. If you can better express yourself through preparation of yummy dishes for the family and friends, you should think of starting a catering business from home and turn it into a profitable one. Take it as a new challenge and fulfill your dream as a successful entrepreneur in home business arena.
Starting a Catering Business from Home
Many stay-at-home parents and individuals who like working with food often consider starting a catering business from home. This type of business is rewarding with huge growth potential. It has an advantage of saving money on rental for commercial food premises and working in the comfort of the home. There are also certain drawbacks of catering at home. You may not get the enough space or some special equipment for food preparation. The local and state governments are very strict to food hygiene and you need to follow the health codes. If you do proper planning and you are confident in your own abilities, it is definitely a possibility.
Today we will be looking at various facts and steps that need to be taken in order to start your home-based catering business. These facts are essential to be considered before a final decision is taken, and many decisions will also affect the final result.
1. Start Big or Small
In fact, it depends on several factors like how much time you can invest, how much help you will receive with your business and most importantly the amount of start-up capital you can arrange for this business. These factors will help you to decide whether you can start out big, or rather focus on smaller events in the early days of your catering business.
Here are a couple of tips that can help you out when making this decision:
- Starting small means you can run your business out of your own kitchen. You don’t have to rent out a large space and equip the space with expensive appliances in order to meet the needs of your clients.
- Starting big requires more help when you get started, as well as the rental of space and the purchase of expensive equipment that you will use to cater for a large amount of people at once.
Consider the pros and cons of each option before making the final decision.
The business involves many procedures and steps before you can start operation. The most important aspect is to comply with health and safety requirements.
At the beginning, you should register the business place from where you want to run your catering business. Contact your local authority of environmental health service and follow their registration procedure. When considering a business place, you need to keep some points in your mind. These are
The place is appropriate for all business operations
It meets all the health regulations.
And lastly it needs to be safe for food preparation.
Thereafter, you need to get zoning approval from the local zoning office. Different zones have different laws and requirements. Be sure to check with the zoning officer in your locality if you are going to run a home based catering business. The application will be reviewed first and if approved, a health inspector will be sent to you.
You will most likely need to make some initial changes in your house if you want to get approval, and a health inspector will visit your home in order to approve the health and safety conditions of the operating space.
You will first need to ensure that you have a separate kitchen from where you can run the business. This is one of the prime requirements by law and you will have to provide the health inspectors access to this kitchen so they can properly inspect the environment and advise on any changes that needs to be made in order to get your application approved.
The health inspector will also be able to provide you with further details about obtaining your operating license – a special license is required for any kind of food-related services operated from your home.
Finally, you will have to ensure you meet all safety requirements; including minimizing any fire hazards and ensuring you have taken proper safety precautions to protect your entire team and customers if any emergency occurs.
3. Getting Started
In this step, you will need to open your wallet and be prepared to have some expenses related to your upcoming catering business. After you receive an operating license and all the necessary checks have been completed, you can get started with the process of opening your new home-based catering business.
Follow these simple steps in order to ensure you do things the right way the first time around:
- Create an identity for your business. You can trade under your own name or come up with a name for your business. Many people include their own name, followed by “catering”, “food services” or a similar word.
- Register your business with local authorities and be sure to complete all paperwork. You also need to state that you will be running the business from home, but you will serve customers at their preferred location.
- Creating a branding identity for your company is always a good idea, and this will allow your customers to easily relate to and remember your business. Get a professional graphic designer to design a logo as well as a set of branding designs for you – this includes business cards, flyers, posters, brochures and more.
- Ensure you fit your commercial kitchen with professional appliances including fridges, ovens and counters especially designed for catering businesses.
- If you cannot handle all the pressure by yourself, you need to hire one or two assistants to help you out. If you are aiming at bigger events, you might have to hire more assistants. Be sure to personally interview everyone and choose the ones that you consider the best fits. You will need to discuss salary and responsibilities with potential employees, so be sure to have everything ready when you conduct the interviews.
- Create an organized plan that you will follow day-after-day in order to ensure you do not mess up and things end up in chaos. A more organized schedule will allow for a smoother operation.
4. Gaining Customers
When everything has been done, including your planning, obtaining of your operating license, business branding, etc. – you can start gaining customers by promoting your services through various mediums, both online and offline.
Many different promotional channels are available for this type of business and it is important that you utilize as many as possible in order to gain the initial customers quickly.
Since you will be serving customers in your local area, it is a good idea to start with some offline marketing. There are many different ways to get customers via offline marketing methods, including:
- Always have a business card on you. You never know who you will meet on your next trip to the supermarket!
- Print flyers are great for promoting your services. Get someone to hand them out at shopping centers and on the street where traffic is always moving. Go to your local post office and ask them to place flyers in business postal boxes. You can also ask different types of businesses if you can leave a stack of flyers on their reception desk.
- Print posters and stick them up on community notice boards in your local area.
- Personally visit businesses and inform them about your services. Include a basic pricing guide so they can see how you compare to their current caterer.
- Place an advert in your local newspaper.
- Place an advert in food and wedding-related brochures. There are many different distributions of these types of “mini-magazines”.
By utilizing a variety of offline promotional methods, you will be able to gain customers more quickly.
Even though you are targeting a local area, online promotion can still do wonders for your business. Many companies turn to the internet to find companies that does catering from home in order to save on costs.
The internet is full of potential and you should utilize different online promotional methods to boost your business and gain more clients. These are a few online promotional strategies that will help you get a kick start:
- Start with a website. This will be your “online presence” and you will be directing clients to your website when they ask for more information or when they follow your adverts online. Your website should contain all the vital information about your business.
- Once your website is up and running, create a social presence for your business. Create a social media account for your business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and LinkedIn. Regularly share content here, including pictures of any events you have catered for.
- Utilize various PPC (paid-per-click) advertising networks in order to reach more customers. With these ad networks, you will pay every time someone clicks on your ad. If you have a conversion optimized ad with proper targeting in place, you will be able to gain a couple of clients through this strategy.
- Promote your services on blogs related to food.
- Place adverts on different classified sites such as Gumtree. Be sure to list your ad in your local area to avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
- Create a Yelp account for your business and ask customers to review your business. You can also ask for reviews on your Google Plus page.
These are the essentials for marketing your business on the internet. Start by implementing these techniques and then move forward to more advance marketing techniques when you are ready.
Even though there are many challenges and risks to be faced when starting a catering business from home, it is still a lucrative and exciting opportunity that can change your life for the good. It is very important to consider all of the important facts listed here before you make the decision to start out, and you should follow all the correct procedures to ensure you do not run into any problems in the future.