If you have got a flair for cooking, and you are ready to start working for yourself, then perhaps it is time you learn the ropes of how to start a catering business.
Starting a business is not easy, but you can always start with a small catering business and grow it into something big slowly.
Just like a great food preparation needs the perfect combination of ingredients, to own a successful catering company, you will need just the right combination of tips and strategies.
Here’s a list of 10 useful tips on how to start a catering business from home.
1. Identify Your Specialty
Make sure that your foodservice falls into a specific niche. Otherwise, it will get really tough to compete with the big catering services and even grow your customer base.
Here are a few questions that can help you identify your specialty:
What type of food are you planning to serve? Will you be serving a large customer base? Or will you serve a niche market, such as gluten-free or vegan cuisine?
What type of catering events will you serve? To start with, smaller functions such as staff lunches, cocktail parties, wedding showers could be great. You can also consider catering to any corporate event.
What is your capacity? If you are going to do this full time, you could host multiple catering events per week. But if you are starting a small catering business, limit your catering events.
2. Start Thinking About Your Website And Your Overall Brand
Your eCommerce website represents a lot of things when you are starting a business such as the quality of your food service, passion for innovation, professionalism, and the catering experience you are offering.
To maintain a sharp and professional brand for your catering company, you need to consider elements such as the logo, colors, theme, and layout of your site.
Look at your site as a sales tool and make sure that it is centered around conversion, easy to navigate for placing an order, booking catering events, and checking out your shopping cart.
3. Get A Great Domain Name
The first step to building any business starts with getting the right domain name, and that holds true even when the question is how to start a catering business from home. Find a domain that is relevant for your catering company, is easy to remember, and also helps your SEO.
101+ Domain Name Ideas For Your Catering Business
4. Build A Seamless Mobile Experience
With around half the users ordering on their phones, you need to ensure that your site is optimized for mobile if you don’t want to miss out on 50% of your sales. Mobile users have a very little attention span and might get distracted easily.
So, make sure that the process is simple and quick. And the mobile site is so attractive and interesting that it’s hard for them to move on to something else without completing their order.
5. Build A Strong Menu
The questions on how to start a catering business and what should be on a menu normally go hand in hand. It is possible that you have thought properly about the various food items that you will be preparing from your home kitchen.
It is time that you put all of them down on an attractive menu to display to your potential customers.
Your menu should be shaped according to your capacity and cooking facilities. Less tangibly, it could also be affected by the type of food you’re going to serve, and the niche you’re catering to.
For example, if you are going to serve food with local, seasonal ingredients, your winter menu might not include freshly squeezed orange juice.
6. Sort Out All Your Licensing And Permits
Licensing and permits for catering services vary depending on the state. Whether you are allowed to make food preparations in your home kitchen for your catering business or not, will be dependent on your state laws.
Despite certain variations, there are other licenses and permits that are common across all states, some of which you will likely need while starting a business:
- A general business license, that is issued by your state, municipality, city, or county.
- A zoning permit, depending on where your cooking facilities will be located.
- Health permits, depending on where you will be preparing food and whether you will be transporting it.
7. Building An Online Storefront
You will have to make sure that your site supports online food ordering, with the following features:
- Pickup and delivery options
- Cut off times and closures
- Dietary requirements
- Customizable menus
- Menu item modifiers and selections
- Delivery areas and delivery charges
- Multiple payment options
- Customer login and order amendments
8. Upgrade Your SEO
Needless to say, it is important for any online business to ensure that their site is SEO optimized. Set a primary keyword and a few secondary keywords that you are going to use throughout your site.
Create a blog and regularly share relevant content where you also use these keywords, to make sure your site shows up on Google SERPs. You can also set up meta tags for your site that will help search engines to understand your site better and rank it even higher in the search results.
The authority of your site plays a huge role in SEO which is impacted by the number of unique sites that are linking to your site, their authority, etc.
Get your website featured on news articles, blogs, and other authoritative sites, to increase your backlinks which will eventually boost your SEO.
9. Focus On Local Marketing
The importance of marketing to your local community is more important today than ever. Even customers are keen on supporting local businesses, but they will need to know about you to support you.
You can use Google My Business to set up your foodservice and even rank it for local searches in your area. This will help Google in showing your business in geo-targeted searches, and will also let you manage reviews for your business that will further establish credibility within the local market.
10. Make The Most Of Social Media
You will need a really good social presence for your small catering company if you want to make it big. There are so many social media platforms where you can actively post to create a buzz about your foodservice.
Use LinkedIn to make your business popular in the corporate circle. Any company could reach out to you for a corporate event if they find your foodservice registered on LinkedIn.
Knowing how to start a catering business from home can be tough. Apart from all the above-mentioned tips, the ultimate reality is that you are starting a business about food, and that’s what is of utmost importance.
You can’t ensure all the above tips and compromise on your food preparation or the type of food you are offering.
You will also need to get your food–the actual product photographed in high resolution by a professional, with proper background and lighting. Bold colored backgrounds and the bird’s eye view also work really well with food photography.
You need to make sure that you are impressing your audience with your food more than anything. Doesn’t matter if it is a home kitchen or a commercial kitchen, try to provide the best food there is.
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