Starting a Catering Business

Job Duties

starting a catering business

When starting a catering business your job duty will be to prepare and serve foods for events, parties or special occasions. Your catering business will be responsible for the safety of the foods you prepare so be sure to comply with health standards. When starting a catering business be sure to refrigerate and heat foods at proper temperatures so it doesn’t form a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria. You should also be aware of proper food storage and transportation techniques. A catering business may be asked to serve the food and clean up afterwards or they might be asked just to deliver the food. When starting your catering business you can decide what services to offer.

Where will you work?

When starting a catering business expect to work in a wide variety of settings. Your catering services may be needed anywhere from corporate offices, dining halls, fund raisers, hotels to client’s homes. You will have to get accustomed to working in different kitchens and environments. Some locations may not even have a kitchen. You can decide to prepare your foods in your main location before bringing it to your client.

Basic Costs

When starting a catering business you will need a location with professional cooking equipment and tools where you can cook and prepare foods. You can decide to start your catering business from home to save money and get a location once your business starts growing. However be informed of your local and state laws before doing so. For example Virginia Law requires that the cooking area be separate from your home kitchen. Since a professional cooking kitchen with professional equipment can be expensive you can consider renting one. Your catering business should have equipment to measure food temperatures to ensure they are up to health codes. You must also have containers to transport the foods. You will have to purchase your own food ingredients. You will need a reliable vehicle to transport your foods. You will also have to obtain a business license and possibly a permit which you can inquire about at your local health department or government offices.

Tips for Starting a Catering Business

  • When running a catering business it is essential that you consider getting insurance to protect you and your business in the case that someone gets sick from your food, equipment or vehicle gets damaged, or an employees gets hurt on the job.
  • Passion for cooking is a great quality to have when running a catering business but it is a good idea to also gain knowledge and experience. Consider taking cooking classes and working in a catering business so you get a feel for the business.
  • Clients expect a certain degree of professionalism when they hire your catering services. Consider having your employees wear uniforms or have clothing standards. Have long hair tied back to prevent it from going into the food and have nails neatly kept. Make sure employees have good hygiene.
  • Research different recipes from cooking books and the Internet for ideas. Make sure your food not only tastes good and is safe but it should also be presented in an appealing way.

Advertising a Catering Business

When starting a catering business you can advertise through the following methods:

  • Flyers– Determine if you can put up flyers in local grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, community centers and daycares. It is best to ask the owner of these businesses for permission first. Also hand out flyers to passer byes on the street.
  • Catering Business Cards– Create business cards and hand them whenever an opportunity appears. Network as much as possible. Seek recommendations from friends and family.
  • Yellow Pages– Consider buying an advertisement in the yellow pages of your local phone book. You can also include your business in the online version:
  • Having a listing at can help people that are searching for your service or product locally find you.
  • Yahoo Local Searches– If you include your business in the Yahoo Local Searches, when people search for your service in your local area your business will appear in the list. To add your business to Yahoo local search, enter the term “add business to yahoo local search” in and click on the first link.
  • Google Local Searches– Google has a local search as well. To add your business to Google local search, enter the term “add business to google search” in and click on the first link.
  • Local Events– Local events are a great way to create awareness for your business. Learn about local events in your area and find out if they are in need of a catering service.
  • Fund raisers and Charities– Donate your services to local fund raisers and charities in order to gain publicity.
  • Newspaper classified ads– Newspaper ads in your local newspaper can be very effective in advertising your catering business.
  • Form a Partnership– Consider forming a partnership with a local party planner. You can agree to give the party planner commission when they use your catering service.
  • Website– You can decide to develop a website to provide clients with access to general information about your catering business.

Not sure about starting a catering business? See a list of small business ideas

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