The catering industry is one of the most dynamic and fiercely competitive industries in the US. There are about 12,000 catering establishments that account for a combined annual revenue of over USD 11 billion.
The industry is also growing at a breakneck pace — it is estimated that in 2020, the catering industry’s market size will increase by 1.4 percent, which is more than the overall growth of the US economy!
While these numbers indicate an upward trend and might inspire you to start your own business, you may still find it challenging to operate a profitable business unless you lay the groundwork. So here are some essential tips you must follow to make your catering business wildly successful:
1- Identify your target customers
It’s simple — your catering business will not flourish unless you target the right customers.
If you are a corporate caterer, your target audience is most likely to be in areas with a higher concentration of offices. These customers regularly order for office events and usually prefer boxed lunches or buffet-style food. On the other hand, if you are a social caterer, your target audience is individuals who order for special events such as weddings or birthdays, and prefer family-style spreads.
Once you narrow down your target audience, you will be in a position to customize your offerings to fulfill the customer’s precise needs.
2- Work on your menu
Whenever a potential customer searches for a caterer to serve at an event, the menu is the first port of call. Creating a profitable catering menu is the first step towards building a successful catering business.
Make sure to have a versatile menu that creates a strong first impression on the customer. Adding high-quality photos and a succinct description of your food can also make a huge difference. Research shows that including descriptive language can boost your sales by nearly 30 percent.
Divide your offerings into categories. For instance, if you are offering breakfast catering for specific events, in addition to other types of catering, it should be clearly indicated in your menu. If your catering company serves a specialty cuisine, don’t forget to highlight that.
3- Pay attention to pricing
Working out a pricing model is crucial for your business because ultimately sales will drive profits. Start by figuring out the gross profit margin and the various costs associated with running a catering business. Your goal should be to come with a reasonably priced menu so that you can bag more orders.
The next step is to figure out if you will offer pre-existing packages or individually priced items. Your pricing model should also include assumptions regarding special requests made by customers and the charges for the same.
4- Market your catering business
Even the best menu or prices will fail to attract customers unless you implement the appropriate marketing strategies for your catering business. It spreads the word about your establishment to potential customers and makes it easier for them to come back.
Exploit the power of social media to establish a direct connection with your customers. Set up a blog to share updates and behind-the-scenes from your kitchen. You can even set up pop-up stalls at the farmer’s market or have a tasting for your potential clients to create a positive impression.
Signing up with a catering marketplace such as CaterCurator can be immensely helpful to target more customers. CaterCurator gives customers an option to apply various filters such as packaging, dietary preferences, and delivery time to discover local caterers. It also offers seamless delivery of the order so that you don’t have to worry about the logistics.
Running a successful catering business is possible, provided you plan well and deliver consistently. However, you should also be prepared to take calculated risks and showcase your creativity to stay afloat during adverse market conditions.