Writing a catering business plan is the first step to starting a catering business. A business plan makes it easy to map out your catering business ideas and see these ideas become a reality.
Key Takeaway - The catering business is about proper and adequate preparation. From planning a menu to preparing meals for social events, there are several things to prepare for and take into account.
With a food catering business plan, you can build the perfect manual and guide to run your catering business successfully. It becomes easier to reach out to investors for funding as well.
A catering business plan is easy to write and contains the same essential elements as other restaurant business plan formats. However, when writing a business plan for catering business, add catering industry-specific sections.
Let’s review how to write a catering business plan for your catering business.
How to Write a Catering Business Plan
Writing a catering business plan is more than just filling out a downloadable catering business plan template. Your passion for your catering business idea must be evident in each business plan section.
From the executive summary and company overview to your operational and marketing plan, your business plan must translate the ideology of your business. Do not just copy and paste something you see online.
When writing a business plan for catering business, include these sections:
- Executive Summary
- Company Overview
- Team and Management
- Market and Opportunity
- Business Operational Plan
- Products and Services
- Marketing Plan
- Financial Projections
Your executive summary, usually one page, is the opening section of your business plan. It should make an excellent first impression of your business. The executive summary is a summary of your business plan.
When writing your executive summary, give a quick rundown of your company's income, costs, break-even point predictions, and other financial information. The executive summary comes last after you’ve written different sections of your catering business plan.
Your catering business overview should include details of your company. The company overview is a more practical version of the executive summary. It should describe the client experience, ownership and management components, and business operations.
For instance, you can explain your order management and order fulfillment process. This is an excellent space to mention your plan to buy a catering food truck. You can also note the job opportunities your catering business will create and future expansion plans.
Team and Management
This section is a great place to explain your eCommerce team structure and organogram. Start the section by explaining your role within the company. Then, you can drop a few highlights of team workflows and day-to-day tasks.
If your catering business scale-up plan will require more hands, mention their roles in this section. You can explain how you find to recruit your team members and your projected salary range.
Market and Opportunity
Researching your market is essential. Knowing your niche market, who and where your customers are, and your potential competitors is crucial to the success of your catering business.
It’ll be great to explain consumer behavior. For example, how many events happen in the area every week? How many venues can you partner with?
Market research will help you know the types of catering businesses that will succeed in your chosen market. It will also help you strategize how to stay ahead of the competition. When writing this section, use graphs and charts to explain your findings.
Business Operational Plan
Explain your business process flow in this section. From how you will attract clients to how you will serve meals at an event, your operational plan is a great place to explain your workflow in detail.
The business operations portion of your catering business plan contains details regarding customer experience management. You can include your plan for sales and inventory management, restaurant accounting, warehouse management system, and food supply chain management for the items on your menu.
This section should explain the tiny details of your business activities. As a tip, highlight the different management processes of your catering business.
Products and Services
If you plan to specialize in a menu item for specific events, then this is the place to discuss it. For instance, your catering business may focus on cocktail parties or weddings. In this case, your menu item and prices will differ from a catering business that serves office lunches.
You may also serve a specific type of cuisine, such as Mexican or Indian dishes. Ensure you include a sample of your menu and pictures of your meals. Include details about your pricing as well.
Unlike other businesses in the food and beverage industry, customers only require catering services for events and occasions. Therefore, you must be positioned so potential customers will call you first when they have events.
Referrals are a big thing in the catering industry. However, you can leverage the opportunities that the internet has to offer. From owning a catering website to building your online presence on social media, there are various marketing strategies you can adopt.
You can list your catering business on marketplace online directories for event planners. Whatever your marketing strategy is, explain it clearly in this section.
Opening a catering business is not as expensive as starting a brick and mortar restaurant business. However, it is essential to discuss your financial projections and eCommerce accounting strategies if you plan to get a loan from the best banks.
You can give a five-year financial projection for your catering business. In financial projections, you must account for both fixed and variable costs.
Fixed costs include the following:
- Catering insurance
- Rent or lease payments
- Equipment costs
- Legal costs
- Fees and permits
Variable costs include the following:
- Costs of restaurant supplies such as wholesale meat, wholesale diary, wholesale produce, and wholesale seafood
- Delivery van costs
- Advertising and marketing
- Salaries and wages
6 Action Plan for Catering Business
- Choose a Format
There are various ways to write a catering business plan. Presenting your business plan will determine whether the reader will be captivated upon opening the document.
Here’s a format you can use:
- Cover page
- Contents page
- Executive summary
- Marketplace overview
- Product/service description
- Marketing plan
- Support materials
- Do Your Research
Research is crucial to succeeding in any food service business. A simple survey will clear up. Will you operate at home? What events will you cater? Will you specialize in a particular type of food?
Conducting research will also help you know the type of regulations you must comply with and the catering business license you need to operate your business. Ask questions from residents and check online for more information.
- Decide on Your Brand
Yes, there are a lot of catering business ideas. However, you must choose your specialty to be able to create a unique selling proposition for your brand.
Do you want to specialize in weddings? Will you serve corporate events only? Deciding on this will determine your business operations, branding, and restaurant management system.
- Be Aggressive With Marketing
Marketing is something you should not get tired of doing. There are a lot of catering businesses in the U.S., and some restaurants are diversifying into offering catering services now.
While the market opportunity is enormous, the competition in the industry is fierce. Therefore, having solid marketing and advertising plan is crucial to the growth of your business.
- Create Your Menu
Creating your menu is essential. First, decide your menu items and prices. Be realistic when setting your price. Consider the cost of obtaining the item at a wholesale vs retail price and the overall overhead costs to run your business.
- Try Software Automation
Restaurant technologies can streamline your business operations. For instance, payment processing software can help you accept payments online and make it easier for customers to pay via credit card on your website.
POS systems and catering management software will help you automate your catering operations. Invoice management software is another tool that will help your business accounting workflow.
Wholesale distribution management software and warehouse inventory management software will optimize your inventory management processes. In addition, you can manage supplier relationships with vendor management software.
Frequently Asked Questions About Catering Business Plan
Starting a catering business requires adequate preparation. A catering business plan will help you plan and serve as a manual to run your business successfully. Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about business plan for catering businesses.
What Skills are Needed for Catering?
A caterer needs the following skills:
- Planning menus for events
- Preparing food and beverages
- Presenting and handling food and beverages
- Monitoring events
- Selecting and setting up event venues
- Managing inventory and wholesale supplies
- Creating packing slip for shipments
Do Caterers Set Up Tables?
Yes. Full-service catering businesses are responsible for setting up tables.
What Questions Should a Caterer Ask a Client?
A caterer should ask a client the following questions:
- What type of event are you planning?
- When will the event hold?
- Where would you like the event to be held?
- How long would you like the event to run?
- Why are you planning this event?
- Do you have an event theme in mind?
- What is your total budget or your budget per person?
Serve in Style
Having a catering business plan will make it easy to grow catering business. Applying for a business loan or getting investors interested in your business is also easier. Keep your sections clear and straight to the point when preparing your catering business plan.
You may need to prepare an elevator pitch when presenting to investors. Pitch your business confidently, project your passion for the industry, and keep it simple.