How to Start a Profitable Catering Business from Home
If you’ve spent your life being told that you’re a great cook, you might have wondered just how good you could actually be. Could you run a commercial kitchen, for example? Would people pay for your food? Could you combine your passion for tasty eats with a head for business and turn it into a profitable career? These are all important questions and the only way to know for sure is to give it a go.
Yet, it is fair to say that not everybody is cut out for the restaurant business. Some keen cooks dream about feeding hungry masses, but the idea of working in a hectic, pressure cooker of a kitchen doesn’t appeal. The good news is that there is an alternative option. Talented ‘at home’ chefs can set up their own entrepreneurial catering businesses and work at their own pace, with their own rules.
However, just because you’re not cooking on a commercial line doesn’t mean that you won’t be held to the same standards. Keep reading for some valuable hints and tips on how to setup your first catering business.
- Invest in the Right Tools
First things first; if you want to run an efficient and profitable catering business, you must acknowledge the fact that time really is money. The longer it takes you to prepare and cook ingredients, the fewer products or dishes you will be to sell. Working with high quality tools is one way to save time; for example, a robust vacuum sealer makes food safe for delivery within just a matter of seconds.
- Get the Right Licences
It is absolutely imperative that you follow local laws and regulations regarding the sale of food, whether you’re working from home or not. You will need to register with the relevant food safety authority in your area. In Australia, there are all kinds of classifications for this type of business, and they differ from territory to territory. This can be a little confusing, but all you have to do is get in touch with your local council for advice.
- Present a Clean Kitchen
You will then have to wait for a qualified inspector to come out to your premises and conduct a full inspection. If there is anything at all that makes this person concerned about the safety of your food, the approval process will be halted until the matter is rectified. So, don’t try to cut corners here; your prep area and cooking space must be spotlessly clean and tidy.
- Focus On Your Niche
Just like restaurants, home catering businesses must have some kind of theme or ethos. Without a clear message, your marketing efforts will be too vague and customers won’t find you in search listings. Do you want to specialise in catering for big events like wedding receptions and private parties, or would you rather deliver snacks and treats to workplaces? There are all kinds of possibilities, but you’ll need to be sure about what you want to cook, why you want to cook it, and who you want to sell it too.
- Connect with Local Suppliers
Most home businesses are very small and, if they do involve more than one employee, roles are usually doubled up. This means that you’re going to be very busy and have to rely on ingredients from local suppliers who can deliver on time, every time. If you look in the right places, you’ll be able to source absolutely everything that you need from regional vendors.
- Match Your Prices to the Market
It might seem counterproductive to opt for lower prices than you might like, but your ability to sell will depend on the local market. Unless you are operating in a middle class area, with a lot of wealth and a penchant for artisanal snacks, things like cupcakes and fancy sandwiches will need to be priced lower, at least at first, to entice shoppers into experimenting.
- Have Fun and Keep Standards High
The great thing about setting up a domestic catering business is the degree of freedom that it affords owners. Yes, you must adhere to the same rigorous standards of food hygiene and safety as a commercial restaurant, but the rest is up to you. You can host tasting sessions, offer direct deliveries, cater to people on their lunch breaks at work, or set up a stall at your local market. You decide how the products get to the customers.
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