A great business strategy leads to customer satisfaction – perhaps the most important factor within the catering industry. Without a solid business models the best ideas in the world can quickly become muddled and chaotic, so if you’re thinking of starting a catering business then make sure you follow these top tips to define a second to none business strategy.
Create a Realistic Schedule and Menu
Finding the balance between a menu that’s achievable and attractive is one of the hardest things to do in the catering world. One of the major problems caterers come up against is unrealistic demands from clients so it’s essential to ensure that customers are fully aware of what you can and cannot achieve. Make sure you can definitely give the client what they request and if you can’t, let them know at the point of sale and suggest an alternative. Whatever you do, never make a promise to a client that you can’t keep as it could end up having a detrimental effect on the reputation of your company.
Be Creative and Flexible
Religious beliefs, taste preferences, allergies and so on can all impact on the ingredients you use and even the way your food is prepared. A good catering company should be able to accommodate different needs in order to appeal to the widest market. Alternatively, you could choose to target a particular niche by providing, for example, Kosher, Halal or Vegan catering.
Extend your Services
The more services you offer the more potential customers you will appeal to, but it’s always best to offer a few services at the highest quality rather than several services at a poorer quality. In terms of catering, it can be beneficial to offer other services like table dressing, decoration, set up, serving staff and clearing away as you’re more likely to gain customers for wedding, parties and other gatherings if you provide everything the client needs.
Sweat the Small Stuff
It’s very easy to get overwhelmed when catering a large event so it’s advisable to plan everything to the nth degree and down to the last detail. Successful catering is all about the little touches that make your service special and uniquely yours, whether that’s the way you fold napkins or the signature dish you make your name with. Smart planning can be cascaded out to all your staff so everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and understands what’s expected of them. When planning, it’s always useful to give yourself more time than you need to complete each task as this will allow for contingencies and enable you and your staff to work in a calm and measured manner.
Catering is one of the few ‘recession proof’ businesses in the UK, but competition between caterers is still pretty tough. As with most service industry professions, much of a caterer’s business is based on word of mouth recommendation, which means you’re only as good as your last job, so make sure your business plan is set in stone and solid in order to avoid disasters that could seriously harm your business.
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Stephen Clement has worked in the catering industry for many years and is now a specialist in catering recruitment at Mise En Place in London, one of the UK’s leading catering and hospitality recruiters.