Target the cuisine and the clientele you want and find your passion and build your business. Whether your specialty is lunch or brunch-style food such as sandwiches, quiches, tarts, salads, and other food which is generally served during the day, or you prefer wedding reception and event meals, be the best that you can be to be successful.
Just into baking and desserts? You can specialize in catering just within the desserts only area and have less overhead. Appetizers and cocktails your passion? There is an increasing demand for this type of trendy event planner for gatherings.
Trust in yourself. If you’re already a caterer, then you know that while food is the star attraction, it is not the entire show.
Catering, like any career is a balance of hard work, proper training and failures and successes that help to hone the skills necessary to succeed. Caterers, while required to often have the skills of a chef, face additional challenges. Caterers run a business and that means bookkeeping, accounting, customer relations, employees, marketing and the ability to balance all of them.
Many full service caterers also offer event planning taking the spotlight off just the food and creating an entire set that will stage their talents. Caterers have an audience. One that wants to be stimulated via sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.
Creating an atmosphere that addresses all of those senses takes some serious skills and is founded on a genuine interest and passion
Be A Good Cook
There’s no doubt catering is about the food. Beautiful decorations, carefully placed settings and good music won’t make up for poor quality, ill prepared food. Cater’s need food preparation experience to be able to plan menus, safely prepare, reheat and transport large amount of food and to make recipe substitutions on the fly if things go wrong.
As a cook/caterer you should be aware of and comply with all good safety laws in your area. That often means taking courses on food safety and culinary upgrades. Ensuring that taste satisfaction goes hand in hand with food safety is paramount. It only takes one slip land reputation can be lost forever.
Know your Customer
Working with your clients and designing a menu requires the ability to hear what they want. Their choices may not always be the best but be open to working with them to come up with a solution that will help make the event a success. Be tactful, diplomatic and courteous. Those people skills and your ability to communicate why a choice can be altered to make the event better will result in a satisfied customer that will be more likely to recommend and reuse your services.
Be A Gymnast – Be Flexible And Creative
Inquire and advise about food allergies or cooking methods that might interfere with dietary requirements of religious and personal preferences. Your client may have not considered this and it could turn into an embarrassing situation for them. They will be grateful that you thought of it before it had a chance to happen and that you made recommendations to avoid the situation. This builds trust and loyalty.
Be A Leader
Good caterers manage an entire roster of employees including a staff of cooks, servers, dishwashers and cleaners, and food prep staff. That means the ability to schedule, advise on safety regulations, provide direction, put out fires, address concerns and juggle it all with a cool head. A good caterer has good staff that can follow direction but also know their input on how to better an event and make their jobs easier is heard and incorporated into the plans where possible.
Are you enthusiastic? Can you be proactive to promote your own business. Do you motivate your staff and toot their horns to your clients and in your marketing? If they feel like part of the business’s success they will contribute to it.
Catering doesn’t always mean financial rewards. You can reward staff with time off, perks from the industry such as reductions in food, parties for them where they get catered to. Motivating staff does not have to be financial. Acknowledging a job well done goes a long way.
Be A Financial Planner
There’s always busy seasons and down seasons. Sure it would be great to fill the calendar but you have to be able to balance the funds and offer work on a fair basis in order to keep good staff. Weathering the slow months can be tricky so looking into other means of generating income to give staff work takes financial planning and investment and creative marketing.
Watch Your Business
The goal is to be profitable but accounting, taxes, employee management, food purchase, storage and organization can often seem like you need a business and accounting and human resources degree all rolled into one. The good news is, dealing with these administrative tasks keeps you on top of your business needs, where you may be failing or losing money and where you can improve and after all it is about the bottom line.
Be Your Own Marketer
The phone won’t ring without marketing. Getting noticed can be tricky. A network of contacts, satisfied clients, paid on time vendors and relationships with florists, venue organizers and other event planners goes a long way in the industry to get your name out there. Word of mouth advertising is still the best way to get your name out there and making sure when anyone uses your name it’s in a positive light with a high recommendation will help you see your business grow. Appreciate your suppliers and your clients. Go the extra mile and do the extra things that make you stand out.
Be Aware – It’s All in The Details
If you’re full in, that means you might be looking after more than the food. Caterers are now tackling the decor and presentation of the food as well as creating magnificent tables to stage the food on.
Remember, every guest is a potential client so make sure they treated that way from the moment they enter the door to the time they leave. Interacting with guests to ensure their satisfaction is a good choice but you are there to make their experience a better one so don’t take up their time talking about you, talk about them. And don’t waste their time, they are they to enjoy the event.
Pay attention to little details, clean flatware it’s layout, lighting at the tables, fresh and crispness of the linens. All these small details enhance the meal and the perception of its quality. You want every detail to compliment the next.Organize the event to fit the venue. Is it right for the size of group, does the table decor reflect the theme of the event is it inside or outside and does the food fit the temperature such as outdoor and serving all hot foods compared to the proper fare. The menu has to fit the occasion and taste of the crowd.
Are the guests comfortable with your decor? Formally attired guests should not be in a kiddie decorated party room or beach themed event. Pay attention to what the overall feel for the evening will be and your decor, ambiance and food should reflect the expectations of those in attendance.
Be Sure, Be Successful
If you’re not certain catering is the career path of you, why not work with another catering company before jumping in and starting their own business. This will help you determine if catering is the business you really want to be in. If you are working for someone else and constantly thinking of what you could do to improve things it might be time to put down the food prep tools are server’s cloth and step up to the management table.