Before you start a catering business it is wise to put together a comprehensive business plan. It is important to set out clearly what you hope to achieve in business and to set measurable goals. Having a business plan will give you direction and keep you on a course for success.
A plan may be essential in order to prove that your concept is viable when it comes to talking to investors or seeking funding from other sources. However, even if you are independently funded and have nothing to prove to anyone a plan will still be useful. It will help you to confirm that your plans are indeed possible and it will give you a place to compile all the data that you collect from your research.
Once you start your catering business it is important to continue to refer to your business plan to make sure that you remain on track to meet your goals. You can also make changes to it if necessary as your business develops.
There are many ways to set out a business plan. Below we offer a sample catering business plan template that is divided into twelve sections.
Cover and Table of Contents
Wrap the plan in a binder. On the cover you should give it a title and state clearly who the main contributors are and when it was prepared.
Then you can include a contents page that clearly divides the report into sections with page numbers so that interested parties can easily find the information that they are looking for.
This is basically an introduction where you can summarise the other sections of the report and give a very basic outline of what the proposed business is about.
Try to sum up what the business will be about in a few short sentences. A mission statement is similar to a slogan. It is a quick way of letting readers know about the ideals and standards that a company represents. Putting profits aside for a minute, try to think about the purpose of the business. How is your catering business making people’s lives better?
Include some information on the catering industry at both the national and local levels. Take note of industry trends and try to forecast future developments
Include a personal background. There are many good reasons to start a catering business and you should let readers know why you are drawn to this industry above all others. Outline your working history and attach any relevant reference letters as an appendix to the plan.
Outline any competitive advantages that you may have. Do you have any catering business qualifications or skills? Have you have experience in the hospitality industry? Do you have existing relationships with suppliers or prospective clients?
Set out some growth targets and other goals over the short and medium terms. Goals for a catering service could be the number clients, the number of events, total revenue or average profit margins on events. Refer to your business plan regularly and push yourself to keep up with the goals that you set.
Startup Costs and Considerations
List out startup costs and initial operating costs and then calculate the total amount of startup capital that is required before you can open your doors to clients.
Make a note of the sources of funding that are available to you and the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
Outline all of the other hurdles that must be overcome before you can start operating as a catering service. Depending on the requirements in your state or country you will have a number of licenses and permits to obtain. You may even have to do a short course to get certified in food management or hygiene. It is important to set out the costs involved as well as a time frame for compliance with these local regulations.
Ownership and Management
This section of your catering business plan should suggest whether you intend to structure your business as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a limited liability company.
If the business will have multiple owners then you should set out clearly what their respective interests will be and the role that they will play in the management of the business.
Set out a basic management structure outlining who has responsibility for various aspects of the business. This will be easy in the beginning but eventually you may have marketing staff, administration staff, kitchen staff and servers. Make it clear how you plan on delegating tasks, leadership and responsibility for decision making down to your employees.
This section is important for including details on how the business will operate on a daily basis. Information that should be mentioned here includes location, administration, employees and equipment.
Set out a plan of attack for catering an event. Outline some of the problems that you will be facing and offer some solutions.
Undertake some market research to get a better idea of the opportunities that currently exist in your market.
Do a competitive analysis to get a better understanding of your competitors. Once you understand more about them, set out a plan for competing against them by offering something different in the way of menus and services.
There are many different catering niche markets. Before you start your marketing efforts it is important to have a good idea of your menus and the niches that you are targeting. Try to identify a gap in the market that is not being met by other caterers and go after it.
Once you have a better idea of what you are selling you can then look at how you can sell it effectively. Start by packaging your offerings nicely into menus, brochures and a website. Then work out a system for pricing catering jobs profitably.
Outline how you plan on getting leads and enquiries. You can run advertising, buy leads or try many other marketing strategies.
Lastly, you need to have a sales strategy. Tell readers how you plan on selling your catering products and services in a way that you make the most of the limited number of enquiries that you receive.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of any business plan is the financial plan. You need to make some forecasts of revenue and expenditure over a period of several years. You can then estimate when you will reach a break even point and how much profit will be possible in the future.
Set out anticipated monthly cash flows in a spreadsheet program on your computer. As businesses often don’t grow as fast as their owners expect them to you should outline several scenarios. One scenario can show your expected outcome, one can show a more optimistic forecast and the third one can show a worst case scenario.
Attach an appendix to your report with your resume and photos of menu items. Also include anything else that is relevant or that you have referred to in your catering business plan.
Having a good catering business plan template can help you to write your own as you have a basic layout to follow and you can make small adjustments for your own unique situation.