If you’re passionate about cooking and customer service, starting a food catering business can be an affordable and enjoyable way to become your own boss. In this article we are going to cover five ways you can get into the food catering industry and run your own profitable business in no time.
Building a reputation and customer base can be tough, work is often seasonal and there is plenty of competition in the business. However, with the right skill set and enough hard work, you can quickly find success with a food catering company.
The catering industry is thriving in the UK, valued at around £1bn in 2018. With a range of events to cater to, you needn’t be restricted to Christmas work-dos or summertime weddings. There are a lot of different ways to get involved in the catering industry, this article will give you a few ideas to get you started.
5 ways to get into the food catering business
1. Corporate events
Focusing on the corporate market can be one of the quickest ways to grow your food catering business. Producing mouth-watering and eye-catching meals for large groups of people under pressure is no mean feat, particularly if you’re preparing food for demanding professionals. But the effort is often worth the rewards.
Research published by IBIS World in 2017 found that corporate functions represented the largest service segment of the UK's food catering services industry, accounting for just under 50% of the industry's revenue.
A continuing trend for organisations to outsource non-core business activities like catering has meant stable industry growth. This means that serving lunches in the business sector or three-course meals for corporate events can be very lucrative.
For these kinds of events its worth considering the extra services that may be required, such as set-up, close-down, waiting staff and a bar. A significant advantage of building up a base of corporate customers is the chances you’ll get for repeat business. Businesses prefer to use regular suppliers that they know they can rely upon.
The festive season is one of the biggest times of year for those in catering, with opportunities to plate up Christmas parties, corporate end-of-year functions and the New Year. As long as you provide them with excellent service at a reasonable price, you’ll be booked year after year.
Weddings are a big business for food catering companies, especially during the summer months. Food & drink represents the highest area in which couples spend more than planned at UK weddings, so there’s plenty of opportunity to make money from matrimony.
Did you know? The catering industry is thriving in the UK, valued at around £1bn in 2018
While most wedding days schedule a sit-down meal for the afternoon, catering may also come in the form of a buffet, bar or nibbles for the evening’s dancefloor destroyers.
The most important thing is to please the happy couple, so it’s worth having a range of options available. Think about including less traditional choices like live cooking, sharing boards or extravagant dessert tables - anything to make you stand out from the rest is good.
Again, it can be advantageous to offer a full service to the customer, providing everything from welcoming guests, hosting a cloakroom service for guests, serving drinks, canapés and the final breakdown.
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Catering companies also provide for children’s and adult’s parties alike, feeding guests at birthdays, anniversaries, banquets, funerals, dinner parties and luncheons. The list of potential celebration occasions is endless, and you could cater to every possible request.
To give your business a competitive advantage, give some thought to some other related services that you could provide to make your culinary experience better. Unique selling points are what will make you stand out from competitors.
This could be providing crockery that matches the colour scheme, decorating and dressing the function room or perhaps including a celebration cake as part of the catering package or even entertainment. The more you differentiate yourself from the competition, the more business you’ll attract.
However, providing for parties can mean unsociable working hours. To run a catering business, you need to be flexible. As well as catering to whatever culinary requests the customer desires, you’ll have to work the hours required to cater for such events, which are often weekends and evenings.
4. Mobile van
The rise in popularity of street food in the UK has led to an increase in the number of mobile food vans being used to cater for events. Kitted out with coffee machines, refrigeration and even pizza ovens, the options to explore are endless for mobile food service vans.
A mobile catering business gives you the freedom to go wherever your prospective customers lead you. Food catering vans are a welcome addition to any festival, concert or sports event. You could even find a spot near a busy tube or train station to attract passing trade from hungry commuters.
With no restrictions regarding menu you can choose your working hours to fit in with other commitments.
5. Boxed lunches
Catering companies are increasingly providing a packed lunch service. They’re an upmarket alternative to a supermarket meal deal and a great way to for companies to treat staff at lunch time without the stress of putting on an event.
Some companies are even turning to social media to advertise the meal options they have available that day. By posting photos of the day’s dish, followers can seek out chef-cooked food near them and either order for delivery or come and collect.
For a small business just starting out, this could be a great way to get you name out there. Consumer foodies are always on the look out for hidden home-cooked treasures. By providing quality food and the right marketing, your business could grow in no time.
Similar opportunities with Point Franchise
Coffee Blue is the UK’s leading mobile coffee van franchise, providing barista-quality hot drinks and food to workplaces, offices, events and festivals across the country.
The Coffee Blue vans are converted in-house to the highest specifications. They provide ample storage space, are fully refrigerated and also incorporate specially manufactured holding ovens to keep food warm while also following hygiene regulations. Each van is also stocked to the brim with the coffee van franchise’s very own award-winning coffee blend.
With their Rent-To Buy service, franchising is made affordable. Coffee Blue can purchase the van and rent it directly to you for an affordable amount over an agreed term. At the end of the term, you will own the van outright. There are no external finance applications, no hard credit checks and no deposits required. Better yet, it starts from as low as £35 per day.
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Jasper’s is a thriving catering franchise which serves bowl food, buffets, tapas, fruits, snacks, and hot food for businesses and corporate events. If you’ve dreamed of owning your own catering franchise, Jasper’s is on the lookout for ambitious individuals that have an interest in corporate hospitality.
All food is prepared in a commercial catering unit. Each franchisee will have served between 70 and 100 clients by the end of the first 12 months of operation, which means there are excellent income opportunities throughout the year.
If you’re interested in investing in a Jasper’s franchise, you’ll need to spend a minimum of £42,500 with the initial start-up costs totalling approximately £140,896. High demand means that the average Jasper's franchisee can generate a turnover in excess of £250,000 a year. They also provide a 16-week training programme so previous catering experience is not essential.
Get ready to serve up
The catering business is as vast and varied as a dream dinner menu. With catering business opportunities for every occasion, there’s no limit to where your culinary skills could take you.
Decide whether you have an appetite for a home, mobile or fixed site catering business and consider whether you have the space, funds and facilities to start up. By researching other catering companies in your area, you can work out your possible niche and decide what special benefit you can offer.
Once you’re happy that you’ve found the right path, or the right franchise opportunity in the food & drink sector, it will only be a matter of time before you taste success in the world of catering. Not sure which kind of catering franchise is right for you? Take a look at our range of options right here.
Browse our franchise directory for opportunities within the industry to inspire you right here.
The Editorial Team, Point Franchise ©