How to run a successful catering business by Executive Chef Peter P. Gambacorta
Running a successful catering business is about more than wonderful food and rental inventory; it requires business management skills, organization, and being prepared for the unexpected. These 10 tips for catering success can elevate your business so you not only look professional to your customers, but you’re also improving profit margins.
Make delicious food. This is a given! Most caterers will start a business because of their passion for the culinary arts, but don’t get stuck making only what you are familiar with. If your customers want something new or unique, explore different options and expand your menu. If you’re not comfortable creating the dish they’ve requested, don’t default to, “we don’t serve that,” instead, try working with the flavor profile, or offering a comparable dish. In addition, focus on making the food pleasing to the eye. The “visual taste” can sometimes be just as important as the actual taste.
Ensure excellent customer service. This is probably the case for 99.99% of any service oriented business, but especially for catering. Your customers want to be “wined and dined”, no differently than if they were in a restaurant. Be sure to call the week before an event and review the details. Has anything changed? How can we exceed the expectations of this client? Also, there is nothing nicer than a personal “thank you” after an event. In the age of emails, think about a phone call or a hand written card.
Hone your ability to organize events. Your ability to stay organized is not only going to impact the dining experience, but it will influence the atmosphere of the entire event. Forgetting to pack the chafing dishes could be a disaster, but having a team that is rushed, disorganized, or serving everyone at different times will make guests impatient and uncomfortable, and you will look like an amateur. You must have a system in place to keep track of venue information, menus, pack lists, hiring, timelines, and more.