When you start a catering business, many details are vying for your attention. A catering business plan can help you refine and focus your efforts on the best interests of the company. Whenever you have a decision to make or a question about how your catering business operates, you need only to turn to the appropriate page of your business plan for your answers.
All business plans follow the same basic format:
The executive summary serves as an introduction to your catering business, letting readers know what to expect in the pages to come. In it, you should include:
A brief introduction to your business: In just two or three sentences, you'll discuss what your business offers and how. For a catering business, this will include the selection of foods your clients can choose from, the number of people you can serve, and whether you will also supply table settings and similar necessities.
A description of the company: Here, you'll provide some company background, including its owners and their roles, who will be handling the cooking versus the administrative details, and perhaps how you came up with the name for the business.
The services your business will provide: Here, you'll list each of the services your company will offer, starting with catering, of course, and adding any additional services you'll offer as well, like wait staff or a dessert bar.
__The audience, or customer base, your business will serve: __ You must identify your target market in order to know how to structure, operate and market your business. While the market analysis section of your catering business plan will go into greater detail on this subject, you can give a broad outline of those factors here.
A mission statement lays out the fundamental goals and objectives of your catering business. If your executive summary introduced the "what" and "how" of your business, your mission statement explains the "why." Why did you create this catering business? What do you hope to accomplish with it? What impact do you desire for your catering business to have on your clients and their guests?
With your mission statement composed, you've set the standards you and all your partners and employees will meet in your every action and interaction on behalf of the business.
Here is where you spill all the details you reluctantly cut from your introduction for the sake of space. It may include more details on the dishes your business will offer and what makes it so unique or special. Is there a theme, like weddings or children's affairs, or a commonality to the food you'll serve, such as its ethnic origin or dietary system, like paleo, keto, or vegan meals?
You gave a brief overview of your target market in your introduction, but now you can delve into the finer details. Who is your target market? Do you serve a specific:
This section should also include an in-depth industry analysis that outlines the interest in and need for your catering business and an analysis of your biggest competition. For your industry analysis, gather all the data you can about the catering industry and, more specifically, the one in your service area.
Is there sufficient demand for what you have to offer? What kind of food does your target market seek out, and do your service options help meet that need in a way that is currently lacking?
This brings up the question of your competition. Study their menus, prices, clientele, and locations. How many other businesses like yours are there serving the same area? What are their similarities and differences from you? What do you have to offer that they do not? What are your respective strengths and weaknesses? How might you build upon your strengths and improve your weaknesses in order to remain competitive?
This section of your business plan should expand on the list of names of company officers and their respective roles that you outlined in your introduction. Here, you can include a bit about each person's background.
In addition to your business partners and key officers, you can also list your regular staff, both administrative, like your accountant and lawyer, and operational, like your assistant chef and waitstaff.
Setting out these roles will not only help you ensure all the business's needs are being met, but it can also serve as a reminder of each person's accountabilities to avoid misunderstandings that can affect workflow.
This section should complement your company concept by expounding on your menu and list of services. In this section, you can include prices for your various offerings. Some ideas to consider are whether you'll offer:
All the great food in the world means nothing for your business if people don't know how to find you. Your sales and marketing plan is, therefore, as instrumental to the success of your catering business as your menu items and service offerings themselves.
In this section, lay out in as much detail as you can how you will market your catering business. Will you place paid ads in physical publications or online? Will you use social media? Will you host or participate in events, like food fairs or offer promotions like holidays? Will you attend conferences to network with your peers, partner with event coordinators and managers of event spaces? Will you give cooking classes?
This section is made up of two parts:
Where you're going to get the money for your catering business start up.
How much money do you expect to make with this business, and over what time period.
In the first section, you may list personal funds, investors, donors, and loans, as applicable.
In the second section, you'll lay out a start-up budget for your business and show how those funding sources will cover those initial expenses until you start turning a profit.
Remember to include supplies and payroll. Then, you'll set down projections of how much income you must bring in to reach, first, a sustainable stage and, then, a profitable one, and how long each will take to achieve.
Whether you operate out of a business, your home, or run a mobile catering business, when you write your catering business plan, don't forget to include catering insurance in the expenses section. Basic catering insurance to protect you from the damage or loss of precious catering equipment and property includes:
General liability insurance
Commercial auto insurance
Business owners policy (BOP)
This final part of your catering business plan is a timeline for achieving each benchmark required to open your business, run it and reach profitability.
A detailed, accurate and complete business plan is essential to start a catering business on the right foot and on the path to success.
It can be helpful to hold off on writing the executive summary of your business plan until after you've written all the other sections. This way, you'll know which ones are the most salient details to pull out of each section for your introduction. Be concise in your writing and back up your claims with solid, verifiable research.
A business plan is not only essential for when you're opening a catering business. It is also essential for operating that business over its lifetime. As such, it needs to reflect the business accurately at every stage of development. Remember that a business plan is a living document, which means it must always adapt and grow with the company.
As you write your catering business plan and think about the catering insurance you want to include, contact CoverWallet to learn more about your different insurance options.