Catering business plan
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Create a Catering Business Plan: Guide for Caterers

This practical guide for caterers explains how to create your catering business plan step by step.

5 mins readNovember 23, 2023

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Whether you already own a restaurant and are looking to expand or you’re an entrepreneur looking to start a catering business from scratch, it’s vital that you have a clear business plan.

That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide to writing a business plan for your catering company. We’ve pulled apart the main components of a template business plan for Fressen Catering, a fictitious catering company. Download it here for free to follow along with this guide.

Below we’ll explain the significance of each main section and how you can tailor it to your new catering business.

The Value of a Well-Crafted Business Plan

Creating a well-crafted business plan will be enormously valuable in allowing you to plan over the short, medium, and long term. It should encompass everything from the supply chains that you’ll be working with to the sort of technology, like a predictive dialer software, that you’ll be using.

This will ultimately ensure that you have a proactive plan for your business that can help you avoid issues further down the line. On top of this, a business plan is necessary if you’re hoping to attract investment. It will allow them to see how your company plans to operate, produce profits, and re-invest in the future, helping them to feel confident that their investment is in safe hands.

There’s no doubt, therefore, that creating a well-crafted business plan is a fundamental pillar of building a successful catering business.

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary should be the first substantial part of your business plan that anyone who opens it will read. It should, therefore, provide a concise and effective summary of your overall operations and goals.

What does your business do? Here, you describe what your business does. As a catering business you’ll also want to explain which type of events you cater and the focus of your menu.


Executive summary

Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan


Objectives? Include some key objectives. Explain some specific goals you hope to achieve and consider whether they would be long, medium or short-term goals. For example, maybe you want to:

  • Reach a level of overall turnover after your first year in business.
  • Cater a certain number of events each month.
  • To increase your number of clients by ‘X’ amount every quarter.

Objectives

Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan


Mission Statement? Connected to this is the mission statement. Think of this as a short summary of what gets you up in the morning – what are the core purposes and values of your company and what makes you stand out?

Mission statement
catering business

Company Description

Company structure? The Company Description (or Company Summary), is where you’ll explain, to potential investors, the structure of your company, so make sure to explain whether it’s a sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC.


company ownership

Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan


Unique Selling Points? Potential investors will also want to know your USP (Unique Selling Point) so that they can see what makes your company different from the rest. This can also be combined with a description of the milestones you’ve accomplished so far, demonstrating the success you’ve already achieved.

Location? Finally, in this section, you should also include details such as, where your company is based. In the catering sector, it’s important to explain whether or not you have a kitchen on site and how that ties into your overall business plan.


Company summary
Catering

Market Research and Analysis

Target audience? A key part of any business is the target customer. For most catering companies, this will be a type of client to focus on, such as weddings or corporate events.


Services
Market segmentation

Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan


Market trends? Include analysis of industry trends to get a clear understanding of your audience that is driven by data and research.

Market Analysis Summary

Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan


Competition? On top of this, include research and analysis into your main competitors.


Competition

Business Organization and Management

Who’s who? It’s also crucial that you outline who is responsible for what in your business.

Detail the ownership structure, as well as what each individual’s roles are. From here, you’ll then want to detail your management and staff structure, as well as, what their responsibilities are. It can be helpful to add this into a chart, such as the one below, to make this to easy follow and build on as your business grows.

Staff
Personnel plan

Menu and Pricing

This is a pivotal part of any catering business plan. Outlining and explaining your menu and pricing strategy will be beneficial as you run the organization, while also being one of the first things that potential investors and new hires look for.

What type of food will you offer? Start by describing the type of food that you offer – explain how you’ll accommodate different dietary requirements or preferences.

Menu & Pricing 1
Menu & pricing 2

Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan


How much will it cost? You should then run through your pricing model. This should be compared with your competitors. You’ll have to offer a detailed explanation if your model lies far outside the industry standard.


Kosher catering is not cheap. The ingredients cost more, as well as the additional equipment that is needed to eliminate the mixing of dairy and meat products. Per person costs range from $45-110. Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan


Other services? This is also the part of the plan where you should include any other services that form part of your business model. Some restaurants use a mobile catering business model – if this is the case, you might want to consider offering rental options for your food truck as an extra revenue stream.


Source: nscpolteksby.ac.id


Marketing and Sales Strategy

If you want your catering business to be successful, you’ll need to have a catering marketing and sales strategy. Explain how you’ll use marketing channels such as social media to attract new customers, while also having a plan for retaining existing customers.

You should also outline how you’ll generate sales; tools such as networking can be crucial, especially if you’re focusing on corporate clients. Potential investors will also want to see your strategy for customer engagement, with an emphasis on building and maintaining relationships with clients.


Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan
Marketing strategy

Financial Projections and Funding

Finances are a fundamental part of any business plan – without a clear strategy for financing and managing your funds effectively, your business will be dead in the water.

Startup costs? Detail your initial startup costs, such as how much it will cost to source equipment.


Startup costs
Table startup

Source: Fressen Catering Business Plan


Break-even analysis? From there, you’ll need to provide a forecast for the first couple of years of your business, predicting your revenue. To attract investors, you should include a break-even analysis so that they know when you expect your business to become profitable.


Creak-even chart

Operations and Production

Another part of your business plan should focus on the day-to-day operations of the company. Outline how production will work in your catering company, while also defining the roles that you’ll need employees to fulfill. This should also include HR considerations, such as which payroll for small business solutions you’ll be using.


Source: Fressen Catering Business PlanCatering Business Plan
Personnel

Risk Assessment and Mitigation

Catering business insurance is not just about protecting against property damage or theft; it also provides vital coverage against liabilities and potential financial challenges in your operational journey.

From general liability insurance, which covers injury claims and property damages, to specific policies like liquor liability or workers' compensation, understanding the range of available coverages is crucial for building a financial safety net around your catering services.


Pro Tips:


1. Identify and Prioritize Risks: Recognize the unique risks your catering business may encounter, such as fire, theft, or liability issues during events.

2. Select Tailored Policies: Opt for insurance policies that are specifically designed for the risks and operational needs of a caterer.

3. Periodic Policy Review: Consistently review and update your insurance policies to ensure they remain aligned with any changes or growth in your catering services.


Risk Management Strategies


Effective risk management for a catering business extends beyond mere insurance. It involves a comprehensive approach that creates a safety net and proactively works to reduce exposures and vulnerabilities in your daily catering operations. Here are some action items you can take:

1. Focus on Employee Training: Conduct thorough training programs emphasizing safety, emergency response, and handling operational risks specific to catering.

2. Implement Safety Protocols: Establish and enforce stringent safety protocols to safeguard the well-being of your staff and clients during catering events.

3. Utilize Technological Aids: Use technological tools like security cameras and alarm systems to bolster the security of your catering equipment and venues.

Restaurant catering

Milestones

Any good business plan will include a projected timeline with key milestones, such as a revenue target, along the way. This should link to the targets that you introduced earlier in the business plan and is a great way to ensure that your company stays on track.


Milestones

Appendices

Although you might not think that appendices are especially important, they can be a crucial part of a catering business plan. You should include copies of essential documentation, such as licenses and permits, while you might want to include some technical details, such as how you plan to buy in domain names.

The financial statements you should include in the appendices section include:

  • Sales forecast
  • Profit and loss
  • Cash flow
  • Balance sheet
Appendices

Takeaways

  1. Craft a Comprehensive Executive Summary: Start with a concise summary of your catering business, outlining your operations, target events, menu focus, and key objectives (e.g., turnover goals, number of events to cater monthly).

  1. Define Your Mission and Company Structure: Articulate your company's core purposes and values. Clearly state your business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC) and your unique selling points (USPs).

  1. Conduct Thorough Market Research: Identify your target audience (e.g., weddings, corporate events) and conduct detailed market and competitor analyses to understand industry trends.

  1. Outline Your Business Organization and Management: Describe the ownership and management structure, detailing roles and responsibilities, possibly using a chart for clarity.

  1. Develop a Detailed Menu and Pricing Strategy: Describe the types of food you offer, addressing dietary requirements, and establish a competitive pricing model compared to industry standards.

  1. Formulate an Effective Marketing and Sales Strategy: Utilize channels like social media for customer acquisition and retention, and outline strategies for sales generation and customer engagement.

  1. Prepare Financial Projections and Funding Plans: Include initial startup costs, a break-even analysis, and detailed financial forecasts for the first few years.

  1. Describe Operations and Production Processes: Detail the day-to-day operations, production workflow, staff roles, and HR considerations, including payroll management.

  1. Incorporate Risk Assessment and Mitigation Policies: Outline policies for handling various risks, such as unexpected costs, staff turnover, health and safety, and ensure compliance with food safety regulations.

  1. Plan for Expansion and Diversification: From the start, structure your business to allow for future growth and diversification, such as expanding target audiences and service offerings.

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