How to Start a Profitable Catering Service

 In Business startup

Keeping up with ?The Jones?s?

People with money seem to be on a binge to prove their status and flaunt their wealth by staging large, catered parties. As a matter of fact, in some circles of affluence, a party or social get together isn?t considered an event of any significance, unless it?s a catered affair.

With the same kind of reasoning, businesses of all sizes are using catered lunches, cocktail parties and dinner meetings to build their images and increase company sales. It?s a matter of keeping up with the competition in promoting a company and/or product.


Time Is the Essence of Today?s Busy Lives

On a smaller, but just as busy marketing scale, more and more working mothers are paying to have catered birthday and graduation parties, as well as wedding receptions handled by caterers. The reasons are simple to understand, if she?s working outside the home, today?s mother just does not have the time or the energy to do all the planning and staging of a memorable party. So this is where you come in with your own ?profitable? catering business.


Besides those reasons for turning everything over to a caterer working mothers feel a little guilty about the time away from their children they lose because of their jobs. Thus, they?re ready and willing to make it all up to them by paying for a lavish party the child will remember for years to come.

Entrepreneurial Caterers

Caterers handle everything from birthday parties for children, to breakfast in bed and intimate candlelight dinners for two, to company dinner parties for 50 and wedding receptions involving a thousand or more guests.

This kind of entrepreneurial business is growing and becoming more popular with people of all income levels.


Expected Income

An imaginative caterer in a large metropolitan area can easily gross R 1 500 000 per year, while a small, part-time caterer in a small town can count on at least R 100 000 to R 150 000 per year.

One small, but very ambitious caterer is reported to have grossed R 2 500 000 after only 2-years in business!


No Special Qualification Needed

You don?t need special education or training to become a successful caterer. You do need an affinity for people and a kind of intuition as to what people enjoy in different environmental settings. Important, however,? to know the dietitian likes and dislikes of groups.

Start-Up Funds

A quick survey of successful caterers across the nation shows that many began with zero capital by working out of their homes. The basic start-up investment would appear to be around R5000, with some big spenders capitalizing their idea with as much as R150 000, to get off to a fast start.

Couples could do this as Teams

This seems to be an ideal business for an ambitious couple to start and operate with very little capital investment required. One person can spend his time hustling up business while the other would do the planning, organising and actual catering.


As with any business, your success will be directly related to the soundness of your planning, and the working of that plan. Understand exactly what your client wants, and give him what he wants in the way of service that reflects upon the client in a complementary manner.


Basically, you can start with an advertisement in your local newspapers. This advertisement need not be much more than a simple announcement: Creative Catering Specializing in personal service

We can handle any party or special event from start to finish no idea too small or too large Your satisfaction is always guaranteed! We can handle everything for you? Call us, and let us make your parties worth remembering?

Telephone Book and Diary

Naturally, the first thing you want from anyone calling to ask about your services, is that person?s name, address, and phone number. Then you want to know what kind of party or event they have in mind.

As soon as you have this information, relax a little bit and inquire to find out about the person or the company the people sponsoring the party and their ultimate goals or reasons for the party.

Precise Details to Be Taken Down

If it?s to celebrate a birthday, graduation, anniversary or a wedding reception finding out about the interests, background, and ambitions of the guest of honour will be of value to you in your planning.

Taking a few minutes to learn everything you can about whoever the party is for, and the people giving the party, will also make it much easier to close the sale than any sales pitch or special persuasive tactics.


Have Time to Listen to Your Customer

People like to talk about themselves, and they especially like to tell everyone why they?re honouring someone, even when they pretend to keep it a secret who initiated the idea.

It?s important that you be a good listener, that you have the ability to get people to talk about themselves, and that you take notes on the things they tell you.


Keep Same Standards TO All Customers

This same principle applies to business people, regardless of who?s talking to you or the purpose of the catered affair. The more polished and adept you can become in getting your prospects to talk about themselves, the more information relative to their background you can elicit and the more you listen, the better your parties will be.

This will most certainly ensure greater success you?ll attain in the catering business.


You take the information you glean from this first interview and plan/organise the event on paper. This means you?re going to have to have contacts or at least working relationships with innumerable service businesses.

Party Favours and Flavours

You would need to source prices for party?s flavours, at less than regular retail prices. Where are you going to get the soft drinks, your cost and the glasses or paper cups to serve them in? What about ice? What kind of games to play? Who will be the conversation leader? Will there be a clown or someone special to keep everything moving according to plan? Where do you get the ice cream and cake? What games to play? How to get everyone involved?

The opening of presents and ice cream and cake and games to play must only be started once all have arrived. A thank you gift for coming

A reason to end the party at a pre-determined time must be on the agenda.

Greeting of Guests

If your client wants to stage a birthday party for a 12-year old he or she greets the guests as they arrive, makes sure everybody knows who ?he? is then.

Have a conversation leader until all the guests arrive, who might have juice and chat around.


All this takes planning, organisation, and if you?re going to make a profit, a definite awareness of cost control. Get it all down on paper as a proposal to the people who want to pay you to carry it off.

Figure out your costs, the time involved in putting it all together, and then get back to your prospect.

Changes in Proposal

Always leave room for changes in your proposal. In fact, expect them to invite input and suggestions from the client and always have an alternate idea in your mind for each of those on your written proposals.

Discuss your proposal with the client just as you would a script for a television show, make the suggested changes.

Deposit is A Must

Ask for a 50-percent advance deposit. From there, it?s just a matter of following your plan.

Without this, you might be working at a loss very soon.

Format Stays The Same

Regardless of size or type of party whether your client is a working mother or a giant corporation the format is always the same: initial inquiry, interview, your proposal, second interview for any changes, agreement, deposit, staging the party itself, and your final payment.

As mentioned earlier, success in this business comes from your planning having a lot of contacts and working your plan.

An important word of caution:

Try not to get ?boxed in? to setting or even revealing a tentative price until you?ve had a chance to listen to what the prospect wants.? Then study your own capabilities, and make a formal written proposal.

If a customer wants to know how much you charge and if you feel it necessary in order to eventually close the sale you can tell him 500 to 1000 rand per hour, plus expenses.? Depending on the type of event the customer wants.



As for how much the average party costs, again tell him that it varies anywhere from 50 to 5,000 rand.

Always keep in mind that you are a professional and that must be visual at all times for all dealing with you and your team.

Please leave a comment below and tell us about your catering experience, and share so we can all learn from each other please!

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