Necessity, they say,is the mother of invention and that was what led Mrs Stella Chioma Abon, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Champs Catering Services based in Lagos to turn her hobby into a money- spinning venture. Perhaps, Champs Catering Services which is into both indoor and outdoor catering services would have remained just a hobby if it wasn’t for the situation the family found itself eight years ago.
Do you have a desire to begin a catering service business right from the confines of your house? Have you been searching for a sample catering business plan? Are you interested in learning what it will take to start up a growing catering service business with little or no funds?
WHAT IS CATERING?
Catering is simply everything that has to do with providing cooking or feeding services at strategic places which could include hotels, public houses, events, weddings and parties, or other locations and this is usually based on a previously agreed contract. It also involves making food and beverages available for events. However, it is imperative to get proper understanding that running a catering business is much different from running an event planning and management business.
Running a catering service is one of the most lucrative businesses presently in Nigeria. A caterer should be prestigious, and in doing this ensure that he/she acquires all the necessary facilities and expertise to give quality services to all prospective customers. The caterer should be versatile enough to provide both indoor and outdoor catering services to satisfy all clients’ needs such as birthday parties, corporate get-togethers, business seminars and several other functions.
STEPS INVOLVED IN STARTING A CATERING BUSINESS IN NIGERIA
1. DECIDE ON WHAT TYPE OF CATERING SERVICES YOU WILL OFFER
You need to decide if you want to be an indoor or outdoor caterer, if you want to offer specialized services to specific companies, hotels, restaurants, fast foods, or you would rather stay independent. You need to also decide if you want to remain as a caterer alone or you will want to grow into an event management company in the nearest future. The decisions you make at this point can be the making or breaking of your business, so you should take some time to search deeply.
2. CHOOSE AND REGISTER A BUSINESS NAME
You should ensure you are duly registered as a business with the country’s company register, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). This step makes you a corporate entity giving you access to several offers a roadside caterer may never have. You definitely cannot take this for granted.
3. CREATE YOUR MENU
One of the most important parts of any catering business is the menu. Creating a food menu is dependent on the step before this one which is deciding what kinds of food to specialize in. In fact, the food menu is most likely the first thing to be requested by a prospective customer before starting up any negotiations with the caterer. The menu contains the different foods available or that the caterer makes available along with the prices charged for each meal. It is important to ensure that your menu is customer friendly and accommodating as well.
4. LOCATING THE BUSINESS
If you are going to be running this catering business on a full time basis, then you should consider renting a place that will house the business and the equipment used. Seek out a place that can house your equipment, cooking area and a place for your clients to eat or meet with you conveniently. You should also check with the local zoning office to be sure you can install proper equipment such as ventilation hoods and grease traps.
If you are looking at starting small at home, then you might not need to go through the stress of renting any place, just make do with the space in your yard to handle your activities.
5. TEST YOUR DISHES
Once you are done creating your menu, organize small scale parties with family and friends and have them to taste your dishes. Ask them for honest feedback concerning their experience on both the food and service. Keep on adjusting your dishes until you are told that they are delicious and crowd friendly. Once you get a positive feedback, then you can proceed to prepare a business plan.
6. WRITE A CATERING BUSINESS PLAN
To successfully launch a catering company, you need a business plan that will serve as a blueprint for the business and its team. If you start a catering business without a business plan, then you might end up just like every other self employed caterer.
Having a business plan clearly distinguishes you from the average Mom & Pop caterers, as it is helps you forge a mission, vision, goals and objectives; and also help keep you on track. Even if you are starting a catering business from home, write a business plan because it can become an important tool tomorrow as you try to expand and source for funding.
7. PURCHASE THE NECESSARY CATERING EQUIPMENT
The equipment you will use depend on the type of service you will offer and the size of your catering outfit but at minimum, you will need serving platters and serving utensils.
You must also make sure you have the proper equipment to keep the food hot or cold. Buy linens, napkins, table decorations and centerpieces. Some catering businesses also offer tent canopies for outdoor events. You may also need to buy a van and other equipment for transporting food. You should also make sure the van has enough space for storage of foods, linens, tableware and other things.
8. EMPLOY STAFF
Catering is a venture you can’t handle alone as there is a lot of tedious tasks to be done; ranging from cooking, serving, cleaning, etc. So you will definitely need helping hands.
However, it is important that you train your employees so that they can provide the type of service you want and preserve your brand image. You should also hire an accountant to keep track of your expenses, invoices and income; or better still, you can do your own bookkeeping if you are good at it.
STATE HOW YOU ARE PLANNING TO COPE WITH POSSIBLE CHALLENGES AND ISSUES
Summarize in your catering business plan by explaining how you intend to cope with the challenges and problems that could possibly arise during your operation. Make sure to list some examples or scenarios and what you can do about it. These issues will include customer complaints, marketing, advertising and promotion, etc.
See you soon at the top of the world…