Industry sector:

Outside caterer: Services to offer

You are likely to cater for a number of different events, such as:

  • weddings and christenings
  • funerals and wakes
  • big dinner parties
  • birthdays
  • anniversaries
  • BBQ parties and hog roasts
  • corporate events, such as Christmas parties, boardroom meetings, publicity events and so on
  • hospitality catering at sports events

You should be able to advise your customers as to what menu best fits their requirements as well as the size and type of venue they will need for the number of guests they will invite. The services you provide will depend on the nature of the event, although you should expect to provide:

  • the food and drink
  • crockery
  • cutlery
  • linen
  • glassware
  • waiting staff
  • mobile bar and bar staff

You may also find that, if you are cooking for people in their own homes, you have to provide tables and chairs and even kitchen equipment. You may also decide to offer clearing up as part of your service. In some circumstances, you may decide to let customers supply their own drink, although you may charge a corkage fee.

You might decide to offer a chef hire service for customers who simply want an expert to come into their kitchen and cook gourmet food for a party or small function.

Beyond catering

You may feel that customers would be interested in commissioning you to oversee a whole event for them rather than just the catering. For example, you could provide a comprehensive wedding service, including car hire, flowers, wedding cake, photographer and so on. You would then arrange these services through the appropriate business.

Some catering specialists enable keen amateur cooks to benefit from their skills and expertise by running cookery classes, courses, demonstrations and 'cook and eat' events from time to time. If you decide to offer these you could schedule them for quieter times of the year to keep you busy when demand for catering services is slack.

Advertising your business

Whatever the nature of your business, you must make sure that your potential customers know about you and the products and services you offer.

There are a number of things you can do to promote your business:

  • launch your own website, showing all the features that will attract customers to your business
  • advertise on and other similar online directories
  • advertise in your local newspaper and local print directories
  • advertise through publications and websites specifically targeted at the wedding market
  • work with related businesses, such as wedding planners and marquee hire specialists, to encourage referrals
  • use online networking and social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
  • have menus printed and distribute them to prospective corporate clients
  • do a mailshot to local houses
  • provide a good service at all times. Word of mouth recommendation will ensure that you get repeat business