There is a reason music is described as food to the soul, that’s because it references the importance of food in the life of humans whether physically or in abstraction. What eating good meals does to a human body is similar to the effect good music has on the soul of a person.
Catering is primarily tapping into the profitability of providing a basic human need. To Start a catering business in Nigeria you can either do so from your home or a rented space. But for the purpose of this article, you will learn how to be a caterer and render services from your kitchen.
Having fore knowledge of the inner workings of the catering business guarantees highly lucrative returns but that can only happen if you do research on the ways to provide quality services.
In Nigeria, there are 36 states and the federal capital territory which all have slightly different requirements to run a food business, even if it’s in your house..
For some areas you would need to obtain your state’s occupation licensing or health department approval whereas other areas are more liberal with policies that permit or bar people from going into the business.
However, in the regions where obtaining approval is mandatory, you will need a business license, federal tax number (EIN) and health inspection of your kitchen. You can find out which of the above mentioned is applicable to you by doing a simple google search about the criteria/licenses for starting catering business in your state of residence.
Importantly, you need to have a passion for cooking, or at least know how to prepare sumptuous meals if you want to retain clients.
We will outline some basic things to know and do if you want to have a catering business which operates from your home.
Every food establishment in the world, be it a restaurant, canteen, roadsikde bukka or snack shops have menus, and so should you. This helps to give customers a variety of options they can choose from when making an order for an occasion. Depending on the types of food you can cook, it would be a good idea to offer special packages.
Menu Testing: Try testing your menu with little samples. A scenario where friends and family together are gathered you can offer to cook for them or during a fundraiser in your community. Make sure you ask for honest feedback from the consumers.
The next step to strike off the list is acquisition of materials and equipment which will be needed for the cooking. For those who cook from their homes, they have new set of tools separate the ones they use to cook for their family.
Cookware and utensils should be bought from professional kitchen supply vendors for the best-quality products.
When you are done with the menu and have gotten the equipment, you should think of how to get people to know that you render catering services, this is where marketing/advertising can be adopted.
Word-of-mouth advertising is especially powerful in the catering industry, so do well to inform friends, family, and all your contacts.
Also, if you can afford it, create a website which would clearly display the menu in list format and have images to wet the appetite of customers. There should also be your contact and option for delivery to the clients location. Unable to set up your own website? use platforms like Shopify or Quick2Host to create a professional-looking site. But if you cannot do this, you can simply create a flier and share it constantly on social media platforms, especially on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.
It is also good to make reference to past successful deliveries, if there photos and videos from birthday parties, corporate events or seminars where your food was served, this can be used to create engaging content.
Other marketing strategies include:
- Logo – Create a company logo that is memorable and embodies your theme
- Connection – Develop a cordial relationship with coordinators of events such as sporting and entertainment programmes or companies that often hold meetings, seminars, trainings, conventions, etc.
- Meal sample – Offer free tastings at fares or charity events in your locality
Types of Catering Businesses
It is not enough to start cooking at home and say you run a catering business, one must know understand the different types of catering because they have different type of planning, pricing, and ordering procedures.
Corporate Event Catering:
This entails preparing and supplying food to small office meetings and large regional events. Be timely and ensure to deliver at the exact time it was requested, even if there is a delay, it should not be for more than 15 to 30 minutes (max)
Examples of meals served at corporate gatherings include Continental breakfasts, box lunches and buffets.
As the name implies, catering services will be offered to people having their wedding reception. You should try to make a good impression on the bride and groom as well as their families so that you can get referrals as there are always weddings scattered around town every weekend.
Social Event Catering:
You will be attending to people who love to have something to eat while they socialize at birthday parties, graduation parties, family bbqs and retirement parties. Social events encompasses a variety of events and food is one of the side attractions that attendees cannot overlook. Things like finger foods, snacks, appetizers, and packaged portions of edibles can be made available.
Concession catering covers seasonal and other major sporting events, like the Okpekpe marathon that holds in Edo state. Anywhere people are gathered for leisure or business, food is bound to sell. Since people here are mostly on hyper active mode things like hot dogs, shawarma, burgers, ice cream are what they will mostly go for.
Catering business is capital intensive. With a capital of N600,000 to N800,000 you can start the business. If you do not have the money or someone that can loan it to you, microfinance banks give loans to persons that have a solid business plan that guarantees repayment within a specific period.
Below is a list of catering equipment;
Plates, bowls, and trays
Large cooking pots
Large gas ranges
Plastic trays and catering trays
Catering and rental plate racks
Food storage boxes and covers
Salad bar item
Knife bags, rolls, and cases
Plastic food pans, drain, trays and lids
Chafers, chafing dishes and chafer accessories
Disposable catering trays and food boxes
Linens and table covering
Table top accessories
There are kitchenware stores that sell all these equipment so it saves you the energy, time and money you would spend going to search in different places.
Catering business is very lucrative, as you can make N1,250,000 from catering to five corporate events in one month.
However, what can guarantee you regular booking is good customer service. Your customer’s satisfaction must be prioritized and once a big client is impressed your service you can be rest assured that they will not only keep hiring you but also recommend you for other jobs.