People nowadays are celebrating and living life more. This is evident in the increase in number of parties and celebrations held regularly all over Zimbabwe. High seasons such as Christmas and New Year are even more packed with such. Some functions are big and sometimes people are so busy that they cannot organize food and drinks for the function. They then need catering facilities. This is where you come in. You can start your own catering business in Zimbabwe. The following tips will help you set up of the catering business. Hopefully you have an interest in cooking and recipe books. You need to carry out market research and have a good catering business plan before you start this business. 

What you need

Marketing plan for your Catering Business

You cannot operate without people to provide a services to. Before you even consider purchasing the type of equipment you need you a market. You can come with a marketing plan and a strategy of how you are going to find a market for your catering business. You can start advertising to close friends, family and the community and broadcast your catering business. Social media is powerful and applications such as Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will help you massively advertise the catering business.

My encouragement is that you start small with dinners for a small number of people for example twenty, parties for fifty to a hundred people, deserts or salads and lunch. The catering business will pick up momentum in time once the little groups you serve spread by word of mouth. With time you can consider providing lunch for 200 people, corporates and even a buffet.

Identify a niche

Your competition might have overlooked a particular segment and you can identify and fully exploit this gap. For example some caterers forgo small events such as baby showers, wedding showers, engagement parties, bachelorette parties. These small events actually matter and you can cash in a lot of money. Your aim is in increasing the number of events you can cater for. This will bring more money to your catering business. 

License for your Catering Business

Get a license from the local City Council. You need to apply and once approved you can start operating. Every year renew your business license. The license process includes getting certified by the City Health Department. This is because hygiene is very important given the previous serious outbreaks in Cholera and Typhoid. Health Inspectors might have to first inspect your business operations and premises.

Catering equipment

You will need a lot of equipment for your catering business. You should write down a list of the equipment and inventory you need for the catering business.  For the small groups you start with, home equipment can be sufficient until you are sure that the business is lucrative enough for you to purchase more equipment. You will need a dishwasher, a freezer, serving dishes, transporting dishes, cutlery, coolers and warming equipment to keep the food hot. You will also need inventory depending on the type of menu requested. However, there are regular items which you can always keep in stock for example soups, cooking oil, rice, salt, and preservatives etc.


Formulate good menus

Formulating good menus will make life easier for you. Competitors might be offering similar services and menus, but you can differentiate yours by offering specials and new dishes which you recommend your clients to try out. Having a variety of menus for different typed of clients will give you an edge over your competitors. 

To add on, pricing is very sensitive and you have to charge a competitive price. Price will depend on the location and the type of clients. Some may be in the low income bracket or a middle or high bracket. Your prices should give your catering business meaningful profits. 

Additional services

Some clients prefer to get a single supplier for the catering, glassware, utensils, linens, decorations. You can promote other businesses and partner up with events planners to work together so you can do specifically catering and they can concentrate on other issues.

 Management and employees

The number of employees you need will depend on the size of your catering business. You will need good cooks who will be preparing and serving the food. Good management skills are required for a catering business to be successful. Do not mix personal funds with business funds. Account for every cent which is generated by the catering business. Do not abuse business money. Handle your clients well. 

Profitability and costs

You have to get many clients to be profitable in the catering business. Thus it’s of great importance for you to have a robust marketing strategy. The more customers you get, the more profits you get for your catering business. During the first year, you should channel your profits back into the business, to push the growth of your catering business. This is a low capital business, thus you can easily recoup your investment costs within a few months. 

The startup costs are low, capital of at least $2 500 is sufficient to start the catering business. Operating costs are for stocks, wages and salaries, transport, electricity and rates. You may not have rental costs if you operating the business from home. For a small catering business, you can make monthly profits of $750 – $2000. 

To operate in perpetuity and consider growth, your goal should be continuous improvement in the type of service and the quality of food. You can enroll your cooks at a cooking school over time to keep them sharp and up to date with changes in cookery and menus. You may also join a Chef’s Association to certify yourself and your business. This improves your legitimacy and reputation. Start your own catering business today and make money whilst pursuing what you love and are passionate about the most.

We wish you the best in your catering business. Check out more business ideas and our collection of business plans. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to receive notifications of new posts in your email.

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