You need to be driven to get into the catering business. It’s not a decision you should take lightly. Make no mistake, you will be busy, you will work long hours and you need to be prepared to work hard to make it a success.

The ethos behind catering is simple – provide people with food or drink at an event or gathering. It’s everything else involved that makes offering this service challenging.

Here are some tips and ideas you can use to help make your catering business a success:

Cooking - Know your recipes, know what you excel at creating. The food you make has to be good, it’s the reason people are hiring you.

Handle the stress – As the boss, you’re in control no matter what the problem or situation. Keep stress internalized. Your staff look to you for guidance and direction. Run a tight ship.

Deadlines – Specific times, dates and key deliverables are made for that reason, they’re not meant to be negotiable. Stick to them and be punctual. People expect to be fed at a certain time and we know what kind of reactions you’ll get when people are hungry and there’s no food ready.

Listen – You have clients, listen carefully to their requirements. You’re pleasing them, not yourself.

Lists – Make lists and make them precise from the smallest to the largest detail. Leave nothing to chance.

Price – Don’t devalue your service by cutting your price. Just because something is the cheapest it’s not the best. Aim to be competitive.

Hours – Start early, give you and your team enough time to complete the job thoroughly and well. Prep ahead of time. Recon the space that you’ll be working in, if you can.

Planning – Have an overall plan and planned menu, and be flexible so that you can customise and tailor it to a specific event. Allow for the unexpected and have a contingency plan. You can be assured that sometimes something will be late or won’t arrive.

Reliability – People are depending on you for the amazing full catering experience you promised them – deliver it.

Budgets – Stick to the agreed budget. Don’t under- or overspend. Buy produce accordingly for maximum profit and minimum wastage.

Training – Invest in your staff. The better they work for you, the more efficiently your catering business will run. Keep training and upskilling with relevant courses.

Other factors – It’s not just the food. Marketing and networking are also important, as is keeping on top of the books and the business accounting. Use technology e.g. social networking in your business to grow it or to make it more efficient e.g. the latest ordering software.


Catering is a process from planning and ordering to final delivery and debrief. You’re in charge of executing the whole package, it’s what will define the success or failure of your catering venture. Stay ahead of the game and be proactive with your catering business and as a final tip, remember presentation counts, it’s your business on a plate – literally!