So You Want to Start a Catering Business

(Here's what you need to know) Author Icon Written by Trusted Choice Author Icon
Written by Trusted Choice

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Your name is the first that springs to mind when your family and friends think "great food." Your snacks are supreme, your deserts to die for and your specialties truly spectacular. In fact, you think it may be time to go all-out with your culinary creativity.

Are you ready to turn your passion into a profit-making enterprise and join 11,000 other caterers in pursuing your share of an $8-billion-and-growing market? Are you covered with affordable business insurance?

According to catering experts, here are the key considerations and a few suggestions for anyone pondering a new catering start-up:

  • Legal Issues.
    • Will your business structure be a sole proprietorship, or a corporation?
    • What will be the terms of your contracts with clients? Responsibilities, pricing, payments, cancellation provisions, and so forth, must all be spelled out in clear terms to protect both you and your clients.
    • What local government licenses and permits must you acquire? What local regulations must you comply with?
    • What the most common risks, loss or liability experienced by caterers? What types on insurance are required or desirable?
  • Financial Issues.
    • What will be your minimum, or expected, start-up costs?
    • What will be your local, state and federal tax rules and responsibilities? Payroll and benefits or payments to independent contractors? Payment to suppliers?
    • How will you finance your business, both for start-up costs and over the perhaps lengthy period of time before your new business is sustainably profitable?
  • Operational Issues.
    • What equipment will you need to purchase, or would it be better to rent?
    • Will you choose a fixed location, use a commercial kitchen, or operate a food truck?
    • How will you transport your goods and equipment from preparation site to catering site?
    • Where will you find and how will you screen and hire potential staffers?
    • What will be your branding and marketing strategies?

Don't forget to add your chosen insurance agent to your pre-launch menu. He or she is trained and ready to be your go-to person on insurance and risk issues.

And you also can turn to a Trusted Choice agent who has specialized knowledge in working with catering firms of all types and sizes. Some insurance needs are basic to all catering businesses - general liability, property protection, auto and workers compensation - but, depending on your specific catering approach, you may need either modifications or other types of coverage. For example, what type of auto coverage you need will vary considerably if you own a pop-up restaurant as opposed to a food truck.

Your independent agent can help lower or minimize your risks of loss, then check with many fine insurance companies to find you the best business coverage tailored to your specific business needs.

With your safety net in place, you will be free to focus on building the catering business of your dreams. Bon apetit!


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Some Caterer Stats

While highly competitive, no one business entity dominates the catering industry. That means new entrepreneurs have ample opportunity to enter the fray with a more than reasonable chance of success. Here are a few salient statistics:

  • Half of all caterers own kitchen facilities.
  • Catering-business owners work an average of 59 hours per week.
  • Eight of 10 caterers focus on off-site functions.
  • The average catered party has 100-250 guests.
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