How to Start a Catering Business in Nigeria.
There is no greater medicine than good food. Good food nourishes the body and helps to prevent diseases from taking hold of you. Catering business is one of the businesses you should be encouraged to go into; especially if you are skilled in preparing good, tasty and palatable meals. According to Wikipedia, Catering is the business of providing food services at a remote site or a site such as a hotel, hospital, pub, aircraft, cruise ship, park, filming site or studio, entertainment site, or event venue. A caterer is someone who provides these services. The need for caterers will continue to increase as people become busier and as people look for easier and better ways of doing things. Caterers are contracted in companies to provide staff lunch every working day; caterers are contracted to provide meals, cakes, and a variety of dishes at thousands of events, parties, business meetings, clubs and even weddings and occasions; caterers are contracted to provide many indoor and outdoor services you can always think about when it has to do with food. Professional caterers take the stress and burden of preparing and serving meals at events off the shoulders of the organizers of the events.
However, to survive in Nigeria, you should have multiple streams of income. You can do your catering services part-time while keeping your day job. This can serve as a way of providing additional income to you. There is this lady in mainland, Lagos who has a marketing job in one of Nigeria’s banks. Her husband used to work with NEPA but now at home gainfully job-hunting. As a matter of fact, this lady is the breadwinner of the house at the moment but it has not been easy. They have five kids who are all in school. So, she decided to go into catering business. She secured a loan from Mint Digital Bank with far favorable charges than conventional banks and she has never looked back. It has been just six months but she is already smiling to the bank. The business is so big now that even her husband is now the manager of the business. While she goes to her banking job during weekdays, her husband runs the business. She is saying she would have to leave the banking job eventually someday to concentrate fully on her catering business because of how fast the business is growing. She trained as a caterer for just three months. She has started the business for just another three months but she is doing so well that her banking job does not pay her as much her catering business. She confessed that she is keeping the banking job for now because of the connections it affords her.
Catering businesses are often a more feasible, proper, flexible alternative to opening and running a restaurant. Catering businesses allow you the favorable and creative freedom of operating a food-service operation without standard hours or a rigid schedule. Also, they often require less start-up capital and financial risk than a full-service restaurant.
Types of Catering Businesses in Nigeria.
Randy and Lisa Peters in their letter could not have done better justice to the various types of catering businesses you can venture. The good thing is that catering business speaks a universal language. They posited as follows:
We often find, particularly with new clients, that catering can be somewhat overwhelming. Whether your company is ordering for a meeting, or you are a newly engaged couple planning your big wedding day, there are ways to simplify your catering and save money doing it. But with literally hundreds of delicious food options, spanning dozens of menus, it can be tough to determine where to start. So we thought we would share some simple but effective ways to help.
A good place to start is to understand the different types of catering. Each type has a slightly different type of planning, pricing, and ordering procedures. Once you can narrow down to one of these, it will help simply your menu choices, while also saving you time and money on the ordering. Here are the four general types of catering to consider:
While we are all familiar with wedding catering, we can also agree that catering makes a huge impact on that special day. From the special guests to the bride and groom, you want to makes sure everyone eats (and celebrates) well. Decorations, dinner, dessert and what to drink along are just part of the planning.
From small office meetings and trainings to large regional events, the ability to have great food delivered on site saves time & money while allowing you to focus on the more important task at hand, your business! Continental breakfasts, box lunches and buffets are all popular for corporate catering.
Social Event Catering:
From birthday and retirement parties to big backyard BBQs, social events cover a wide range of events (and food). Appetizers, bartenders and balloons are just some of what you might see catered at events like these.
Seasonal, sporting major public events all fall into this category. Where you will find lots of people, you will always find catered food. Planning for these takes a pro to make sure you have all the right menu choices for your audience. Here you will find all the crowd favorites from hot dogs and hamburgers to chili cheese fries and ice cream.
Knowing the type of catering that suits your time and resources is as important as getting an international passport.
Steps to Starting a Profitable Catering Business in Nigeria.
By now, you should know the type of catering business befitting of your time and resources. Hence, at this juncture, it is in order to discuss the steps you must take to achieve your catering goals. The following are necessary steps for start-ups in catering business according to WebstaurantStore:
- Gain Exposure and Experience:
Like any business venture, it takes a certain level of experience to successfully execute a start-up. Consider working for an already established catering company prior to opening your business. While researching what you will need and how to operate is helpful, it cannot compare to the hands-on experience and guidance gained through a working professional.
If working for a catering company is not doable, volunteer to plan small-scale events for people you may know. Host a holiday party for friends and family or prepare a church luncheon for a small crowd. Operating on a smaller scale first allows you to find and fix potential problems and gain honest feedback from a forgiving crowd.
- Choose a Concept
Creating a solid concept or theme can enhance the marketability of your catering business. Try to focus your concept on something you’re interested in or, better yet, passionate about. If you have always loved preparing a big breakfast on the weekends, turn that into a breakfast-themed concept you can offer any time of the day. Other concepts could include brunch foods, casual sandwiches, desserts, finger foods, comfort food, or any idea that gives your business direction.
When choosing your theme, it is important to think about the demographic you will be serving; how you plan to price your services; and if you can access the equipment needed to sustain your theme.
* Create a Menu: Create your menu before you begin to look at work spaces and equipment. Figuring out what types of food you will be cooking means you can decide what equipment, appliances, and space you will need to successfully prepare your offerings. While it is important to stay true to your theme and concept, you need to offer a menu with versatility to accompany a wide range of tastes, preferences, and dietary restrictions. Create a selection of offerings that are, for example, gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, or low carb. And if your menu items are especially spicy, be sure to offer a few less spicy or not spicy options as well.
Once your menu is established, determine how you will price your items or event packages. It is important to have a sample menu prepared and pricing figured out before meeting with your first potential clients.
* Test Your Menu: Try testing your menu concept and dishes in small, no-pressure scenarios. Gather friends and family together, or offer to cook for a small gathering or fundraiser in your community. Be sure to ask for candid feedback from your guests. You can even provide everyone with pen and paper to write their thoughts down anonymously. Once you have successfully served your crowd and received feedbacks, it is important to keep tweaking your recipes. Practice making them over and over again while focusing on efficiency, taste, and presentation.
- Find a Suitable Working Space
Many states have laws and regulations in place to prevent caterers from operating out of their home kitchen. If you are adamant on doing so, you will most likely need to make immense modifications to your home and receive approval by local governing authorities. Instead, most caterers start by renting out kitchen space or finding a building to make their own.
If you are just starting out or operate at a low volume, your most economical option would be to rent a commercial kitchen space. This is ideal for those working one or two days a week or for only a few hours at a time. For high-volume operations or those looking to make this a full-time business, you will want a place you can have access to 24/7 with more storage and customizable equipment. If you want to offer tastings for potential clients or sell your goods to the public, you will need to rent space with a separate storefront area from where you do your cooking or baking.
- Customizing Your Catering Kitchen:
For those looking to rent or buy their own kitchen, you will have the opportunity to customize your space and build a kitchen that is conducive to your cooking. Instead of keeping it generic, focus on what equipment will be most beneficial for preparing your menu items. For example, if you are focusing on desserts, you will want to equip your kitchen with extra ovens. If your specialty is Southern comfort food, more fryers are a must.
No matter what type of food you are making, catering kitchens must be well-equipped with hot and cold holding areas. Since you are preparing food ahead of your event, it is imperative that you quickly cool hot foods or keep them at a safe holding temperature. Additionally, you will need adequate equipment to hold your food at the proper temperature during transport.
- Assess Liability Issues:
Before you cater your first event, you must apply for the proper permits and ensure your kitchen and staff are well-aware of food safety practices and regulations. If you’re offering bar services, you must come up with a safe serving plan to ensure your staff is serving responsibly.
Plan for Potential Problems
A little planning can go a long way when it comes to unexpected foodservice emergencies. Think about common obstacles you could encounter with your catering business, and work with staff to establish a response plan.
- Choose Your Staff:
Finding the right staff members to help prepare and serve your offerings can be a challenging task. When choosing staff and introducing them to your business, be sure to consider the following:
* Decide whether your operation is large enough to hire additional employees
* Begin with a temp agency until you can grow your business
* Create a dress code or provide uniforms
* Offer adequate training in serving protocols and food safety
- Make a Marketing and Advertising Plan
Once you have laid the groundwork for your business, it is time to promote it. Start by figuring out who your target audience is and go from there. This can be determined based on the type of catering operation you plan on running. For example, if you are interested in social gatherings, you can showcase your menu at bridal expos and contact event planners.
Other marketing strategies include:
* Create a memorable logo that embodies your theme
* Print out your menu or pricing info to hand out to potential clients
* Create a website and social media accounts to connect with customers
* Form relationships with corporate event coordinators and venue holders
* Offer tastings at local fairs or charity events
If you’re looking for the creative freedom of running your own business without the financial undertaking of operating a restaurant, catering could be an enticing option. And with proper planning using the steps above, your business will be off to a good start. No matter what type of catering you decide to do, be sure to create a mouthwatering menu and dynamic concept future customers will flock to.
Shortfalls in Catering Business.
There is hardly any business in the world without it’s shortfalls. Catering business is no different. Planning for potential problems is very important in any business. Unexpected emergencies might occur, therefore, proper planning is required. Below are some of the drawbacks a caterer could encounter:
* Unfavorable or bad weather can rain on your party at any outdoor event
* More mouths or guests to feed than you had planned for or expected
* Incorporative staff or lack of staff.
* Power outage.
* Shortage of proper storage equipment.
Catering business seems painstaking at the surface but it can open doors you never thought could open. Catering business puts you on the faces of a lot of relevant people or clients. When offering a catering service, it requires a whole lot more than just preparing food. It means co-ordination of how the food is being prepared; delivery of the food and presentation of the food to your client(s). Good customer service is integral when it comes to catering services in Nigeria. Your customer’s satisfaction must be desirable and it will go a long way to helping you in your catering business.
As a starter, you will need a financial war chest. You cannot start a catering business in a vacuum. Hence, you must look for ways to ensure you meet up financially. You might need a loan or financial backing from family or friends. For instance, a loan from Mint Digital Bank can help you a whole lot as far as you are credit-worthy. You can even get a loan with less pressure on interests and avoid sudden, hidden charges like is possible with traditional banks. If you play your cards right, a catering business could just be your best shot at becoming financially independent. In just a few months of running a catering business, you can pay off your debts and take charge of your financial destiny. Catering businesses are gaining prominence in Nigeria and it is not a surprise. While some people find the business grueling, others find it enthralling and adventurous. It is worthy to note at this juncture that sometimes, the cave you are scared to go into might just contain the treasures you have been searching for all your life.