Catering Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Catering Business Plan

If you want to start a catering business or expand your current one, you need a business plan.

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 5,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their catering businesses.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Catering Company

Below are links to each section of your catering business plan template:

Catering Company Business Plan FAQs

You can download our catering business plan PDF template here. This is a business plan template you can use in PDF format.

A catering business plan provides a snapshot of your own business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business’ goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

If you’re looking to start a catering business or grow your existing small business you need a business plan, especially if you are seeking financing for your business. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your company in order to improve your chances of success. Your catering business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your catering company grows and changes.

The best way to write a catering business plan is to follow a proven catering business plan template. This template should include the following information: Executive Summary, Company Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Industry Analysis, Customer Analysis, Marketing Strategy & Plan, Operations Plan, Management Team, Financial Projections & Plan, and Appendix.

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a catering business are savings and/or credit cards of the business owner, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable. But they will want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business.

The second most common form of funding for a catering business or cafe is angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will write you a check. They will either take equity in return for their funding, or, like a bank, they will give you a loan. Venture capitalists will not fund a catering business. They might consider funding a catering company with multiple locations or a massive footprint, but never an individual location. This is because most venture capitalists are looking for millions of dollars in return when they make an investment, and an individual or small location could never achieve such results.

There are three types of catering service businesses: on-premise catering, off-premise catering, and event catering.

  • On-premise catering is when the caterer sets up a temporary commercial kitchen space at the client's location.
  • Off-premise catering is when the caterer provides delicious food for events such as picnics, weddings, cocktail parties, and other meetings off-site.
  • Event catering is where the caterer prepares food that is served at special events, corporate events, or family events.

Starting a catering business is not as difficult as one might think. Here are the five steps needed to get your catering business up and running:

  1. Come Up With a Business Idea: This is probably the most important step, as it will lay the foundation for everything else you do. When brainstorming business ideas, make sure to think about what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing.
  2. Do Your Research: This step is important to ensure your business is viable and has the potential for success.
  3. Create a Catering Business Plan: A business plan is a document that outlines your goals, strategies, and financials. It’s a must-have for any business, but especially for a catering business.
  4. Obtain Your Business License: In order to legally operate your catering business, you will need to obtain the necessary business licenses.
  5. Secure Funding: If needed, you will need to secure funding in order to get your catering business off the ground.

Once your business is up and running, it’s time to start promoting it! Create a marketing plan and start spreading the word about your new catering business to potential clients.

There are numerous benefits of starting a catering business, including:

  1. Low Overhead Costs: One of the benefits of catering is that the overhead costs are relatively low, especially when compared to other food preparation businesses such as restaurants. This means you can make a profit with fewer customers and staff members.
  2. Flexible Schedule: Typically have a flexible schedule, which is ideal for those who want to be their own boss and have more control over their time.
  3. Variety of Services: Can offer a variety of catering services and menus, which gives you the ability to target a range of customers.
  4. Repeat Customers: Typically have a high percentage of repeat customers, as people often use catering for specific events like weddings, business meetings, conventions, etc.
  5. High Demand: Another benefit of catering is that there are typically high demands for this type of service during certain times of the year, including holidays and warm weather months when people are hosting events outside.

While there are many benefits to starting a catering business, there are also some potential pitfalls that should be considered. These include:

  1. Not Enough Demand: Before starting a catering business, it’s important to do your research and make sure there is enough demand for your services.
  2. Lack of Experience: If you don’t have experience in the catering industry, it will be difficult to start and succeed in this business.
  3. High Startup Costs: This type of business can have high startup costs because of the equipment needed, as well as all of the miscellaneous costs that come with starting any business.
  4. Competition: Catering is highly competitive and there are many established catering companies already servicing your market. This means you need to do everything possible to set yourself apart from your competitors in order to be successful.
  5. Time-Consuming: Catering is a time-consuming business and it can be difficult to balance it with other obligations.
  6. Limited Scalability: Catering companies are limited in their scalability, meaning you can only expand so much before you hit a limit. This could be problematic if your goal is to grow your business significantly.
  7. Unpredictable Income: Catering services can be very unpredictable when it comes to income, as they can vary greatly from one event to the next.
  8. High Risk: As with any business, there is a certain amount of risk involved in starting and running a catering business. You need to be prepared for the possibility of not making a profit or even losing money.

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