Your competitive analysis should identify your indirect and direct competitors and then focus on the latter.
Direct competitors are other catering businesses.
Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from you that aren’t direct competitors. This includes restaurants, delis, supermarkets and customers preparing food for events themselves at home. You need to mention such competition to show you understand that not everyone who caters and event uses a catering business.
With regards to direct competition, you want to detail the other catering business with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be catering business located in your same geographic location.
For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:
- What types of customers do they serve?
- What products do they offer?
- What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
- What are they good at?
- What are their weaknesses?
With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to call and speak with customers you know have used your competition regarding what they like most and least about them.
The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:
- Will you provide unique food items and/or cuisines?
- Will you provide catering items that your competitors don’t offer (e.g., ice statues)?
- Will you make it easier or faster for customers to purchase your services?
- Will you provide better customer service?
- Will you offer better pricing?
Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.