Posted by Patrick Maness
Every business has its own unique set of challenges, just as each has its own particular rewards. Within the foodservice industry, for example, a catering business runs differently from a restaurant or cafeteria. And though the game is different, some of the moves and strategies are the same. With this in mind, taking a look at the key challenges of owning and operating a catering company can provide a fresh vantage point from which to consider your own business.
Planning and contingencies — One challenge is determining how much food to prepare for a given number of people, how many staff you need to do this, and what to do if something goes amiss. For outdoor venues, there’s always the risk of getting rained out; in this case, you need a contingency plan.
Staff — To run a successful catering business, you need a lot of employees to perform a number of different tasks. Even though labor costs are high, many owners have a hard time retaining employees who leave in search of higher-paying jobs.
Leave no trace — In general, you have to arrive at the site with all the necessary equipment in perfect condition, set it up, and then once you’re finished, you must take it all away so it looks as though you were never there. In addition to serving many people and making a lot of food, you have to move a small restaurant twice in a day.
Competition — Despite the many challenges, competition within the catering industry is stiff. To remain viable, you must offer a variety of plates, use top ingredients and offer your services at a price that doesn’t drown your business or send people looking elsewhere.
As you can see, some of the main challenges in running a catering business are logistical, and there’s no way around that. After all, feeding a lot of people will always be a challenge that requires strategy and planning.
Because the logistics can be so overwhelming, they can sometimes dominate the business. Fortunately, new technology can allow business owners to streamline their operations, making it more efficient for caterers to manage their suppliers and more precisely calculate their labor and food costs.
Software and apps are now available to keep inventory, create a database of orders, schedule employees, interact with customers and much more. Not only does this technology help streamline your catering business, but it also helps you get back to what it’s all about: serving up great food to a hungry crowd.
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