Catering Business Profits, Earnings and Salaries – How Much Money Can You Really Make?

Many people have turned their love of cooking and entertaining into a good living by starting catering businesses.

Catering is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and as one of the fastest growing segments of the food and beverage industry, the catering business offers great opportunities for those wanting to start a small business with a low start up cost.

In this article we will look at catering business profits, earnings and salaries and how much money it is really possible to make in this industry. Then we will examine some of the things that separate the really successful players from the amateurs.

Is a $100,000 Yearly Profit Possible in Catering?

Many people consider a $100,000 pre-tax salary or profit to be a benchmark for success and they wonder if they can reach this level of earnings in catering.

Most small catering business owners who put in the effort can expect to earn between $20,000 and $40,000 profit per year for the owner during the first couple of years. After a couple of years in the business, you can easily scale up to earning a ‘six figure’ annual income from catering.

Tips for Getting to the ‘Six Figure’ Level

1) Forget catering from your home kitchen if you want to get to this salary level. Business savvy caterers do volumes that require them to either rent commercial kitchen space by the hour, arrange access to restaurant kitchens during off-hours or focus on ‘on-premises’ jobs only and use the kitchens of their clients.

2) Successful players love spending time creating menus, following food trends and interacting with people without neglecting the business side of catering.

3) Start to create a powerful brand right from the start with your logo, company values and unique service that will grow into a valuable asset that allows you to command a premium price for your catering services in the market.

4) Develop systems for every part of your business to streamline day-to-day operations. Analyze the way that you and your staff work and strive to increase productivity.

5) Understand that there are ‘niche’ markets within the catering industry that you would never think of until you really start looking. Top caterers find these untapped opportunities, and carve out a business catering to the specific needs of these groups.

6) Perfect the process of consulting with new clients and learn how to politely up-sell them on some of your more expensive offerings.

7) Realize that you are leaving money on the table if you don’t also up-sell additional event related services to your customers.

8) Learn how to hire, train and organize a small team to assist you with food preparation, delivery, service, and even sales if you want a realistic chance of getting to an income level above $100,000.

9) Don’t neglect traditional advertising methods but also pursue other modern marketing methods such as networking, cross promotions and guerrilla marketing.

10) Successful caterers also recognize the importance of customer referrals. Customers may introduce friends to you because they like your food and services but there are also other ways to get them talking about your company.

To get started on the right track, do as much reading as you can about general small business management and the catering business specifically. Many highly successful caterers have published start up guides and you have a chance to learn from their mistakes instead of making your own and you can benefit from their expert advice and insider tips.

It is possible to make a lot of money in the catering business if you put in the effort. Reaching a level of earnings that will allow you to make a ‘six figure’ salary from your catering business is entirely possible within your first two years in business.

A Career As Restaurant Owner Vs Restaurant Manager

There is a big difference between a career as a restaurant owner and a career as a restaurant manager. Restaurant managers sometimes go on to own their own restaurants, restaurant owners often do a great deal of managerial work and both are heavily invested in the success of the restaurant and involved in its daily operations, but the general similarities end there. The specific roles and responsibilities of a restaurant owner vs. a restaurant manager will be explained in further detail below.

A Career as a Restaurant Owner

Restaurant owners are responsible for overseeing the entire operations of a restaurant, even when they hire someone else to manage it. They make an initial investment and either buys the restaurant from someone else or starts his or her own restaurant. Owners must make additional investments down the line when the restaurant needs new equipment and supplies, or when the business has outgrown its location and needs to move or expand, and they will also be responsible for cleaning up the mess if the business fails. The owner has a vested interest in the success of the restaurant, not just because it’s his or her job, but because it’s his or her investment, brainchild and often a dream come true. The owner takes the most financial risk, but he or she also gets the biggest payoff if the restaurant is a success.

They vary in their level of responsibility in the kitchen and on the floor. Some owners hire other people to do everything and trust they will make the right decisions, while others are there every day, interacting with customers and staff and taking on managerial duties. Many of them must work long hours every day of the week as they get their business off the ground, but if it becomes a success, they get the opportunity to sit back and relax a bit.

A Career as a Restaurant Manager

They work closely with restaurant owners to ensure that the business runs smoothly. They also have a vested interest in making sure the restaurant is operating at a profit; in fact, this is their primary concern. The manager has pay increases, bonuses and profit shares to entice him or her to succeed, and the fear of losing his or her job to entice him or her to avoid failure. This career requires skills in budgeting, leadership, communication, analysis and planning, as well as a knowledge and appreciation of the culinary arts and customer service.

Do You Know Your Objectives in Networking?

Networking is Much More Than Socializing

Casual networkers view networking as a form of socializing without focus and without goals. Effective networkers view it as a process of relationship building with very clear goals and objectives.

Business networking, like any other business activity, must be a productive use of time. To maximize your networking effectiveness, you should therefore clearly define your goals and objectives.

Following are some of the most common objectives for business networkers:

Broaden your exposure in the marketplace and create a positive impression on as many people in your business community as possible.

Identify those who might be prospects for your products or services

Build relationships with those who offer products or services that might be of value to you or your clients.

Build relationships with those who might become referral or strategic partners.

Build relationships with those who are influential in your business community.

Build relationships with those who can further your career.

Build relationships with those who might provide business counsel or become advisors or mentors.

Those with whom you network are experts in their fields. They can answer questions about their area of specialization, share their business experience and knowledge, and may in some instances become mentors. No one can know all there is to know about business and the advice of others can at times be extremely valuable. Networking at trade association expos and conferences will allow you to meet executives from other companies who might some day be your employer or be able to recommend you for an opening they have heard about. Earning the respect of those in your local community can lead to offers when positions become available. We have all heard the idiom: “It is not what you know, it is who you know that counts.” Building relationships with the most influential members of your business community is a key to your success.

Referral partners are individuals who are able and willing to send you referrals in exchange for your help sending referrals to them. To find them at a networking event, you must have carefully thought through who the best referral partners for you might be. You must also have a strategy for turning a casual meeting into an opportunity to develop the relationship. As a business person you and the firm for which you work have needs for a wide variety of products and services. Networking is an effective way of meeting those who provide these products and services in your local community. Your customers also need a variety of products or services for business and personal use. If you can direct them to reputable providers of those services, you will be more valued as a resource and their loyalty will be enhanced. Keeping your client’s needs in mind as you meet others at networking events, should be a habit you develop.

Most view this as the primary objective of networking. To identify prospects and create sales opportunities, you must be prepared to describe your business and its benefits clearly and succinctly. You must also be ready to qualify “suspects” and, if necessary, present your Unique Selling Proposition. The goal of an initial networking contact is not to close a deal, it is to create a follow up opportunity. Networking is an extremely effective way of creating awareness in your business community. For many start up companies, it is the only form of marketing that can be afforded. Fortunately, networking can also be the most effective form of marketing available.

Most business professionals view networking as a means of marketing their business, but overlook some of the other objectives that may be equally or even more important. Too much emphasis on selling at networking events can leave a negative impression. If you want to make a positive impression, make sure the discussion centers on them, not you.

What goals and objectives have you set for your networking activities? Which are most important? How will you measure your success? Like any other business activity, you must approach your networking with goals and a plan to achieve them.

How to Take Care of Your Hand Tools

A good set of tools will always serve you well, provided you take care of them, protect them against rust and damage and keep them stored neatly. High quality hand tools can cost quite a bit of money, although many people assume they require no maintenance or care and throw them carelessly into a drawer or cheap plastic toolbox. Here’s a look at the proper way to take care of your screwdrivers, pliers and all other metal tools to make them last you a lifetime.

Step One: Cleaning

All tools should always remain free of dust and debris, which can cause damage over a long period of time. If your tools get dirty or wet during use, take the time to clean them afterward. Most tools can be cleaned with a simple soft brush that you keep near your tool cabinet. Rust, the main enemy of metal, can cause permanent damage if left unchecked. Rust forms from moisture, although you can prevent it with most tools by applying a light oil on rust-prone areas. When rust does form, use a fine scrubber and oil to remove it but remember, rust will also be prone to reforming on this area in the future. If you can afford it, invest in tools that are made from high-quality metal alloys to make them resistant to rust and corrosion. Finally, any moving parts should be lubricated occasionally so they remain in good working order.

Step Two: Proper Storage

What’s the point of cleaning your tools regularly if you don’t have proper storage in place? Depending on your needs, a simple toolbox will suffice. If you have a large collection of tools or use them professionally in a trade, a metal cabinet is a good option. Tools should always be organized and sorted and put back in their designated area after each use. This way, they’re always there when you need them. Ideally, tools won’t touch each other while they’re stored. A few companies have developed storage systems to address this. Keep all of your instruments in a dry area free of moisture, dust and direct sunlight. For sharp instruments like chisels, keep them in a holder so you won’t accidentally hurt yourself when you get them out. Tools should never be left on the ground or a working area as they can pose a serious hazard. Try to group your tools together in a way that makes sense to you.

Step Three: Maintenance

Most people are injured using their tools when they aren’t kept sharp or in good condition. Metal blades should always be well oiled and replaced when they lose their sharpness. Regularly inspect your nuts, bolts, screws and other small parts for damage so you know when they need to be replaced. If you own hand tools with a wooden handle, take the time to sand and oil it regularly to prevent splinters and splitting.