How to start a catering business from home selling food from home

How to start a catering business from home selling food from home


– [Damien] So if you are interested in starting a home-based
catering business, then this video is gonna
give you some great tips and information on how to get started and what exactly it
would be as far as costs, license and permits. So let’s get right to it. (light jazz music) All right, so it’s Damien
from Marketing Food Online and I want to give you
information on how to get started with a home-based catering business, okay. Now, there’s a handful of
things you definitely need to double check before
you even begin the process and those are particularly
in regards to licensing and what’s actually
allowed within your state. Every single state has
different laws and ordinances and such setup in regards
to what you can and can’t do or even if you’re allowed to do it at all and remember that at a state level, then a county and city level, they all have different requirements and laws and regulations. A state can allow can allow
you to cook food from home in some places, but then
when you get down to the city in the city ordinances
and your zoning and such, they may not specifically
allow it within the city that you’re working in. So you would have to transition
into preparing the food in what’s known as a commercial kitchen and of course you’d have
to rent those kitchens out to prepare the food product
that you would be delivering to your event and your clients. So let’s jump right into it. I’m actually gonna give you
a little bit information about getting one up and running and then I’m gonna cover
some of the goods and bad’s, kind of like the pros and cons of starting a catering business from home ’cause there’s a lot
of really good benefits to be honest with you and then
there’s a handful of things that are not exactly the glamorous, good part of having a business from home and we’ll go into that as well. So let’s start off with number
one, what type of potential, what type of licenses, permits and liability, insurance and
such what you need, okay? So again, the best way to find
out about what is required and such, is to contact a
local health department. Sometimes it’s actually the
Department of Agriculture that will inspect the
home itself and again, it varies by state. Health departments as well
as your business development, it could be named differently, but business development
office within the county and city that you’re in to check and see about as far as zoning if you’re allowed to do this actually from home. Now, to keep in mind, when you’re doing a cottage food business, most of those cottage food
businesses are easy to start up, but you’re actually creating products that are non potentially
hazardous as they’re known. Those are baked goods, cookies, things that are temperature
and shelf-life stable, time and temperature sensitive. Items that are like food, which would be what you would be doing
for catering events, is a little different and
it’s a little trickier. So it doesn’t necessarily follow
under the cottage food law, so you want to make sure that
operating a catering business from your home is allowed. Now, how much Damian does
it cost to start one? Well, that’s kind of a
really open-ended question, but to be honest with, you could do it for a very limited amount of money if you’re doing small events
and if you’re new at it, okay. You don’t have to invest 50, 60, $70,000 into something like
this we’re off the bat. I highly would recommend
number one, starting off with small, local events
and then charging for them. Figuring out your fees, your rates. Things that can be done,
events that can be catered mainly done by yourself
or with the help of maybe one or two people. I wouldn’t start off with a gigantic staff because you have to come up
with obviously payroll and such and that is a huge investment,
don’t do that off the bat. Try to find out a specific
niche, a specific type of food. For instance if you did Jewish foods, you did a kosher
products, or kosher foods. You would wanna focus on Jewish events like maybe bar mitzvahs and
you want to advertise that to people within the community, if there’s a Jewish publications website or local community events that are specifically geared towards that. If you’re doing a specific
type of food like Italian food, if you want to do chicken
parmesan, you wanna do pastas, you wanna do garlic breads
and those types of things and you’re geared towards
Italian community, well, you wanna advertise
towards those communities as well and you’d wanna focus on a menu that would be around Italian food. Finding out a specific niche, something that you can make really well, something you enjoy making and
then go after that community or those people who would
obviously enjoy that type of food more so than others. So finding a niche is really important. Starting small is very, very important. You may have big, high hopes and dreams to have a huge catering
business one day and that’s, that’s perfect, that’s great,
that’ll drive you to do this, but you need to focus on a
smaller, step-by-step process and taking on smaller events is the way to go for that, okay? Now, let’s see, if you are
gonna start this from home, here’s some of the benefit. Number one, when you start a food business from home of any kind, always double check with your accountant. There’s a lot of tax benefits that can help you out tremendously when you’re starting a catering
business from home, okay. There’s a lot of things
that can be deducted, there’s a lot of things
that can be written off as an expense from the home. So it puts you in a
really good tax situation. I’m gonna tell you a little
disclaimer, I’m again, like I said before, I’m not an accountant, this is not giving you tax
advice, but go to your accountant and ask them these questions. What’s the benefits ’cause there are some tremendous financial
benefits to it, okay. Now, it’s a perfect job, if
you’re considering yourself as a chef, a home chef or an amateur chef, this is a great job for you to start, a great business actually for you to start because you could take that
passion that you’d love to do and actually make money and
people will pay you for it, that’s like the best of both worlds. So, the other great thing is the top fifty U.S. caterers
generate less than 15% of industry revenue in the United States for catering businesses. What does that mean? Well, that means that
there is a huge market that’s being filled by
people who are not part of those top 50 gigantic
corporate catering events or those companies that do large events. So there’s a lot of opportunities
for a lot of weddings, birthdays, get-togethers,
local businesses, small businesses that just
wanna find a local caterer, those are places that are still unfilled. So only 15% of these
events in the industry within the catering
industry, that’s gigantic. That leaves over 85% of these
events to other small caterers or those that are just starting
which would be you, okay. Now, you can actually
start a catering business and be small and actually stay small. There’s no, there’s not
necessarily a need for you to get gigantic and have 100 people staff. You can actually make a
great living doing events, even if it’s just on the weekends, doing events periodically,
but doing smaller ones and picking up a few hundred
or a couple of grand per event and doing that every other weekend. That turns out to be a
lot of money every month as a part-time business,
something you can do on the side until you transition
into doing it full-time. So keep in mind that you know,
you could start part-time, you can work on the weekends and then you can expand
full-time from Monday all the way through
Sunday if you wanted to, but you don’t have to be gigantic. This is one of the
unique type of businesses that you can cater
events and you can do it, maybe just with yourself
and one or two people and not have a need to
grow it into something that becomes really
complicated and stressful. Now, some of the downsides,
you’ve gotta make sure that you’re really good at handling food. You know time and
temperature sensitivities, so you know that certain
foods have to be kept at certain temperatures. I would recommend that
you would take a course just in food handling, not
necessarily in catering, but in food handling and
understand how food works. How to prepare it and serve it to people other than your family or
friends, but when you begin to cater, you run that risk of potentially getting people
sick, I mean it could happen. If an event doesn’t
turn out all that great, the drawback is of course word
of mouth becomes very, very, spreads very, very fast and you could potentially
get very bad reviews and of course nobody
wants to deal with you. So, the other thing is that
catering business require a great deal of organization
of course you know, skills and planning, commitment to being at a certain event on time
and being committed to people for their events and you wanna make sure that you’re that type of person. If you’re on time and you can be, well then becoming a catering
business is something that I would highly recommend you do because you can make
money at just the fact that you’re on time,
that you’re conscientious and then that you’re
responsible for those events, definitely skills that you already have, take advantage of them. Now, when you get started
indicating a business from home, before you get right into it and before you start jumping into it, there’s a few things that you need to take into consideration. So number one, are you
gonna focus specifically on the type of food or event. So are you gonna do
certain types of events? Are you gonna do just weddings, but you can do maybe just
corporate events you know, maybe local businesses where there’s a lot more money to be made. Weddings are great too, but a
lot of times they’re on budget and companies have a lot
of money at their disposal so doing corporate
events is more lucrative. So figuring out what type of
event is gonna be huge for you. So are you gonna be cooking
the food on the premises where the wedding is or
where the corporate event is or are you gonna prepare
it in a commercial kitchen or maybe in a home and then bring it? So you wanna figure out
what type of potential, like a van, a delivery van
that you’re gonna need. Are you gonna need certain
types of equipment, shelving? Certain type of refrigeration,
stuff like that, warming tables, all that
stuff that you’re gonna take to an event physically
and then clean it up. So there’s a lot involved with determining are you gonna do it there or are you gonna bring it. So then thirdly, you wanna definitely, as I mentioned in the
opening, you wanna make sure that your state really allows you to legally do it from home. So you wanna contact maybe
your state’s occupational, like I said licensing
agency or maybe potentially the Health Department or the
Department of Agriculture for the home-based requirements and then what is required, okay. So definitely, once you
figure out all the legalities then you wanna figure out
what type of equipment you’ll need, okay, not
only for the preparation, but for the transit. If you’re gonna be
delivering it, setting it up and having it on the
premises at the event, how is it going to, you’re
gonna have to have warmers, you’re gonna have to have
equipment, you need supplies. So figuring out specifically
with the type of food that you have because keep in mind, the type of food you’re gonna be making is gonna be the type, is
gonna dictate the type of equipment you’re gonna need. Not every food is gonna need to be held exactly the same, okay, so keep that in mind as well. Now you wanna set up your
business structure, okay. This is gonna be something
that’s interesting ’cause you wanna figure out LLC, you’re gonna figure out
yourself as a corporation. Are there other partners? So the legalities of
other people owning parts of this business is something
you need to think of. If it’s just gonna be you and
maybe have a couple cousins or friends who are just
gonna help you out, that’s different, but you wanna make sure that you also have within
that, that being said, you wanna have liability
insurance, you wanna have insurance because you know, your
family could help you out and there’s a potential that
they could also get hurt and if they do get hurt and
then they can’t work their job, there’s gonna be a lot of problems. So setting up the business structure, figuring out how you
want it to be laid out, that’s something that’s ultra important. Now, once you have your
specific type of food product with a certain niche of
food that you’re gonna do, you have to create a menu. You can’t just obviously create one item with a salad and some
you know toasted bread or some garlic bread you know, you got to have a big
menu people to choose from and then have that ability
to be flexible with the menu to adapt to your client’s needs. The more flexible that you
are and the more capable that you can create what they want, you’re going attract more customers. Having it just out in
black and white on paper and say look, this is all I can do, you’ll either like or you don’t, I wouldn’t recommend that kind of mindset. You need to be flexible with it, you need to allow them to
kind of pick and choose and then maybe say, you know what, can you do some variation of this. So if you can do that then you’re definitely
gonna be good as gold because clients will
come to you like crazy. I remember when I first
started doing catering with our Italian bakery, we had a lot of, we did a lot of banks, local
banks and businesses out here that we did business with, they came to us and we really adapted our
menu to what they needed. So having flexibility
is definitely something that I would recommend
and you really, really, sincerely need to think about that. So lastly, really quick,
I wanna wrap it up and then of course, I’ll give
you some additional resources down in the description
section, but testimonials. Once you do your first event
and everybody loved it, make sure you get a written testimonial. If obviously, you should
probably have a website obviously up and running. I would recommend a website
for Canadian business for informative purposes, to
let them know who you are, what type of food you
do, what type of events. So it’s really critical to do that, but once you get a testimonial,
once you get a feedback from that first event, post
it, put it on your website. People love feedback, people
wanna see testimonials and a lot of times,
decision making is based, not upon everything
you can do or can’t do, but it’s gonna be based upon
the feedback you get, okay. All right, so I’m gonna wrap it up and of course as always,
if this was informative and helpful, please do
give me a big thumbs up. If you have questions
about home base catering in your state or where
you are, please do ask me down in the comments section. I’ll get to as soon as possible and I will see you on my
next video, take care.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

2 Comments

  1. Selling food from home can be a profitable business as a catering company BUT there are a few things to check for BEFORE you take the dive!

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