outside catering needs you

Posted on In Focus Jul 2010 - by Tandoori Magazine
outside catering needs you

Outside catering can be profitable, but it’s easier said than done. Andy Varma looks at what’s required for the road to success.

Every restaurant wants to add to their revenue by doing outdoor catering. It not only boosts your sales dramatically, but it’s the same kitchen and staff you are using.

Doing this also spreads the word in the community that the food was from your restaurant, and that the catering was professional and cost effective. These are the words of reassurance that get a good word-of-mouth campaign going so that more and more people come to the restaurant wanting the food either at the restaurant or at home when entertaining.

Yet, what you also need to ensure is that you have everything in place. Don’t ever assume that just because your customers like your restaurant and the cooking you offer that you will automatically become an overnight success as an outside caterer. You have to put in all the hard work.

Key do’s and don’ts for successful catering:

-Do a written plan before you start your operation - in the plan include conceptual planning, sales, marketing, advertising, direct marketing, cold calling, menu planning, costings, operational planning, logistical planning, and execution of the job.

-Do promise what you can deliver effectively and efficiently. If you can produce food for only 50 guests, don’t burn your fingers by trying to do food for 100. You are not geared up for it, hence you are opening yourself up to failure and criticism from your client.

-Do work with Health and Safety and hygiene in mind. The last thing you want to do is take on something you can’t chew, and fall flat on your face. Work with the staff you have and produce the food safely, chill down the food within 90 minutes and label it correctly. Make sure you transport the food in a safe manner, at the right temperature so that you minimise the risk to your client who has paid to feed his guests. A simple thing like rice lying outside, exposed to heat can become your nemesis if it goes off, and gets all your guests sick!

-Don’t think you can take short cuts and do the production, transportation and execution on your own without help. A lot of operators will take adequate staff hire costs from the client, and take less staff on the day to make money. Never compromise on quality and quantity of the staff as they interact with the guests. You may be a great chef, but your food may be being served by service staff from a bad agency, and your reputation goes down the drain.

-Don’t take less equipment to do the job correctly. A lot of operators take less hire equipment to the venue to save costs. If your kitchen is meant to have three stoves to do the job, don’t take one. It will make your kitchen operation suffer, and will result in delays of food getting to your guests.

-Don’t be in a hurry to do your costing. Make a menu that you know well, and you can buy your ingredients at a reasonable cost then price the menu at a 70% margin. This will allow you to make money, without compromising on quality.

-Don’t use your client’s name for promotions if you have not already asked for permission to use the catering for your marketing purposes. It’s great to get endorsements, so if you did a great job, don’t be shy. Get it in writing that you will you your clients name for future reference and marketing. These are great tricks for a successful operation.

All your effort should go into planning for your event, and this makes your life so much easier when you actually do the event. So go ahead and be bold, do it as a controlled adventure, hire out first so that you don’t invest too heavily on catering equipment. Once you’ve tasted success, then you can spend some CAPEX to purchase equipment when you are doing, a minimum of one event a week.

Have fun, advertise on your website, and make sure you deliver what you promised at the right price. You will be a winner!

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