Business plans
15 min read

Catering Business Plan Template & Guidebook

Starting a catering business can be an incredibly rewarding venture, offering flexibility, creativity, and a unique opportunity to express your culinary prowess. To ensure your business venture is successful, it's important to create a comprehensive business plan. Fortunately, our Catering Business Plan Template & Guidebook is here to provide you with the most up-to-date information and resources you need to make your venture a reality. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step of the process and provide invaluable advice on how to develop an effective business plan for your catering business.

Nick
Written by:
Nick
Updated on:
January 22, 2024
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Table of Contents:

How to Write a Catering Business Plan in 7 Steps:

1. Describe the Purpose of Your Catering Business.

The first step to writing your business plan is to describe the purpose of your catering business. This includes describing why you are starting this type of business, and what problems it will solve for customers. This is a quick way to get your mind thinking about the customers’ problems. It also helps you identify what makes your business different from others in its industry.

It also helps to include a vision statement so that readers can understand what type of company you want to build.

Here is an example of a purpose mission statement for a catering business:

Our mission at ABC Catering is to create delicious, custom-made culinary experiences that bring joy, satisfaction, and lasting memories to each and every one of our clients. We are dedicated to providing outstanding customer service and creating unforgettable, high-quality catering experiences that will leave all of our guests delighted.

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2. Products & Services Offered by Your Catering Business.

The next step is to outline your products and services for your catering business. 

When you think about the products and services that you offer, it's helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my business?
  • What are the products and/or services that I offer?
  • Why am I offering these particular products and/or services?
  • How do I differentiate myself from competitors with similar offerings?
  • How will I market my products and services?

You may want to do a comparison of your business plan against those of other competitors in the area, or even with online reviews. This way, you can find out what people like about them and what they don’t like, so that you can either improve upon their offerings or avoid doing so altogether.

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3. Build a Creative Marketing Stratgey.

If you don't have a marketing plan for your catering business, it's time to write one. Your marketing plan should be part of your business plan and be a roadmap to your goals. 

A good marketing plan for your catering business includes the following elements:

Target market

  • Who is your target market?
  • What do these customers have in common?
  • How many of them are there?
  • How can you best reach them with your message or product?

Customer base 

  • Who are your current customers? 
  • Where did they come from (i.e., referrals)?
  • How can their experience with your catering business help make them repeat customers, consumers, visitors, subscribers, or advocates for other people in their network or industry who might also benefit from using this service, product, or brand?

Product or service description

  • How does it work, what features does it have, and what are its benefits?
  • Can anyone use this product or service regardless of age or gender?
  • Can anyone visually see themselves using this product or service?
  • How will they feel when they do so? If so, how long will the feeling last after purchasing (or trying) the product/service for the first time?

Competitive analysis

  • Which companies are competing with yours today (and why)? 
  • Which ones may enter into competition with yours tomorrow if they find out about it now through word-of-mouth advertising; social media networks; friends' recommendations; etc.)
  • What specific advantages does each competitor offer over yours currently?

Marketing channels

  • Which marketing channel do you intend to leverage to attract new customers?
  • What is your estimated marketing budget needed?
  • What is the projected cost to acquire a new customer?
  • How many of your customers do you instead will return?

4. Write Your Operational Plan.

Next, you'll need to build your operational plan. This section describes the type of business you'll be running, and includes the steps involved in your operations. 

In it, you should list:

  • The equipment and facilities needed
  • Who will be involved in the business (employees, contractors)
  • Financial requirements for each step
  • Milestones & KPIs
  • Location of your business
  • Zoning & permits required for the business

What equipment, supplies, or permits are needed to run a catering business?

To run a catering business, you will need the following equipment and supplies:

  • Commercial kitchen space or access to a commercial kitchen
  • Cooking vessels of various sizes
  • Industrial-grade ovens and stoves
  • Freezer and refrigeration units
  • Utensils for cooking and serving, such as tongs, spoons, and knives
  • Serving trays or platters
  • Food packaging materials
  • Pots, pans, hot plates and other cooking equipment
  • Food safety supplies such as thermometers and gloves
  • Transportation vehicles

You may also need the following permits:

  • Licenses for selling food in your area
  • Health permit to serve food in your area
  • Catering license or permit if required by your state/local government.

5. Management & Organization of Your Catering Business.

The second part of your catering business plan is to develop a management and organization section.

This section will cover all of the following:

  • How many employees you need in order to run your catering business. This should include the roles they will play (for example, one person may be responsible for managing administrative duties while another might be in charge of customer service).
  • The structure of your management team. The higher-ups like yourself should be able to delegate tasks through lower-level managers who are directly responsible for their given department (inventory and sales, etc.).
  • How you’re going to make sure that everyone on board is doing their job well. You’ll want check-ins with employees regularly so they have time to ask questions or voice concerns if needed; this also gives you time to offer support where necessary while staying informed on how things are going within individual departments too!
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6. Catering Business Startup Expenses & Captial Needed.

This section should be broken down by month and year. If you are still in the planning stage of your business, it may be helpful to estimate how much money will be needed each month until you reach profitability.

Typically, expenses for your business can be broken into a few basic categories:

Startup Costs

Startup costs are typically the first expenses you will incur when beginning an enterprise. These include legal fees, accounting expenses, and other costs associated with getting your business off the ground. The amount of money needed to start a catering business varies based on many different variables, but below are a few different types of startup costs for a catering business.

Running & Operating Costs

Running costs refer to ongoing expenses related directly with operating your business over time like electricity bills or salaries paid out each month. These types of expenses will vary greatly depending on multiple variables such as location, team size, utility costs, etc.

Marketing & Sales Expenses

You should include any costs associated with marketing and sales, such as advertising and promotions, website design or maintenance. Also, consider any additional expenses that may be incurred if you decide to launch a new product or service line. For example, if your catering business has an existing website that needs an upgrade in order to sell more products or services, then this should be listed here.

7. Financial Plan & Projections

A financial plan is an important part of any business plan, as it outlines how the business will generate revenue and profit, and how it will use that profit to grow and sustain itself. To devise a financial plan for your catering business, you will need to consider a number of factors, including your start-up costs, operating costs, projected revenue, and expenses. 

Here are some steps you can follow to devise a financial plan for your catering business plan:

  1. Determine your start-up costs: This will include the cost of purchasing or leasing the space where you will operate your business, as well as the cost of buying or leasing any equipment or supplies that you need to start the business.
  2. Estimate your operating costs: Operating costs will include utilities, such as electricity, gas, and water, as well as labor costs for employees, if any, and the cost of purchasing any materials or supplies that you will need to run your business.
  3. Project your revenue: To project your revenue, you will need to consider the number of customers you expect to have and the average amount they will spend on each visit. You can use this information to estimate how much money you will make from selling your products or services.
  4. Estimate your expenses: In addition to your operating costs, you will need to consider other expenses, such as insurance, marketing, and maintenance. You will also need to set aside money for taxes and other fees.
  5. Create a budget: Once you have estimated your start-up costs, operating costs, revenue, and expenses, you can use this information to create a budget for your business. This will help you to see how much money you will need to start the business, and how much profit you can expect to make.
  6. Develop a plan for using your profit: Finally, you will need to decide how you will use your profit to grow and sustain your business. This might include investing in new equipment, expanding the business, or saving for a rainy day.
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This post is for information only. You are responsible for reviewing and using this information appropriately. This content doesn’t contain and isn’t meant to provide legal, tax, or business advice. Requirements are updated frequently and you should make sure to do your own research and reach out to professional legal, tax and business advisers, as needed. We’re reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Frequently Asked Questions About Catering Business Plans:

Why do you need a business plan for a catering business?

A business plan for a catering business is necessary because it sets out goals, objectives, and strategies that provide direction to the business. It also acts as a roadmap for the business, allowing the owners and stakeholders to track progress. Additionally, potential investors or lenders may require a business plan before investing in or lending to the catering business. A well-written business plan can serve as an essential document for securing capital and launching a successful catering operation.

Who should you ask for help with your catering business plan?

It is recommended to consult with a professional business consultant or adviser with expertise in the catering industry. Additionally, local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) often provide free or low-cost guidance and advice on creating a business plan.

Can you write a catering business plan yourself?

Writing a catering business plan is possible to do on your own, however it is best to seek the advice of a professional who has experience in crafting and managing business plans for small businesses. A professional can provide the help you need to make sure the plan is comprehensive and tailored to your business’s unique needs. They can also ensure that the plan meets all legal requirements and fits within the local regulatory framework. Additionally, they can provide guidance on marketing, pricing, budgeting, and other business operations issues.

Save time and go with the pros.

Let the experts at Zenbusiness help you decide which permits and licenses you need to start your business.
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Nick

Founder and CEO

I'm Nick, co-founder of newfoundr.com, dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs succeed. As a small business owner with over five years of experience, I have garnered valuable knowledge and insights across a diverse range of industries. My passion for entrepreneurship drives me to share my expertise with aspiring entrepreneurs, empowering them to turn their business dreams into reality.

Through meticulous research and firsthand experience, I uncover the essential steps, software, tools, and costs associated with launching and maintaining a successful business. By demystifying the complexities of entrepreneurship, I provide the guidance and support needed for others to embark on their journey with confidence.

From assessing market viability and formulating business plans to selecting the right technology and navigating the financial landscape, I am dedicated to helping fellow entrepreneurs overcome challenges and unlock their full potential. As a steadfast advocate for small business success, my mission is to pave the way for a new generation of innovative and driven entrepreneurs who are ready to make their mark on the world.