A big part of South African culture is food and hospitality, so entrepreneurs who love their food can really make a go at growing their catering businesses. This is done in a multitude of ways with some choosing to sell food to those who enjoy eating out of establishments and others providing catering to businesses, events and functions. So what does a successful caterer need to know in order to grow their catering business in the current climate? 

Key ways to improve your catering business

To grow your catering business, start with the obvious: Bring new and original dining options to your customer base. Consider reinventing old South African favourites and putting a fresh twist on traditional local cuisine. Choices like koeksisters, bunny chow and bobotie are brimming with possibilities when viewed through a creative lens. Always make sure that whatever you try, you will excite your customer and work in line with their taste preferences. Show your dedication to them with introductory calls, follow-ups and the willingness to take constructive criticism. 

Plan effectively

Ensure that you always plan ahead and are equipped with timelines, schedules and contingency plans. This includes listing all items required to complete a job, ensuring you are good to go in spite of food or staff shortages and that you have correctly calculated all your costs. Also factor in delivery times and equipment requirements for each and every job. 

Reinvention: A big money spinner

Not only can you reinvent what you make, but you can also find ways to extend your business to further meet your customer’s needs. This may take the form of supplying products and services to partners at events. You might add a coffee station, furniture rental or mobile bar unit. Each of these items could bolt onto your existing offering and you can simply upsell to the same customer when catering an event. 

Manage inventory effectively

Ensure that all your menu items have a corresponding inventory list so you can easily multiply accurately for bulk orders. This will require you to correctly measure your ingredients and calculate the costs for each ingredient. Add these together to get an accurate cost per item. If your operation is big enough, consider getting software to manage this process for you. 

Run a competitor analysis

It makes logical sense to make sure that you know exactly what your competition is up to. You can gather this info in various ways like gleaning competitor websites, understanding their pricing, interviewing customers, getting a sense of their look and feel and following them on social media. 

Market your business

Consider innovative ways to market your business like hosting tasting events, marketing to corporates, getting into the engagement and wedding circuit and working with charity organisations. Social media campaigns can help you target these audiences effectively. Always make sure that your campaigns are attention-grabbing and visually appealing with a strong call-to-action that will drive traffic. As people eat with their eyes, food is perfectly positioned for social media so take lots of pics and share them generously with your followers.

The bottom line

South Africans love their food and so there is no reason why you can’t be maximising on this natural affiliation when it comes to your catering business. While these changes may require some investment, Merchant Capital can offer you quick working capital in as little as 48 hours. Contact us today to find out how we can fund your foodie ambitions. 

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