Running your own catering business requires a passion for food and serving people. While it is extremely rewarding, it can also mean being willing to stay on your feet for long hours, and it often involves starting your day before everyone else and ending your day after everyone else has ended theirs.
Lauren and Rory are a couple with a passion for food. They decided to take the plunge and start their own catering business. Read on to find out how they started their business, and to find out what tips they have to share with you if you want to follow in their footsteps:
When did you start your catering business?
We started off very small, doing private catering gigs on a part-time basis in 2016, just to test the waters, see if people enjoyed our food, etc., then we decided to start a full-time business in January 2018.
How did it all start? What was the motivation behind starting your catering business?
For the past few years, Rory has been doing charity events where he would cook huge amounts of food for the less fortunate. People would also ask him to cook for birthday parties and functions – his curry potjiekos was always a hit.
When we started dating, we enjoyed cooking together; the kitchen was where our relationship thrived, so at the end of 2017, I decided to make the bold move of quitting my full-time job as a digital marketing strategist and diving into the culinary world on a full-time basis. Rory joined me at the beginning of 2018 and now we are more than seven months in.
Tell us about the name of your business and how you came up with it?
Zaus & Frost Bites – Rory’s nickname is Zaus, and my maiden surname is Frost and my nickname is Frosty, so it was easy deciding on a name.
What kind of services does your catering business offer?
Currently, we are specialising in dinner meals. We offer a service where we prepare freshly cooked meals and deliver to people in the evenings, within a certain area of course. We also do private events and functions over weekends and offer corporate catering for office lunches/meetings/training sessions.
What are some of the challenges that come with running your own catering business?
- Financial challenges like having to wait for clients to pay, and not having enough working capital
- Losing unsatisfied clients
How do you overcome these challenges?
Being diligent in future decision making, working hard at getting your name out there to other potential clients, and having an “I won’t give up” attitude.
What is the most rewarding part of running your own catering business?
Deciding our own schedules and hours is a great perk for us. We have the mornings and evenings to ourselves to spend together and to enjoy some quality time with our two kids.
How do you go about marketing your service and how big of a role does this type of marketing play in your business?
We are in the process of finalising our website, and we also do email marketing. Social media is another big marketing tool on our side, especially because food can sell very well if it’s presented well. We also use paid social advertising to target people with sponsored ads. That said, word of mouth and referrals are our biggest marketing tools now.
What advice can you give someone who wants to start their own catering business?
“Go big or go home” – Register your business and approach big businesses for opportunities. Start your business properly so that you can set a good foundation from the beginning and build on that.
“Quitting isn’t an option” – There will be days, weeks, and even months where you would like to just throw in the towel, and go back to finding a normal job with a basic salary, but just push through. I read a quote not too long ago that just stuck. It read; ‘Entrepreneurship is living your first few years like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.’
“There will be people who would like to see you fail” – Don’t share your dreams and goals with everyone; you will be surprised how many people would like to see you fail. Not everyone has your best interests at heart.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learnt about running your own catering business?
You cannot please everyone. There are some people who will always see fault with what you do, but don’t let that determine your success. It’s not easy when you lose clients in this industry, but build on the positives and keep on moving forward.
What skills do you need to successfully run your own catering company?
- A passion for food and cooking
- People and management skills
What are some of the personality traits / attributes that are important for running your own catering company?
- Hard-working attitude
- Action-oriented approach
What makes your catering business unique?
Each product that we send out to our clients is a product that we are 100% happy with.