Your Ultimate checklist for your new catering business

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If you will be starting a catering business, you will need a number of items beforehand depending the nature of your setup for you operations. The type and range will for example be determined by such things as scale of operation, niche or even type of catering you will offer. A hobby baker will need some new moulds for example while a hot food specialism will require hot food holding and serving equipment. In addition will be the requirements for licensing and compliance from insurance to local authorities.

1. Operating Facilities

Will you start at home or will you rent premises? You will need kitchen facilities either way. A commercial kitchen for your catering business ensures you have the ultimate setup. It will however involve costs depending on location not least rent, business rates, and insurance costs. Your kitchen facilities have to meet minimum standard of food holding be it ambient, cold or hot holding. This can mean separate refrigeration and storage facilities. The environmental officer will need written proof of best practice so the free to access ‘safe food diary’ is the minimum standard. Aside the kitchen, other facilities may be such things as waste collection or noise and air pollution control. The local authority may want to be informed if you will operate from your home, which may affect your council tax rates. You may also need to organize separate waste pickup.

2. Legal and compliance

So you have settled down on a catering business model you believe will carry you through. Next there is some legal and compliance issues to consider. Local authorities: Whether you operate from home or in new premises, you will certainly have to comply with local authority requirements. This means a visit from the environmental officer to ascertain your setup complies with safe food practices. Local authorities require prior notification of at least 28 days to the day you start your food and drink operations. You may be required to obtain some basic food training and certification you are not yet certified for example and NVQ in basic food hygiene. Tax Compliance; you will need to notify HMRC and possibly Companies House for tax and accounting compliance as soon as you start operations. If you are self-employed, ensure you register for your national insurance too. You may need professional help when it comes to filing accounts or sorting out NI and PAYE if you will employ staff as well as wage slips. Insurance: there is some forms of insurance you will have to comply with; your business premises/home insurance, and your vehicle insurance. There is also public liability insurance and equipment insurance you will need for your operations. It may be best to contact your insurance agent if you have one to ascertain what kind of insurance you’ll need exactly and costs.

3. Transportation

Yes you will need some form of transport, how else will you get your food to your guests? Whether you operate from a fixed stall or simply deliver food when ready, appropriate transport. You could start with your personal car or new business transport, then do some research on purchasing, leasing or renting an appropriate vehicle(s) for your new catering business. A van will make the most sense especially if you are running a full-service catering company. For a cold sandwich delivery service for example, you may need vehicles with temperature control and refrigeration, in order to transport your sandwiches and drinks. Ensure a reliable transport service and look out for some breakdown cover if necessary.

4. Equipment

The type and range of equipment you need will vary with the type of catering operation you will do. To avoid forking out for every single item you will need for your new operation up to the last fork and napkin, consider using a catering equipment hire partner for most of your equipment needs. This can make more economic sense most times as there is lots of them out there with prices that are really competitive. If for example you are a private chef, then some personal equipment like chefs knives set and some specialty equipment such as cake decorating tools you will need. But assuming a normal buffet caterer, then food preparation and storage equipment will be required from refrigeration equipment to commercial mixers, ovens and pans. The list of equipment will be hire though if you are providing a full-service catering option such as dishes, plates, glasses, utensils and table decorations which you could rent off catering equipment hire firms. These can be very handy because aside from the convenience of supply, should your business not work out like some start-ups unfortunately, you aren’t stuck with 500 crockery sets.

5. Staffing

Determine the level of your start-up and whether any additional staffing might be required. This is a complex area of law we dare not even introduce here. Best practice is to start with minimal staffing as possible. Bringing in new employees means a whole lot new considerations including wages, national insurance, pensions, and holiday pay, overtime pay and insurance. You might want to consider professional help on this issue but again thankfully, there is a lot of funding available to small businesses and start-ups currently in government vouchers for professional advice so this might not cost you a penny.

6. Phone and Technology

Yes you will need to communicate and therefore a dedicated line for your business and internet is standard not to mention a computer. You could start with your personal/home number but this can get a little messy some times. You’ll want a line dedicated to your business through which your internet will come. Both are important though in many ways. On the internet, most operations will be including marketing, invoicing and a lot email communications. Consider these arrangement for any staff if you will need one.

7. Marketing and Advertisement

Your business survival will depend on how much word is ‘out and about’ about it. Word of mouth is a great and cheap form of this but marketing can be a little more than simply word of mouth on the street or among friends. You will have to invest in some form of advertisement and marketing campaign that articulates your service more eloquently and raises your brand awareness well. This could be through a website, flyers and leaflets, business cards, menus or your van stickers for example.

About Quick Buffet
Quick Buffet is the newest caterers’ market place in the U.K When you need a Buffet catering for any event, wedding events or otherwise, simply search with your postcode/town and you will find 100s of local caterers waiting with online ordering at over 2000 caterers. What we simply do is connect you with great local caterers. Find rated caterers in one place with a host of benefits including quick 1 click reordering, order history, and catering jobs board. Order with peace of mind with a money back guarantee if you are not happy with a caterer so you can find caterers, and catering service providers and order with confidence.
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