Thursday, January 24, 2013
Catering can be an exciting and lucrative industry, and as such is a popular start up for entrepreneurs looking to build a successful and profitable business. People both love and need food. It is both a necessity and a luxury, and regardless of changing economic conditions, there is always a demand for it. Though the word 'catering' may conjure up boring images of a standard old café or restaurant, the world of catering is incredibly varied and there are all kinds of options to choose from, from restaurants specialising in particular cuisine, mobile catering and fast food to catering for events and weddings.
Registering your business
Before you get started, there are many things to consider and tasks to carry out to ensure that you are working within regulations and to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. Because of the nature of the food industry, the standards you are required to meet - such as health and safety and food laws - are unsurprisingly tight, so give yourself enough time to prepare and get through documentation and tests before you get carried away to save running into trouble or any complications that could damage your business or reputation further down the line.
Once you have a business plan in place, register your business and let your local authority know about your plans at least 28 days before your planned opening date. You will need to register your premises, whether it is mobile, temporary, a vehicle or otherwise, so that the environmental health service can check it before you begin serving food from it. Registration is free, so don't worry about the costs.
Your local authority
Once you let your local authority know about your plans, they will assist you with anything you need and also arrange things like rubbish collection and recycling so you don't have to. This will take a weight off your shoulders and give you more time to concentrate on getting everything else right.
The catering equipment and gear you need will vary depending on what kind of catering business you are planning to start up. Think about everything you and your staff could possibly need, and jot them down. Make sure you order enough stock, as running out of basic things like plates and cutlery would be disastrous and unprofessional. You can buy, hire or lease more expensive cookware and kitchen equipment. Do some research into this or ask your local authority to point you in the right direction.
Have a check list from the start
Make a to do list or a check list from the beginning and update it every time you think of something that needs to be done. This is the most effective way of getting things done and not missing anything important out. Break the list down and to things bit by bit to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed or too stressed.
As well as containing things specific to you and your plans, there are a number of things that should automatically turn up on your list, for example VAT registration, health and safety, fire regulations, alcohol and entertainment licensing, safety management, record taking, food hygiene, staff training and more, like meeting trading standards and ensuring that your staff are paying the correct tax on their wages.
Carry out thorough research before starting your catering business, and look out for any potential loopholes. If you are selling food on the street, you will need a licence specifically for this, and the same goes for serving food late at night. Never assume anything, and seek advice or assistance from a business advisor familiar with the catering industry or from your local government and authorities if you need it.
Colin is writing on behalf of commercial cateringequipment supplier and manufacturer Teknomek.co.uk