Thinking about catering – people cater for a variety of reasons whether is it to avoid cooking to be able to fully enjoy the celebration, for a wedding, birthday, baptism…and the list goes on. So one would think that a catering business does not ebb and flow like other businesses and doesn’t face its own set of challenges, right? Wrong. The catering industry is one that like many other business can be very lucrative when things are going good, but also faces challenges at times. Also, similar to other industries, the catering business is one that constantly evolves with time, trends and new developments in the event industry, entertainment industry and of course, the catering industry. This article talks about some of the catering trends in the catering industry but also discusses some of the challenges that caterers face.
1. Buying Local – More and more caterers are buying local through partnerships with local farms. Not only does that ensure the freshest meat, it also reduces transportation time and cost, which in turn reduces overall cost.
2. Small-sized plates – Customer’s want more variety in their menu and the best way to do this is by getting small-sized plates of a creative combination of meats, sides and h’ors doeuvres. After all, variety is the spice of life.
3. Classy Comfort Food – Recession, depression, economic downturn notwithstanding, people are still looking for food with sophistication and they don’t mind paying for it, within reason. Successful caterers now have to provide options and make their menu somewhat customizable to engage and retain customers who want it all.
4. Interactive Stations – This where there is either a demonstration of food preparation by a Chef or the guests assemble their own dish. While this could be a somewhat pricey option, it is growing by leaps and bounds in events today and is very engaging to customers which will keep them coming back for more. Check out Streetside BBQ’s interactive station at the Mt. Airy USA 11th Annual “Guess who’s coming to Dinner” fundraiser.
Catering Industry Concerns
1. As we mentioned before, Catering is a somewhat seasonal business so then the question becomes, what do we do during the downtime. Well outside of trying to generate business, it is recommended that caterers seek other revenue streams outside of the catering business to create a sense of stability.
2. When business is good, caterers hire catering staff to assist in serving, cleanup and other functions at an event. But what about during the quieter months – it will clearly become necessary to lay-off some of your staff until business picks up again. This rehiring and retaining staff every year proves to be very costly and time consuming.
3. Along the lines of hiring catering staff, hiring a catering staff member that is a bad fit for the job can be very costly and inhibiting. However, how do you know a catering hire is a good hire? This is a conundrum that many caterers face.
4. If only we as caterers had a crystal ball, it would all be so easy. Being as though we don’t, we have to plan and estimate with exactness the amount of food that is required for an event. We don’t want to have too much left over because of wastage of time and resources but at the same time we don’t want to run out of food. Caterers everywhere continue to look for that perfect formula.
5. No matter how long a caterer has been in business, there is always a chance of change which could prove to be stressful, especially when the change is made at the last minute. As a caterer gets more experience, these changes are less concerning, however, still existent.
Like everything else, growing a catering business is a work in progress. As long as you have a good product, like Streetside BBQ does, the rest will come in time – we promise.