Catering Business Plan Template

Whether you want to start your own catering business or expand an existing one, you need a business plan. The following catering business plan template lets you know which elements you need to include in a successful catering business plan.

To ensure your catering business success in this highly competitive market, you need a properly structured catering business plan. With over 12 years of experience, we have helped over 5,000 entrepreneurs create business plans to start and grow their catering businesses. Using the following catering business plan template, you can put together an effective business plan.

Things to Know Before Writing a Catering Business Plan

The caterer’s industry is composed of companies that specialize in providing catering services for events. The companies usually have equipment and vehicles for preparing food off-site and transporting it to events.

There are many types of events catered by industry establishments, including graduation parties, wedding receptions, business luncheons, and trade shows.

Due to low entry barriers, this industry is highly competitive based on price and product offerings.

The Caterers industry revenue is expected to recover over the 3-year period up to 2024 as platforms that connect clients with caterers gain popularity and an improving economic climate contributes to the recovery. Overall, catering industry revenues will grow at an annualized rate of 1.7% to $15.5 billion by 2024.

The main products and services offered in this industry are

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Food products that are ready to be consumed
  • Catering services on caterers’ premises
  • Food served at events on the premises of customers or third parties
  • No-service catering
  • Other services

Key Success Factors for Catering Business

Despite the challenges of the catering industry, We have identified 6 factors that can help you boost profitability, efficiency, and ultimately success.

  1. A reasonable pricing policy is essential: The cost of food, drinks, and any other services provided must match the type of event being catered.

  2. Accessing niche markets: Specialization or expertise in catering can give operators an edge.

  3. Diversified location capability: Operators should be able to host events at different locations.

  4. Multi-skilled and flexible staff: Having the ability to hire a qualified workforce is essential to ensuring quality employees.

  5. Compliance with government regulations: Industry operators are required to comply with all government regulations, including health regulations.

  6. The ability to control stock: Food waste must be minimized in order to reduce costs.

What is a Catering Business Plan?

Preparing quality food in large quantities necessitates extensive knowledge, expertise, experience, staff management, precision, and culinary talent that few possess.

A catering business plan is a road-map for starting and growing your catering business. Your business plan outlines your business concept, identifies your target customers, presents your marketing strategy, and details your financial projections.

Any bank or investor you approach will require a catering business plan, so putting one together will be critical to securing funding.

In short, writing a business plan can help you succeed if you’re thinking of starting a catering business or pitching to investors or venture capitalists.

catering business plan template
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Why You Need a Catering Business Plan

Catering business plans can be used to gain interest from potential investors or to secure loans from banks. They are also helpful to you as the owner. A catering business plan allows you to thoroughly analyze every aspect of your potential business.

A solid, detailed plan gives you a clear path to follow, forces you to examine the viability of a catering business idea, and may help you better understand your company’s finances and competition.

Catering business owners who have a business plan grow 33% faster than those who don’t, and 76% of fast-growing businesses have one.

A catering business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Funding Sources for Catering Business

No matter how large or how small your catering business is, you should think about your financing options. Below are four types of funding you should investigate:

Government Incentives

When choosing a business location, you can consider different community incentives before making your final choice. Government incentives can help reduce operating costs and long-term overheads.

You can begin your catering business with the help of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). You can find government resources about financing your catering business by using the website’s Loans and Grants Search Tool.

Bank Loans

Many banks offer small business loans. See if a business loan is right for you by contacting your bank. Banks also offer business lines of credit and other resources to help you find the right option.

Equipment Financing

Worried less about payroll and more about having the right tools for the job? This is where equipment financing can come in handy. Catering business owners use equipment financing to finance purchases such as industrial ovens and serving trays, among other things.


Consider finding an investor or group of investors to finance your catering company. Be sure to do your research and have the numbers and information to back up your business before you contact an investor. You will need to show progress to investors, and they will do research and investigation concerning your catering business plan. In return, investors often desire ownership of a part of your company.

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How to Write a Catering Business Plan

To write a catering business plan, you don’t need to be an expert. Our step-by-step guide will show you how to write a catering business plan, or you can just download our proven sample business plan pdf to get a better idea.

Catering Business Plan PDF and Word

Download our catering business plan in PDF and Word here.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the most important part of the document since it outlines the whole business plan. Despite the fact that it appears first in the plan, write the executive summary last so you may condense key concepts from the other nine parts.

It’s a part that catches the investor’s eye and provides key information about your company’s overview and upcoming short- and long-term goals.

Tell them what kind of catering business you have and what stage you’re in; for example, are you a startup, do you have a catering company that you want to expand, or do you have a lot of catering businesses?

Finally, an executive summary should provide investors with a preview of what they may expect from the rest of your document.

  • Provide a high-level overview of the catering industry
  • The name, location, and mission of your catering company
  • A description of your catering business, including management, advisors, and a brief history
  • Discuss the type of catering business you are operating, Give an overview of your target customers., and how your company differs from competitors in the industry
  • Create a marketing plan that describes your company’s marketing strategies, sales, and partnership plans.
  • And give an overview of your financial plan

Check out these executive summary examples to help you write a perfect one for your catering business plan.

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Company Analysis

The company analysis follows the executive summary as the second section of a catering business plan. Your company overview will be short and clear, similar to the executive summary.

Even if they just have a few minutes, your reader has to understand what your company does and who your customers are.

The following sections will be included in your business plan’s Company Analysis:

  • Company summary: Your company analysis will describe the type of catering business you are running and its future goals. The type of catering business you might be focused on:
    Social Event Catering, Door to Door catering, Wedding CateringPrivate catering, Concession Catering, Functions/occasional Catering, Corporate Catering, Mobile Catering, etc)
  • Company history: When and why did you start your catering business?
  • What milestones have you achieved so far? Your milestones could include served 100th customer, new fleet purchase, etc.
  • Legal structure and ownership: Do you have S-Corp status? Is it an LLC? A sole proprietorship? Describe your legal structure.
  • Mission statement: An overview of your catering company’s guiding principles. Learn how to write a perfect mission statement.

Industry Analysis

You need to include an overview of the catering business in the industry analysis you performed before sitting down to write your catering business plan.

While this research may appear to be unnecessary, it helps you to build strategies that maximize business opportunities while lowering or avoiding the identified risk.

Furthermore, market research can improve your strategy, especially if it identifies market trends. As an example, if there is a trend toward low calorie catering options, make sure your plan includes plenty of healthy, low calorie options.

The third purpose for conducting market research is to demonstrate to readers that you are an industry expert.

Industry analysis can be presented as a 8-step process when written as part of a company’s business plan.

  1. Give a quick overview of the catering industry. Define the catering business in terms of size (in dollars), historical background, service region, and products.
  2. Examine previous trends and growth patterns in the catering industry.
  3. Identify the market’s major competitors.
  4. Age, gender, and general lifestyle of the targeted market
  5. Determine the factors that have an impact on the catering industry. These might include government regulatory rules and other businesses’ competitive activities.
  6. Using research data, the industry forecast expected growth over the next five to ten years. Predictions should be made for both the long and short term.
  7. Describe how your catering business intends to position itself in the industry. Concentrate on how your catering business can benefit from opportunities highlighted in the industry.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section is an important part of any catering business plan since it evaluates the consumer segments that your company serves. It identifies target customers, determines what those customers want, and then explains how your catering services will meet those requirements.

Customers can be categorized into the following segments:

Business to Business Catering, Social Events, Personal collaborations and Small events like personal gatheringsCultural Organisations, Consumer Catering(birthday parties, weddings), etc.

Customer analysis may be divided into two parts: Psycho-social profiles (why your catering services suits a customer’s lifestyle) and Demographic profiles (descriptions of a customer’s demographic qualities).

With regards to demographics, include information about: the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of your customers. When targeting businesses, describe what kind of business, size, and location your target customers are.

The psychological profiles of your target clients reveal their wants and needs. The better you understand and identify these demands, the better your chances of attracting and retaining customers will be.

Competitor Analysis

It is necessary to do a competitor analysis. Because you may use their data to define your goals, marketing plans, tactics, new product lines, pricing, and more. Use competitor analysis to:

  • Identify the strength and weakness of your catering business competitors.
  • Search for opportunities to distinguish your catering from competitors.

The first step is to determine who your direct and indirect competitors are.

The direct competitors consists of other catering businesses that offer essentially the same catering services to the same people as you do.

Your indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors.

Among indirect competitors are Hotels, Restaurants, delis, supermarkets, and customers preparing food for events at home are all included.

Once you’ve identified the competition, concentrate on the direct, head-to-head competitors, since they are the most threatening to your catering business— but keep an eye on the indirect competition as well, just in case.

Provide an overview of each direct competitor’s business and detail their strengths and weaknesses.

You will be able to position yourself competitively in the market if you perform proper competition research. Perform a SWOT Analysis to learn your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and competitive advantages in the following areas:

  • Prices – Are they offering cheaper catering services or more costly than you and other competitors, what value do buyers get for that price?
  • Quality – Are they offering premium catering products or services, the perceived worth in the eyes of the customers
  • Customer service – How they respond to their consumers, whether they treat them poorly or well, and the degrees of satisfaction customers show
  • Reputation — The sum of everything mentioned above: their credibility, how loved the brand is, and the loyalty of their customers

The final section of your competitive analysis should include a list of your areas of competitive advantage. for example: Are you going to offer premium catering services? Will you make purchasing your services easier or faster for customers? Will you offer better pricing or will you offer greater customer support?

Consider how you will outperform your competitors and include them in this portion of your catering business plan.

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Marketing Plan

Creating a marketing plan for a catering business involves identifying the target demographic and finding catering service that suit their preferences.

As part of your marketing plan for a catering business, you should include:

Pricing and Product Strategy

Your catering business must offer the unique lovable catering services that are different from those of your competitors.

Research what your competitors offer and how they price their catering services. Unique catering services identifies your catering business as the place to go for unique catering services and differentiates it from others.

Placing and Promotions

Place explains all your distribution methods, such as retail stores, company websites, and third-party retailers.

Promoting your catering business is the final part of your marketing plan. In this step, you will document how you will drive customers to purchase your catering services. A few marketing methods you could consider are:

  • Free samples
  • Marketing on social media
  • Make your food look professional
  • Marketing by Banner and flyers
  • Web Marketing
  • Attend Events and bring samples
  • Word of Mouth & Referrals
  • Customers also depends on menu(what food options do you offer) you provided them

You should also think about your catering company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which should explain why clients should choose you over other catering businesses. Ensure that your USP is reflected in your marketing.

Recommended Article: Learn how to create a marketing plan in a business plan to create a winning catering business plan.

Operations Plan

While the previous sections described your goals, your operational plan in business plan discusses how you will achieve them.

An operations plan is helpful for investors, but it’s also helpful for you and employees because it pushes you to think about tactics and deadlines.

Your operational plan should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who – Personnel in charge of completing specific tasks.
  • What – A breakdown of the responsibilities of each personnel.
  • Where – The location of everyday operations.
  • When –The deadlines for completing tasks and goals.
  • How much – The amount of money required for each department to perform their job.

Your operations plan should be divided into two individual parts, as seen below.

Your daily short-term processes include all the tasks of meeting prospective clients, drawing up contracts, providing catering services (set-up, serving, clean-up, etc.), increase daily net restaurant sales, improve your top-selling services, and procuring supplies, etc.

Long-term goals are milestones you hope to reach. they might be growing your business, such as introducing new items or services, meeting particular sales milestones, and meeting other essential business-oriented goals like recruiting more staff, opening additional locations, and so on.

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Management Team

The management team section in a business plan outlines your management team, staff, resources, and how your business ownership is structured.

This part may be easily organized by dividing it into the following points:

  • Ownership Structure
  • Internal Management Team
  • External Management Resources
  • Human Resources

Ownership Structure

This section outlines your catering business’s legal structure. If your company is a sole proprietorship, it may simply be one phrase. It might be longer if your company is a partnership or a corporation. You should make it a point to clarify who owns what part of the business.

Internal Management Team

This section should not only outline who is on your management team but also how each person’s skill set and experiences will contribute to the growth of your catering business. Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct expertise in the catering business. If this is the case, highlight your experience and skills.

External Management Resources

Think of these external management resources as your internal management team’s backup. Consider forming an advisory board if your team is lacking expertise and experience with catering business.

An advisory board would consist of 3 to 7 people who would serve as mentors to your catering company. They would assist in answering queries and providing strategic direction.

If necessary, search for advisory board members with expertise running catering business.

Describe all of your company’s external professional advisers, such as accountants, bankers, attorneys, IT experts, business consultants, and/or business coaches. 

Human Resources

The final topic to consider in the management area of your catering business plan is your human resource needs.

Financial Plan

As part of your financial plan, you should present a 5-year financial statement broken down monthly or quarterly for the first year, and then annually. Financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

Pro Tips: Learn how to create a financial plan in a business plan to create a winning catering business plan

Income Statement

A profit and loss statement is more commonly called an income statement. It shows your revenue and subtracts your expenses to determine whether you were profitable or not.

As you develop your income statement, you need to develop assumptions. Will you serve 50 customers per day or 200? Will sales grow by 2% or 8% per year? Your choice of assumptions will greatly impact your business’s financial forecasts. Conduct as much research as possible in order to ground your assumptions in reality.

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Balance Sheet

While balance sheets include much information, to simplify them to the key items you need to know about, balance sheets show your assets and liabilities.

The balance sheet shows your catering business’s net value at a specific point in time. It categorizes all of your company’s financial data into three categories:

  • Assets: Tangible goods with the monetary worth that the company owns.
  • Liabilities: Debt owing to a company’s creditor.
  • Equity: The net difference when the total liabilities are subtracted from the total assets.

The equation that expresses the relationship between these financial data elements is Assets = Liabilities + Equity.

Create a pro forma balance sheet for your catering business plan that highlights the information in the income statement and cash flow projections. A balance sheet is normally prepared once a year by a company.

Balance sheets indicate your assets and liabilities, and while they contain a lot of information, they are simplified to highlight the most important things you need to know.

For example, spending $500,000 to build out your catering will not result in instant revenues. Rather, it is an asset that should help you earn money for many years to come.

Similarly, if a bank sends you a check for $200,000, you do not have to pay it back right now. Rather, that is a liability that you will repay over time.

Cash Flow Statement:

Your cash flow statement will help you determine how much money you need to start or grow your catering business. In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a catering business:

  • Fees for registering a catering business
  • Equipment costs such as blenders, stoves, and refrigerators.
  • Taxes and licenses costs
  • Business insurance
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Facility rent and security deposits
  • Construction / remodeling
  • Start-up Inventory
  • Cookware
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List any additional material you cannot include elsewhere, such as resumes from key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts, and personal and business credit histories.

Attach your full financial projections along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling in the appendix.

Bonus Tip: Learn what to include in a business plan appendix when writing a catering business plan.

Summary of the Catering Business Plan

A catering business plan is a worthwhile investment. As long as you follow the template above, you will become an expert in no time. By following the template, you will understand the catering business, your competition, and your customers. The plan will help you understand the steps necessary to launch and grow your catering business.

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