working mothers are paying to have catered birthday and

graduation parties, as well as wedding receptions handled by

caterers. The reasons are simple to understand--if she's working

outside the home, today's mother just doesn't have the time or

the energy to do all the planning and staging of a memorable


Besides those reasons for turning everything over to a caterer,

working mothers feel a little guilty about the time away from

their children they lose because of their jobs. Thus, they're

ready and willing to make it all to them by paying for a lavish

party the child will remember for years to come.

Caterers handle everything from birthday parties for children, to

breakfast in bed and intimate candlelight dinners for two, to

company dinner parties for 50 and wedding receptions involving a

thousand or more guests. This kind of entreprenuerial business is

definitely growing and becoming more popular with people of all

income levels.

An imaginative caterer in a large metropolitan area can easily

gross $150,000 per year, while a small part-time caterer in a

small town can count on at least $10,000 to $15,000 per year. One

small, but very ambitious caterer is reported to have grossed

$250,000 after only 2-years in the business!

You don't need special education or training to become a

successful caterer. You do need a affinity for people and a kind

of intuition as to what people enjoy in different environmental


A quick survey of successful caterers across the nation shows

that began with zero capital by working out of their homes. The

basic starting up investment would appear to be around $500, with

some big spenders capitalizing their idea with as much as $15,000

in order to get off to a fast start.

This seems to be an ideal business for an ambitious couple to

start and operate with very little capital investment required.

One person can spend his time hustling up business while the

other would do the planning, organizing and actual catering.

As with any business, your success will be directly related to

the soundness of planning and the working of that plan.

Understand exactly what your client wants, and give him what he

wants in the way of service that reflects upon the client in a

complimentary manner.

Basically, you can start with an advertisement in your local

newspapers. This advertisement need not be much more than a

simple announcement: Creative Catering-Specializing in personal

service- We can handle any party or special event from start to

finish-no idea to small or too large- Your satisfaction is always

guaranteed! We can handle everything for you.. Call us, and let

us make your parties worth remembering...

Naturally, the first thing you want from anyone calling to ask

about your services, is that anyone calling to ask about your

services, is that person's name, address and phone number. Then

you want to know what kind of party or event they have in mind.

As soon as you have this information, relax a little bit and

inquire to find out about the person or the company--the

people--sponsoring the party and their ultimate goals or reasons

for the party.

If it's to celebrate birthday, graduation, anniversary or a

wedding reception--finding out about the interests, background

and ambitious of the guest of honor will be of value to you in

your planning. Taking a few minutes to learn everything you can

about whoever the party is for, and the people giving the party,

will also make it much easire to close the sale than any sales

pitch or special persuasive tactics.

People like to talk about themselves, and they especially like to

tell everyone why they're honoring someone, even when they

pretend to keep it a secret who initiated the idea. So, it's

important that you be a good listener, that you have the ability

to get people to talk about themselves, and that you take notes

on the things they tell you.

This same principle applies to business people, regardless of

who's talking to you or the purpose of the catered affair. The

more polished and adept you can become in getting your prospects

to talk about themselves, the more information relative to their

background you can elicit, and the more you listen; the better

your parties will be, and the greater success you'll attain in

the catering business.

You take the information you glean from this first interview and

plan/organize the event on paper. This means you're going to have

to have contacts or at least working relationships with

innumerable service businesses.

If your client wants to stage a birthday party for a 12-year

old---he or she greets the guests as they arrive, makes sure

everybody knows who he is---then what about party favors---a soft

drink and a conversation leader until all the guests arrive--the

opening of presents--icecream and cake--and games to play, a

thank you gift for coming, and a reason to end the party at a

pre-determined time...

Do you greet the guests, does the mother or father, or the little

boy or girl? Where do you come up with the party favors at less

than regular retail prices? Where are you going to get the soft

drinks-your cost and the glasses or paper cups to serve them in?

What about ice? What kind of games to play? Who'll be the

conservation leader? Will there be a clown or someone special to

keep everything moving according to plan? Where do you get the

ice cream and cake? What games to play? How to get everyone

involved? And finally, a feasible and polite reason for ending

the party and sending everyone home...

All this takes planning, organization, and if you're going to

make a profit, a definite awareness of cost control. Get it all

down on paper as a proposal to the people who want to pay you to

carry it off. Figure out your costs, the time involved in putting

it all together, and then get back to your prospect.

Always leave room for changes in your proposal. In fact, expect

them--invite input and suggestions from the client--and always

have an alternate idea in your mind for each of those on your

written proposals. Discuss your proposal with the client just as

you would a script for a television show, make the suggested

changes and ask for a 50-percent advance deposit. From there,

it's just a matter of following your plan.

Regardless of size or type of party--whether your client is a

working mother or a giant corporation--the format is always the

same: initial inquiry, interview, your proposal, 2nd interview

for any changes, agreement, deposit, staging the party itself,

and your final payment. As mentioned earlier, success in this

business comes from your planning--having a lot of contacts--and

working your plan.

An important word of caution: Try not to get "boxed in" to

setting or even revealing a tentative price until you've had a

chance to listen to what the prospect wants, to study your own

capabilities, and to make a formal written proposal. If a

customer wants to know how much you charge--and if you feel it

necessary in order to eventually close the sale--you can tell him

50 to 100 dollars per hour, plus expenses, and of course,

depending on the type of event the customer wants.

As for how much the average party costs, again tell him that it

varies anywhere from 50 to 5,000 dollars.

Always keep in mind that you are a professional, and that if the

ordinary person had your knowledge, contacts and ambition to do

it himself, he wouldn't be calling you on the phone. He needs

your help for any number of reasons. You specialize in this kind

of work or service just as a doctor specializes in medicine and a

lawyer in legal matters. Therefore, you should, and do expect to

be paid accordingly.

Something else--this business thrives on word-of-mouth

advertising--referrals--and thus, is direct "freeway' to the kind

of customers where money is of no concern. However, on order to

gain access to this market, your business emphasis has to be on


This means the capability of handling everything for the

customer, from having the invitations printed and sent out to

cleaning up after the last guest has left. Businesses and people

in the upper income brackets, like to pick up the phone--tell

someone they want a party on a certain date--and then forget

about it, knowing everything will be taken care of without

further worry or time involvement from them. Once you've

developed your expertise and clientele to this level, you'll have

a business in the $200,000 to $250,00 per year range.

Definitely arrange for a display ad in the yellow pages of your

telephone directory. You'll probably get 40% of your inquires

from this source alone. Generally speaking, radio and/or

television advertising will be too expensive when compared with

the immediate results. However, it is recommended that you

consider these media prior to special holidays.

Working with restaurants, supper clubs, bridal shops and

entertainment business in general. can bring in hundreds of

referrals for you. Rubbing shoulders with, and circulating as a

part of your area's civic and service clubs, should also result

in more business for you.

Keep your eyes and ears on the alert. Where ever you go, and with

whomever you associate, always be ready to promote and sell your

services, if not on the spot, at least make a note to follow up

when conditions are more in your favor. Promoting and selling

your services will require at least half your time, and that's

why two people operating catering services are so successful from

the start.

The actual selling is quite simple so long as you emphasize the

service and time-saving aspects. The more time-consuming work you

can handle for the client, the easier it's going to be for you to

close the sale.

Handing out business cards is one of the least expensive ways to

advertise, promote and sell your services. One enterprising

caterer makes arrangements with the sponsors of all his parties,

to see that each of the guests gets one of his business cards.

Another gives each of his clients a stack of his business cards,

and tells them he'll pay them $25 for each prospect they refer to

him. He tells them to write their name on the backs of the cards,

and to hand them out to their friends. And then, whenever a

person tells him that John or Jane suggested he call, and he

presents the card with John or Jane's name on the back, this very

successful caterer sends John or Jane a $25 check.

Another very successful caterer pays commissions to a group of

housewives and college students who solicit--via their home

phones--interviews for him with brides-to-be. They get their

leads from announcements, and pictures of brides-to-be in the

local papers.

Many caterers pay sales people a commission for letting them know

when they hear about a party or special event being planned by

one of their business customers.

The possibilities go on and on, and are seemingly un limited.

Time is becoming more valuable to a lot more people every day,

which means there are more and more opportunities for great

wealth and personal independence as a professional caterer. In

reality the success for just about any person entering this

field, will be limited only by his or her own imagination and


There is definite opportunity for great wealth within the

catering field. Anyone with a sense of service to others can

succeed. Very little "readycash" is needed to begin. Therefore,

the only thing standing between you and the realization of your

dreams, is the action it takes on your part to get started...

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