When you are just starting a catering business, there are different things that need to be reviewed and studied. Once you begin to understand the requirements needed for catering, you should study the market to figure out what niche you fit into best. By investigating various catering businesses in your area, and determining what needs are being filled, and what are not, you will be able to more easily target your own efforts.
First, is the area where you will be operating your business in a growing mode, and is the population constant, or are there times that see more visitors than others? Is there a young population, or is it older? Is there a healthy business community? Are there a lot of cultural groups like theater groups, orchestras, and museums?
Next, you should look at your competition. Are there many caterers in the area?What kind of food do they prepare? What kind of prices do they charge? If there are a lot of caterers in the area, what kind of common theme do many of them share? Do they share to the same groups of people (stiff competition)?
Researching the market is all well and good, but how should you go about it? Try asking friends and acquaintances for the names of caterers they use, or look in the phone book, call your Chamber of Commerce, look for newspaper ads, or call business and ask who they use. Call wholesale catering supply companies and ask who their clients are. Caterers are much more open about sharing information these days. And who knows, a caterer might pass on some business to you when you get started.
Once you know what the competition is, turn your thoughts to your skills and tastes. Is there something that you can provide that your competition does not already? Is there a light food trend that is not being taken advantage of? Is there a popularity in regional food that has not been tapped? There are successful companies that cater only narrow food groups, such as sushi, barbecue, or seafood dishes, for example. Other companies only cater weddings.
Try to create a market for services where one does not always exist, and you will find there is plenty of business in markets that you have determined are lacking. Catering marketing, like any other marketing, is providing a product or service that is not being fully tapped, then planting yourself into that vacant area.