My day usually starts with a long black coffee and a flick through my phone diary to see what’s coming up this week. I work hard and long hours and I love what I do, because six years ago I made the move to start my own catering business. It hasn’t been an easy road, but it has been thoroughly rewarding. Before catering I was working in a restaurant, so it hasn’t been a totally different role to move into, but the difference is that in the restaurant I was working front of house and managing a team of staff. Now I’m in the kitchen and doing the cooking, so it has been a bit of shift in that regard.
When I first started my business, I bought my catering equipment online at Butler’s and then started out catering the parties of friends of friends and small events. After a few years of this kind of slog I started to realise that my heart was set on catering for the higher-end events, and for the more luxurious parties. So I set about reinventing my business and focusing everything I had on making my business the go-to for luxury catering. I am happy to say that it paid off, and I want to share my success with you if you’re hoping to inject a bit (more) class and style into your catering services.
What I did
I was providing an American-style barbecue to my guests and, although it was by no means a slapdash affair, it wasn’t the fine china style dining I was keen to provide. So what I did was, I started out by researching what other people were doing in the market. I had been pretty successful with my American BBQ cuisine, and wanted to continue to offer this, but wanted a more luxe style offering as well. Without diluting the brand that I had already established, I figure out that I had to create an offshoot brand to manage my luxury offering. There are many ways of doing this, but I simply created another company that leveraged off my original branding, and inserted it into my website and collateral as a separate section.
Promoting my new luxury offering
This came with its own set of challenges – after all I had been serving pork crackling to guests on pretty stock standard china, and now I was chasing an elite service crowd who would demand a whole lot more. Luckily, I was ready for the challenge! I used my contacts in the industry and made sure that I was getting my name in there as someone who would be able to provide a full gourmet food offering in a luxurious setting.
My niche – my point of difference if you will – was that I was offering the same kind of American BBQ food, but in a very luxurious way. So think canapés with the same pulled pork; gourmet, locally sourced cuts of meat all served with exotic sides; incredible salads with a very Yotam Ottolenghi-bent to them; and desserts with style. I didn’t actually get my chefs to do these deserts – I actually partnered with a friend’s pastry and desserts company to provide these.
You see, that was one of the things I knew about my new service offering – I wouldn’t be able to do it all myself, and it didn’t make sense doing it in house – my guys didn’t have the skills. So instead of trying to compete with these pastry chefs who could make amazing cakes, I just made an alliance with them instead. Or, in layman’s terms – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Managing both brands
I had a bit of a teething process to go through managing both brands, but once I had done my first couple of events, things just began rolling along pretty smoothly. I made sure that I had a process for each, and that I followed this down to the letter, and that I didn’t let the stress get to me. I had what I wanted!
Keep your wits about you and you’ll be just fine – and you’ll have the benefit of working to a hugely high standard and enjoying the finer things in life with your luxury catering career.
Image source: http://www.41portlandplace.com
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