Starting a Catering Company? Hire a Consultant.
When I decided to finally follow my 8 year long dream and start this business, hiring a consultant was not something that came to mind. But I am glad that the opportunity presented itself early on.
I was fortunate to be introduced to Wiches of Boston, a nitrogen ice cream catering in business since 2012. Soon I was training with one of the best in the industry, supporting a 500 guest University Alumni Celebration in Boston, and deciphering through example contracts and pricing structures.
Consultation fees can be quite an upfront investment, especially for a small business, but if you don’t have formal training in the field… then it’s worth it. And here’s why:
1) Saves You Time and Money
I knew the basics. I knew I needed to find insurance, rent space in a commercial kitchen, and buy a lot of equipment, including huge clunky nitrogen tanks. But when I met with Paula, the owner, she had a very specific list: down to the quantities, best price effective options, and sizes/specs. And also advised on what "extras" I didn't need to buy right away. This in itself paid for the consultation fee itself.
I knew I needed recipes. I knew I wanted to avoid the use of eggs, and that I wanted to make the product as fresh as possible. But paying a consultation fee, gave me insight into some of her recipes. I now had a base to work with, and could test my own versions of the recipes to my taste buds. When you’re testing, testing, testing, flavor combinations for the perfect flavor… it can be exhausting, expensive, and expansive (my waistline). For example, she confessed some of her recipes took 2 years to meet perfection standards… and I had access to those. Now that’s time saved.
2) Marketing Sense
A consultant gives you solid marketing sense; this is vital for your business growth! Your consultant should know your target market, and have lived through the pain of marketing.
For example, she shared with me the best way to market is to get out there, and serve your ideal event size! Be a sponsor, volunteer for large galas, etc. Give your guests a real show, and they will want and remember you for theirs. This is an expensive marketing option. An event could easily cost me $1,000+. But when your consultant says it will return in name recognition and referrals tenfold, then you do it. And she was right!
She then gave me warning that some paid booth shows, like a traditional bridal show, may be hard. Chances are, you’re only giving out samples, and you’re there among a crowd of so many overwhelming options, that finding direct bookings can really be a challenge.
This is great advice. As a small business you want to be involved in EVERYTHING, but you can’t afford to be EVERYWHERE.
I tell those new to the industry about nitrogen ice cream, and they may think my target market is birthday parties. While Paula is suggesting who I should contact to book those 1,000+ guests events!
This business has proven to be an emotional roller coaster. Some days you are high on excitement for the bookings and opportunities to come, while other days you can’t sleep from worrying about your next credit card payment. I didn’t know the true meaning of anxiety until I started this business.
Having Paula, from Wiches of Boston, share with me her financial journey over the years gives so much encouragement. Knowing that someone, a few years ago, was facing similar challenges, but found a successful way through, is priceless.
Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be able to help a professional pursue their nitrogen catering dream as well. I am looking forward to it.