Start A Catering Business
Guest Blog by: Timothy Angwenyi
With many people organizing events such as weddings, funerals, birthdays, baby showers, graduation parties, church events, political meetings and others, starting a catering business targeting these occasions can be lucrative if you have a good network.
Catering business can be outside or indoors and is more like a hotel/fast food business but the service is mostly marketed to a particular group such as an event, a company or organization. One can also do both outside and inside catering at the same time.
You will need a business permit and a health certificate from health ministry at about Ksh15,000 – Ksh25,000 and about Ksh3,000 respectively. When planning and budgeting for this business, please visit the county government offices to confirm actual costs depending on the size of your business.
A well marketed catering business may not need a very strategic location. This is a business which is not carried out in one place therefore, as long as you can get a room that can accommodate your kitchen equipment and a few members of staff, it can be located either in a residential area near where you live or even in your own house.
Rooms in town will cost you monthly rents of about Ksh50,000 – Ksh100,000 or even more depending on location and floor size. In residential areas rooms are much cheaper and if you operate from your house, no extra costs will be incurred, though you may not have enough space.
The items needed for this business are quite similar to those needed for a restaurant or hotel. In summary, you will need a fryer which may cost you between ksh.30,000 and – Ksh.36,000, jiko Ksh.5,000-Ksh.10,000, gas/electric cooker Ksh.20,000-Ksh.45,000.
Others such as utensils, cutlery, washing basins and containers will depend on the type of food you serve. You can budget about Ksh.50,000 for these. A fridge may also be handy. These equipment are available at Ramtons or kitchen appliance shops on Mombasa Road or others in town.
Your members of staff will comprise of chefs, waiters and waitresses, messengers, cleaners, supervisors etc. There are a number of good and experienced staff out there and salaries will range from Ksh.12,000 for waiters and waitresses all the way to about Ksh.90,000 for managers. This will depend on the size of your business and scale of operations.
In this business, you will have an advantage if you buy the food stuff in bulk. For vegetables visit Marikiti twice a week where you may spend Ksh.20,000-Ksh.50,000 depending on size of your business. If you are outside Nairobi, you can identify a major wholesale market near you. For cereals such as rice, you can get from Nyamakima area in Nairobi or other large scale wholesale shops or even engage someone who can buy directly from Mwea.
Unga, salt, sugar, oils, vinegars and the rest can be bought from wholesale shops or supermarkets. You can visit Dandora for beef where you can get 50Kg – 100kgs every two days. There are those who get their beef in Dandora at about Ksh.220 per kg and Ngara at about Ksh.280 per kg.
Depending on whether you are serving a company or an open event like a funeral, wedding etc, you may decide to charge a flat fee ranging from Ksh.150,000 to as much as Ksh.300,000. This will highly depend on the number of people expected or budgeted for during the occasion.
For some companies, the staff may just buy food directly from you or the company may deduct the cost of food from their monthly salaries and pay you. This will depend on your contract or negotiation with the company. For other events, you will negotiate with the organizers.
Profit from this business will be higher if you market it well and use networks to get clients. Monthly net profit ranges from about Ksh.350,000 – ksh.400,000 or above for some medium catering businesses in Nairobi.
Serving customers can be quite complicated since attitude varies. This is a challenge you will face in catering business. Small mistakes like giving wrong change or bad pricing can be very costly to the business.
Transportation can also be a challenge when delivering the food. It is very important to make prior arrangements with a transporter to avoid disappointment. You wouldn’t want the time to deliver food to find when there is no transport.
If you already operate a restaurant, fast food or medium hotel, why not diversify into a catering business?