Do you want to start a dessert catering company? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a dessert catering business with no money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample dessert catering business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample dessert catering marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for dessert catering companies. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a dessert catering company. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Why Start a Dessert Catering Business?

Starting a dessert catering business may sound easy, but the truth is that to be successful in this type of business, you need to be quite thorough.

Before launching this type of business, it will pay you to carry out your due diligence as it relates to market research, economic and cost analysis and of course feasibility studies. You will need to make sure that you have the real reasons why you want to be in this line of business. If you get things right before launching your dessert catering business, it will not take you long before you breakeven and start smiling to the bank.

You can start your dessert catering services business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.

Starting a Dessert Catering Business – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

Dessert catering business is part of the caterers’ industry and this industry comprises of companies that provide individual event-based food services. Caterers generally have equipment and vehicles to transport meals and snacks to events or prepare food off-site.

Banquet halls with catering staff are also part of the caterers’ industry. Examples of events catered by players in this industry are graduation parties, wedding receptions, business luncheons and trade shows. Those who run dessert catering services are involved in preparing sweet course or dish, as of fruit, ice cream, or pastry, served at the end of a meal.

The Caterers industry that dessert catering services business is part of, is a thriving sector of the economy of the United States. Statistics has it that in the United States of America, industry generates over $12 billion annually from more than 121,737 registered catering services/franchise scattered all around the United States of America. The industry is responsible for the employment of over 261,189 people. Experts project the caterers’ industry to grow at a 1.3 percent annual rate.

The dessert catering services business will continue to blossom because people will always want to eat when they attend parties and similar events. You can start by catering for 20 people or less and start growing from there. Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own dessert catering business could be that the business is easy to set up and manage with minimal startup capital and minimal manpower.

The caterer business is considered to be among the delicate industry because they are involved in cooking food for consumption for a large number of guests per time which is why the business is subjected to regular inspection by relevant health officials. If you run a dessert catering services business in the United States of America, you are expected by law to comply with the rules and regulations of the industry.

Starting a Dessert Catering Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who eat dessert cut across all genders and age group, hence the demographic composition for dessert catering services business is all encompassing. The truth is that when it comes to selling dessert, there is indeed a wide range of available customers.

In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but all those who resides around the locations where you have your dessert catering business and who have the purchasing power.

So, if you are thinking of opening your own dessert catering services business then you should make your target demographics all encompassing. It should include corporate executives, students, migrants, entrepreneurs, event planners, business people, celebrities, military men and women, sports men and women, tourists and every adult in the neighborhood where your dessert catering services business will be located.

List of Niche ideas Within the Dessert Catering Business That You Can Specialize in

If you are thinking of going into dessert catering services business, then you need to take out time to carve a niche for yourself or better still choose from the existing niche ideas in the dessert catering industry. These are some of the niche ideas within the dessert catering business that an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to start his/her business can choose from;

  • Providing single event based dessert catering services
  • Providing dessert catering services in banquet halls with catering staff

The Level of Competition in the Dessert Catering Industry

The competition that exists in the dessert catering line of business goes beyond competitions amongst dessert catering services in your location; you are expected to compete with fast food restaurants, mobile food trucks regular restaurants and canteens and any other outlets that also prepare and serve desserts. So, it will be right to say the competition in the dessert catering line of business is tough.

The truth is that irrespective of the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your products or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you are good at preparing the varieties of desserts you have on your menu, you can deliver excellent customer care service and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.

But over and above, there are several dessert caterers and fast food restaurants, mobile food trucks, regular restaurants, canteens and other outlets that also sell desserts scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own dessert catering service in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competitions and you should plan on how to stay competitive as a dessert caterer.

List of Well – Known Brands in the Industry

It is an established fact that in every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than others. Some of these brands have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading dessert caterers services/brands in the United States of America and in the globe;

  • Alpine Bakery & Trattoria
  • Marsha’s Specialty Desserts
  • B Sweet Dessert Bar
  • Harner’s Bakery Restaurant
  • WOW! Factor Desserts
  • The French Gourmet
  • Marble Slab Creamery
  • Randazzo Pastry Shop & Bakery
  • Spot Dessert Bar
  • Johnny Carino’s
  • Braum’s Ice Cream & Burger Restaurant
  • New Morning Bakery
  • Amy’s Ice Creams
  • Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt
  • WheatFields Eatery & Bakery
  • Aunt Butchies of Brooklyn
  • Baker’s Crust Hilltop & Catering
  • Sweet Dream Desserts-Catering
  • Bruno’s Bakery and Restaurant
  • Ragazzi’s Italian Restaurant

Economic Analysis

Top on the list of what you need to do if you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits is to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

In order to effectively map out your economic and cost analysis for your dessert catering business, you should carry out thorough market survey of what is required to rent a space where you are expected to open your business, purchase cooking utensils and equipment, food ingredients and other supplies and also the cost to successfully run the business.

Starting Your Dessert Catering Service Business from Scratch Vs Buying a Franchise

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. You should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement.

When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful dessert catering service as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is relatively expensive buying the franchise of an established dessert catering brand, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.

On the other hand, if you are determined to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the Dessert Catering industry, then you might just want to start your own business from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.

Please note that most of the big and successful dessert catering services around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own dessert catering business.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Dessert Catering Service Business

If you decide to start your own dessert catering services business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established dessert caterers and other related businesses that also prepare and sell dessert. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market or better still choose a niche idea that is less competitive in your business location.

Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn; if the economy is in bad shape, history has it that business such as dessert catering services business, fast food restaurants, mobile food trucks regular restaurants and canteens et al and other outlets that also sell desserts usually struggle to maintain their old customers or even welcome new customers. So also, unfavorable government policies can also hamper the growth of your dessert catering business.

Starting a Dessert Catering Business – Legal Matters

  • Best legal entity to use for this type of business

If you want to start a dessert catering services business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.

From a general perspective, you can either choose a general partnership, limited liability company, or even a sole proprietorship for your dessert catering business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale dessert catering service especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood.

But people prefer limited liability Company for obvious reasons. As a matter of fact, if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of dessert catering outlets across the United States of America via franchising, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your dessert catering services business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.

If you take your time to study the various legal entities to use for your dessert catering business, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.

Interestingly, upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your dessert catering business so as to compete with major players in the industry.

Catchy Business Name ideas Suitable for a Dessert catering business

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own dessert catering services business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Sandra Johnson® Catering Services, Inc.
  • Triplet Cent™ Dessert Catering Services, LLC
  • Katrina Cole© Dessert Catering Services, Inc.
  • Dessert Queens® Dessert Catering Services, Inc.
  • Busy Pan™ Dessert Catering Services, Inc.
  • Eat Green™ Dessert Catering Services, Inc.
  • Uriel Brown© Dessert Catering Services, Inc.
  • Open Mouth® Dessert Catering Services, LLC
  • Pally Patra© Dessert Catering Services , Inc.
  • Berry Specialty© Dessert Catering Services, Inc.

Insurance Policies

In the United States, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your dessert catering services business.

Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own dessert catering services business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health / Medical insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark

If you are considering starting your own dessert catering services business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection / trademark because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.

Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Dessert Catering Business?

When it comes to operating a dessert catering business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to open and operate in the United States of America. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of preparing varieties of desserts and effectively running the business.

On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to conduct your dessert catering services business properly, then by all means, try and pursue such certification.

List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Dessert Catering Business

It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own dessert catering business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Tax Payer’s ID / Tax Identification Number
  • Foods and drinks handler certificate
  • Health inspection Certificate
  • Proof of district-issued food and drinks manager identification card
  • Copy of license for the service support facility and/or a recent inspection report
  • Business Plan
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Employee Handbook
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use (if you also operate online orders)
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Building License
  • Franchise or Trademark License (optional)

Financing Your Dessert Catering Services business

Starting a dessert catering services business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale by running a small dessert catering business. Securing a standard kitchen facility and purchasing cooking utensils and equipment, food ingredient, fruit supplies and serving wares et al are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.

If you choose to start the business on a large scale, you need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large scale dessert catering service.

Without a doubt, when it comes to financing a business, one of the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your dessert catering services business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank / banks
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.

Choosing a Suitable Location for a Dessert Catering Services Business

When it comes to choosing a location for your dessert catering business, you should be guided by the demand for dessert catering services. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your dessert catering services business, it will give people easy access to locate your outlet or office.

It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing / renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your dessert catering business, then you should talk to a business consultant or a realtor to help your out.

Before choosing a location for your dessert catering services business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.

These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your dessert catering services business;

  • The demography of the location
  • The demand for desserts in the location
  • The purchasing power of the residence of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The numbers of dessert caterers and other food related businesses that also prepare and sell desserts in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community / state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al

Starting a Dessert Catering Business – Technical and Manpower Details

On the average, there are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for Food service equipment (microwave, toasters, dishwasher, refrigerator, blender, etc.), Storage hardware (bins, utensil rack, shelves, food case), Counter area equipment (counter top, sink, ice machine, etc.), receipt issuing machines, sound system (for playing music), Point of Sale Machines (POS Machines), CCTV cameras and flat screen TVs.

So also, you will definitely need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst other and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regard leasing or outright purchase of a store facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent / lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard dessert catering services business with more than one outlet, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Merchandize Manager, Barkers / Cook / Chef, Manager, Sales and Marketing Officer / Sales Girls and Sales Boys, Accounting Clerk, and Cleaners. On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to run a small – scale but standard dessert catering services business.

The Business Services Process Involved in Dessert Catering Business

When it comes to the business services process of dessert catering services business, there are no hard and fast rule about it. Basically, it is the duty of the merchandise manager to help the organization purchase food ingredients and packaging/serving materials. They source for good purchasing deals and they also ensure that they only purchase at the right prices that will guarantee them good profits.

Once the dessert catering services business is in full operation, the desserts are prepared and they are listed on the menu. Usually, desserts caterers usually prepare and deliver desserts to party venues or as requested by their clients. Please note that in some instances, a dessert catering services that supplies desserts to party organizers may be also serve the guests if it is part of the contract they signed.

It is important to state that a dessert catering services business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated dessert catering services business process is not cast on stone.

Starting a Dessert Catering Business – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and Strategies

Running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a dessert catering services business, then you must employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands that determines the market direction for dessert catering services line of business.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your dessert catering services business;

  • Introduce your dessert catering services business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to event planners, caterers, restaurants and other key stake holders throughout the city where your dessert catering business is located.
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your products.
  • Join local dessert catering services business / fast food restaurant business associations for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount days for your customers
  • Advertise our business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages’ ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)

Factors That Will Help You Get the Right Product Pricing

One key factor that will help you sell your desserts at rock bottom prices is to purchase your supplies directly from farmers or from food ingredient wholesalers in pretty large quantities.

Another strategy that will help you retail your desserts at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.

You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives and also purchase.

Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning your Competitors

The availability of varieties of desserts on your menu list, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.

Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and desserts listed on your menu can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.

Strategies to Boost Your Brand Awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand.

If your intention of starting a dessert catering business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by opening chains of dessert catering outlets and franchising, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your dessert catering services business;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and food related magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community based events / programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your dessert catering services business
  • Install your Billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshow from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to create awareness of your dessert catering services business
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your dessert catering services business in local directories / yellow pages
  • Advertise your dessert catering services business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where dessert catering services business is located.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks / vans are well branded with your company logo et al.

Suppliers / Distribution Network

Firstly, in order to successfully run a dessert catering services business, you must establish good business relationship with farmers and wholesalers of dessert supplies and ingredients.

So also, you are expected to create business networks with event planners, caterers, schools, parks, sport centers and managers of public facilities. They are in a better position to give you access to a large group of people most especially during events that they are hosting. Depending on your agreement with them, you might be compelled to pay certain fee or commission.

Ajaero Tony Martins

Founder / Publisher at Profitable Venture Magazine Ltd
Ajaero Tony Martins is an Entrepreneur, Real Estate Developer and Investor; with a passion for sharing his knowledge with budding entrepreneurs. He is the Executive Producer @JanellaTV and also doubles as the CEO, POJAS Properties Ltd.
Ajaero Tony Martins

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