How Do You Want to Do It?
Finding the Right Catering Scenario

by Bruce Mattel and The Culinary Institute of America

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The big question is: Do you want to be employed as a caterer by a larger organization or start your own catering business?

As an employee of a larger catering organization, you can expect a median yearly salary of $35,000 to $50,000, according to www.payscale.com, a Web site that publishes accurate, real-time salary reports based on job title, location, education, skills, and experience. The benefits of employment are that you do not take the financial risk of starting a business, you have fewer job responsibilities than a catering business owner, and you gain valuable experience. The downside is that your earning potential is more limited.

As a caterer owning your own business, there is no guaranteed salary. You risk the money you use to start your business, your job responsibilities cover all aspects of the business, and any mistakes you make affect you directly. The upside is that your earning potential is virtually unlimited.

A medium-size catering business grossing $500,000 per year (about $10,000 in receipts every week) can realize a profit ranging from 10 to 20 percent, or $50,000 to $100,000. Top caterers can gross $1 million or more with a similar profit margin—about $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

Keeping expenses in line and factoring profit into your pricing are the keys to that profit. (See Chapter 3, "Pricing for Profit.") Whether you want to start your own business or to be employed as a caterer or catering manager, there are many types of catering to consider.

  • from:
  • A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation
  • by Bruce Mattel and The Culinary Institute of America
  • Wiley 2008
  • Hardcover, 368 pages, $45.00
  • ISBN-10: 076455798X
  • ISBN 978-0-7645-5798-9
  • Information provided by the publisher.

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Read the full chapter in PDF format on the Wiley.com site.

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