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How to Run a Catering Business in Australia

The Australian catering industry is poised for growth after the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic. This article will teach you how to take advantage of this growth and beat your competitors.

Let’s face it. Everyone loves eating delicious food—especially when you don’t have to cook or clean up. This is why running a catering business is an attractive option in Australia.

But the problem is the industry has low barriers to entry, which results in a competitive market.

To compete, you’ll need to focus on improving your company from all angles, including:

  • Providing unique products and services
  • Adopting industry trends before your competitors
  • Leveraging innovative marketing ideas

And much more.

The good news is that this post will cover everything you need to know, starting with three strategies for improving your business.

Three strategies for improving your Australian catering company

To stay competitive in the Australian catering industry, you should:

  • Always track key performance indicators: Knowing your KPIs will help you easily identify what’s working and what isn’t for your business.
  • Get feedback from staff: Ask them for suggestions to improve efficiency, products and services and ways to make their jobs easier.
  • Use quality ingredients: People are becoming more conscious of where their food comes from and expect catering services to use high-quality ingredients.

Reinventing your catering business

The catering industry in Australia has a low barrier to entry and stiff competition, so you’ll need to differentiate your business from others.

To do this you can:

  • Offer catering menus with exotic cuisines that aren’t available in your area.
  • Serve your food in interactive ways like food walls and grazing tables.
  • Create an experiential catering program where customers are involved with the cooking process. For example, allowing them to watch their food being prepared.

Inventory management for Australian caterers

Inventory management is essential for catering businesses as food ingredients often have a short shelf-life, and mistakes can be costly.

Here are some ways to keep your management efficient:

  • Hybrid inventory management: Combine a Point of Sale (POS) system and manual reporting methods. Combining these will help you account for factors like spillage, theft and spoilage.
  • Implement FIFO: Always follow the First In, First Out (FIFO) inventory management method.
  • Plan for surplus ingredients: Find ways to use extra ingredients before they go bad. You can do this by creating limited-edition menus or substituting ingredients into popular menus.

Leveraging market and competitor research

Customer tastes are constantly changing, and companies are continually developing unique offerings. Consequently, you need to keep tabs on customer trends, competitors and the catering industry as a whole.

To do this, you can:

  • Become a Restaurant & Catering Association member to stay up-to-date on industry news and receive insights on growing your business.
  • Schedule regular competitor research like browsing their websites, contacting their customer service staff and looking at their latest offerings.
  • Follow food influencers as they often share or create the latest food trends that the general public follows.

Three facts about the Australian catering industry

To become successful in the catering industry, you should know the industry’s outlook, demographics and what drives the industry.

Here’s what you should know:

  • The catering industry is expected to rebound in 2022 with a healthy 5.5% growth prediction after the pandemic disrupted operations in previous years.
  • There are just over 44,000 restaurant and catering businesses in Australia, with over 92% of these being small businesses. This statistic means that you will be primarily competing against local catering companies.
  • Demand for catering services follows the consumer sentiment index. The more positive consumers are about Australia’s economy, the more they’ll spend on catering services.

Innovative marketing ideas for your catering company

Using creative marketing ideas is an excellent way for your business to stand out from its competitors.

Here are some innovative ideas to try out:

  • Create a free event and invite industry influencers to try your catering services in exchange for sharing their experience on social media
  • Create a business account on Instagram and share professional photos of your dishes and services. You can also share reels that teach people how to prepare delicious food and plan catering for events.
  • Share hyper-localized blog content that targets niche keywords like wedding catering in North Sydney or birthday caterers Brisbane CBD. This SEO strategy will help you rank for low-competition keywords with strong buying intent.

Funding options for catering companies in Australia

Whether you need funding for expansion or to help your business during a tight spot, you have a few options:

  • Government grants and programs for the food services industry are popular options as you often don’t have to pay the money back.
  • Loans from finance brokers and Australian banks like NAB are standard options that are readily available for catering businesses.
  • Peer-to-peer loans from platforms like Marketlend are an alternative to bank loans where you borrow from individuals rather than a company.

Planning to exit your catering business

Whether you see yourself running your catering business until retirement or want an early exit, you must have a plan in place.

You should:

  1. Set a date for your exit.
  2. Create replicable business systems that anyone can follow to run your business.
  3. Develop a trusted and memorable brand through innovative marketing and high-quality service.
  4. Track key metrics that potential buyers are interested in, like cash flows, asset values and profitability.
  5. Decide how you want to exit your business—for example, selling to another company or an individual.
  6. Learn about business valuation and negotiation strategies to maximize your exit.
  7. Use a reputable marketplace for selling your business as they help you quickly find buyers and often support you during the sales process.

By following this plan, you’ll be sure to have a successful exit, allowing you to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Megan Kelly

About the author

Megan is Head of Content Marketing at She is an expert copywriter and content marketer.