Catering Business Profits, Earnings and Salaries – How Much Money Can You Really Make?

Many people have turned their love of cooking and entertaining into a good living by starting catering businesses.

Catering is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and as one of the fastest growing segments of the food and beverage industry, the catering business offers great opportunities for those wanting to start a small business with a low start up cost.

In this article we will look at catering business profits, earnings and salaries and how much money it is really possible to make in this industry. Then we will examine some of the things that separate the really successful players from the amateurs.

Is a $100,000 Yearly Profit Possible in Catering?

Many people consider a $100,000 pre-tax salary or profit to be a benchmark for success and they wonder if they can reach this level of earnings in catering.

Most small catering business owners who put in the effort can expect to earn between $20,000 and $40,000 profit per year for the owner during the first couple of years. After a couple of years in the business, you can easily scale up to earning a ‘six figure’ annual income from catering.

Tips for Getting to the ‘Six Figure’ Level

1) Forget catering from your home kitchen if you want to get to this salary level. Business savvy caterers do volumes that require them to either rent commercial kitchen space by the hour, arrange access to restaurant kitchens during off-hours or focus on ‘on-premises’ jobs only and use the kitchens of their clients.

2) Successful players love spending time creating menus, following food trends and interacting with people without neglecting the business side of catering.

3) Start to create a powerful brand right from the start with your logo, company values and unique service that will grow into a valuable asset that allows you to command a premium price for your catering services in the market.

4) Develop systems for every part of your business to streamline day-to-day operations. Analyze the way that you and your staff work and strive to increase productivity.

5) Understand that there are ‘niche’ markets within the catering industry that you would never think of until you really start looking. Top caterers find these untapped opportunities, and carve out a business catering to the specific needs of these groups.

6) Perfect the process of consulting with new clients and learn how to politely up-sell them on some of your more expensive offerings.

7) Realize that you are leaving money on the table if you don’t also up-sell additional event related services to your customers.

8) Learn how to hire, train and organize a small team to assist you with food preparation, delivery, service, and even sales if you want a realistic chance of getting to an income level above $100,000.

9) Don’t neglect traditional advertising methods but also pursue other modern marketing methods such as networking, cross promotions and guerrilla marketing.

10) Successful caterers also recognize the importance of customer referrals. Customers may introduce friends to you because they like your food and services but there are also other ways to get them talking about your company.

To get started on the right track, do as much reading as you can about general small business management and the catering business specifically. Many highly successful caterers have published start up guides and you have a chance to learn from their mistakes instead of making your own and you can benefit from their expert advice and insider tips.

It is possible to make a lot of money in the catering business if you put in the effort. Reaching a level of earnings that will allow you to make a ‘six figure’ salary from your catering business is entirely possible within your first two years in business.

How to Get Him to Care Again

When you've been with someone long enough, it's so easy to fall into the "we-are-too-comfortable" trap. It's simply inevitable. While there is nothing wrong with being comfortable with your partner, sometimes we forget that in order for a relationship to keep growing, we have to keep working hard. You start the relationship with passion, your man can not stand being away from you but now you're lucky if he does not forget your birthday or your anniversary. Everything seems to be too familiar. It's not that you do not love each other anymore; It's just that every relationship goes through this phase. Are there any ways on how to get him to care again?

You know that the honeymoon is over if you see him coming to bed in his super old unflattering boxers and you really do not care about taking a shower at night anymore. You do not find yourself making the effort to look good because you do not think it still matters to your partner how you present yourself. If you want your man to look at you the same way he did when you first started dating, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Do some things that he would not expect you to do. If you've never watched a basketball game together and he's been begging you to go to the games, book season tickets. This will make him very happy and he will certainly appreciate the gesture.

Take a trip down memory lane and figure out how your man fell in love with you. Do the same things you did when you first met him. Get him a token that will remind him of the first time you met or the first time you went out. It could have been a copy of the movie you saw or a box of the same chocolates he sent you when he was still pursuing you. You can also surprise him with an intimate dinner at your favorite restaurant when you first started dating. Be creative and romantic. If he cares about you, he would want to reciprocate. Thank him and tell him you appreciate everything he does for you. Acknowledge his efforts no matter how small they are.

If you want your boyfriend or husband to care for you again, make him feel that your feelings have not changed and you still love him the same way you did years ago, if not more. Show him that you are still the same woman he fell in love with, even better. Ask yourself what your partner loved most about you and maybe you can do something to remind him of that. Whether it's your sense of humor, sunny disposition or careful attitude that drawn him to you, it will not hurt if he gets to see these qualities again. Make your partner feel special by doing nice things for him. Leave some sweet notes in his car like "I can not wait to see you tonight" or "I'm the luckiest woman alive because I have you". Sometimes as simple as "I love you" will do the trick. Do not ever stop telling each other "I love you".

When it comes to how to get him to care again, you have to keep thinking of ways on how to keep the fire burning. No matter how busy you are, make it a point that you have an "alone time" together. Set aside time for him and have a date night every week. Do not take each other for granted and if possible, make your partner feel special every single day. Prepare a romantic dinner for two and cook all his favorite meals. Plan an exciting getaway that will allow you to try new things. Whatever it is that you have to do to entrust the magic, do it!

What Is A Marketing Initiative?

Marketing is not as simple as many may lead you to believe. In order for your business to be effective, you need to understand what is involved in promoting what you are offering in terms of products and services. That is where a good marketing initiative comes in to play. A marketing initiative is essentially anything that is clearly defined as a marketing effort. Simple, isn’t it? It is basically anything specific in your marketing plan. So what types of things are considered marketing initiatives? Here are a few examples that may help you.

For larger companies, a marketing initiative can be a theme. For instance, a set of commercials that use a specific character or funny situation over and over may be considered a marketing initiative. This, though, would certainly be more common with large businesses. An example of this is the Geiko commercials that feature the cute talking gekko. The initiative is to associate their car insurance services and products with a character that sticks in your head. Being cute is an added advantage. This is why many commercials use cute, cuddly characters such as babies and puppies etc.

Another example of a marketing initiative is undertaking a certain method relentlessly. Sometimes you may wish to focus your efforts solely on one method of marketing. If, for instance, you decide to implement email marketing with great fervor, then you can call that your email marketing initiative. You will outline a plan very specific to that initiative. And you will carry it out. Focusing your efforts into a sole initiative demands that you understand it intimately. You better know what you are doing if that’s the ONLY initiative you’ve got. In addition you also need to have a backup plan in case your initiative does not come through for you as you hoped. Often, when you put all your eggs in one basket, you better have more eggs!

Another type of marketing initiative you may invoke is a large scale shift in what you are doing. If you are going away from traditional marketing to exclusively use the internet that is a whole new marketing initiative you are putting in place. Though not as specific as other examples, it is certainly something that directly affects the marketing of your company. These types of initiatives are usually done parallelly with your existing marketing initiatives. The old initiatives are slowly phased out as the new one takes over.

A marketing initiative can also be as simple as a shift in an idea. You can have a new marketing initiative that simply changes the way you promote your company, or more specifically what about the company you are trying to promote. A shift in positioning is a good example.

Marketing initiative is a broad term that is used often. However, if you understand what it is you will be more able to effectively put an initiative in place if you need to. Changing or implementing an initiative is a big part of the promotion of your business. So it’s important that you understand what it means in the first place.

Which Costa Rican Car Company Is Best?

Renting a Car in Costa Rica? Which company should you choose?

There are so many rent-a-car companies to choose from in Costa Rica – from the large international firms to the smaller national agencies. Reviews on the internet invariably either damn or sing the praises of each company to the extent of being almost useless. So how do you choose the best place to hire a car for your trip?

Many tourists that rent vehicles in Costa Rica complain that they have been ripped off when they realize the extra cost of insurance they are obliged to pay or that they have been charged a dollar rate that reflected the currency rate and not the quoted rate. Understanding the insurance laws and charges that bind the Costa Rican car rental companies may help you to ask the right questions when you are reserving your vehicle and avoid a nasty shock upon arrival. If a company is not upfront about its additional costs; you may wish to consider whether it is a company that you choose to take your business to.

I have worked within the tourism industry in Costa Rica for the last six years and have lived here since 2000. I am familiar with the feelings that many visitors to the country experience when dealing with rent-a-car companies. These can range from delight to discomfort to outright fury; sometimes due to the inefficiency, or even dishonesty of the rental agency, but also due to the renter’s lack of understanding of the legally binding restrictions within which Costa Rican car rental firms must work. I hope that while this article won’t guarantee you trouble-free vehicle rental; it might make you a more knowledgeable customer.

Insurance needs, additional costs in rental and surcharges are considered in more detail below:

Insurance:

Basic insurance is mandatory. Costa Rican law is very clear on this and your rental car company cannot allow you to leave with their car without having agreed to pay it. Expect to pay somewhere between $9 and $20 per day on top of your car rental rate. An honest, car rental agency will make this very clear in their pricing. If it is not clear whether the insurance is included in the rental cost; ask for clarification and be aware of other potentially unstated costs.

Check whether your insurance policy covers you to drive in Costa Rica. Some policies include Collision Damage Waivers and will cover Central America. If you are covered, bring proof (in writing) for your vehicle rental company. If not, consider whether you would be safer to pay the extra cost of this additional coverage. This part is not mandatory.

Zero liability is offered by rent-a-car companies. You may wish to consider whether you would feel more at ease knowing that you would not be liable for any costs should something occur while you are renting their vehicle. You are not obliged to buy this supplemental insurance.

Additional Fees:

Many car rental companies will charge additional fees for a child/baby seat, an additional driver, luggage racks or cooler. You can expect to pay up to $8 daily for each of these extras. Although by shopping around, you can find companies that will offer some or all for a lower price, or even free.

With Costa Rican roads being notoriously poorly signposted and the whole country operating on an address system based on landmarks rather than road names or numbers, a GPS is essential for many car renters. You will usually pay between $8 and $15 a day for this service. It is fairly common practice to allow renters to use one of their cell phones for the duration, but if you wish to use it for your own calls; you’ll obviously be charged.

Surcharges:

Some rental car companies incorporate taxes and additional fees into their rental cost; others don’t. Make sure you know what you will be charged for on top of your rental fee. Airport fees can be charged at 13% of your rental cost which is a sizable fee to pay in addition to an agreed rental charge. You may also be charged a license plate charge, environmental fee and/or any other charge that the rental car company has to meet (or pocket).

Prices for the rental will be given in US dollars, but as the local currency is colones, you should understand that exchange rates change daily and what you are charged on your credit card on the day of payment may vary slightly from what you were quoted.

Criteria for Rating Car Rental Companies:

For this article, three (3) main points were considered for each company:

1) Value: Is the rental rate competitive?

2) Efficiency: How fast do they respond to the needs of the client?

3) Transparency: How clear is the information provided by the company?

You may have your own criteria, but based on complaints from previous customers on community websites like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, etc., the requirements of those clients seemed mainly based around these three basic areas.

The companies surveyed below are a mix of local and international firms. Each company was researched based on a week’s rental of a Daihutsu Bego with mandatory insurance.

Dollar Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Extras are at average prices.

Efficiency

- They have 3 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within 24 hours.

Transparency

- The prices for rental vehicles are displayed on site but a side box contains a ‘Daily RA’ with dollar amount. This is the mandatory insurance.

- Reservation price is listed as ‘Base rate’ and doesn’t include insurance.

- Dollar has received mixed reviews in sites such as Trip Advisor.

- A toll-free number is available.

Vamos Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Only GPS and cell phone use are charged. All other extras such as child seats are free.

Efficiency

- They have 3 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

- The website clearly states prices and insurance.

- Toll-free number and live chat are provided.

Wild Rider:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Additional driver is free.

Efficiency

- Email inquiry returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

- Prices are displayed very clearly onsite and include insurance.

- The company has almost 100% positive reviews, but with a fleet of only 30 vehicles and one central office; it may be difficult to help clients who are in difficulty outside the capital.

- They cannot provide a vehicle for the Liberia airport, just San Jose.

Budget:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extra charges for baby seat, additional driver etc.

Efficiency

- The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

- No prices displayed with vehicles information.

- Budget has received mixed reviews.

- Surprisingly for a large company, it provides no live chat or toll-free number for clients in the USA.

Service Car Rental:

Value

- $400+ USD including mandatory insurance and taxes.

- Extras such as additional driver and child seat are charged, but at cheaper rates than most companies.

Efficiency

- The company has 5 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

- Their rates are clearly shown on site.

- Service has received mainly positive reviews.

National Car Rental:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extras are priced a little above average.

Efficiency

- They have 23 office locations, although some are Alamo.

Transparency

- Price estimates online do not include insurance or additional charges; however, they are displayed in the full quotation.

- They have received mixed reviews.

- Both live chat and a toll-free number are provided.

Economy Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $200+ USD, but it seems possible to reserve a vehicle without inclusion of any insurance.

- Extras are average in price.

Efficiency

- They have 12 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour, but email inquiring about insurance was not returned.

Transparency

- Website does not make mandatory insurance clear.

- Economy has numerous negative reviews.

- Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Hertz Costa Rica:

Value

- $400+ USD, but actual rental price is not made clear.

- Extras are pricey.

Efficiency

- 6 offices nationwide.

- No contact email.

- Telephone numbers are available for different offices around the country.

Transparency

- Very confusing quotation system. Two rates are offered for a vehicle and chosen dates. The cheaper option does not include mandatory insurance and it is in very small print under the final quotation price. The more expensive option includes non-mandatory insurance along with mandatory.

- Mixed reviews.

- Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Adobe Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extras are at low prices.

Efficiency

- The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

- Online estimate includes insurance.

- Adobe has received mixed reviews.

- A toll-free number is provided.

Tricolor Car Rental:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- No charge for pick-up or airport fees.

- Extras aren’t listed or provided in quotation email, although cell phone price is given.

Efficiency

- 3 offices nationwide.

- Email returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

- Website is not very user friendly.

- Reviews are mixed.

- Toll-free number is provided.

Finalizing the Three Criteria:

Economy, at first, appear to be the cheapest company to rent from, but unfortunately this is due to their failure to declare all costs incurred by the renter, rather than a genuine, good deal. For real value, Dollar, Vamos, Wild Rider and Tricolor come out on top for competitive pricing for the basic rental fee, plus mandatory insurance. Vamos is noticed for being the only firm that does not charge for extras such as a child seat or surcharges. Adobe and Service have low cost extras, whereas Hertz has the most expensive rates for extras. Wild Rider does not charge for an additional driver.

Only Economy failed to respond to email inquiry. All other companies responded quickly and with clear answers to inquiries. Wild Rider, as the smallest firm, cannot offer nationwide service, but reviews suggest that they have met customer needs to date. All other companies can offer services from offices in locations outside of the capital city — increasing their ability to serve clients effectively.

Adobe, Wild Rider, Vamos and Service have websites that clearly show rental prices and insurance. Economy and Hertz somehow seems to be deliberately misleading on their websites. The other companies’ websites provide the required information – even if it can take some time in hunting it down.

Conclusion:

This brief survey would suggest that Vamos, Service, Tricolor and Wild Rider would be the best companies to begin your rental research, whereas Economy would be best to avoid.

Now you know as much as I do! The information here is supposed to be your starting point and not the end point. Hopefully, you will know the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a rental vehicle to ensure that your dream vacation begins smoothly without any nasty shocks, like hefty extra charges when you land. Enjoy the drive!