Partnering With A Caterer

Business By SuePerb Updated 4 May 2009 , 12:08pm by SuePerb

SuePerb Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:41pm
post #1 of 6

Hello everyone,

New to this board, but I've been around a while as CurlySue most places. I see some familiar faces here, so nice to be "back".

I had a home based cake business for several years, had to quit for personal reasons and have been out of business for about 2.5 years now.

I'm getting the itch to get back, but I can no longer work as I used to because of a change in circumstances (home not an option, nor is the space I used to work from). This means that if I'm to get back into business, I need to find a more commercial way to do it.

Fate has presented me with a connection to someone from my past that has a restaurant/catering business. I contacted her and expressed an interest in perhaps getting back into business, and partnering with her. She expressed an interest as well, but has some issues that need to be taken care of before she can give it more serious thought. That works out well for both of us since it seems neither is 100% sure about this.

However, trying to be prepared, I'm starting to think of issues that may arise should this work out and I'm hoping for some feedback.

First, I will *not* be her employee. I plan to run *my* business, as I had in the past, but lease space from her to work in. I expect that she will be another customer of mine, just like anyone else, except that obviously we would work closely and her clients would likely be my primary focus. Should I pay her rent based on a flat fee, or a percentage of my business? I'm leaning toward flat fee because I don't think my sales, or lack thereof, should change the amount of money I pay to lease space. In good times this would obviously work in my favor, but in slow times it could be hard. I like to be positive though and imagine this will work in my favor. Any thoughts on which is a better way to pay rent?

I expect to expand my business beyond cakes to desserts as well since, as a catering company, I'm sure she'll have requests for things other than cakes. I'm OK with this, and honestly kind of psyched. I love to bake and have several other items I feel confident I could make work for her, like cookies, bars, coffee cakes, a few kinds of candy, etc. I know my limitations though and I know diversifying too greatly could be the death of me. Does anyone have any suggestions on how many items would be a good offering on a catering menu?

Insurance. I didn't really have to deal with it as a home based biz, but obviously in a commercial setting it will be important. What kind of insurance am I looking for?

I have a million other thoughts and questions but don't want to bog anyone down too much here. icon_smile.gif I'd love any feedback from anyone who may be in a similar situation, or anyone with advice about this kind of arrangement since it's totally new to me. I'm in Ohio, by the way.

Thanks Ladies!! icon_smile.gif

5 replies
indydebi Posted 3 May 2009 , 4:27am
post #2 of 6

Insurance: Any insurance questions, just contact your insurance agent. That's what you pay him for .... to sort thru the hundreds of types of coverages and companies that offer it, and to know the laws and requirements of your state to make sure you have the coverages you need.

I'll give you the perspective from the kitchen owner .... I'd much rather have a flat fee per month. That's how I pay my rent, so to me, it's logical that it's how you'd pay your rent. I wouldn't want my rent to be based on your pricing structure because I've no idea if you're pricing stuff right or not. A flat monthly rental fee is also just easier to keep track of for both of us.

I think you're right that too many offerings can be a hindrance. If you scan some caterer's websites, you'll find they have 5 maybe 6 choices for desserts. Not a lot at all.

(Ohio is a cottage law state ... are you sure getting licensed at home isn't an option for you?)

Regardless, this sounds like a good opportnity. Keep us posted! thumbs_up.gif

mommicakes Posted 3 May 2009 , 12:34pm
post #3 of 6

Nice to see you back.

I think that paying a flat rate is the most sensible way to do this. It is easier for you to plan accordingly, and no surprises icon_eek.gif .

I totally agree with Indy about offering a select couple of items. To much can not only overwhelm you, but confuse others.

SuePerb Posted 3 May 2009 , 1:19pm
post #4 of 6

Thanks ladies. Good point about the flat rate rent. That makes it easier for everyone, I agree.

Yes, Ohio is a cottage food state but we have pets, lots of them, which makes home baking a major no-no. I used to work out of a condo that I bought specifically for making cakes, but when I quit cakes I rented the condo and can't exactly throw out my tenant, so I need another option.

I have no idea if this is going to happen or not, and even if the opportunity presents itself I don't know if I'll take it, but I'm trying to wrap my head around everything.

Last time I did cakes I was able to keep my full time job and do cakes as a second job, but if I were to work for this caterer I imagine I wouldn't be able to do both, and giving up my full time job is a scary, scary prospect, so time will tell.

Kiddiekakes Posted 3 May 2009 , 1:58pm
post #5 of 6

Give your tenant enough notice to move and start back up with that.It's your property...Give the proper notice required.You don't owe him anything or a reason why.Why pay rent when you have a place like you said from before.Then you can do both...work full time and do cakes after that when time allows you.

SuePerb Posted 4 May 2009 , 12:08pm
post #6 of 6

You know, I hadn't really thought about that, but it makes sense to pay the rent to myself rather than someone else. Hmmm. Definitely have to think about that.

The kitchen at the condo is super small, but I made it work before and could probably do it again. My only issue would be, if I got busier than I was before, I could really use a commercial space that had a bigger oven, more counter space, commercial fridge/freezer to make the work easier, but I could always deal with that if/when the need arose.

Thanks for giving me something to think about.... icon_smile.gif

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