Your premises must have adequate faclities, where necessary, for cleaning, disinfecting and storing utensils and equipment. The facilities must have an adequate supply of hot and cold water.
You must have adequate facilities, where necessary, for washing food. Every sink (or other facilities) for washing food must have an adequate supply of hot and/or cold water. The water must be drinking quality. These facilities must be kept clean and, where necessary, disinfected.
You will need to check with your local council that the premises you use are legal for the purpose you intend, especially if you’re planning to work from your own home.
Check with your local council that you are able to trade in your chosen business and from the premises you have purchased. If you intend to work from home you have to be sure that your landlord or mortgage lender approves of you starting a business from your home and that you are not trading dangerous substances that would be hazardous to your locality.
Every food operation must either be registered or approved by the local authority in whose area it operates. Mobile food businesses need to register with the local authority within whose area the vehicle is normally kept.
Food premises registration is free and cannot be refused. In addition, certain food business activities require licensing. This means that minimum structural standards, hygiene standards and processes have to be achieved in order for a licence to be granted.
You will need a licence if you want to do the following things:
- Sell or supply alcohol
- Sell hot food between 11pm and 5am
- Provide entertainment, such as theatre, cinema or live music
- Sell food from a stall or van on the street
Even big businesses don’t have a lot of cash to spend on hospitality these days and so it’s important to stand out from the crowd if you’re planning on catering for large – or small – corporate events. This could mean anything from sandwich platters for top-level meetings to full-scale banqueting for awards ceremonies, etc.
If you’re in this line of business, it will be likely that you will have a small selection of core clients. Word spreads fast in corporate hospitality and someone offering quality catering with a competitive price-tag and great customer service will be kept close by those who organise such events.
Private events and weddings
The same rules apply for wedding catering, although demands by brides who want their day to go perfectly will be high. Similarly for Christenings, engagement parties, and even funeral receptions, everything will have to be organised down to the last detail. Further business will very much depend on word of mouth and, in this social media-oriented world, your reputation can be demolished overnight if things go wrong on the day.
We all live increasingly hectic lives and there has been a trend of late, even in the most modest of private households, to have dinner parties catered. Nobody wants the host or hostess to be exhausted by the time their guests arrive and so the temptation to have someone else do the hot and sweaty work is great. In such circumstances, you might well use the client’s own kitchen if appropriate but, quite often the food will be prepared at your own premises and delivered piping hot or part-prepared to the client to be finished off.
Elderly Care & Local authority
The Meals on Wheels has been a lifeline for vulnerable people since the end of the Second World War when volunteers delivered hot food to people who had been bombed out during the Blitz. In these cash-strapped times, attitudes have changed and this is no longer a free service provided by volunteers. Therefore, local authorities have turned to private catering companies to provide either hot or frozen meals to qualifying clients.
Of course, the dietary requirements of elderly and recuperating hospital patients will need to be taken into consideration when offering this kind of service. Contact your local authority to see if they have any openings.
You will need to be heavily insured, everything from Public Liability Insurance (non-employees claims for injury/physical damage caused by actions of you or your employees), to Employers Liability (legal requirement if you have employees, covers injury and property damage to your employees while working for you), and Property (damage to property but also including business interruption, ie freezer failure, etc).
Inform the Inland Revenue that you have formed a business and, if this is your first time as a self employed person, you must register your intentions as well. Arrange to pay your National Insurance payments by direct debit at the same time. If you feel that you will be earning a small wage when first starting a business it is possible to defer payment of your national insurance contributions.