How to Write a Food Industry or Catering Business Proposal

Do you need to write a proposal to promote your food-related business to a prospective client or to get funding? It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. The goals for any business proposal are: introduce yourself, highlight your products and/or services, describe the costs, and convince the client that you are the right choice for the job or you are worth investing in. To speed up the proposal writing process, you can use pre-designed templates and get ideas from sample proposals.

Whether you are describing a catering service, pitching a food service (deli) to be installed within another company, buying or selling a food franchise or food vending business, requesting that a grocery store of specialty store chain carry your food product, or even asking for funding to start up or expand a restaurant, the proposal structure will be similar. Here’s the basic structure to follow: introduce yourself, then summarize the prospective client’s needs, describe your services and costs, and finally, provide information about your organization, your credentials, and your capabilities.

For a food-related business, you will also need to include some detailed information about your services, menus, or products that are of interest to the specific client. For example, a catering service might need to include menus and décor themes from which the client can select, and a food vending operation might need to explain how machines will be operate and which items will be stocked.

Always keep in mind that the purpose of a proposal is to persuade your potential clients to give you their business or loan you their money. You must prove that you can deliver the products or services they need. A simple price list can never substitute for a real proposal.

Proposals should be targeted to a specific client. This means you need to gather information about your client so that you can present a proposal tailored to that individual client’s needs. It’s never a good idea to send all prospective clients the same sales letter. Clients are much more likely to accept a proposal tailored just for them.

So, let’s get back to the order described above. Start your proposal with a Cover Letter and a Title Page. The Cover Letter should deliver a brief personal introduction and contain your company contact information. The Title Page is just what it sounds like: the name of your specific proposal (for example, “Proposed Catering Plan for Your Awards Banquet”, “Proposal to Place Food Vending Machines in Community College Buildings” or “Business Plan Funding for Hot Stuff Bakery”).

After this introduction section, add topics that describe the needs of your client. If you are presenting a proposal for a complex project, you may need to write a summary to precede the detail pages. In a proposal for a corporate client, this is normally called an Executive Summary. For a less formal but still complex proposal, it’s more often called a Client Summary. In this summary and the following detail pages, you should demonstrate your understanding of the client’s requirements, goals, and desires, as well as discussing any restrictions or limitations you are aware of. This section should be all about the client.

Next is your chance to advertise yourself. Follow your introduction section and the client section with pages that describe what you are offering. These pages might have general headings like Services Provided, Samples (offering the client to pre-sample selections from your menu or food products), Benefits, and Services Cost Summary, Product Cost Summary, Entertainment (if provided with food service) as well as more specific pages that detail the products and/or services you can provide and explain the associated costs, the number of people that will be served and so on.

Your specific business will determine the specialized topics and pages you need to include in your proposal.

A catering service might need to include topics like Specialization (to highlight a specific niche you excel in) Services Provided, Options, Cost Summary, Events, Entertainment, Rentals, Special Needs, Policies and a Contract and Terms.

A deli or fast food franchise might want pages such as a Location Analysis, Future Potential, Financial Information, Income Project, Feasibility Study and other business opportunity templates describing the business opportunity.

A company selling a product to a store might include Product Cost Summary or Price List, Distribution, Market and Audience, Marketing Plan, Ingredients, Packaging, Footprint, Cost/Benefit Analysis, Quality Control and Benefits.

Specialty businesses such as event planners, party planners and wedding planners typically have to incorporate catering services as just one component of a larger proposal and will deal with additional topics such as the Venue, Performers, Products, Logistics, Packages and so on.

A business proposing to provide school lunches for students would need to provide additional details to show they can handle the volume and safety requirements. You can add topics for Requirements, Facilities, Safety Plan, Training Plan (for how your employees are trained), Certifications, Insurance, Quality Control, Experience, Capabilities, Capacity and so forth.

If you’re asking for funding to start a food business (anything from a coffee shop or bakery to a full size restaurant), you’ll want to add pages such as a Competitive Analysis, Industry Trends, Market and Audience, Marketing Plan, Insurance, Liability, Time Line, Funding Request, Services Provided, Products, Company Operations, Balance Sheet, Income Projection, Sources of Funds, Uses of Funds, Personnel, Legal Structure and any other topics required by the lender.

In your last proposal section, provide your company details, including pages such as Company History or About Us, Capabilities, Testimonials, Our Clients, or References. Your goal in this section is to convince the prospective client that you can be trusted to deliver the goods and/or services they need and want.

Those are the basic steps for organizing and writing the proposal. But you’re not quite finished yet. After you have all the information down on the pages, focus on ensuring that your proposal is visually appealing. Incorporate your company logo, use colored page borders, and/or select interesting fonts and custom bullets to add color and flair. Just be sure to match your company style when making these selections.

To finalize your proposal, it’s essential to proofread and spell-check every page. It’s always a good idea to get someone other than the proposal writer to do a final proof, because it’s very common to overlook mistakes in your own work.

When the final touches have been completed, print it or save it as a PDF file, and then deliver it to the client. The delivery method you should use will depend on your relationship with your potential client. While it’s common to email PDF files to clients, a nicely printed, personally signed, and hand-delivered proposal may make more of an impression and demonstrate that you’re willing to make an extra effort for the client.

So, to sum up, a food-business proposal can vary widely in content depending on the business and the project. Each company’s proposal contents will need to be a bit different. But all these proposals will have a similar format and follow a similar structure.

If you’d like to get a jump start using pre-designed templates with simple instructions and tons of suggestions for content, you can use Proposal Pack which includes all of the material mentioned above. The product also includes many sample food business proposals that will give you great ideas and help you easily create your own successful proposal.

A Small Business Loan

A small business loan is one of the most treasured commodities in the business world. It is still very hard to get despite the claims and promises of banks, credit unions, and other lending institutions that they want to help American small business to survive and grow. In fact it sometimes seems that banks and other lenders want to see small businesses fail and only support those that survive the battle for customers, revenues, and finances during their first two years.

Getting a small business loan is most difficult during these first two years, when most businesses face a myriad of challenges involved with not only opening their doors, but hiring and training staff and meeting the demands of customers, clients, suppliers and vendors. The main reason that the banks use for not granting many loans during this period is like the same reason that a student can’t get a job coming out of school. They don’t have the experience.

The other major reason behind that first reason is that the banks think that many small businesses are simply too great a risk to offer them a small business loan. On that front they do have a point. The majority of small businesses open and close their doors for good during that first year and from the banks’ perspective they don’t want to risk losing their investment during this period.

But after a small business survives those first two years of struggle the banks are much more accommodating. By then the business not only has experience and has proven its capacity to overcome adversity, it also has a track record of being in business. This will include having a financial statement or income tax return prepared twice as well as a record of how well they have been paying their bills to other businesses, suppliers and vendors.

The banks are able to access this information by doing a business credit check from any one of a number of business credit reporting agencies. They can also access a company’s payment record by reviewing their Paydex Score which is available from business reporting company, Dun and Bradstreet. Whenever there is an application for a small business loan, all lenders will review this information before even looking at the rest of the loan application.

If all the business credit checks and reports come back okay the banks and other lending institutions may look further into the business requesting a small business loan and this often includes a personal financial check on the owners or operators of the company. They may ask for business references to follow up with and they may even ask for a personal guarantee or collateral before granting a small business loan.

Agencies like the Small Business Administration can assist small businesses to obtain a small business loan since almost all of the monies provided to small businesses are guaranteed by them even before the bank loosens up its money strings.

Invoice Factoring and Accounts Receivable Financing for Small Business

Small Businesses are still suffering from a lack of available capital for expansion, purchase of new equipment and for just making payroll until a client pays.

First a little background. Factoring, or the act of selling invoices at a discount, is a financial product that has been available since the birth of merchant and customers. There are many factors in the world and many focus on specific industries or even segments within industries. Like Temporary Staffing, Trucking, Software Developers, Coders, Oil and Gas services and more.

Accounts Receivable financing, another name for Factoring, requires a small business owner to sell an invoice for an advance against that invoice. The factor will typically provide an advance of between 70-95% of the face value of the invoice depending on a few things. First, the strength of the Account Debtor or the person that owes the small business money, for a service or product. The Account Debtor is typically another business.

The process for starting to factor is much like obtaining a commercial bank loan or home loan, expect that Factors will work with clients who aren’t bankable or able to secure financing from a traditional community bank, credit union, or national bank. A basic application is completed and information is provided for the underwriting of the invoice and client. These documents will usually include the businesses financials, information on the account debtor, a background check, and documents related to the invoice, contracts, purchase order and more.

Once all the documents are gathered the factor will complete its due diligence and underwrite and quote factoring the invoice. The underwriter will also recommend a term for factoring, since you will be putting your future invoices up for security in the event the invoice doesn’t pay, or some other calamity prevents the payment of the factored invoice.

Factoring can be expensive, and it can also be very reasonable. When comparing the cost of financing, merchant advance loans, credit cards, and other typical small business financing, factoring may actually be a bit cheaper. Again the cost to factor is based on the risk and likelihood the invoice will pay the factor. The cost is also determined by the credit, collateral, character of the small business requesting the factoring.

The easiest way to look at factoring is figuring its cost on a monthly basis. It’s not uncommon for a factor to offer very attractive rates or at least advertise them online .35% to5.55% but the reality is those are 10 day rates or something near that. A typical factor will charge between 1.5% for the highest quality factor to over 5% for risky invoices that have a higher risk profile.