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4 Tips for Starting Out as a Personal Chef


Becoming a personal chef is a perfect work at home opportunity for people who love to cook. You can create menus for special occasions and everyday meals. Your clients will enjoy the benefits of a home-cooked meal, without the fuss. You will be able to plan your days around your commitments, and set your own schedule. The steps for getting started as a personal chef are similar to starting a catering business, but you may need a few extra tips to make this business work for you.

1. Research Your Market

People who need personal chefs often haven't given any thought to using one. You must identify your potential customers by researching the demographics of your market. You can do informal market research at your grocery store. Observe how many harried, working moms you see at the deli counter trying to collect a prepared meal for their families, often with hungry kids in tow. Look for single men who dine out frequently at local restaurants. Check your newspaper for wedding announcements. Follow up your observations by collecting some hard data about food purchases and restaurant trends in your areas.

2. Select a Niche

To compete with other prepared food options, you may need to specialize. You could focus on newlyweds who don't have cooking skills. Your services may help them bridge the first few months of married life. You could even share a few simple recipes with the new brides. Single moms and working families still want to have something better than fast food and deli take-out once a month or so. Perhaps the senior citizens in your neighborhood would enjoy hosting dinner for special occasions, without committing to the fuss. They might even have regular get togethers, like bridge or poker nights, so you could rotate from one homestead to the next.

3. Get Publicity

Join business networks and community organizations that your potential clients frequent. Offer to bring food samples to meetings. Create a newsletter with food news and cooking tips. Include a discount coupon for first time customers. Distribute your publication by mail or through complementary businesses like grocery and house wares stores. Write a press release that you can distribute to your local and community news outlets. Make sure your press release contains newsworthy information, such as a special or themed offering like Gender-related services such as "Mom's Day Off," a coupon for Mother's Day gifts that can be cashed in at an appropriate time for the recipient.

4. Get Referrals

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful methods of advertising. Most people frequent food establishments that have plenty of customers. They don't mind waiting in line if the food is good. Eating is a personal experience that has invisible and intangible trappings. Your customers can be the best source of leads and referrals for your business because they can provide personal testimony about how much your services helped them, relieved their stress, brought family harmony or satisfied a food craving.

Don't be shy about asking your satisfied customers for names of friends and family who might enjoy a break from meal planning and preparation. Most people will be flattered that someone thought of them. Follow-up by sending your menus and offering a discount or some other introductory perk. Don't forget to thank your referral customers with an unexpected tasty treat.

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