Opening a banquet hall is an opportunity to actively participate in your community. You can also earn an income while helping others. From class reunions to corporate Christmas parties, banquet halls often serve a variety of people in a number of ways. Owners may even be called upon to help plan weddings and other large social gatherings. While this business can ultimately be fun and exciting, it also requires hard work.
Research existing banquet facilities in your area. This is important for knowing the competition your hall will face. You can also use this information to find a niche for your banquet facility. You may, for example, choose to focus on corporate-sponsored events instead of private parties like graduations and family reunions. Sizing up the competition will help you strategize how to fit into the market.
During your research, use online and telephone directories. Banquethalls.com offers a list of registered facilities for each of the 50 states. Banquetcentral.com is a similar resource. You will likely compile a more complete list if you use a number of different resources.
Speak with city officials regarding the permits and licenses necessary for a banquet hall. Locationisland.com is a national directory of many local municipalities. By following the links provided for your state and county, you can find government offices that handle business permits. This may help you determine with whom you need to meet and the types of licenses you need to discuss. Banquet halls that serve food and alcohol need appropriate licenses for each. You will also likely need building permits, inspection certificates from the health department and certificates of occupancy, again depending upon the laws imposed by your city or state.
In some cases, prospective banquet facility owners choose to hire the services of an attorney. Such professionals can help form your corporation and also handle much of the paperwork necessary for local licenses and permits. They can further guide you through legal processes to ensure your hall complies with zoning and health requirements.
Locate a building in which to open your new banquet facility. When reviewing possible locations, consider any repairs or maintenance issues that need to be addressed. The foundation should be sound, with functioning kitchen and bathroom areas. It is also critical to examine the floors and walls; if these have noticeable squeaks, wear marks, cracks or holes, you will need to fix them before opening for business. Parking is another crucial point that should not be overlooked.
List the various services you will provide to customers. Some banquet facilities, for example, offer items such as colored linens, center pieces, a dance floor, in-house catering and music services. You may incorporate these into customer packages or use them as staple accommodations to draw patrons.
Write a business plan. This can be used for acquiring investors and also to keep your business goals on target. The Small Business Administration (SBA) website offers tools to put your plan together. The SBA also offers online workshops and strategic planning tools for marketing your business.
According to the SBA, these areas are essential to a good business plan: executive summary, market analysis, company description, organization and management, marketing and sales management, service or produce line, funding request, financials and appendix.
Obtain financing from banks, investors or other lenders. This will be necessary to meet the cost requirements of your facility, unless you have adequate personal capital. In some cases, the SBA can help you find funding. That organization may also determine if you qualify for special government lending programs such as those provided to women and minority business owners.
Purchase the business licenses and permits required by your local government. At this stage, you will also need to purchase supplies and equipment. Considerations include cleaning materials, glassware, silverware, dishes, toiletries for guests, food and beverage items, cooking instruments and utensils and general office supplies. If you provide linens, table centerpieces or other accessories for customers, you will also need to purchase or rent those from a provider. Equipment that is relevant to the kitchen includes soup warmers, coffee pots, server trays, glass racks for dishwashing, microwaves, coolers and industrial-sized ovens.
You may also need to hire professional consultants for decorating, remodeling or maintenance. Graphic design materials may be necessary for marketing your business. Refer to your business plan during this time to stay on budget and remain within the guidelines of your business model.
Hire personnel for the banquet hall. Staff members include servers, a facility manager, accountant or bookkeeper, marketing professional and an event coordinator to meet with customers. If you have an on-site kitchen, you will also need staff for menu and food preparation, cooking and dishwashing. You might additionally hire a cleaning person and/or employee to help with table and floor setup.
Market your banquet hall. This can be done in a number of ways, depending upon the market segment you intend to reach. If, for example, you intend to market to corporations, you could distribute an informational brochure, sample menu and price list to local business managers and owners. Additional marketing ideas include submitting a press release to the newspaper and television or radio station, running an advertisement in the newspaper and joining a business networking group to promote your facility.
The SBA website offers marketing tools and ideas to help your business succeed. You may also choose to register with free online banquet directories. Banquethalls.com offers a short list of these, in which you would need to have a website for potential customers to see. Your local chamber of commerce may also be helpful, either through membership or by guiding you to other area resources.
Establish business relationships with local party vendors. You may even consider forming partnerships with a florist, disc jockey and party supplier. With these relationships, you may refer each other’s services to customers or use one another exclusively to build revenue. This is also an effective way to market your banquet facility.
- Blue and yellow table before wedding in restaurant image by Alfonso d'Agostino from Fotolia.com