As long as there weddings, christenings and major holidays to celebrate, families will always need party venues. While no reception hall business is recession-proof, the right location and mix of services will always grab the attention of busy people looking for help with their special events. Owning a reception hall can be a complicated business, but like all worthwhile endeavors, success parallels the time and enthusiasm you invest.
Seek enough funding to carry you through the start-up phase and your first year of business. Bankers, venture capitalists and investors will ask for a detailed business plan, so prepare one that covers matters related to location, demographics, marketing plans and competition. The bottom line is investors want to know how much time, energy and money you’ll invest to deliver a healthy bottom line once your reception hall is up and running.
Use a savvy commercial realtor to help you find and negotiate the best deal on available property. You can either buld a hall from scratch -- an expensive proposition requiring architects, contractors plus licensing and permits -- or buy an existing building that’s large enough to suit your vision. Alternately, you can purchase an existing banquet hall that’s a turnkey operation.
Obtain licenses and permits required by your municipal government to operate the reception hall you’re purchasing, if none already exist. Some states issue separate licenses for reception halls that prepare food on premises and those that serve -- but don’t cook -- food on site. You will also need a liquor license, unless local laws prohibit the sale of spirits in your geographic area. Visit your town or city hall licensing authority to apply for these credentials.
Flesh out marketing and advertising plans while you’re undertaking renovations and preparing to open your doors. Partner with other businesses to maximize marketing efforts. Florists, bakeries, caterers, churches, stationers, bridal shops, tux rental shops and party planners all make great business relationships. Save money by setting up co-operative advertising partnerships. It’s not unusual for a reception hall owner to offer a percentage of booking costs as a referral fee to other merchants. Enhance word-of-mouth marketing efforts by getting involved in community affairs.
Purchase necessary equipment and supplies. You’ll need cabinets filled with commercial china, glassware, serving pieces, cookware, linens and utensils to accommodate the largest capacity crowd that you’re licensed to serve. If you have no desire to own these essentials, work out a deal with a rental agency. But do buy tables and chairs that coordinate with your hall’s décor.
Hire wait staff to work your events. The benefits of a roster of servers, set-up and tear down staffers are plentiful: A well-coordinated team working together repeatedly can pull off the most lavish affair with confidence. You've already pulled out all stops to create an environment guaranteed to celebrate life's biggest occasions, so make certain your staff adds the final touch of elegance and excellence and your business should thrive.
You may wish to incorporate your banquet hall so profits and losses are attached to the business rather than your personal assets.
Don't skimp on insurance. As the owner of the reception hall, protect your personal assets in case the business is beset by a natural disaster or you're sued by a patron.
- You may wish to incorporate your banquet hall so profits and losses are attached to the business rather than your personal assets.
- Don't skimp on insurance. As the owner of the reception hall, protect your personal assets in case the business is beset by a natural disaster or you're sued by a patron.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.