In recent times, the catering industry has become a highly lucrative sector in Ghana, with numerous events and gatherings being organized daily. Many young entrepreneurs have taken advantage of this and made a name for themselves in the catering business. One such individual is Nuel Appoh, a young and successful caterer, who has carved a niche for himself in the industry.
In this exclusive interview with Nuel, he shares his journey and insights on how to start a successful catering business in Ghana. Nuel discusses the challenges he faced when he started his business and how he overcame them to become a top-rated caterer in Ghana. He also provides valuable tips on how to manage finances, market your business, and maintain customer satisfaction.
Aspiring entrepreneurs in the catering industry will find this interview highly informative, as Nuel shares his experiences and strategies that have helped him succeed in the competitive industry. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced caterer looking to improve your business, Nuel’s insights will help you take your business to the next level.
Additionally, Nuel emphasizes the importance of networking and building relationships with clients and suppliers in the industry. He also touches on the significance of understanding your target market, being innovative with your menu, and delivering quality service to customers.
Overall, this interview with Nuel Appoh provides a wealth of information for anyone looking to start or improve their catering business in Ghana. With Nuel’s success story and practical advice, aspiring caterers will be inspired to pursue their dreams and build successful catering businesses in Ghana’s booming catering industry.
Below are excerpts of my conversation with Nuel Appoh
Prince Akpah: What inspired you to start your business?
Nuel: It has always been my dream of running my own Food & beverage establishment since childhood. Due to this dream, I planned my life in pursuit of that dream. When I was a kid, I was always in the kitchen, helping my mum cook after which we will dish them out and serve the family. I had 2 sisters who enjoyed being in the kitchen anyway, however, the zeal and passion I had for cooking surpassed them all and they saw how I went about my work in the kitchen which was different from how they did theirs. Nevertheless, I always thought I will start the business somewhere in my early 30s or mid-30s until during an entrepreneurship class in my sophomore year at the University which motivated me to start the business soon. Our lecturer in the Person of Dr Alberta Bondzi- Simpon has played an instrumental role in the commencement of the business. She always inspires us anytime we go to her class. She will push you to the wall until you break and I think that’s how life is supposed to be. We must not stay in our comfort zone because it will render us unproductive and it won’t yield any good results, we must always strive to go the extra mile. So that’s how I was inspired to start the business.
Prince Akpah: How did you raise your initial capital?
Nuel: Savings was from my pocket money. I also got money from my elder sister after the launch of the business to help push the business forward.
Prince Akpah: What informed your style of cooking & marketing?
Nuel: First of foremost, my mum taught me so much pertaining to cookery, and owing to that, her training has really influenced my cooking styles. Also, the various hotels I worked with have made a tremendous impact on my cooking styles. I like more continental dishes than local dishes, as much as I can cook more of our local delicacies, I’m good when it comes to continental dishes. I try to fuse some modern-day style with our local delicacies, it gives it more exposure and appeals to people who are not used to such delicacies. On the whole, I like making salads very much. And our salads are the most purchased product by our clients. Every catering business has to be noted for a particular thing that will distinguish your brand from other food brands.
To talk about the marketing segment, the trend of the 21st Century has brought about a drastic change in marketing the business and being a young person, I had to follow what’s new in order not to miss out on some good opportunities. I mostly use the electronic medium to push the brand forward and this has been a fast way to reach my prospective clients and all our clientele.
Prince Akpah: What mistakes did you make that we need to avoid?
Nuel: Furthermore, if you get a contract to cater for a huge number of people within a short time and you think you can’t meet the deadline, trust your instinct and say no. Most of the time, we wish to prove to the world that we can make, in as much as anything possible so far as we believe there is also the principle of planning ahead and facing reality. Also, a catering service is so different from a restaurant service, where people can walk in at any time to place an order and have it to deliver to them within the shortest possible time. For my business, I always recommend at least a 24-hour prior notice if I am to cater for you and it helps smoothen things for both parties. I remember, during the initial stages of the business, we had a contract to cater for 100 people and the order came as late as 5; 00 pm and we were to deliver to them by 4 am the next morning. We had virtually nothing at the time the order came because we hired a lot of staff and I was doing the cooking at my hostel which was cumbersome. When we got the money, we had to go purchase the foodstuffs very late then preparation began, fast forward to 5 am we are done, First of all, we were not able to meet their stipulated time, Secondly, the clients ended up having food poisoning. When I got the feedback, I became disturbed and I wished I hadn’t taken the contract because when I look back I can’t really pinpoint what went wrong in our defence we provided a good meal but underneath the good meal, there were so many flaws. At that time we were not prepared for such a short notice order. But I never allowed those mistakes to get me. I have now learnt from my mistakes and I know how to deal with such situations. What I what to tell readers is that, at the time I took the order, I did not have much of the equipment because it was the initial moments and I did not have enough workers to help me with the meal preparation. It was just my friend who is also part of the brand and I who was doing the business. Currently, I have enough workers who aid in the cooking and running of a smooth business now. Recently we got an order to cater for 60 workers of Ghana Commercial Bank, Takoradi Main the order came as late as 7 am and we were to deliver it by 1 pm the same. Now I was able to take the order because we had a few of the foodstuffs at our disposal, no hiring of equipment, and available workers to help out so in the end we were able to do it and we provided a quality meal to them without any negative feedback. What you need to always keep in mind is how prepared are you.
Prince Akpah: How instrumental has mentorship been to your success?
Nuel: Mentorship has really played a major role in the success of my business, my mum is my mentor and she taught me a lot about cookery. She mentored me so well because she knew the industry I was getting myself into, she wanted me to act as a professional in whatever I will do and her mentorship has been just amazing. Nevertheless, in the industry Mrs Chichi Yakubu, the CEO of Nyoyo Essential, a catering business located in Accra, is also my mentor in the catering business, I look up to her for inspiration. She is a game changer and I’m inspired anytime I see her works. I try to do something better and different than her because at the end of the day, as such mentorship is good, your brand should have its unique characteristics to distinguish yours from others. And she has been in the business for a while so when you look up to these people, you know for sure you are in the right direction.
Moreover, after Senior high school, I worked with one caterer, Auntie Cecilia Oppong, and this woman’s mentorship has been nothing but amazing. I thank God I sat under her feet during my teenage days. When I was working for her, I learnt so many things about the catering business by just observing and taking keen attention to details and it has helped me so much now. Everyone needs to have someone whom they look up to because those people will help shape your life or your business in the near future. You may think you can do it by yourself and make it but everyone needs somebody, we all have to learn from someone to better at what we do and make an impact.
Prince Akpah: What are the key things to look for in a successful catering company?
- Every successful company should have his/ her speciality, it must be known for a particular thing. When a catering service it’s known for its unique style of service it makes one know for sure they are in the right direction thus being successful in all their dealings. That’s a pure success because you are not stealing anyone’s idea and converting it into your business.
- There must be evidence of growth after a period of time. It’s not about how nice your social media pages look like and how well you propagate the business to the outside world. This is hidden and it’s not very visible. I for one, keep track record of all clientele we cater for, I check out every event we cater for, and the profit we made at the end of the day. If the profit margin was good or not good after bills have been deducted. All these will help you know if you running a successful catering business or not.
- The brand should be able to withstand the test of time. Every business reaches a certain stage in its business growth where they are faced with challenges, some from clients, suppliers, and others from the employees. The challenges are inevitable, however, you must be able to overcome them and this will let people know how successful the business is. It will, in turn, make people know that success is not just having the financial means but encompasses a whole lot that comes together to make the brand.
This article and interview was written by Prince Akpah in 2017