Mobile catering in England is big business. Visit any city in the United Kingdom and you’ll find everything from ice cream to fish and chip to fresh fruit juice vans, each with a queue of people just waiting to be served.
The industry offers an ideal starting point for those looking to break into catering. With lower overheads than traditional static businesses, little financial investment is required to begin, and the locational flexibility means that you can set up shop wherever your customers are, without having to pay competitive rents.
So how do you get started?
Decide Where You’ll Prepare Your Beverages
Owning a mobile catering business does not necessarily mean that you’ll need to prepare food within your mobile unit; depending on the nature of the business, you may decide that it’s more convenient to cook it at home. Whichever route you choose to adopt, you need to make sure that you have Food Premises Approval before you start trading.
Next, consider whether you will require storage and refrigeration, dishwashing or cooking equipment, how big a surface area you’ll need for preparation, and whether these will need to be in your mobile unit or at home. If you’ll be running electrical appliances in the former, you’re going to need other essentials to power them, such as a generator from SGS Engineering. These sorts of considerations should be one of the first things you think about, as they’ll have a big impact on other factors, such as the type of vehicle you require.
Choose a Mobile Catering Vehicle
There are lots of options available for those looking to set up a mobile catering business, each of them different in terms of their size and affordability. To start, set yourself a budget and only consider vehicles that fall within it. Next, consider how much space you’re going to need, whether you’re going to require storage or refrigeration facilities and your own personal preferences as the driver. Create a shortlist of potential vehicles that you can afford, and use the criteria you’ve settled on to narrow it down.
Create a Menu and Pricing Structure
Once you know what sort of things you’ll be preparing, where you’ll be preparing them and the facilities you’re going to have, sit down and formulate a menu that complements them. Your selections should, of course, be chosen based on how much they’ll appeal to customers, but you also need to consider how much they’ll cost to create, how easy they are to make and whether they’ll require prior preparation, storage or refrigeration. Once you’ve worked this out and come up with an idea of what you want to serve, take the time to calculate the cost of preparing your food, factoring in a little extra for labour, petrol and business overheads. Remember, however much you enjoy the role, you do also need to make a profit in order for your business to thrive.
Once you’ve worked through these initial steps, you have a ready-to-go catering enterprise – all that’s left to do is market it, find yourself some customers, build a good reputation, expand and take on the world one pitch at a time.