After the crash of 2008-2009, many people left the nine to five in favor of starting their own businesses. No longer did they have the faith in their employers that retirement funds were secure and would be for tomorrow.
Many of these people did not have a huge amount of money to invest, and so began a boom in the mobile food business. Gone are the days of trucks serving stale coffee and greasy, reheated food to factory workers, food trucks serve everything from fresh seafood and sushi to gourmet mac and cheese and grilled sandwiches.
Want to get in the mobile food business game? Here are five fundamentals that will get you off to a good start.
1. Get Funding
The one thing you are going to need if you are going to start any business is money. Unless you have a trust fund, you are going to have to find a way to pay for your business. There are several options, and most successful businesses use a combination of them.
- Savings: You can save all you can towards starting your business and try to pay cash for things.
- Work a Part-Time Job: You can work a part-time job while you get your business going.
- Take out a Secured Loan: You can borrow against assets you or your business own. This keeps interest rates low.
- Take out a Personal Loan: These loans are usually smaller and have higher interest rates, but can give your mobile food business an early boost of cash.
- Look into SBA Loans: Generally, these are longer-term loans with lower interest rates intended to get your business off to the right start.
One of the keys here is to have a good budget. Know how much money you need to get going, and how much you can afford to pay back in both worst and best-case scenarios. Don’t borrow more than you can afford and avoid too much debt if possible.
2. Get the Right Equipment
You have a couple of choices for your mobile food business. Some people choose to use a food truck while others will opt for food trailers. The difference is in maintenance costs of the motor part of the vehicle, and that if you tow a trailer instead, you can use nearly any vehicle with the right capabilities to move it.
The drawback is that you do have to have the right vehicle to tow a food trailer, and unless you have one already, the combination of a tow vehicle and the trailer is usually higher than that of just a food truck. That considered, you may want to research used food trucks for sale and opt for a vehicle instead of a trailer.
Once you have the right vehicle, you will need to fill it with the right equipment to prepare your food. Often this equipment will have to meet the standards of local health codes and other restaurant regulations, so be sure that you choose carefully. Be wary of items that seem too cheap. As always if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Once you have the right gear, you are ready to move on.
3. Partner with the Right People
You might not have employees at first, but you will deal with vendors and suppliers. It is important that you choose these people as carefully as you would employees. They are the way you serve your customers, so they need to be reliable with reasonable prices. You are looking for consistent ingredients, quality, and on-time delivery. Nothing is worse than being at an event and running out of something.
Once you do hire employees to be sure you are partnering with people who share your vision and your drive for success. Make sure they provide your customer with the same great service you do and don’t compromise your standards. A tip for all of you with a catering business in the UK: make sure to get catering insurance UK so you aren’t paying out of pocket for damages that may happen to you or your employees.
The same is true for investors, referral partners, and more. Be sure whoever you partner with is just as committed to success as you are.
4. Locations, Locations, Locations
Even though your business is mobile, you cannot just expect to plop down on any street corner and do well. It might be someone else’s property or you set up there might be against city codes, there are other factors to consider. One is simple vehicle and foot traffic, and how easy it is to get in and out of the location where you have set up.
Second, you must determine if the traffic is the kind that will be attracted to your business and that you are there at the right time. You will not do as much business with a coffee truck at 7 p.m. as you will at 7 a.m. when people are on the way to work and need caffeine.
You also won’t do as well far away from where people work, or in locations that are difficult to enter and exit during rush hour. This will impact how people interact with your business, and whether or not they will even give you a try.
The advantage of a mobile food business is that you can move throughout the day or week, and if a certain location is not working, you can abandon it for a new one with very little trouble. Think of multiple locations instead of just one, and what time of the day works best for each.
5. Market All the Time
No one can come to your food truck if they don’t know that you exist. You need to be constantly marketing from blog posts and your website to ads on places like Google and Facebook. Keep active on social media so you can tell people where you will be and when. Your faithful customers will follow you around.
Marketing is something that does not stop but is a constant practice that includes both digital and physical media. From posters to signs, and even the truck you drive or trailer you pull, you are constantly advertising.
If you are going to start a mobile food business and be successful you will need to incorporate these elements into your planning. If you get the right equipment, people, and locations, you will stand out from the competition and be well on your way to success.
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