Those who wish to start a mobile catering business may want to do so for several reasons. Maybe you already have a concession trailer or food truck, and you are looking to expand your enterprise. Perhaps you already have a catering business, and now you want to take that business on the road. Whatever reason you want to start a mobile catering business, now is a great time.
Catering is a $16 billion industry and, throughout 2022, is expected to grow by 4%. In other words, the outlook for caterers is reasonably good right now. So what do you need to get started on your mobile catering business? In this article, we break down the basics.
You Need to Choose a Location
Obviously, before figuring out which area you want to serve, you will need a mobile catering unit or food truck if you don’t already have one. Once you procure your vehicle, you need to determine which areas you intend to target. Do your research here. For example, if a particular market is already particularly saturated with mobile caterers, then perhaps you want to focus your efforts elsewhere. Look to see where events tend to be held. Is a specific city more apt to host more weddings than another nearby city? Again, this stage is all about your research.
Make Sure You Have the Necessary Supplies
Some concession trailers or food trucks will already be stocked with items you need to establish a successful mobile catering business. You want to make sure that you fill any gaps and address any specific needs you specifically have as a caterer. For example, given the nature of your menu, will you need additional refrigeration? If you specialize in fried foods, will you have to equip the truck with fryers? Are there sufficient janitorial supplies onboard? Cover every conceivable angle as far as the supplies you will need to get started.
Have Your Permits and Licenses in Place
What exactly you will need by way of a permit or license will vary depending on the region you are in. Remember that working without the necessary permits could get you in trouble and equate to steep fines. Check with local authorities and make sure you comply. Also, at this stage, you want to make sure that you have the necessary insurances to include liability insurance, among other insurance types that may be required.
Create Your Catering Menu
Think about what types of clients you primarily serve. If yours is essentially a wedding and event food truck or concession trailer, your menu needs to reflect this. On the other hand, if you tend to do festivals and fairs, your menu will look a bit different. Ideally, you’re going to have a standard menu and one that is also somewhat customizable. Especially for events, customers like to have some freedom in terms of the type of food they can choose. While certainly, you can’t offer everything, you can have some menu customization options available. Hand-in-hand with menu creation is deciding on your pricing. Are you going to offer fixed pricing? Tiered pricing? Whatever your pricing system, make sure that it is clear and understandable.
Hire Your Team
Every good mobile caterer needs a decent team behind them. The size of your team will correlate to the size of your food truck, the number of events you take on, and the region you serve. You are at the very least going to want to hire a driver and, most likely, a server. Depending on what role you opt to take, you may also need a chef. Think carefully about the size of the team that you want, and be even more careful during the hiring process. You want to be sure that you have good people working alongside you.
Starting a mobile catering business is by no means an easy endeavor. It takes work, often a lot of work. However, if you are passionate about your business and determined to make a go of it, you might realize a pretty great career.
First Union Lending is Here to Help
We work with small businesses across the US. Our job is to help our clients thrive and grow. We offer short-term loans, merchant cash advances, and SBA loans, among other financing types. If you need additional working capital for your catering business, we would love to consult with you.