So you’re looking to start a mobile catering business, but you’re not too sure where to start. This is a common problem, especially since there is such a huge range of options to choose from. You’re wondering whether you should start off by selling sandwiches, or just regular beverages. Maybe you’re a bit more daring and you want to try your hand at culinary arts. Either way, you will need a mobile catering vehicle, and we think the Jiffy Van might just be what you need.
What are the pros of running a mobile business?
To begin with, you manage your entire business the way you want to. Not to mention, your start-up costs will be lower than average and you have the freedom of picking specific locations and hot spots across the country!
If that hasn’t sold you, this might. Street food is an ever-growing market in the UK and is becoming increasingly popular in densely populated areas, such as cities and festivals. Not only can you jump on the street food train, you will be able to set up shop in any location that brings a wealth of people, profit!
How do you set up a mobile catering business?
As with most investment plans, you will need to do your research. You should spend as much time at food markets and local events to find out what you should sell and where. This, and also whether you’d want to become a mobile caterer – since it can be very demanding!
Think about what others are doing and ask yourself “what can I do differently?” Maybe you want to stand out amongst the crowd? The bottom line is, you have to have a passion for the job, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a passionate cook or a budding baker. You can quit your career as a successful chef and set up a mobile catering business simply because you want more interaction with people, or you want something more personal.
Do I need qualifications to own a Jiffy Van?
Yes. You will be required to present a level 2 in food hygiene certificate. This can be acquired by NCASS (Nationwide Caterers Association) for £30. If you became a member, you would only be expected to pay £12.50.
Also, you should be sure to register with the local council food safety team, arrange liability insurance and develop a food safety risk assessment also known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). If you are already a NCASS member, you will be able to receive HACCP in your membership as well as cheaper training and insurance. So be sure to check out the NCASS membership.
You will also need a gas safe certificate if you will be using gas. If you’re using electricity, you will need to provide a 12-month PAT Test Certificate. For every new electrical instrument you bring on board, you will need to have it tested and issued with a PAT Test sticker of approval.
Be sure to scan all of your certificates to a digital format before applying to all the events you would like to cater to. This will help you keep organised and increase your chances of being accepted.
What equipment do I need for a mobile kitchen?
Depending on the food or beverage you are hoping to provide, you will need different equipment. If you are looking to become a fast food stall, you might need a fryer or a griddle. If you’re looking into selling bakery products you might need an oven.
It might also be good to consider table top equipment such as tea urns or coffee machines. Maybe you need a blender for smoothies or panini grills? Again, something to think about when you’re looking into setting up shop!
The difficult topic is space. The most common issue with mobile catering businesses is they don’t have enough space in their vehicles to provide all the services they would like to. You could invest in smaller machines, but this could impact the number of customers you are serving. You run the risk of slower service with smaller machines which ultimately lead to loss of custom.
Whereas if you were to invest in much larger machines you will be restricting your kitchen area which in turn, restricts your work efficiency and puts a lot of pressure on your power supply. You will need to do some research to figure out where you will be able to save space on smaller machines vs the ones you really can’t compromise on. Sometimes it’s just a case of deciding what you’re trying to sell more of. Everything else can just be added extras.
You will also need to consider water limitations. There will be certain areas you will have to try and be as practical and efficient in. For example, you will need to wash your equipment and your hands frequently. This all becomes difficult to do when you don’t have fresh and clean water on tap. Just remember, without fresh water you are running the risk of your food catering van becoming a food safety hazard.
Power and Gas
The same applies for services such as gas and electricity. If you need larger equipment, you will also need a larger power supply. This might mean you will need a generator to supply this power you require.
If you are cooking, you will need to keep your working space free from smoke and potential fumes. Investing in an extraction device will be a necessary requirement. This being said, it is also important that you bring enough gas canisters with you so you don’t run out of gas half way through cooking!
Why should I use a Jiffy van for my start up?
Jiffy vans have the ability to serve freshly cooked food on the go, or cold drinks and sandwiches for those in need of a refreshment on a hot summer’s day. The benefit of owning a Jiffy van is they are versatile and easy to plant anywhere in the country within reach of the general public.
Another benefit to owning and using a Jiffy van is how easy it is to be hygienic, temperature perfect, storage practical as well as being safe and secure.
We currently offer the Jiffy Bistro van. We opted for the Bistro because it’s a great size and has all you need to kickstart your mobile catering business! The Jiffy Bistro is packed with features and essential tools you would need to help your business run as smoothly as it can.
You’re getting far more than a temperature controlled vehicle however. You will be investing in a vehicle that carries an entire bistro in its loadspace. Offering both hot and cold meals on wheels!
What should I call my company?
This is entirely up to you, but when thinking of a name for your business, think of something quirky and fun! You want your visitors to remember you so when they see you again, they know to make a beeline straight to you!
Depending on the type of food you are wanting to sell, you can think of names that can closely relate to this such as “The Hot Dog” for a hot dog stand. Or “The Tea and Pot” for light treats to drink a hot cuppa. Either way, keep it sweet and simple!
How do I market my business?
This is always a tricky question to ask because with any up and coming business, you have no idea where you should start sharing your business and where your time is better spent promoting yourself.
A good start is with social media. Set up a Facebook page, make sure you’re putting all important information so you can be easily contacted by events managers. Another great potential for social media promotion is it’s free! So long as you keep on top of it. Reach out to your customers, share with them where you will be venturing to next and make sure they’re all included in every step of your journey!
This will be a great place to not only grow your follow base, but gives you an opportunity to be noticed by potential events and party planners.
Now that we have covered all the basics of starting up a mobile catering business, what will you do next? What are your first moves going to be? We’d love to hear if our blog has helped you come to an action plan!