There’s no denying that the mobile catering business is growing in popularity, and rapidly at that. What started as roadside burger vans has now expanded into cocktails bars and gourmet food trucks offering 5* meals to go. So, I can understand why you’d be interested in joining the industry.

If you are interested in starting a mobile catering business, then you want to be aware of what comes with the territory before taking the plunge and that includes the advantages and disadvantages of owning and running one.

‎Pros

Create your own menu

If you’re looking into the option of starting a mobile catering business, then you probably have a passion or at least an interest in food, so the biggest selling point for most is the fact that you can create your own menu. Go wild, get inventive and use your own creations. Make your secret family recipes famous. You’re the boss so use this freedom to march to the beat of your own drum and develop your own style.

Cost

Arguably, a mobile catering business’s main strength is the price. Typically, the running costs are low, the prices of dishes are cheaper, and let’s not forget that the actual start-up costs will be lower compared to opening a shop-based restaurant or café.

For more information, read our guide on how much it costs to start a food truck business.

Opportunity

We all know that being your own boss and making the decisions creates ample opportunities. We’ve discovered that you not only get the freedom to create your own menu, but it also grants you the opportunity to change and mix it up whenever you want. So, if there’s seasonal produce you’re dying to use, why not throw it up as a special New food trend circulating TikTok or Instagram? Jump on the bandwagon and reap the rewards!

Alongside this, the opportunity to market your business is large and, in this industry, it’s all about word of mouth. It’s one of the easiest and more importantly, cheapest, ways to get your name and what you’re serving out there because people trust it. 

It’s been proven that if you receive a recommendation from a friend or close family member, you’re more likely to explore it rather than just scrolling past an ad on social media. So grab the opportunity and park up in front of a busy office area at lunchtime, go to a popular park or even attend a music festival and get those people talking about what you have to offer!

Mobility

The clue is in the name, your business is mobile so it’s easy to take advantage and seize the opportunity of targeting fluctuating levels of business in different areas and even events. 

Convenience

Quick service and the use of disposable packaging and cutlery that’s perfect for ‘getting and going’, it’s a no-nonsense style of catering and an easy way to enjoy good food.

‎Cons

Lack of space

There’s no hiding, (literally), that the space you’ll have to work in will be limited, and when you add in the kitchen equipment and the staff, that space will feel even smaller. Depending on the amount available, you may even have to reduce the amount of staff you originally planned to have working with you.

Whilst this is on the ‘cons’ list, it doesn’t have to be seen as a complete negative, it just means you may need to get creative with how you work.

Cost

On the flip side, while it may be the cheaper way to start a new business, the cost for buying the necessary vehicle outright can creep into the four, or even five figures, and if you go for a used catering van, you’ll need to have a budget to cover any repair costs in case anything goes wrong.

God forbid if anything does go wrong, you’ll also need to factor in what you’ll lose whilst your vehicle is off the road.

Parking

While you can go anywhere, you can’t park everywhere. Our city streets all have different sets of rules, restrictions and dreaded zones! Therefore, to ensure you have the correct permits your prospective schedule may need planning in advance.

It’s also worth mentioning that in some areas you’ll have to adhere to the same parking charges as a normal car. It’s recommended that you leave a little money in the budget for potential parking fees and always do your research before setting off.

Competition 

Go to any weekend market or public event and you’ll see for yourself, the competition is fierce. From mac and cheese to sushi bowls and even the return of good ol’ fish and chips, you’ll be battling with cuisines from every corner of the world all trying to get noticed, therefore, thinking outside the box and standing out has never been so important.

No guarantee 

We’ve always known it, but over the last couple of years we’ve seen just how unpredictable life can be and one thing to remember is that work and income aren’t always guaranteed. Events can be cancelled, and trade can be slow so it’s important to be aware of this and have a contingency plan in place. 

‎Before you go

It’s important to understand the market before diving straight into the deep end. If this is you and you are after more advice, take a read of our how to start a food truck business article.

If you already have your catering van set up, make sure you have the correct insurance. Lexham Insurance offers an exclusive and bespoke catering van insurance scheme that ensures you have everything you need to get out on the road and sell your goods!

Related article

How much does it cost to start a food truck business?

Discover how much it costs to start a food truck business, from the initial cost of a food truck to...

Read more