How to Start a Mobile Food Service Business

The food industry is booming, especially in terms of mobile businesses. Food-trucks, for example, are surfacing all over the globe. They’re bringing a wide range of dishes to the streets. It’s a fast, easy and delicious way to access your lunch.

You may know what it’s like to be a consumer, but what about someone who has invested in these types of businesses? If you are interested in starting a mobile food service business, you will need to plan effectively. The following steps will help you move towards your dreams of running a successful mobile food business.

There are numerous factors when attempting to start a mobile food service business. You need to ask yourself if this is a full-time commitment, while focusing on your experience and budget. If you are serious about starting a mobile food business, then these steps can help you reach your goals.

Step One: Decide What Angle You’d Like to Take

Whether you’re a passionate home cook, an entrepreneur, or a retired chef, you will need to decide on what angle you’d like to take regarding your business. Although food trucks are the big craze right now, there are a variety of other options as well.

You need to have a thorough idea of what you’re looking to achieve, before you create any sort of action plan. So, let’s focus on what your options are, so that you can continue with your planning process.

Food Trucks

We’ll start by focusing on one of the more popular options right now: food trucks. In comparison to some of the other options, food trucks allow for more storage, more professional equipment, and creativity in terms of your menu. There are many ’gourmet food trucks’ that are offering incredible dishes. This may be your forte if you’re an experienced, passionate chef.

For a food truck, you will also need to focus on location. Although you can travel from spot to spot, you’ll want to be located in an area that has a lot of foot traffic, busy lunch hours, and fewer restaurant options. If, for instance, your location is nearby a large park (which is located in the city), it could be the perfect opportunity to build business.

Trucks come in all sizes and conditions. Depending on your budget and your experience, you may want to consider whether or not food will be prepared on-site or pre-prepared and packaged (especially if you’re looking to serve cold food items).

Food Cart

Food carts have been around for many years. You know, the carts that sell hot dogs, jacket potatoes, or any other food that can be eaten on the go? These give you less freedom in terms of menu ideas, but they are typically much more cost-effective. They also require less experience and less licensing.

Kiosks That Serve Food

The last time you were at a football match, you may have stopped at the food kiosk for a snack. These food stands are generally temporary, as they are easily set up in stadiums or malls. This may be a good option for you, if you’re looking to work in the mobile food industry part-time. This option is more flexible, with limited inventory.


Although catering may appear to overlap with other options, it is much different. Caterers are typically hired for specific events. Whether you’d like to cater for weddings or more casual parties, there are many options. You may hand out food directly from a truck or set up within an event.

This is a more extensive business opportunity as it requires a business plan, a higher budget, permits, and more. The major plus with catering is the less waste. You do not generally need to worry about inventory being wasted, as you plan for specific events and specific menus. The mobile part of this business is typically transporting the menu items directly to a venue or specified location.

Step Two: What Will You Offer?

The whole point of a mobile food business is, of course, to offer food at various locations. In order to be successful, you’ll need to offer menu items that people want. Also, they need to be practical. Before you begin planning your menu, you need to focus on some crucial areas.

Will you be cooking yourself? If so, what is your experience? Now, focus on what foods will sell in your area. Although you may love sushi, it may not do well in the heart of Texas. Sometimes you need to separate yourself from the equation.

You’ll need to know where you’ll be sourcing ingredients from. What time of the day will you be serving food? At that time, who is your competition? As you can see, there is a lot that goes into planning the food items you will offer. Since this will be the core focus of your business, take your time with this step.

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Before you hit the market, you’ll need to perfect and test your foods. You do not want to invest in a pizza truck, only to find out that you cannot make enough in one day to sustain your business. You also need to focus on how well it serves, how well it travels and, of course, how good it tastes.

Step Three: Get All Necessary Permits and Licenses

This may not be the most exciting step, but it’s crucial nonetheless. Before you buy all your ingredients, make sure your licensing is in order. This will focus on health codes and regulations, so that you can build a following of foodie fans.

Depending on your country or even state, licensing and permits are different. In order to get started, contact your local health department. For instance, here is the website for the Middlesex-London area. You can contact your local health department, inquiring on your next required course of action.

This will vary greatly, especially in terms of the food you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling pre-packaged items then you may not need to go through extensive, strict licensing. Once your business is in motion, make sure you’re keeping records of everything. You will be required to undergo health inspections. You should also keep any required identification or licenses on hand at all times.

Step Four: Focus On Your Costs, What Is Your Budget?

Once again, your costs will depend on what business route you’d like to take, your ingredients, and your location. As mentioned, a cart is going to cost less than a truck, but it also gives you less freedom. For starters, make a list of everything you will need: equipment, staff, a vehicle, marketing budget, etc.

Make sure you have everything planned properly. That way, you won’t run out of money before you launch. Know your budget and what you can afford. Make smart decisions that will allow you to make a return on your investment.

Step Five: Get Creative and Have Fun

Once all the daunting steps are out of the way, you can have a little fun. If you invested in a food truck, what will your angle be? If you’re offering fresh, vegan options, reflect that on the side of your truck. Paint it; make it stand out so that people know what you’re offering.

You may have the best food in town, but if your truck or cart is not inviting, you could lose out on business. Choose a theme and stick to it. This theme should be reflected within your menu, logo, and throughout your overall concept.

If you think that the mobile food industry is for you, take a leap of faith. With that being said, be wise with your decisions and make sure that you finish one step before moving onto the next. Plan ahead, utilize your strengths, and have fun. Although your dream food truck may be an idea today, it could be a wonderful success by the end of the year. Good luck!




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