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What do I need to start a food van business?

For those with a passion for food and entrepreneurship, starting a food van business may be a dream venture. As a career choice, it offers variety, flexibility and allows you to be your own boss. You can travel around the country with your food van, booking spots at festivals or events, or stay in your local area and establish a following of locals who adore your food. If you’ve ever wondered about starting such a business, let’s explore some of the fundamentals you’ll need to get up and running.

A suitable vehicle

First and foremost, you’ll need a suitable vehicle to serve your food from. You could buy a ready-made catering van or design and create your own from a second-hand unit. Consider the functions and facilities you’ll need from your vehicle – including electrical outlets, gas bottle storage, cooking appliances and decorative elements, to name a few. The van is likely to be your most significant investment, so build your budget around this key feature.

A menu or theme

Next you’ll need to have an idea or concept of your style of cuisine. This should influence your menu, branding and unique selling point which will help to draw customers to your food outlet. You may be passionate about Neapolitan pizza, Caribbean jerk chicken or fish and chips – but your food van theme should be central to the whole experience you are offering.

Culinary skills

It should go without saying, but if you are going to start a food van business then you should probably have some sort of culinary experience or skill. Whether you’ve perfected recipes at home or you’ve gained experience in the food industry – your cooking skills will help to generate customer satisfaction through quality products. If you’re not confident in your culinary skills, perhaps you could hire a helping hand to bring your concept to life.

Licences and insurance

As a food establishment, there are several licences and registrations that you must attain before beginning to trade. Most licences should be set up with a local authority to ensure that your facilities meet food hygiene standards and give you permission to become a street vendor. It’s also important to ensure that you invest in small business insurance to cover your venture in the face of unforeseen circumstances. This is a fundamental step wherever members of the public are involved.

Business acumen

Finally, you may be thinking about creating a food van because you are passionate about food, but you will also need to understand how a business operates and apply your knowledge to turn a profit. You should be aware of pricing strategies, how to manage costs and ways to market your experience and food to customers. If you’re going to make a success of your food van, you’ll need to put as much time and effort into the business proceedings as you do the food.

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