Street food is really popular right now -from falafel stands and burger vans to noodle trucks and mobile crepe bars, we’re all going gaga for authentic roadside eats – and that’s good news for anyone who is interested in starting up their own food business.
Of course, street food success isn’t guaranteed. You will have to work hard and create a great product if you want to make a living in this business, but it also isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips to help push the odds in your favour:
Learn to Cook
If you can’t whip up tasty food that people will actually want to eat, then I’m sorry to say that you really have no business working in the street food business. If your food is bad, you won’t even be in business for very long, so if you can’t cook, check out this great cooking course and learn the basics. It’s the only way you can hope to succeed if you aren’t already a pro.
Get the Relevant Training/Qualifications
As a street food vendor, you will usually need to have at least a few basic health and hygiene qualifications in place before you can legally sell food to the masses. What these qualifications are will differ from place to place, so be sure to get in touch with your local authority if you don’t want to get shut down before you’ve even really started.
Buy a Used Truck
As a startup, you will want to keep your overheads as low as possible, do, first of all, invest in a used truck. There are endless numbers of affordable used trucks that are perfect for conversion on the market, and more details can be found here. Take a look and see what’s on offer and be sure to choose a truck that’s both big enough and cheap enough to lead the way to success.
Do Something Different
Since street food is so popular right now, you need to do whatever you can to stand out from the crowd. So, if there are already three vans offering burgers, hot dogs and pulled pork, do something else. Perhaps cater to the vegetarians and vegans in your area or cook up big batches of delicious curry for sale. If you have something that other vendors don’t have, you will be a much more attractive prospect, and you should be able to make a good living, providing the food is good.
Come Up with a Killer Menu
Street food might be popular, but many entrepreneurs have failed to make their mark in the industry because their food has been uninspiring, to say the least. Coming up with a killer menu, however, doesn’t have to be difficult and the food doesn’t have to be complicated. There are people out there making a good living from selling nothing but cheese toasties or pancakes from their vans. The key is to find out what people in your area like and offer enough variety in flavors to satisfy most. You should, however, try to keep things as simple as possible if you can because remember, you will be cooking in a van or truck and space will be limited.
Buy Quality Ingredients
Once you’ve designed your menu, you should work on sourcing high-quality ingredients. Sure, if you buy cheap food, the markup you can charge will be greater, but you have to remember that street food has gone up in the world and most customers won’t be satisfied with cheap meat and bland flavors.
Spend Time and Money on Marketing
You might think that because you’re a street food vendor out there in the thick of it in your big truck, you’re visible enough, and you won’t need to do much marketing, but that really is not the case. If you want to be successful in any business, you need to put a solid marketing strategy in place.
Right now, social media is where it’s at when it comes to advertising food. Every day, take a few photos of your best dishes and post them on your page, and any local pages that allow advertising. This will get people drooling and have them flocking to your van when lunchtime comes around.
As well as utilizing social media, you might want to have flyers or posters printed, and sending someone around the area with an advertising board can be surprisingly effective in this business, too.
Instead of focusing on city centers and similar locations, consider going on the road. You can typically make a lot more money as a street food vendor by working festivals and events than you can in the average town or city, especially during the summer months, when music and food festivals are in abundance.
Catering weddings, dinner parties, birthdays and other private events can also be quite lucrative, so you shouldn’t rule that out if the equation either.
Develop a Brand
As a street vendor, you need to have some personality. Your food might stand out from the norm, but if you and your truck are boring, bland and uninspiring, you might not be able to attract enough people to sample it. So, decorate your truck with psychedelic images, dress in a fun outfit, or let your personality shine out by interacting more with passersby, sharing jokes and using your sales patter, to ensure that you and your food don’t get overlooked.
Ask for Feedback
In the food business, and in fact any business, asking for feedback is never a bad thing. Ask your customers what they thought about the food they ate, ask them what other options they would like to see, and try to find out if there’s anything else you could do differently to increase your sales. Don’t be upset by negative feedback – use it to make your business better, and you will succeed.
Do you run a street food business? What are your top tips for being successful in the industry?