If you have an independent streak and a passion for the culinary arts, becoming a chef on wheels could be a recipe for success. You can be certain that people will always need to eat, and a mobile catering business is one way to stand out from the crowd.
This choice of business implies some research and preparation concerning legal requirements, food and other safety regulations, finding the right transport… Here is some advice to start your mobile catering business on the right foot.
Before you even start cooking: the basics for a mobile catering business
The essential first steps of starting a new business include writing your business plan: you will need it to lay out your road map, convince potential investors your idea is sound, or show that your budgeting and cash flow forecasts make sense. You should give special consideration to the two following points.
The small print: legal requirements
Naturally enough, there are strict rules around insurance, licencing and other legalities for a mobile catering business. These include registering with your local authority, acquiring the appropriate trade licence, taking out the right insurance, checking gas and electrical safety compliance… Fortunately, a number of official bodies can help with this phase, including the UK Government’s Food Standards Agency.
Food Safety: Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)
HACCP is a system developed by the Food Standards Agency to help food businesses run through a checklist of procedures related to risk management, food handling and safety, including hygiene and training. There are also employment requirements and legislation to consider, some of which apply even if you use volunteers.
Selecting the ingredients: the right van for your mobile catering speciality
The possibilities for mobile catering businesses are virtually endless. You may want to bake and deliver artisanal bread and pastries to local delis, sell your sweet treats at fairs and festivals, prepare Indian, Thai, French or any other specialist food on the spot… This means you’ve got two important business decisions to make: choosing the menu (however limited) that you are brilliant at, and choosing the van that best fits your needs in terms of equipment and mobility.
Delivering home-cooked goodies as a chef on wheels
In this scenario, your catering equipment and supplies are all neatly laid out at home. A car-derived van like the Renault Kangoo, with load volumes of up to 3.6 m3 (4.6 m3 in the Kangoo Maxi Van version) could offer all the transport capacity you need to take your products to their destination. Chef-entrepreneurs who place a premium on low running costs, especially in large cities, may be tempted by the benefits of an all-electric Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33: ultra-low fuel costs, zero Low Emission Zone charges, and zero congestion charges. For optimal use of space, you can design shelving, cabinets, and boxes to your own specification with a ready-made or bespoke storage solution from Ready4Work by Sortimo.
Be aware that choosing a smaller van doesn’t commit you to solo operations only. Need to take a team with you? The Kangoo Crew Van Cab has seating for 5 and comes with a multi-positional bulkhead as standard: whenever you need the extra cargo space, folding down the back row of seats brings the bulkhead behind front cabin passengers.
Preparing speciality foods on the spot
Here, we enter in the “food truck” category properly speaking. Whether you plan to serve your tasty creations at events, markets, or other types of gathering, you will obviously need cooking equipment inside your vehicle. The Renault Master Van is an ideal choice for food trucks – or food vans, as the case may be – and accounts for 60% of the food truck market in its native country. In fact, France’s first-ever food truck was a Renault Master! Practical, tough and versatile, it can carry all the appliances and utensils you may need, kitchen sink included.
For single-issue specialties like toffee apples, hot dogs or candy floss, its capacious body can comfortably accommodate your hot or cold cabinets, prep area and serving counter. Ready4Work by Sortimo offers a number of options for the storage and transport of equipment, while really specific catering functions can easily be created with a Renault Master Van Conversion. Speaking of which...
A Renault Master Van Conversion for your mobile catering business
Your speciality is the menu you excel at; likewise, the Renault Master excels at versatility. As a result, the Renault Pro+ dealer network offers a comprehensive range of off-the-shelf conversions. One of the most popular food truck variants is the Box Van, built on the Master’s platform cab; its low sill puts you at the perfect height to serve customers, helping to create a sense of proximity and a friendly ambience. And if your catering requirements can only be served by a bespoke conversion, you are in luck: there is an entire network of Renault Accredited Converters who are jumping at the opportunity to take your specifications on board. The base vehicle is covered by the same Renault Pro+ warranty as any other model, which, in many cases, will be matched by the converters.
Curious about just how many possibilities there are with Renault conversions? Whet your appetite by taking a look at our video of the super chef & showman DJ BBQ. You will be inspired!
A few digestive tips for your mobile catering business
One business insight we can offer with complete confidence is this: keep the quality of your product consistently top-notch, and everything else will follow. That being said, here is some additional business advice.
Making your mobile catering business stand out from the crowd
Whichever van suits your catering business needs, it comes with plentiful space on the sides, front and back for you to stand out with custom signwriting. However mouth-watering your product, don’t miss the opportunity for an extra visual boost.
A Renault van takes care of business
It’s not all about cooking – wherever your mobile catering business takes you, customer contacts and business demands will follow. Whether you choose a Renault Kangoo, Kangoo Z.E. 33 or Renault Master Conversion, you need to take your mobile office with you and remain reachable. That’s why Renault vans are designed with business in mind. From the central armrest storage and overhead parcel shelf of the Kangoo, to the pivoting seatback table, smartphone cradle and handy under-seat and overhead storage of the Renault Master, your office needs are met even when you’re in the middle of a field.
Renault experts are here to help
Our observations are general: we don’t know the ins and outs of your mobile catering business. However, we are definitely interested in learning more! Do not hesitate to drop in for a chat with one of the many Renault Pro+ specialist dealers near you. Our teams are here to help you find the best options for this exciting venture.