Of course setting up a catering trailer is not risk free, It is a business start up like any other, but one that can be very taken seriously especially in times of recession, simply due to its low start up costs. We have known caterers that have set up and started with a second hand trailer costing 2-3000 pounds who then go on to build a fleet of them valued at hundreds of thousands in total. It’s a matter of three things in my opinion
1) Hard work & Determination
2) A Good Product / Menu
3) More good luck than bad
Sometimes you can work your hardest but things just can’t or won’t go right for you and that’s where the bad luck has often come into play, but unfortuntaely as they say, that’s business for you. However, sometimes you can work hard and things just go right for you and they work, a bit of good luck may come your way and business may fly. This is the risk and the game we play.
The key to a successful trailer based operation like all others is down to having somewhere decent to trade and the first decisions have to be based on just that:
Shows/ events – There are thousand around the UK every year and if you want the contacts thas where we can help, just have a look at the Events Guide, we have published it every year for the past 19 years and have a good knowledge of who does what and where in the events industry
Licensed pitch – These can be anything from a pitch in the town centre licensed by the local authority to a site licensed by a local factory on their forecourt or car park. There are also site concessionaires that operate for some of the larger retail groups who license sites in their car parks; see the mobile catering section in the right hand menu for more details.
Franchise – There used to be many more companies offering franchise opportunities than there are today, from donuts, to Chicken Tikka to Cornish Pasties. However a lot of these have ceased due to the ease of copying. A franchise has to be able to offer something that cannot be easily replicated and that is tough to find in the mobile catering world.
Roadside – Once the choice of all operators, why? No rent, no contracts and come and go as you please and potentially very good margins in the right spot. I remember about 10 units operating on the A34 along the stretch from the M42 to Oxford and they were goldmines. Open 24/7 they were reported reliably as taking many thousand a week. Sadly the council had a campaign to have them closed down as they said they were a traffic hazard and used a piece of legislation called the Miscellaneous Provisions Act which empowered the council to make trading on all the roads in the Borough illegal. Unfortunately many councils have followed suit, albeit some have also licensed back certain roads as designated trading areas which has given traders more financial security.
Markets/car boots - Often cited as first choice for newcomers to the industry as they saw a trailer with a queue on the car boot last Sunday morning. Its highly likely that the pitch has been bought from another trader and to get a new pitch opened up on a car boot or market is pretty difficult. Good market pitches are highly sought after and often change hands between traders for thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of pounds.
So, once you have found a pitch or site you obviously need something to trade out of. So, where do you go to get your trailer? E-bay? the local paper or somewhere else?.
Let me give you a good piece of advice, that trailer is going to be the main tool of your new business. Your livelihood and safety is going to rely on it, do you really think that a few hundred pounds is going get you what you want or need? I doubt it
A lot of second hand trailers are being sold for a reason, buyer beware. There are legal requirements for trailers and for the way they are kitted out, and you will need to be sure that it can pass a gas and electrical inspection as well as meeting other recognised standards and unfortunately the majority of second hand catering trailers won’t. It could cost you thousands to get the faults put right and legal equipment installed.
My advice is to go to an NCASS authorised trailer manufacturer who cannot sell you something that is illegal or unsafe and will make sure that it comes with all the correct documentation. Alternatively if you use a buy or sell service such as the one on our website and if you have any doubts or need advice on a trailer or anything for that matter please contact us. We are here to help.
If you are interested in getting started in the Mobile catering business with a trailer then I strongly suggest that you buy the Profitable Mobile catering book
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