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How to Start a

Mobile Sandwich Business

We've been helping Caterers start up for over 25 years, and we have the answers...

Sandwich Business

Sandwiches are one of the UK's biggest lunchtime favourites and offer an excellent way to set up and run a successful business

About the business

About the Sandwich Business

In our increasingly busy world, more and more office staff are eating lunch at their desk as they work. Most employees are now expected to provide their own lunch, and many do not have the time or inclination to do so. It is worth noting that the sandwich market is over 3 times the size of the UK pizza market, and currently stands at £3.5bn per annum spent by the public on sandwiches each year.

      “No other daytime snack is as popular as the humble sandwich. We eat more

       sandwiches than any other kind of fast food snack, and that includes burgers

       and even crisps.”
                                                                                         - sandwichnews

Mobile Sandwich businesses can work as a stand-alone business or as an additional service for a sandwich shop to offer deliveries. The bonus of running this service in conjunction with an existing sandwich business is that you already have the name (brand), the facilities and the staff to run the business. All you need is a van and someone to take it round to the different sites. However, small start-up businesses may not have the capacity to run both, and a sandwich delivery business can successfully be run from home, as long as your home kitchen is up to standard.

The Main Advantages of a Sandwich Business:

Main advantages of a sandwich business

1) Low start-up costs

The main cost involved is that of the vehicle used to transport the food. Beyond that, your main additional costs should be mostly just stock and marketing costs.

2) A Popular Choice

Sandwiches are the brunch and lunch food of choice - more popular than burgers, crisps or any other food-to-go option in the UK, they still dominate the brunch and lunchtime markets. Sandwiches are also widely considered to be a healthy option, certainly healthier than fast food, and in an increasingly health conscious world the popularity of the humble sandwich continues to grow.

3) Customers can design their lunch

The bread is the base, and everything else is up to your or your customers’ imagination. It can be harder to manage the ‘have it your way’ options that have been so successful for Burger King and Subway, however, there is still some scope for this with a jiffy or sandwich van and responding to your customers wants and needs will build loyalty and help you to sell sandwiches.

4) DIY to Increase Profits

If you make the sandwiches yourself, you keep more of the profits. Additionally, if you buy sandwiches in, you lose control of the quality of the product. We think it’s a no-brainer.

5) Works well attached to an existing sandwich bar

A delivery business tagged onto an existing sandwich shop enables the business owner to make better use of space, time and resources. While the shop is likely to be busiest at lunch, a sandwich round in the morning will allow you to spend the quieter period of the day going out and selling direct to customers.

6) Add high profit margin products

Customers will often buy additional high value products such as coffee or canned drinks, which take minimal work to produce but can increase the customer's spend. If you have a busy round you may find that making proper coffee can slow you down and isn’t worth it for your business, but there will always be time to sell cans, crisps, chocolate or fruit.

The Main Disadvantages of a Sandwich Business:

Sandwich stock

The Disadvantages of a Sandwich Business


1) It’s a very competitive market

You will need to do your research to ensure that you have enough customers to sell to and that they will want to buy from you at the right price. You are likely to face constant competition from other sandwich round companies as well as bricks and mortar premises.

2) It’s Hard Work & Early Mornings

Certainly while you are still building up the business you will have to do the majority of the work yourself. This will mean getting up very early to make the sandwiches and prep the round, then heading out on the road to get to your customers in time for the breakfast and brunch options. If you are not a morning person then this might not be the job for you.

3) Extra equipment costs

Extra equipment, such as coffee machines or commercial kitchen hire, can be hundreds or thousands of pounds extra, rapidly adding to your start-up costs.

4) Waste

Understanding how many sandwiches to take out with you is going to be critical to the success of your business. If you get your stock levels wrong you could end up throwing away lots of perfectly good food, costing your business. It’s certainly worth talking to local food banks and charities to see if they can make use of unwanted stock rather than throwing it away, however, your continued profitability will rely on your ability to get your stock levels right most of the time.


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What To Think About


  • Is it for you?

Working and running a Mobile Catering business can be great, but it can also be very difficult. Don't go into it blind. Find out more about it by reading our articles looking at both sides of the coin:
           - 10 Reasons why Starting a Mobile Catering Business is a Great Idea > Click here
           - 10 Reasons why Starting a Mobile Catering Business might not be for you > Click here

  • ​What Unit you will operate from

What type of unit are you going to operate from? There are 4 main categories of units and each of them have their advantages and disadvantages. Find out more below:

 Motorised Food Van  Towed Catering Trailer Stall or Gazebo
Food Cart 

Your Equipment

Sample Gas Safety Certificate

If it hasn’t got the CE label, don’t buy it - no matter what anyone might say. You will not get a Gas Safety certificate for it, and therefore will be operating illegally. 

Event Organisers will want to see your Gas Safety certificate and you won't be able to trade without it. Even if you find work at small private functions, you could have some real problems with insurance companies if you ever need to make a claim, let alone with the law if you are prosecuted.

Where To Trade

Where you trade is obviously critical to the success of your business. There are a variety of different options that you can choose from, you might even operate from a variety of different locations. Below are some ideas as to where, and you can find more information in our Get Profitable section.

Shows & Events

From village Fetes to week long music Festivals
> Read More


Street Food, Farmers Markets, Car Boot Sales
> Read More


Lay-by's, Car Parks & Industrial Estates
> Read More




What price are you going to charge for your food or drink? Obviously this will depend on what it is that you're selling and where it is that you are operating. Food and drink often costs a lot more at shows and events than it does on a roadside, but then you will probably have to pay more in fees at a show.  

How to Operate Legally

Many people start in catering because they like to cook and maybe have hosted some larger house parties. The thought of becoming a professional caterer is very appealing, however bear in mind that when you provide food for others there are rules to follow.

As soon as you say yes, even if you're not getting paid, you are a professional caterer and you are responsible and can even go to prison if things go badly wrong. Therefore, you need to ensure that you comply with a variety of laws and standards to ensure that you are operating legally. Our Get Legal section has a lot of information to help you on this. 

Have a look at our Start Up Legal Checklist to ensure that you have everything covered > Click here


Don't even think of operating without Liability Insurance. Not only is it a legal requirement, it's not expensive and will cover you against accidents and food poisoning. Have a look at our Insurance section to get more information as to what type of Insurance you need > Click here 

Find out what Members think of NCASS

> Go to Testimonials link

How to Succeed

Research to succeed

In order to succeed we think you need to do / have the following things:

  • Do lots and lots of research

Research, research, research. You need to find out as much information as you can before you start, to know what to expect. What to sell, where to sell, how to sell it! This site should help you with lots of your research, but you might also want to consider buying The Complete Guide to Profitable Catering - it takes a lot of the information on this site and goes into more detail. You might also want to speak to some experts face to face. For more information > Click here  

  • Have a Support System in place

Where are you going to get answers to the many questions that you have? Where are you going to get the reassurance that you are doing the right thing or the confidence to change if things aren't going to plan? You might know someone else who has done it and therefore you can tap them up for information.

By being a member of NCASS you can call us with any questions or queries that you might have.


  • Have lots of Determination

There's no doubting that in order to succeed in this industry you need to have a lot of determination to keep on going when the going gets tough. It's not an easy trade, especially in the depths of winter when you have to go out and trade in the cold weather but you'd rather be at home or in an office in the warm. That's the main difference between those who last 1 season and those that last 20.

Want to know more?

Read the book

Profitable Catering

> Click here

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Go to Testimonials > Click here link