Having catered for some of the world’s most notable brands, Coolercabs set themselves up for success from the very beginning by carrying out mounds of research, finding a niche in the market and ensuring their branding was spot-on and consistent across all platforms; no stone was left unturned, no box unticked and it shows in everything from their product to their unit to their website.
We managed to grab Clare for ten minutes in between the chaos of running a business, working a part-time job and taking care of the couple’s little girl, Isla to discuss everything Coolercabs.
Hi Clare, thanks for taking the time to do this. What inspired you and Asha to establish a catering business?
It was because of our little girl, Isla initially, or the Coolercabs CEO as we call her. We used to role play having an ice-cream van and it offset the thought in my head. When you go to events you often see crepes and waffles but if you want ice-cream, it tends to be a traditional ice-cream van which is great but we just thought there was a gap in the market for something different in that arena. It was also a good decision for our family as often when we’re doing events, we can bring Isla along.
How long did it take you from conceiving the idea to trading at your first event and what hurdles did you come across in this time?
The turnaround was about a year, our first event was on the 17th August 2018 and we spent that year doing a lot of research, tasting, managing the conversion of the taxi and sorting our suppliers and menu.
Do you think this attention to detail is the Coolercabs USP?
I think our bespokeness is our USP. We can personalise everything from our wafers to our taxi so that it reflects the brand we’re catering for.
You’ve catered for some big brands at some impressive venues, to include Blenheim Palace. How did you secure these opportunities?
We pitched ourselves to the event organisers at the Classic Car Show and we exhibited at The National Wedding Show which led to some work with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourist Board and that’s how Virgin Holidays and some big name companies came to try the Coolercabs product!
That’s a big pitch to make for a company still in its infancy. Do you think the fact that your marketing and branding are so on-point helps you to secure work opportunities?
Yes definitely, we have a marketing pack which we send to events and my retail/destination marketing experience has helped me to gage what organisers are looking for from prospective caterers.
What advice would you give to new or would-be caterers?
Research, research, research. We can’t emphasise this enough. Second time around we would spend more time looking in to companies to convert our unit before settling on one.
Also, don’t go for the big jobs straight away. We had no idea how big the power costs could be and at the beginning, they really ate in to our profits.
Remember too, that you’ll learn as you go. You’re not going to know everything straight away and that’s okay, don’t fret.
What’s the hardest thing about running an independent business?
One of the difficulties we’ve faced is getting the supplies we want in the quantities that we need. We only order what we need as we don’t want to encourage waste and we simply don’t have the space to store large amounts of stock. There was a particular sauce that we really, really wanted – but suppliers won’t send in such small quantities or without ordering anything frozen!
And the best thing?
This is such a friendly, community-driven industry! We love meeting other caterers. Everyone is always helping one another out and we get a lot of good advice from fellow caterers.
The nature of the Coolercabs product obviously means that the business is seasonal. Is this something you’re concerned about or do you have a contingency?
Yes, we are concerned – obviously, ice-cream is seasonal but we’re working on an alternative winter product at the moment that we’re really excited about. We don’t want to say too much at this point but if it makes financial sense then we’ll go for it.
What has been the most helpful aspect of NCASS membership?
The work opportunities and the ability to store and send our company documents have been invaluable! Also the due diligence and the training have been so helpful and have helped us to feel more confident.