How to Start a Food Truck Business?

If you enjoy cooking and want to launch your business, you can start with a food truck. A restaurant business can be very costly, whereas food trucks are more affordable. Here is your guide to begin your restaurant on wheels.

Startup costs

Many factors determine the startup cost for a food truck business. There are also other costs that can vary by location. For example, one-time costs can consist of purchasing a food truck, a register or a point of sale, website design, office supplies, advertising and any professional, legal or consulting fees.

There are some upfront expenses when you purchase the food truck itself as you will probably need to spend further to have it modified to fit your local fire and health regulation, which vary quite significantly depending on your county.

In addition, you will have recurring costs such as payroll, equipment rental, credit card processing, food supplies and of course, fuel. Every new food truck will also have to obtain the proper licenses, permits and insurance.

How to find food trucks for sale?

Resorting to online classifieds is a good option as used trucks are cheaper and if those are local, you can easily inspect them. Buying a used truck can open a lot more inventory, as such try to get as many details and pertinent information as possible about the truck from the seller. Since you won’t most likely see the vehicle in person before a pickup, you better find out as much you can about the truck.

While new custom trucks are the most expensive options, it is the ideal way to ensure that your truck is up to standards and codes. New trucks can be customized to your specifications.

You can possibly find a local truck to lease from a national truck leasing company. Another way is to franchise a truck from an established company, as such it is essential to bear in mind that you have no control over the product marketing or menu.

Funding options

Acquiring funding may be the biggest challenge you will face when beginning a food truck business. It would be best if you first aimed to put together a solid business plan. You should also possess personal savings as this will increase your chances of receiving a business loan.

If traditional financing doesn’t suit you, there are other more creative ways to get funding for your new food truck business. Here are ways to start your business with minimal funding.

1. Talk to someone who already owns a food truck and negotiate a rental or lease agreement.

2. Start with a low cost used car door trailer.

3. Begin selling at a farmer’s market fair booth.

4. Get to meet successful restaurant owners and ask them about running a food truck for the owner’s business.

If your truck idea includes offering a public service or benefit to the community, seek to obtain sponsors. The chances are that you might qualify for a loan advance if you already have a payment processor.

Food truck advantages

Numerous tax advantages come with business ownership. Choosing menu items, the vendor you want to purchase from and the events at which you wish to sell, are just some of the freedoms you will enjoy as a food truck business owner. You will also have full control of your social media, advertising, marketing and schedule mobility. For instance, you can bring your business to different locations based on demands during a different period of the day.

Permits and regulations

It is important to research the areas you are considering for your food truck business location and consider the necessary regulations and permits. Here are the main things to look out for food safety and regulations.

1. You will need to comply with food safety requirements. Get into contact with the local health department to find out more information, such as if you need to prepare food in a professional kitchen or if you are allowed to use your own facilities.

2. There can be restrictions on where you can park your truck, so make sure to research that before setting up a shop there.

3. There could be commercial and noncommercial zoning restrictions, parking time limit or distance restrictions from other business establishments. Your town and local motor vehicle department can clarify you about such the matter.

You will need specific licenses to operate your food truck including a tax ID number also called an employer identification number obtainable from the IRS and a state sales tax permit. Check your home state’s requirements and for an easy option try an online legal service to guide you in deciding which legal structure is best for your business.

Mobile POS options

Most food truck customers have got used to paying cash but credit cards and mobile pay are more popular than ever. A food truck means long hours of work with shopping, marketing, event booking, cleaning, truck maintenance, accounting in tax obligations. Running a food business is more than a full-time job.

Competition and market

Get to know the market to maximize your chances of success since you will most certainly have competition with other food trucks.

Ordinances and zoning

Every area differ in terms of where you can park your food truck and how long you can park there. Ensure you know the rules in each location where you plan on operating to prevent tickets and fines.

Food trucks are trendy these days and show no signs of slowing down. A food truck is a good option for anyone who wish to foray into the food business as it offers low startup and overhead costs. You can now decide if you are ready to leap into the food business.

How to Start a Catering Business?

Often the idea of setting up a catering business stems from the love we have for preparing food for others. One of the major benefits of starting your own business is the freedom that comes with being self-employed.

Make a business plan

A business plan is essential to determine strategic steps to take towards a successful catering debut. Your plan should give you an idea of how you are meant to cover your overheads and how profitable the business is likely to be.

Know about your specialty & create a menu

Before beginning a catering business, you should be aware of the requirements and you need to know what your specialty is. There are various types of food that can be served by the caterers. For instance, you can decide to broadly specialize in lunches and brunches. Or you could narrow it down to a particular cuisine, like Indian or Mediterranean. If you’re the type of person that thrives on being creative, you could try your hand at catering for wedding receptions or business seminars. The possibilities are endless…

Once you decide on your specialty, you will also need to finalize the menu. Try to add a variety of dishes to maximize your chances of making a sale. Every meal can be presented with add-ons, which will help to grab the attention of the customer.

Your catering prices

An important strategy for a successful food business lies in setting the right prices. This usually means finding a good balance between making profits and offering competitive prices. Most of your customers will shop around for the best possible deal, so you will want to stand out. The prices that you set should be in line with your current experience, skill level, training and to the quality of your service. The prices for the dishes should be affordable. Make sure that whatever price you charge will be enough to cover your overheads, so that you are not operating at a loss. It’s ok to set the price for minimal profit at the beginning of your career, and slowly increase your profit margin as you gain more customers and start making a name for yourself. Just make sure that you don’t drastically increase your prices for no reason!

Fixed pricing allows you to set a price per menu, per person or by the dish. The more courses you offer, the more complex the menu is and as such you will have to adjust the price to reflect the base ingredients and extra labor costs involved.

Make sure it tastes good

Before serving the food to the customers, it is essential to taste the food yourself. You can also arrange a small party at your place and have your family and friends taste the food. Welcome their opinions to make changes if any. Keep on practicing until you start serving delicious food and are rewarded with nice comments.

Find a space & buy equipment

If you have the space, there is no reason why you can’t start your catering business from home. Most entrepreneurs take this approach, and it works. Of course, once you feel the need to expand and you have the clientele to back up your expansion plans, find the right space to rent or purchase.

Since you will be cooking larger quantities, you need to make sure your kitchen is fully equipped. The equipment required will include a large refrigerator, a deep freezer, possibly more than one mixer, high-grade cooking utensils and serving materials.

Other equipment you might require will include:

  • Steel utensils.
  • Glassware
  • Disposable plates, forks, knives and spoons.
  • Stove, oven, toaster

Get the required license

For every food business, you need to pay close attention to the customer’s safety. We have all heard horror stories about restaurants and caterers that do not adhere to certain norms of food hygiene, leading to food poisoning among customers. Since you don’t want to add to those statistics, make sure you get all the relevant licenses and respect the regulations. There are about 15 licenses that will be required, so make sure you speak to your local authorities for guidance.

Employees

Once you’ve been in business for a little while and have built up a clientele, you may want to take on a few helping hands. It is always best to factor this into your budgeting from the very beginning, so that you know how much you can afford to pay in wages. It’s always best to hire professional cooks, who will have a higher hourly rate than an amateur.

Additional services

Many catering businesses offer additional services besides food. For example, you can rent tables and chairs and organize for special themes by arranging for the decoration.

Insurance

In order to protect your business from any lawsuits which can arise from injuries at events, general liability insurance is handy to have. If you plan on serving alcohol along with food, you will need a liquor liability insurance to protect yourself from lawsuits related to alcohol consumption at events.

Promote your products

Now you are all set to beginning operating, you need to promote your business and let people know how appealing and tasty your dishes are.

Share your details on social media, distribute pamphlets and business cards to every potential customer and network as much as possible. Your goal is to create a buzz around you so that people will want to see what the fuss is all about. Make sure to use every catering job you take on as a marketing opportunity for more work.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not an overnight success. Keep working hard and grow your business so that eventually, you’ll be able to give some of the more established caterers a run for their money. Above all else, have fun!

Budget Wedding Tips – Top 10 Tips for Selecting Your Caterer

Unfortunately, there are plenty of pitfalls when it comes to choosing a caterer. Some are issues related to the quality of the caterer, others are simple misunderstandings. Through proper planning and attention to detail, most negative issues can be avoided.

The following ten tips will go a long way in helping you secure a top-quality caterer and ensuring they provide you with exactly what you are looking for in terms of food quality and quality of their service.

1. Set up appointments with at least 3 different caterers

As you are setting up appointments, be sure to make note of how quickly your phone call or email is returned. You should expect to be contacted back within the same business day. If it takes more than a full business day, don’t bother scheduling an appointment. What if you call them in the days leading up to your wedding with an important question or information and they don’t get back with you right away? No thanks. Before you set up your three meetings, be sure that you and your spouse to be discuss your catering likes and dislikes.

2. Get photos from each caterer of previous work they’ve done

Don’t be fooled into thinking they don’t have any photos. They will. When they provide them to you, look for things like the presentation of food. Is it creative? Is it colorful? Are the hors d’oeuvres arranged nicely with garnishes and flowers, or are they just piled up on a tray?

3. Ask for sample menus

Menus will likely show a range of sit-down options as well as hors d’oeuvres. If prices aren’t listed, be sure to ask for them as you’ll need to know what choices fit into your budget. It’s true that most caterers will be happy to customize menus for each reception, they certainly should be willing to give you basic cost parameters for certain items.

4. Be honest and up front about your budget

Hopefully, you’ve mapped out your budget before you meet with caterers. But if you haven’t, give each caterer a range per guest that you are comfortable with. Caterers can vary wildly. What one will provide for $30 a person can be significantly different than what another may offer. Be sure that you are specific with your menu likes and dislikes and if there will be any dietary restrictions.

5. Ask for a proposal with several menu options

You’ll also want to be sure the proposal clearly outlines costs for liquor, any rentals you’ll require and labor costs. If you don’t understand any part of the proposal a caterer gives you, get back in touch with them to clarify the part you don’t understand. And don’t make any assumptions that the proposal will include things like china, linens, glassware. You’ll have to confirm details like this with each caterer to ensure you are comparing apples to apples. Steer clear from caterers that tell you they will send you a proposal and then fail to deliver one.

6. Be sure to confirm any minimums

Some caterers will require to you guarantee a certain minimum amount of food, generally noted as a set number of meals or total dollars. This means you could end up having to pay for 150 meals, even though only 100 people show up. Some caterers will negotiate this number with you, if one of the three caterers you speak with has a minimum that you won’t possibly meet, go a different route. See if the wedding cake will count as part of the $$ minimum required. In some cases, that’ll put things over the top, or at least into comfortable reach. Be sure to ask about the opposite situation – what happens when more guest show up than are expected. Most caterers will make 5-10% more food than is ordered but check to be sure.

7. Pick the proposal you like the most and visit one of their weddings

Ask them if you can visit a wedding of theirs before you finalize things. Visit during the set up and observe how organized the operation is and how the staff is dressed.

8. Arrange for a taste test

You will likely be spending several thousands of dollars on food. Arranging a taste test is something that any solid caterer should be willing to do. You may find that the best way to do this would be to combine it with a visit to a wedding as discussed in #7. When you are at the tasting, take some photos of the food. Hold on to these pictures until your wedding in case the catering manager changes before your big day. If this happens, show the staff the photos so they know what you expect.

9. Get everything in writing

Once you have decided on a caterer, get every – and I mean every – detail in writing. All details regarding food, labor, liquor, non-alcoholic beverages and rentals needs to be clearly spelled out in a written contract. Be sure that you clearly understand any price escalation clauses that may be in place and be sure to get any price guarantees offered in writing as well. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to also request a drawing of the actual layout of the room so that you’ll know where the tables, dance floor, buffet table, etc. will go.

10. Read the contract before signing

Before you sign the contract, take it home and go over it with your spouse to be with a fine-tooth comb and magnifying glass if necessary. Be sure you are aware of the refund policy, cancellation policy / fees. Just because a caterer has a standard contract, this doesn’t mean that things aren’t negotiable. If you aren’t comfortable with a clause, have it changed and get it initialed by the caterer.

11. Choose the best of caterers

Based in Suffolk County and serving all of Long Island, Sarah Brown Catering is one of premium caterers who is renowned for the exceptional services and high-quality food.

Tips in Creating the Perfect Catering Menu for a Corporate Event

Are you during planning for your company’s next corporate event? Looking to pull off an all-day event with food and beverages that your co-workers will love? We’ve got 8 catering tips you need for your next corporate event. Of course, you must choose each of those dishes carefully if you want to make a catered event a hit. Chefs can leave everyone at a corporate event satisfied with a varied menu full of tasty entrees and appetizers, achieving positive word-of-mouth and repeat business.

CUSTOMIZE FOR THE OCCASION

Each event has its own demands, so it’s important for caterers to understand the requirements for every meal they serve. An appropriate concept or theme can guide menu creation, with a common thread to make all the choices fit together. No matter the event, the catering company should present a minimum of two entrees (serving any condiments on the side), at least three salad dressings and two possibilities for dessert.

Depending on when and where the event is taking place, chefs may have different seasonal ingredients available. By making the most of the produce or seafood that’s currently abundant, you’ll end up with a fresher, more distinctive final product.

COUNT HEADS

Have an estimated head count ready to provide a caterer or event planner that allows them to get started on menu options. Give continuous updates as your corporate event draws near. If you want a buffet, most venues require a minimum of 35 guests.

HEAD COUNT CATERING TIPS

Always overestimate your head count to account for last minute attendees. If attendance numbers increase on the day of the function, many venues reserve the right to substitute menu items to accommodate extra guests.

SET A BUDGET

Are executives at your company seeking steak and lobster but they’ve given you a hamburger and hot dog budget? Clarify and highlight what needs to be included in the budget and review it closely with management before you present your budget to a caterer or event planner. Don’t forget to account for linens, china, flowers for the tables and more. Event planners can help you budget and plan for everything you need.

MEETING THEMES

What’s the focus or theme of your corporate event? If you’re looking to surprise employees for a job well done, a buffet will go over nicely. If your corporate event is aimed at thanking the sales team for being the highest earners of the fiscal year, that buffet won’t go over so well. Focus on the feeling you hope to convey and that will help you plan your menu.

STICK TO A SCHEDULE

Is your corporate event going to have multiple speakers and presentations? Plan the food service around the day’s schedule and work with an event planner and caterer to build in time for food service and cooking times.

BUFFET OR WAIT STAFF SERVICE?

Depending on how busy your corporate event schedule is, you’ll have to decide if a self-serve buffet or a full service waiting staff is needed to serve and take away plates. If the focus needs to be on the corporate speaker and you’re looking to save time, a full service wait staff keeps attendees in their chairs longer. If you’re seeking a way to break up the day, schedule a buffet lunch that allows attendees time to mingle.

SELECT A MENU

Follow these general catering tips for selecting your corporate event menu:

  • Breakfast Functions on a weekday morning should include coffee, tea, fruit juices, a main entrée and two sides. Pastries can be offered too.
  • Lunch should offer a 5-ounce entrée per person, two to three side dishes and two to four appetizer options.
  • Dinner typically offers three to five appetizers, soup or salad, a 7-ounce main entrée and two to three side dishes. Plan on two servings of dessert per guest too.
  • Cocktail Functions that don’t include dinner call for 10 to 15 appetizer servings per person.

DIETARY RESTRICTIONS

It’s important to have enough menu variety to satisfy all your guests. Since many people are vegetarian or are on a gluten-free diet, you should inform your caterer or event planner that you’re seeking a few vegan and gluten-free options. If the catering service you hire needs to know about dietary instructions in advance of your corporate event, it’s important that employees with dietary restrictions select one of those options when they RSVP.

STAY AWAY FROM BOXED LUNCHES

Years ago, bring their own lunch or boxed lunches were popular at corporate events. While this is cheaper, you’ll never go back to boxed lunches once you’ve held an event with catered service. Clients and attendees are more impressed by a nice food spread and are more willing to pay attention to your event if they’re having a good time and are fed well.  Hint: They will remember the food.

If you’re planning a corporate event in New York City or Long Island, Sarah Brown Catering can handle everything from start to finish. Their catering packages include beautiful buffets, perfect plated dinners, lavish luncheons and unbeatable breakfasts to pair nicely with all of your corporate events and functions. Contact them to discuss catering tips and review our catering menus.

Why Choose a Catering Service?

Organizing, planning, and hosting an event of any size is a large task. The long list of to-dos and only so much time before the day of your event. This long list can make the entire process a stressful ordeal. In our minds, events are supposed to be fun and enjoyable – both before and the day of. A large portion of planning for an event is food – knowing the number of people you need to feed, figuring out what food you want to serve, preparing the food, serving the food, and cleaning up once your guests leave. Below, we share with you five important reasons to consider on why you should consider hiring a caterer for your next event.

Create a List of Needs

One of the most important things that you must do before reaching out to a catering businesses is to create a full list of needs for the party, including the date and time of the event, number of attendees, location and setting of the party, whether or not there is a kitchen or at least refrigerator on-site, and whether or not you would like the caterer to provide alcohol for your event catering. Also, make sure that your list of needs is well-written and consistent throughout all your conversations with the various catering companies, ensuring that you receive accurate quotes that match your needs.

Determine Your Catering Budget

Perhaps the most important element dictating the results of your party catering is the amount of money that you have in your budget for the caterer. Most catering services start out at $25+ a person, and the price will go up as additional features are requested, such as a wait staff, alcohol, fancy serving platters, rented tables, chairs, and linens, etc… are included. Before you reach out to the first set of catering companies, make sure to create a hard budget for your event.

What About the Menu?

Another important consideration is the type of food served, the variety found in the party catering Albuquerque menu, and whether or not the company offers vegetarian or other styles that match your participant’s dietary restrictions. Also, consider the type of ethnic food offered. Mexican food is very popular in the United States and is considered a good option for corporate events. Another cuisine, like Indian or Thai food, is delicious and may be appreciated by some of your more adventurous guests, but may be considered too foreign for a typical business function.

How Is Food Served?

Depending on the type of event that you are organizing, this may be the single most important factor in choosing a party catering business is their ability to make the event look professional. Let Sarah Brown’s Catering staff create a professional menu and aesthetic for your next professional event.

Taste It!

Your catering preparation is never complete until you taste test the menu in-person. One of the last, but most important steps, in securing catering Albuquerque is to stop by the restaurant and test the food in-person, making sure that the food matches the descriptions and that the taste is up to your standards. Before going into the restaurant, make sure to inquire whether the tasting step is included in the overall package price or whether you will be expected to pay more for it.

Alcohol

Another key issue that you will want to discuss with your caterer and own team is whether you intend to serve alcohol at your event. Some catering package comes with beer pairings over five courses; however, do discuss custom alcohol serving options with you to meet your needs. Not all event catering Albuquerque has this option, so make sure that your catering company has an active alcohol license before signing a contract.

Attention to Detail

Look out for a catering company that will take time to perfect and present your food and beverage options in a way that will wow your guests. Choose the catering staff who have the skills, experience, and patience to make your vision a reality. Also, one that can adapt to any venue environment to make sure your food and beverages fit the scene and look perfect.

Tables and Decorations

One of the most important, but frequently, forgotten elements of catering is figuring out beforehand who is in-charge of the rental equipment, such as tables, chairs, linens, silverware, and glassware. A party with food but without any of the above items would be a strange party indeed!

When you’re planning your next event, really consider the time and how you will realistically get everything done. Turning over the food portion of your event to a catering company like Sarah Brown’s Catering can let you focus on other planning essentials and the bigger picture – enjoying your party and spending quality time with your guests. They provide reliable and professional services in Great Neck, New York. Get in touch soon!