How to Start a Food Truck Business

What are some of the benefits to starting a food truck or lunch truck business? You don’t need previous food truck experience and the start-up cost is low. This type of operation is virtually recession-proof, so this also minimizes start-up risk. In addition to the start-up benefits, many entrepreneurs start a catering truck business for the freedom that it offers. Business owners can typically choose the hours they work and even where they operate. With all this – food trucks also provide a high profit potential. If you have a background working in the food industry, or have a popular family recipe that always pleases a crowd, you’ll have an advantage going into this field. What is the Downside? All that said, the mobile vending business can be tricky. Whereas a traditional restaurant has an interior space where they can sell through an atmosphere they can control – food trucks don’t have that. They have to create an amazing customer experience through their product and service alone. It means paying more attention to things like food presentation, convenience and staff friendliness (things you can control). And just because a food truck is cheaper to start and operate than a brick-and-mortar restaurant, it doesn’t mean you can’t be concerned about costs. It’s important to be aware of areas in your business that may be wasteful, and do cost-cutting accordingly. The more wiggle-room you give your business as far as profit margins – the better off you’ll be when times get tough. Mobile Vending License and Permits License and permit requirements vary by city. In some cities, a vendor needs a mobile food vendor license and the vehicle needs a mobile food vending unit permit. Some cities put a cap on the number of permits given out at one time, so it’s important to contact your local city office before you start purchasing equipment and supplies. Food Trucks & Equipment The smaller the truck, the less the cost. If you are on a budget, consider a smaller truck, a used vehicle or even a cart to get started. You can find food trucks for sale at Vendingtrucks.com and used vehicles at Cateringtruck.com/used.html. Does your city require that the vending truck be stored in a special facility? Where can you legally park your vehicle? These are all questions you want to ask your local city office. Mission Restaurant Supply is a huge resource for restaurant supplies, catering equipment and concession supplies. They let customers rate their products, which is helpful for shoppers, and they also give “web special” pricing. Intuit GoPayment is a cheap and easy way for food vendors to accept credit card payments from customers. You don’t need to buy any fancy equipment – in fact you can accept payments using your iPhone, iPad or Android. Intuit provides you with a free card reader, which you attach to your wireless device. A small fee is charged each time a credit card is swiped. This means that you don’t have to spend lots of money to get started – and you can start attracting more customers right away who don’t have cash on hand. Find … Read more…

How to Become a Personal Chef

If you enjoy cooking, but don’t want the responsibility of starting a restaurant or have the time to start a full-fledged catering service – why not become a personal chef? As a personal chef, you can cook meals for families or busy executives. You can prepare meals in advance for people who don’t want to cook themselves but want home-cooked meals. Personal chefs are also hired by people who want to have meals made with certain ingredients – such as gluten free, dairy free or a program designed for weight loss. Some jobs involve cooking in clients’ kitchens at mealtime, or in the case of preparing menus in advance, you may do the cooking in your own kitchen and then make deliveries to clients on a weekly basis. If you are knowledgeable in gluten-free, vegan or low-carb diets, you add these specialized services to your business. Alternatively, you can focus on a certain niche market exclusively, as they may under-served in your area. Licensing & Certification: Similar to caterers, personal chefs (in many states) will need to obtain a general business license and a food handler’s certification (ie. completing a ServSafe course and exam through the National Restaurant Association). If the chef will be preparing food off site (for example, in his or her kitchen at home), the kitchen or cooking space will need to be inspected by the state’s health department. Chefs can also get personal chef certification (CPC) from the United States Personal Chef Association after working in the field for at least 2 years. PERSONAL CHEF QUICK-START GUIDE Candy Wallace is the founder of the American Personal and Private Chef Association (APPCA) has been teaching the business of becoming a personal chef for over 15 years. Along with Greg Forte, Director of the Utah Culinary Institute, she has put together a start-up guide for entrepreneurs interested in starting their own personal chef businesses. From the legal steps of setting up your business to finding clients and establishing streams of revenue, they walk you through the process of setting up your company. If you want to get the information from the pros without having to enroll in a class, this is a way to do it. Find out more here   “How to Open a Financially Successful Personal Chef Business” is another good resource. It discusses all aspects of starting your own venture, including important financial tips like establishing a budget and how much to charge customers. In the book, they point out that the US Department of Labor statistics show that “personal chef services is one of the fastest growing segments in the food service business”. This makes a lot of sense, seeing that today’s consumers are getting increasing busy and tend to value their time much more. Chefs typically earn between $100 and $400 per day depending on the jobs you do and the clients you work for. Not bad for doing something you love. More Resources The United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA) provides personal … Read more…

How to Start a Cake Decorating Business

With a little creativity, you can launch your own professional cake decorating business, even if you’re working with a limited budget. Shortcut: Use the Cake Decorating Business Blueprint to jump-start your business with simple cost-cutting strategies and creative money-making ideas. Or if you want to specialize in weddings, you can get step-by-step instructions form professional Dede Wilson from designing to baking to decorating in her guide “Wedding Cakes You Can Make” sold at bookstores. The permits and licenses you’ll need will depend on where your business operates and what type of food products you are selling. Each state has its own requirements. Businesses that prepare and serve food typically need to obtain a general business license and food handler certification. Your cooking space will be required to pass an inspection by the Department of Health. Upon approval, they will license you. If selling packaged gourmet cakes, you may also be required to maintain a standard recipe for product labeling purposes. Getting Started: After putting together a business plan for your cake business, come up with a business name and register the name with your county clerk. Obtain the necessary business licenses and get a business bank account so you can receive payments from customers to your business name. Next, get a merchant account so you can give customers more ways to pay you. Download a free invoice template that you can use to bill customers and get accounting software to track business income and expenses to hire a bookkeeper. You’ll save time when it’s time to file your tax return and be better prepared to take advantage of tax deductions. If you plan on opening a bakery, lease or buy commercial space for your shop. Working with a commercial real estate broker will help you find vacancies and calculate rents that fits your budget. You can also rent commercial kitchen space or set up a baking area at home. Your cooking space will be required to pass an inspection by the Department of Health. Get prepared with cake decorating equipment and supplies. Also stock up on product packaging supplies like cake boxes, bags, labels and wrap. You don’t have to buy in bulk to get discount prices, and some companies can help you with custom designs and labeling. How to Start Your Own Cake Decorating Business Here is a step-by-step guide which will teach you how to get your cake decorating business off the ground and how to run it successfully. Expert Jennifer James shows you every aspect of this creative and fun business so you can be assured you are taking the right steps to start your venture. Cake decorating business owners share their experience so you can minimize your risk and maximize your success in your own business. Find Out: How to decorate cakes – from style to assembly to the right tools and supplies and more. How to start with little money, getting licensing, how to find/rent a commercial kitchen. What are the hottest baking industry trends … Read more…

How to Open a Candy Store from Home

You don’t have to have a fancy storefront to run a profitable candy business. These days, there’s no reason you can’t operate from home – selling candy through an online store, creating care packages or making local deliveries. You can make your own confectioneries or you can resell candy from other companies. Put your own spin on the products you sell (ie candy bouquets, custom gift baskets, sugar free treats, etc..) By doing this, you are better able to stand out from the crowd and attract more customers. You will have less competition, so marketing will become easier and cheaper. At the same time, you can narrow down your product line and make the same amount of money while managing less products and simplifying your business. This may seem counterintuitive, but opening a generic candy store and trying to compete with Mars, Nestle or Hershey Foods will be extremely difficult – especially without a huge budget. Keep in mind that if you do make your own candy at home, you will need to get a food permit in order to do so. Alternatively, you can contract out with other companies to produce your products for you, using your recipes. All that said, home-based candy stores can use much of the same information as traditional brick-and-morter shops to get their start. Finding wholesale suppliers, packaging, pricing and advertising strategies remain pretty much the same. HOW TO OPEN A CANDY STORE Do you want to open your own candy shop – but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry about having to figure it out on your own. Here’s your step-by-step plan… put together by experts in the candy business! Finding a profitable location, designing the interior, signage, getting equipment and supplies. Obtaining financing, purchasing inventory, hiring staff, setting up inventory and payment systems. Attracting customers with a website, low-cost publicity, holding a grand opening and more. Sample forms included: business plan, floor plan, lease agreement, budget, price list, press release and lots of helpful checklists. Get Started Here Chocolate is a universally popular item – but like any business, involves a changing market. When you start your chocolate business, you want to be on the cutting edge and stay on top of the latest gourmet food trends in order to stay competitive with the market. Whether you decide to focus on organic chocolates, flavored cocoa mixes, imported truffles, fair trade chocolates, health chocolates or gourmet nuts – you want to follow advice from an expert in the chocolate business field. Get Started Here Candy Business Associations National Confectioners Association This association helps support the confectionery industry and its consumers.

How to Start a Hot Dog Cart Business

Hot dog carts have been around a long time, and they are still popular. It’s a fairly low-cost business to start, and no special skills are required to start a hot dog selling business. That said, many people want to start their own hot dog cart businesses. There is lots of competition, and new business owners want to avoid falling into the trap of being like all the other hot dog carts out there, or they will get lost in the sea of vendors and likely fail. Generally, hot dog vendors are required to get a food handling permit and street vending license. Contact your local city office for instructions on how to apply and what is required in your particular city. Insurance is also needed in case of damage or vandalism to your cart or accidental food poisoning to a customer. Use the box on the right to compare rates. Hot dog cart vendors can sell hot dogs on public property, private property or at events or festivals. In any case, the vendor needs to obtain a permit to sell in that location, or get permission from the property owner before proceeding to sell. Increasing Hot Dog Business Profits Rather than focusing on the product itself, successful hot dog vendors use a successful marketing style. They use their personality to entertain customers so they can get repeat business, and they use tactics that make customers want to increase the amount that they buy. What ends up happening is that a hot dog cart vendor can get significantly more money from the same number of customers using these 2 tactics. There is also the opportunity to subcontract and earn money from several hot dog carts. In fact, some hot dog cart owners don’t even make hot dogs because they have several employees working carts and selling the hot dogs for them. How to Make More Money with Your Cart Additional Capabilities: Hot dog carts that include refrigerators/freezers, extra work surfaces and display units give customers the opportunity to buy more from you. Carts with enclosed glass cases let people easily see what you sell, so they are more likely to approach you. Greater Efficiency: The extra work surfaces enable you to handle more customers simultaneously. You can sell more without having to work more hours. Cleanliness: When it comes to selling food, cleanliness counts. Stainless steel carts may cost more, but when kept clean, they can look shiny and new. Clean, well-organized surfaces and displays also give customers a positive impression. During “rush hour” carts can easily get messy. Having a well-organized system with a concealed trash area conveniently located can help you keep your cart clean and attract more customers. New & Used Hot Dog Carts for Sale Even though the hot dog cart business requires minimal investment to start, it’s wise to purchase supplies at wholesale prices and even buy used quality equipment so that you can once again increase your profits. Some resources are All American Hot Dog for … Read more…