Starting a food cart is an excellent way to get into the food business. It has the least starting capital and the cart can be brought elsewhere if the location is unfavorable. This is a business where you can start small and get big fast. Here are some tips to guide you in this business:
- Decide whether to do everything on your own, get a franchise or something in between. Buying a franchise is a lot easier. You no longer have to develop a winning product. There is already a working operating system and you may be able to buy a franchise of an already well-known brand. It is also easier to get approved for mall locations as most mall operators prefer to accept only food carts that already have several branches. You may also prefer to design or buy your own cart but get your food inventory from suppliers.
- Have an innovative product. Do not just copy the latest food fad. The most critical success factor in food carts is the quality and uniqueness of the food. Spare no expenses in conducting taste tests in your target market. Note that people of different provinces may have different tastes.
- Invest in the packaging. The packaging is part of the product. The cost of beautiful packaging is higher, but it helps improve sales, as it is more attractive to buyers. Consider not only the design of the packaging but also the serving size. Have servings not only for personal consumption but also for pasalubong. Recently, food carts have successfully marketed bite sized servings. It is not only more affordable but also often bought by people on a diet.
- Take all costs into account when setting prices. Factor in overhead expenses when setting prices. This is especially true when you have very high rental rates. There are some authorities in the restaurant business that disagree with this because they believe it would make the food too expensive for the market. If this is the case, do set up in places that have rentals that you can recover.
- Pick a location with less competition. Unless you have unlimited resources, it is not advisable to get a location in a big mall if you are not a franchisee of a popular brand. In malls, the rental is astronomical, the competition is intense and you may exhaust your resources before you’ve established a name for yourself.
- Screen and train suitable personnel . Do not forget to screen your personnel carefully. Besides the usual NBI clearance, having drug tests is a prudent measure. Have a comprehensive training program for new recruits and constant reminder of the proper procedures for the veteran employees.
- Have continuous product development. There will come a time when people will eventually tire of your old offerings. Allocate a budget for product development. You can look for modifications in your current products, like having different flavors or additional ingredients, or you can find new items to complement or add to your product line.
BusinessCoach, Inc., a leading business seminar provider, conducts seminars on starting a food cart business. Contact (02) 727-5628/8860, (0915) 205-0133 or visit www.businesscoachphil.com for details.
Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.