Are you thinking about becoming a street food vendor or new to the industry? Check out these tips from the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS)

Know that the money isn’t easy

Do your financial planning – will selling street food cover your living costs now and in the future?

Working for yourself can be very rewarding, but are you prepared to be working whilst others are enjoying themselves?

Think carefully about your food

Determine what food and portion format you want to sell.

This will influence many aspects of your business: marketing, equipment, vehicle, prep time, location, clientele etc…

Determine where to sell

It might sound like a sure thing to pay for a pitch at a popular festival, but if things don’t work out you might not recover the expensive pitch cost.

Before you book a pitch find out precisely where it is (e.g. near the portaloo’s might impact trade).

Make sure you have a contract in place with the organisation renting the pitch.

Decide what you’re going to sell from

Do you want to sell from a van, a stall or an elaborately decorated marquee?

Balance ease of travel, with setup times, visibility and uniqueness in the market.

A beautifully designed stall might attract a lot of footfall over a simple van, but will take longer to setup and take down.

Piddaji bake their Turkish pies in wood-fired oven

Calculate your operating cost

New allergen regulations mean that you should know exactly what’s in your food, this should help in calculating your food cost.

As a guideline your pitch rent should be no more than 25% of turnover. Your net profit target should be around 40%.

Test new menu items, seek feedback and iterate

Avoid menu fatigue, make sure you’re listening to your customers and always innovating. Capturing and responding to feedback is vital. The hawkker app will help you easily capture feedback on your food

As well as keeping your customers happy, constantly innovating keeps your business operations sharp.

Systemise your operations

Develop, document and improve best- practice systems on how to run your operations. This will help you achieve scale and consistency whilst becoming net profits.

An extreme example: how McDonald’s achieves operational efficiency

Use the right equipment

Buy high-quality, compliant equipment, it will last longer and be safer for you, your staff and your customers.

NCASS can help you find the appropriate hardware.

Make a plan and review it

Set targets for yourself, these can be revenue, profitability or some other performance targets.

Regularly review these targets and consider reasons why you may have under/over performed against them