Market Potential Of Mobile Catering Services Business
Catering business has traditionally enjoyed a consistent and stable market demand because it deals with something as basic as food. However, within the industry there is intense competition, and not everyone can succeed or survive in this business. Mobile Catering Services business is a niche segment within the catering industry that is growing at the fast pace in markets such as UK.
Growth In The Times Of Economic Slowdown
At a time when the whole world has been going through an economic slowdown, the catering business is also under pressure because of the generally reduced spending of consumers on non-essential products and services. However, the mobile catering business has managed to grow despite the recessionary conditions in the overall markets. In fact, this business appears to be taking up the space that is being vacated by the higher end catering services due to low demand.
Entry Of New Entrepreneurs In Mobile Catering Services
The incremental growth that is being witnessed in the mobile catering service industry is attracting a lot of new entrepreneurs who are opting for this business. There seems to be room for several new mobile outlets as long as they are able to deliver good quality and good service to the consumers. However, this does not mean to say that there is no competition in this segment.
Competition Within The Mobile Catering Market Segment
Although the mobile catering market is in a growth phase, but there is severe competition within the market. There are many new and efficient players who are entering the business and operating at low costs and achieving higher productivity. The consumer is the real beneficiary of this competition at the end of the day. So, even within an expanding market, ultimately it is only fittest players who will survive and sustain for the long term.
There are a number of reasons behind the exceptional growth and success of the mobile catering business even during the global economic downturn phase:
Low Cost Advantage Of Mobile Catering Services
The capital investments in this business are very low as compared to a traditional restaurant or a banquet hall. The variable overheads or the operating costs of the business are also considerably lower in this business. Therefore, any entrepreneur who can run this business efficiently and with commitment to quality and customer service is likely to achieve success. The entrepreneur can pass on the cost savings to the customers in the price. Therefore, the customer receives a better value for his money. This is a key reason of the thriving success of this business in markets like UK.
Lower Risk Profile
Low fixed investment means lower financial risks for the business. This suits a lot of small and aspiring entrepreneurs who cannot afford to invest large sums of money as fixed start-up costs. Many mobile catering van manufacturers offer buy back schemes to the new buyers. This means, in the event of the business not doing well, the entrepreneur still has an opportunity to exit the business without incurring too heavy losses.
Higher Flexibility And Location Advantages
The mobile catering services offer a superior flexibility to the entrepreneur. The business can be expanded or reduced more easily compared to a conventional restaurant that has already invested in fixed space and fixed seating. Secondly, the mobile caterer has the option of moving his business to another location if one particular location is not performing as per expectations. This benefit is not available to someone who has set up a traditional restaurant or banquet hall.
New entrepreneurs aspiring to become mobile caterers ought to evaluate a few key issues carefully before taking the plunge and investing their hard-earned money in the business:
Decision On The Kitchen
Before investing in a mobile catering services unit, the entrepreneur needs to evaluate his options for the kitchen. The first option is that he may purchase such a mobile unit or trailer that includes a readymade kitchen and all the necessary equipment required for it. Under this option the entire cooking process will be conducted within the mobile unit itself. However, there are alternative options also available that the entrepreneur may like to explore before making a final decision. It is possible to maintain the kitchen at home, if the mobile unit is small and does not require very large volume of cooking. The necessary commercial approvals for running the kitchen from home can be obtained. The mobile unit may only carry the re-heating, storage and freezing equipment to serve hot and fresh food to the customers. Another alternative idea is to opt for a kitchen-on-hire. Such kitchens are often available on rent by the hour. Many restaurants tend to put their kitchens on hire in the morning hours, which the mobile unit operator can utilize for his own day’s requirements.
Decision On The Choice Of Food Items
A critical decision that must be taken at the planning stage itself is what kind of food items should be included in the menu. The kitchen equipment will have to be planned in accordance with it. The entrepreneur should make a market study to understand the latent demand for certain items in the local market, and to find the niche products that have lesser competition, and an increasing demand or a rising trend among the customers. Along with the menu, the pricing decision is also equally sensitive. These both decisions can actually make or break the business to a great extent. So enough time and attention must be invested on them.
Mobile Catering Services business is certainly lucrative, and many crowded mobile units doing brisk sales can be seen in and around London and other cities in the UK. However, for a new entrant it is important to pay attention to all aspects of the business, and make the right moves. Success is not too difficult to achieve in this business, if the entrepreneur has the initiative and the commitment to carry it out with zeal and consistent focus. Customer-oriented approach is the key to success in a service based business such as mobile catering.