How to Start a Mobile Takeaway

Table of Contents

Mobile takeaways sell a range of food from some sort of vehicle and, if done right, can be a very successful business. If you’re thinking of starting your own mobile takeaway business, this is what you need to know.

person buying from mobile takeaway

Why you should start a mobile takeaway business?

You don’t need any qualifications or much experience

There are no qualifications legally required to start and run a mobile takeaway business. Also, you don’t need years of experience. As long as you know how to prepare food you decide to sell, have good people skills and aren’t scared of working in cold or rainy weather, you can be successful.

Your work life is flexible

The great advantage of running a mobile takeaway is that you can move your business from one place to another! If you don’t attract many customers at your initially chosen location, you can choose a new one! This is not possible if you have an actual restaurant or work in the office. 

Startup costs don’t have to be high

A lot of people think that starting a business is always expensive. But it doesn’t have to be! When you’re just starting out, you don’t need to invest in fancy equipment (unless of course, you have a budget!). You can get second-hand equipment, so you can operate and make a profit and once your business grows, upgrade it! 

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Legal issues

Food safety and hygiene

Anyone starting up a food business must have up-to-date knowledge of food safety and hygiene legislation. Even though the qualification is not required, getting a certificate in food safety is a good way to demonstrate this knowledge both to your customers and local authorities. 

Mobile takeaway business registration

All business premises where food supplies are stored, prepared or served (including any separate premises if you store or prepare any ingredients somewhere other than the vehicle you trade from) must be registered with the environmental health department of the local authority. Also, before you start trading in a public area, you need to get a street trading licence. 

Pricing policy

The amount you charge depends on many different factors, however, it always has to cover all the expenses as well as make you profit. 

If you always trade from the same place, your customer will expect you to be consistent with your pricing. But if you move from one place to another, you can adjust your prices depending on the venue or event. For example, if you’re the only takeaway van at an event, you can set your prices higher. If you have a lot of competition, check what everyone else is charging. You might want to lower your prices or offer deals that would attract people to choose your business instead of others. 

The best places to sell at

Think about the places where people are most likely be hungry and don’t have anything on them, such as:

  • Events such as festival, shows or Christmas markets
  • Industral and retail estates/business parks
  • Outside sports grounds
  • At tourist attractions
  • Outside pubs, bars or nightclubs in the evenings
people in a queue waiting to buy from mobile takeaway

How to promote you mobile takeaway

Use word of mouth

Choose certain locations to trade at regular times. This will help you establish your customer base. People will know when and where to expect you as well as what you offer. If your customers are pleased with your food and service, they’ll likely recommend you to their family, friends or colleagues. 

Offer deals and promotions

No matter if it’s clothes, furniture or takeaway food, people love a bargain! Providing special offers such as lunch deals can attract more customers, especially if you work near offices or university campuses. 

special offer at mobile takeaway

Don’t underestimate the power of social media

Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to finding new customers. Be creative and show what’s on offer using pictures and videos. It’s frequently said that people eat with their eyes first, so keep that in mind and share some “tasty” content! 

Make sure your mobile takeaway is easy to find on the maps

When you’re looking for the nearest place to shop or eat, where do you look? You probably go on search engines that give you suggestions and show you where the place is on the map. You need to make sure you’re there too! If you have any regular locations you trade at, add them on both Google and Apple maps, so people who are looking for takeaway places and easily find you. 

Disadvantages of running a mobile takeaway business


Even though you can go anywhere with your mobile takeaway, it doesn’t mean you can park everywhere. Wherever you go, you need to make sure you have permission to park and trade from that location. You might also need to pay for parking as a regular car. 

Lack of space

A mobile takeaway isn’t the same as a restaurant. You’ll have to work in a very limited space. That’s why it’s best if you keep your menu small, so you have enough storage for all the ingredients and kitchen equipment. 

You need to do a lot of research

As starting any other business, starting a mobile takeaway requires a lot of research. You might think that you can simply be successful by selling food you like yourself and have experience preparing. However, it’s not always that easy. You need to find out what people actually want to eat in the area you’re planning to trade at. If you decide to trade at different locations, you might slightly change your menu to adapt to different tastes.

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