Updated: March 4, 2020
Among all franchises in the Philippines, the food cart is probably the most popular. Aside from being affordable, finding your target market is relatively easier with a food business.
There are many food cart businesses to choose from if you’re looking for a franchise. However, putting up your own food stall isn’t that complicated either.
Below are 10 tips to remember when starting a food cart business. I hope this quick guide will help you achieve success as a food entrepreneur.
1. To franchise or start your own?
Before anything else, you should decide whether to get a franchise or start your own food cart business. There’s no better choice, and it all depends on your skills and resources.
Franchising will save you time in planning and execution, but it will cost a lot more. Also, you’ll have less control over the business and would need to follow the terms of the franchisor.
It’s more affordable to start your own business, but you’ll need to do everything — think of a business name, design your logo, find suppliers, and many other tasks.
2. Write a business plan.
A business plan is your blueprint for success. Writing one allows you to run your business on paper, and will help you visualize all the tasks you’ll need to execute.
Moreover, a comprehensive business plan will be useful if you need to find partners or investors for your venture. Having one gives an impression that you’re committed to succeed.
3. Build on one product.
A food cart business isn’t a restaurant that can offer a variety of meals, so don’t be one. All successful food carts focus on only one product. Just think about it — french fries, siomai, fruit shakes, nachos, waffles, etc.
You can innovate and offer something new, or compete in what’s currently popular or an emerging trend. Either way, also make sure that you’ll have the resources to manufacture your product by the volume.
4. Choose a good location.
Go where your target customers are. Food cart businesses are best inside malls, near office establishments, adjacent to transportation terminals, and beside colleges or universities.
Moreover, assess the security and the accessibility of the area. It is recommended that you go to and observe around your planned location for several hours on different days, before pursuing it.
5. Ensure proper food sanitation.
Be meticulous about your food preparation and handling. Ensure proper sanitation in all steps. Invest in quality containers and packaging. Be strict with the expiration dates of your ingredients.
In today’s age of social media, you don’t want people talking about how unclean your food is, or how unsanitary your food cart is. Additionally, you can be held liable if someone gets sick from eating your products.
6. Develop eye-catching food cart design.
Colorful and well-designed food carts can easily attract customers. Use vivid hues of yellow, red, or orange. Make your logo recognizable. Make your text and menu displays simple and easy-to-read.
Draw a mock-up of your food cart and show it to friends. Observe their first impressions, then ask for feedback and suggestions on how you can improve it.
7. Excel at customer service.
You are not only selling food, but you’re also providing a service to your customers. Teach your staff to be warm and friendly. Tell them to always serve with a smile.
People often become impatient and ill-tempered when they’re hungry. That’s why it’s important to train your crew on how to handle difficult clients.
8. Be strategic with pricing.
Sell at a price to make reasonable profits. Make sure that you are at par with competitors. And lastly, assess if your prices are affordable to your target customers.
There’s no straightforward formula you can follow when it comes to pricing. It’s really a matter of finding that balance between affordability, competitiveness, and profit — then adjusting accordingly.
9. Register your business.
A food cart business is exposed to the public. Business inspectors will most likely visit your store on a regular basis. That’s why it’s important to legally register your business.
Moreover, apply for all necessary permits. Apart from the usual licenses from the DTI, barangay, city hall, and BIR. You should also have BFAD approval on your products, health and sanitary permits, and many others.
10. Be your number one customer.
Don’t sell food that you’re not even a fan of. When milk tea became a craze, I knew someone who ventured into it even though he doesn’t drink milk tea. That business didn’t last long.
By being your number one customer, you’ll know exactly what makes your product good. You’ll also have insights on how to properly sell and market it. And more importantly, it’ll be easier for you to innovate on the food.
Running a food cart business can be challenging. And it takes a good amount of planning in order to succeed. So never rush into starting one to avoid costly mistakes along the way.
Getting a food cart franchise is a good option if you’re a first-time entrepreneur. It’s a great training ground that will get you acquainted with the food industry.
But strive to hopefully someday, be able to start your own. Because by doing so, you’ll then have the opportunity to offer your food cart business as a franchise and compound your income passively in the future.