One of the most important aspects of a mobile food vending business is location. You can have the nicest cart in the world and your food may be delicious, but customers are essential! Well, that seems simple doesn't it? In a way, it is. Locations with high foot traffic are best, and places where there are not a lot of food options are even better. But instead of composing a list of the obvious, let’s talk about what goes into securing a location.
Many vendors want to have a permanent spot where they go set up on a daily basis. Depending on where you will be operating, the steps may be different. Many cities have designated mobile vendor sites. These are locations that are predetermined by the municipality. They are sometimes given out on a first come first serve basis, and other times the sites are distributed annually by way of a lottery system. Check with the municipality where you hope to operate to find out their procedure. While you are there, be sure to find out if any additional licenses are required by your city or county.
Another good way to secure a permanent location is to negotiate with a local brick & mortar business owner. If you wish to work during the day, look for a business with a high volume of employees. Workers on their lunch break will appreciate the convenience and speed you can offer, and if your great menu is right outside their door, then they needn't go “off-campus” for lunch.
This same concept works well if you wish to operate at night. Many bars do not serve food at all. Patrons of these watering holes will inevitably grow hungry. Your presence benefits not only the bar's customers, but also the owner. A hungry customer who merely has to step outside to grab a bite is much more likely to return for more libations than the one who has to travel down the road for fast food. This is an excellent selling point when negotiating the rent for your spot.
Other vendors prefer to work at temporary venues, or simply supplement their income by working special events. Be aware of any festivals, concerts, sporting events or fairs that occur in your area. Approach the organizers to find out what their vending requirements are, and be sure to do so in advance.
Private events can also be very lucrative. This category includes a huge range of events from birthday parties to sales at car lots to employee picnics. The best way to get jobs like these is to network! Have business cards or paper menus made up to hand out when you are on location. Make use of social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter. This not only allows you to notify the world that you are available for private events, but also creates another way for your customers to communicate with you.
No matter which kind of location you hope to have, it is very important to maintain professionalism in all that you do. This begins when you are securing your spot and continues for as long as you are operating in your location. You are not just some vendor. You are a legitimate business owner looking to offer your services. Don't just sell hot dogs; sell yourself and your image. Make sure that your cart is always clean and in good working order. When approaching organizers or business owners, be prepared to show them why you are a good choice for them. If it makes good business sense to them, they will be likely to offer you the event or location.
Do you have tips or stories about securing a vending location? Please share them with us in the comments below!
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