If you’ve been thinking you’d like to put your culinary passion into a business endeavor that lets you be the boss while sharing your passion, you might be considering starting your own meal delivery service. Below, you’ll find some tips for helping get your business started on the right foot.
Research local businesses offering the same thing you want to offer to get an idea of what menus, methods, and pricing are working. If you’re looking to be a meal delivery pioneer in your area, research similar markets elsewhere. It’s important to understand that demographics really matter. What works well in busy urban settings might not work in a more suburban area. An area where fine cuisine is all the rage might be more receptive to “fancy” food than an area where casual is still king. Your best chance at success lies in knowing your market.
Understand what local, state, or federal laws might apply to your business. Make sure you obtain all of the necessary paperwork and permits to officially register and license your new empire. Health department permits for food service businesses generally require routine on-site inspections. There will also be very specific rules you’ll need to understand and follow, and these rules might be different for those running brick-and-mortar businesses versus those working out of their homes. In addition to requirements centered around food safety in the kitchen, there are also regulations regarding the shipping or transport of food.
It’s also imperative for you to develop a comprehensive business plan, especially if you’re going into this venture with partners of any type. Delineating duties and laying out a development and growth plan before you start can save some headaches down the road. Naturally, you’ll want a plan that’s flexible enough to grow and change with your business, but opting to “wing it” usually lands new business owners in hot water sooner or later. Part of this plan needs to be a clear concept of what you intend to offer. Catering to a niche market might seem like a way to limit your potential, but it is also a way to limit initial expenses by limiting the menu items that you will have to ensure are always available. It will be easier to expand your vision and services once you’ve gotten a good grip on the nuts and bolts of running the business.
When determining what you’ll need in terms of startup capital, make a comprehensive list of all of the equipment you’ll need, and then shop for the best prices. Don’t forget to consider used equipment as you start out as long as said equipment can pass any necessary inspections. It’s natural to want one of everything when it comes to kitchen equipment for your new business. It’s important, though, to prioritize (unless, of course, you’re one of the lucky ones and money’s no object for you). If you intend to offer fresh fruit and veggie smoothies, for instance, a superb juicer needs to be on your list. If your focus is more on whole foods served whole, the juicer can wait.
Once you’re squared away with permits and licenses and are nearly ready to open, you’ll need to get the word out. You can save money on your ad campaign by asking friends, family, and other social media contacts to spread the word via social media posts. Post or hand out flyers advertising your grand opening in areas where you’re most likely to reach your target audience. You might also look into decals for your car or delivery vehicles. Offering new customers the ability to earn discounts by referring others is a great way to grow your business through word of mouth. You can also offer customers discounts for mentioning you on social media.
A lot of passion and patience and proper pre-launch preparation will help you realize your dreams of being your own boss and sharing your culinary creations with a hungry world!