Of all the great money-making ideas we’ve explored here at MoneyMagpie, we can’t believe we haven’t yet looked at setting up a sandwich business.
Well, we’ve remedied that and produced this essential guide to getting your sandwich business up and running. If you’re committed and prepared to work hard, there’s serious money to be made from a mobile food business.
- Getting your mobile sandwich business started
- Pros and cons
- Do your research
- Your food
- How much can I make?
Before you launch into your sandwich-selling venture, there are a few basic requirements you need to think about:
- What kind of sandwich business do you want to run? There are two main options: a made-to-order set up where you cater for meetings and functions, or simply going ‘door-to-door’.
- Can you comply with food safety regulations? The Food Standards Agency covers these in detail, but there are two main requirements: a food hygiene certificate and a visit from the Environmental Health Officer to pass your premises as being fit for preparing food in.
- Do you have room for an extra fridge or freezer? With all the additional food, you’ll definitely need more storage equipment.
- Is your vehicle big enough to transport the food? If not, you need to look into the cost of buying and maintaining a small sandwich van. For a city-based business, a motorbike with a top box would be good for negotiating traffic.
- You may have to pay tax on your profits – find out whether you’ll need to declare extra earnings to HMRC.
- If you intend to make this a full-time business, you’ll have to register as self-employed. See our article on freelance finances for help on this.
- Being self-employed gives you flexibility and the satisfaction that all the money you earn is your own; however if you’re ill or take a holiday you don’t get paid. You’ve got to be fully committed to it.
- Are you prepared for some long hours? A sandwich business means you’ll need to be up early to prepare, then once you return from a day’s selling there’s cleaning, bookkeeping, banking and admin to do.
- Be presentable! Have a few polo shirts printed with your company name or logo – it’ll make you look smart and professional. Get shirts printed via eBay – there are plenty of companies offering this service.
- Promote yourself! Get 250 business cards plus a holder free from Vistaprint and hand them out to everyone you know and leave some with local businesses. This gets your name out there and looks very professional.
Do you want a business that produces ‘made-to-order’ sandwiches, or are you going to sell your produce ‘door-to-door’? Or perhaps both?
- Large orders for a single delivery
- Very little wastage
- You could end up getting contracts for regular work with big companies
- Pressure to get orders ready for a specific time
- You cannot afford to let customers down if a personal emergency arises
- Tends to be quite large-scale so you’d need to employ some extra staff
- You can run this business on your own
- Profit margin is very good and it’s a cash business
- Access to multiple sites in one day
- During tough economic times, people may be less willing to buy a takeaway lunch and choose to make it at home instead
- You may find yourself battling food waste, especially on slow days
- No guarantee that transport costs will be recouped by sales
Think about how far afield you want to go and what kind of places you want to sell at.
- Office environments
Most workplaces have potential sales – if it’s an office-based environment without many other food outlets nearby, people will welcome a sandwich van.
- Manual labour sites
A more manual-based environment means workers are physically tired and hungry, and will look forward to your visit.
- Industrial estate
Rather than visiting several workplaces, you may consider pitching up on an industrial estate where there’s a lot of traffic moving through.
Industrial estates are notorious for burger vans selling greasy fast food, but your fresh, healthier sandwiches might be a welcome alternative.
Remember if you want to sell outside a particular workplace or enter the premises (even if it’s just the car park), you should ask the company for permission. Some industrial workplaces have strict health and safety rules and will not allow you to leave your vehicle without wearing the proper safety equipment.
Call ahead of time to avoid being turned away on the day.
Did you know that the Government has introduced the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) which provides a grant of £1,500 to employers taking on apprentices aged 16-24? If you could do with an extra pair of hands then this scheme could be very beneficial for you. The minimum wage for apprentices is £2.73.
This is a real balancing act for any mobile catering business. You want to offer sandwiches made with quality ingredients, but you don’t want your costs to get out of hand. Buy in bulk from a cash & carry and don’t be stingy with fillings – your sandwiches will look unattractive and you won’t get much repeat business.
A well-presented sandwich in a nice box with a clear printed descritpion is going to be much more attractive to customers than one wrapped in cling film with a hand-written label. However, it’ll cost you more and will need to be taken into account when you’re deciding on pricing. Rolls can be put in paper bags with a clear panel. Ultimately though, if your sandwiches taste good, you’ll get people coming back for more!
You may want to branch out and offer pies, pasta/salad bowls, drinks, cakes, crisps and other extras to increase your profits. ‘Specials’ are often attractive as people like to buy things that are available for a limited time only. Anything homemade will go down very well, so make sure you mention it in your description.
While you want your prices to be competitive, you still need to turn a decent profit. Aim for a 150% margin – so if each sandwich costs £1 to make, you should charge £2.50. If the area you’re selling in doesn’t have a lot in the way of competition, you can probably get away with charging a bit more.
If you sell 80 sandwiches a day, that’s £600 per week profit on your ingredients. That’s not taking into account transport or packaging costs, but 80 sandwiches is more than possible, not to mention drinks, crisps and other extras.
If you enjoyed this article, see how you can make money with/by:
- an oven-cleaning business
- selling cakes, jams and sweets
- starting your own supperclub
- running an ironing service
And for lots of other ideas, be sure to check out:
Are you thinking of setting up your own sandwich business – or perhaps you’ve already done so? If so please let us know your experiences by commenting below – we love hearing from you!
Not only can you do your own thing, but you can find a catering job in your area using our handy tool here: