In the winter months, as the weather turns colder and the days grow shorter, many mobile caterers begin to wonder whether to shut up shop for the season. Because of the outdoor nature of the business, this time of year can present a big challenge for both food trucks and their loyal customers. From special promotions and menu tweaks to keeping staff and customers happy, here are Mobilers’ quick winter food wins to keep the cash flow rolling.
Remember, from the height of summer to the depths of winter, all mobile catering trailers need reliable catering trailer insurance to keep them running effectively. Call the Mobilers team today to discuss your plans for the coming season.
Put together a seasonal menu and benefit from a festive twist
With people preferring to stay indoors when things turn chilly you might notice a drop in trade. But this can work to your business's advantage. Use the slower pace as an opportunity to devote yourself to trying out some new dishes and drinks! After all, as a food lover crafting new and innovative menu items is one of the reasons you got into the business in the first place!
When thinking of new things to sell, you’ll want to offer items that are seasonally available as well as festive. For example, you could launch a new Mexican hot chocolate or perhaps a hearty turkey and thyme soup on your winter menu. Who knows your creations might be such a hit you can add them to your regular menu all year round!
If you already focus on warm drinks like coffee and tea or hearty comfort foods such as soups, pizzas or burgers then you probably won’t have too much thinking to do when starting up a mobile business. However, if your speciality is ice cream or salads then it might not be so straightforward.
Even so there’s bound to be a recipe tweak just right for you. From warming winter salads to gingerbread sprinkles and hot fudge sauce there really are endless possibilities. It’s so easy to stay true to your brand and take advantage of all that festive cheer.
Adapting your menu to the seasons is a great way to keep things fresh but also to cut down on food waste. Perfect for keeping your business sustainable.
Serving food with a twist is a great way to stand out from the competition. And a key part of how to run a successful mobile catering business.
Everybody loves a discount at winter time – give your customers something to shout about
With holidays, parties and gift giving aplenty during this season, money can become tight for your customers. Make it easier for them to justify eating out by providing some winter specials and discounts. Perhaps come up with a tantalising meal deal, or a free coffee with every purchase – anything to whet their appetite.
Promotion, promotion, promotion all year round
Winter really is the most wonderful time of the year and a great time to build up a store of goodwill among customers. So, take the time to consider what promotional efforts might be right for your business and location. For example, with the growth in online business, think about how tools like Instagram and Facebook could help drum up trade. If nothing else, it will help grow awareness about your food truck in the coming months.
If you haven’t already set up a website or social media channels, then get on with it and start posting. There’s lots of guidance online about how to get started. For example, sharing information about opening times, your menu, and your business will help let people get to know you. Be sure to post plenty of pictures or videos about any winter specials you’re running to encourage people to visit.
If you’re looking for Instagram best practice tips for mobile catering vans then look no further than our recent article on just this issue. It takes you all the way from signing up for the right account to posting the most Insta-ready moments. There’s really no better time to get started than now!
While you’ve got your marketing hat on, why not approach local food bloggers, Facebook groups, newspapers, and other media about your food business? Getting a mention on these local channels will really help to build your profile.
Join up with local businesses to help each other out
Just like restaurants, pubs and cafes, mobile catering businesses can be an important part of a local community. By getting together with other local businesses you can drum up extra business and help them out, too.
For example, a nearby large employer might let you set up in their car park. You get the best of the lunchtime rush while their staff get a rest from pre-packed sandwiches at their desks. Well fed staff are happy staff, and happy staff are great for any business!
Another option is to speak with local breweries or other businesses that aren’t able to serve food themselves but would love to offer the option to their customers. When customers are enjoying a pint, they like nothing better than some tasty food to go with it. And if you’re just outside then that’s a quick food option requiring no extra effort on their part. Who knows, you might even be able to match menu items to their drinks in a taste sensation! A win-win situation for both businesses.
Keep an eye out for festive events to maximise your business
There’s lots of fun to be had outdoors during winter time, but you’ll need to think ahead about where to park to find those potential customers. Whether outdoor Christmas markets, carnivals, fireworks displays, or Christmas street light switch-on ceremonies, there are plenty of things to attract people who expect to stand out in the cold. If you sign up as a food vendor for those events, you’ll be in a prime location to win a good slice of the market.
Festive events are a great time to have fun with activities to get the punters excited. Perhaps offer a free coffee to anyone who makes a snow angel, or start a snowman-building contest among your customers? Anything to make your food truck experience unforgettable.
Festive ideas are also perfect for a mobile bar set-up. If you’re looking to set up such a business then read our recent Mobilers article on how to run a mobile bar. There’s sure to be some valuable pointers to get you started.
Offer delivery for those who can’t brave the elements
During warmer times of the year, it’s often enough to park up your catering trailer and wait for the queue to form. However, with the cold keeping people indoors where it’s warm, consider flipping your usual model. Instead of making customers come to you, go to them. This could be particularly valuable for older people or others who might not be capable of standing for too long in the freezing cold.
If you park up in a busy commercial or residential area, your trailer can serve as a delivery hub for a whole community. Hire a delivery person to run the food to the nearby houses and office buildings and you’ll be busy in no time. Adding an online ordering system to your website will make it even simpler for your customers to get their favourite foods. You can also use established food delivery services, such as Deliveroo, Just Eat, and UberEats. This is a great way to get your customers’ food delivered, without you having to manage the delivery yourself.
Expand your business model to include event catering
Food trucks and mobile catering trailers are more popular than ever when it comes to planning weddings, parties and a host of other potentially lucrative events. Rather than the unpredictability of waiting for customers to stop by in colder weather, get yourself a catering gig and you’ll have a guaranteed income stream to see you through the slower months.
How to deal with winter problems
As you can see there are plenty of great opportunities to make the most of the winter season. But remember there are also plenty of hazards you don’t want to fall foul of either. Getting your business ready for winter could save a lot of headaches in the future.
Perform a risk assessment
If you’re planning on staying in business in the mobile catering world then you really need to know how to conduct a risk assessment. A risk assessment is a crucial step in eliminating, reducing or minimising the risks of loss, damage or injury at your business. From slippery roads when driving your food truck, to Christmas markets crowded with people, and the increased potential for burns from hot drinks there’s a wealth of hazards you need to account for. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has set out five simple steps to follow when performing a risk assessment. Simply follow the guidance and you can’t go wrong.
Prepare your catering trailer for winter
Ice and chilly temperatures affect more than just your customers. Make sure your trailer or vehicle is well prepared for the chilly winter months by being properly maintained and provided with suitable supplies. For example, heavy catering vehicles are prone to slipping and sliding when driving in inclement weather. If you’re driving on worn tyres then it’s a recipe for disaster.
Also make sure the areas and paths to your catering trailer are clear of snow and safe for customers to walk on. It may also be a good idea to install heaters inside as well, so your staff stay warm and comfortable.
Okay, if you’re serving up mid-morning coffee and cake you might not think lighting is important. However, as the days grow shorter and more dreary some extra lighting will be required. Not only will this improve safety for all concerned but it’ll also show off your business in its best light.
Keep customers warm and happy
From free coffee refills and outdoor heaters to warm woollen blankets, there are many ways to give your customers that bit extra to keep them warm and comfortable. In fact, by putting in some careful thought you can turn even the most challenging of circumstances into a business win!
Look out for your staff too
As well as keeping the trailer heated, think about how else you can keep staff morale high during these cold, dark months. For example, if staff are required to wear a catering uniform consider how much protection it gives them from the cold. Is it time for branded fleeces?
Make sure you’ve got all the supplies you need
In cold weather you’ll want to make sure you’ve got plentiful supplies in stock. These should include:
- Electrical power sources and hook-ups
Having your own portable generator means you’ll never be left in the dark. But they can be expensive. One of the many potential policy benefits of catering trailer insurance with Mobilers is cover for your generator.
- Gas for cooking
With all that hot food you’ll be cooking your consumption of gas might go up. Always double- and triple-check you’ve an adequate supply of LPG to get you through the day. You don’t want to run out and risk upsetting cold and hungry customers and wasting valuable stock. Check out our gas safety for food trucks tips to be prepared in any situation.
- Disposable catering supplies
With temperatures dropping you might want to look into what catering supplies you need to keep your products at the perfect serving temperature.
Always have a back-up plan in case of really bad weather
Doing business outside in a UK winter? You’ll want to consider what to do if the weather gets really bad. Is it time to invest in a sturdy gazebo or a snow shovel?
Get the right catering trailer insurance from Mobilers
Our catering trailer insurance is perfect for protecting against anything the winter season throws at you.
Get a quick quote for catering trailer insurance today from Mobilers and protect your business all year round.