Latest News

Tips for buying your first mobile catering van

Catering vans, also known as food trucks, are gaining popularity in the food industry as an innovative and cost-effective solution to traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants. Despite their popularity, the process of buying a catering van can be daunting and littered with potential pitfalls. This guide will walk you through the steps of buying a catering van, providing tips, insights, and considerations to help you get your business off to a great start.

Identifying your catering van needs

Before buying a catering van, it's important to identify your specific needs. These may include the size of the van, the type of food you plan to serve, the amount of storage and preparation space you need, and any specific equipment requirements. Understanding your needs will help you choose a van that suits your street food business model and operations.

Understanding the cost of a catering van

Estimating the price range

The cost of a catering van can vary significantly. The price depends on factors such as the van's age, size, brand, and customisation level. For instance, a used van will typically be less expensive than a new one, but it might require more frequent repairs and maintenance. On the other hand, a new, custom-built van will be more expensive but can be tailored to your exact needs and specifications.

Budgeting and financing

Before you start shopping, it's important to determine your budget and consider your options. If you don't have sufficient funds, you might need to apply for a loan or seek investment. Some catering van business owners will also consider renting a van, which can be a more affordable option in the short term.

Deciding on a New vs. Used van

Benefits and drawbacks of a new mobile catering van

Buying a new catering van allows you to personalise the catering van to your specific needs. You can choose the exact layout and catering equipment that best suits your menu and operation. New vans are less likely to break down, and they often come with a warranty. However, new vans are more expensive and may take longer to prepare, as customisation can be a time-consuming process.

Benefits and drawbacks of a used mobile catering van

Used catering vehicles are less expensive and can be a great option if you're on a tight budget. They may come with pre-installed kitchen equipment, which can save you time and effort. However, used vans may have hidden damages or may not meet current health and safety regulations, which could lead to additional costs down the line.

Considering Buying vs. Leasing a mobile catering van

Pros and cons of buying a mobile catering van

Buying a catering van gives you full ownership and control over the vehicle. You can customise it as you see fit, and you don't have to worry about monthly lease payments. However, buying a catering van requires a large upfront investment, which can be a significant financial burden for new business owners.

Pros and cons of leasing a mobile catering van

Leasing a van allows you to spread the cost over time, making it a more affordable option in the short term. You can also upgrade to a newer model when your lease ends, which can be beneficial if you want to keep up with the latest trends and technologies. However, leasing comes with its own set of drawbacks, such as restrictions on customisation and the possibility of additional charges for damage or excessive mileage.

Inspecting the Van

Whether you're buying a new or used van, it's essential to thoroughly inspect the vehicle before making a purchase. Check the condition of the mobile catering van's exterior and interior, the functionality of the kitchen equipment, and the van's overall cleanliness. If you're buying a used van, also check for any signs of wear and tear or damage.

Negotiating the sale

Once you have found a van that meets your needs and fits within your budget, it's time to negotiate the price. Don't be afraid to haggle and aim for the best deal possible. If you're buying a used van, consider having it inspected by a mechanic before finalising the purchase.

Considering the warranty

A warranty protects you from potential repair costs in the event of a breakdown or mechanical issue. New vans usually come with a manufacturer's warranty, while used vans may come with a limited warranty or none at all. It's important to understand the terms and conditions of the warranty before making a purchase.

Before operating your catering van, you must meet all local health and safety regulations. This may include obtaining various permits and licenses, passing health inspections, and complying with food handling standards. It's crucial to research these requirements in advance to avoid any legal issues down the line.

Catering van insurance

In the food truck industry, make sure to get the right catering van insurance to keep your business safe and secure. Our catering van insurance team can help find the appropriate cover to suit you and your mobile catering business.

Where to find catering vans for sale

There are several places to find catering vans for sale, including online marketplaces, dealership websites, and local classified ads. You can also check with local catering businesses or food truck operators who may be selling their vans. Be sure to check the reputation of the seller and do your due diligence before making a purchase.

Taking care of your catering van

Once you've purchased your catering van, it's important to take good care of it to ensure its longevity. This includes regular maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, as well as prompt repairs when needed. You should also keep the van clean and sanitary to meet health standards and provide a pleasant dining experience for your customers.


Buying a catering van is a significant investment and a crucial step in starting your food truck business. By understanding the costs, weighing your options, and doing your due diligence, you can find a van that fits your needs and budget. With the right van, you'll be well on your way to serving delicious food and building a successful business.

Remember, the journey of buying your first catering van may seem overwhelming, but with careful planning and consideration, it can be a smooth and rewarding process. Good luck with your new venture!

Share this on: