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Top tips to make your food stall stand out

fruit market stall

From a simple menu refresh to a full-on rebrand, we show you how to get your food stall noticed for all the right reasons.

Picture the scene. You’re trading at a festival or busy market. There are customers everywhere and the potential for a good day’s takings is high. But how do you win business when there’s so much competition? By making sure your food stall stands out, that’s how!

We know how crucial it is to get important business decisions right. In such a competitive marketplace, you might not get a second chance when it comes to making a good first impression on potential customers.

We’ve come up with 22 tips to help you stand out from the crowd. But when you finally get the customers to your stall, you’ll want to make sure you and your business are protected.

Here at Mobilers, we’ve been tailoring bespoke insurance for mobile caterers for more than 20 years. So, we’re perfectly placed to arrange professionals just like you.

22 top tips to make your food stall shine above the competition

The street food revolution that has swept the country in recent years means the mobile catering world is more competitive than ever. And if you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace then you need to think long and hard about how your food stall looks.

A well-designed, custom-branded food stall will not only push your business ahead of your rivals in the battle for buyers. It’ll also work wonders at keeping your company fresh in the minds of customers, old and new.

Try to create a strong brand and memorable logo to use right across your business. Get the best out of social media by always keeping food fans updated on where you’ll be set up each day and at what time. And no matter where you are, keep your food stall clean, tidy, fun and friendly.

For all these tips and many more, read on to find out how to put your food stall head and shoulders above the rest.

  1. Get your branding just right…

Unless you’re buying into a food franchise with a pre-existing brand, if you want to get off to a good start in the food business then you’ll need to think of a brand first. There are many ways to do this, but we recommend thinking about what kind of food you’re planning on serving, what atmosphere you want to create, and your target market.

As a minimum you’ll want a memorable business name, but you might also want to come up with a catchy tagline to give customers a clearer idea of what you’re all about.

The power of an effective logo should never be underestimated, so when coming up with yours it might be worth getting some expert input from a graphic designer.

  1. … And make sure it’s cohesive and consistent

When you’ve put all those hours of effort into creating your food brand, you’ll want to make sure you use it wherever you can. The best brands are those that flow well between your food stall, staff uniform, menu flyers, and social media channels.

It doesn’t matter what food event or market your stall pops up at, you’ll want it to be instantly recognisable every time, so your loyal customers will always know where to come for the best food around.

You really don’t want customers confusing you with your rivals!

  1. Don’t overload your food stall menu

When you’ve got so many culinary ideas to try out, it can be easy to overload your menu. But that could be a big mistake as potential customers might feel overwhelmed and eat somewhere with a more straightforward offering. There is such a thing as too much choice, you know!

And remember, there might be a limit to the amount you can produce from a food stall kitchen. Never let quality suffer because you’ve spread yourself too thin. Also, considering reading our blog on common kitchen accidents and how to prevent them to feel extra prepared in your food stall kitchen.

  1. Seasonal menus to get everyone in the spirit

From the highs of summer to the lows of winter, a food stall can do a roaring trade at any time of year provided you’ve got the right menu to tickle those taste buds. Whether something fresh and zingy to alleviate the heat or something warm and comforting to keep out the cold, giving your menu a seasonal refresh can be a great idea.

As we head into winter, we’ve found 10 winter friendly foods to add to your menu right now. And if you’re wondering how to expand your ice cream services in winter,  well we’ve got a helpful article on that, too!

If you’re planning on making regular changes to your menu, then get yourself a large, wipeable menu board or pegboard to keep customers updated on your latest foodie creations.

  1. Showcase your best-selling dishes

Every food stall will have its mainstay menu items. If you hit on something that goes down well in your market, be sure to photograph and advertise it. Not only will word get around and sales increase but it’ll also make restocking that bit simpler.

While this is all much easier said than done, once you know you’ve got a best-seller on your hands, you’ll know what works best when planning for future events.

  1. Try out new items to keep established customers coming back

Attract repeat customers by displaying newer menu items and advertisements for future events or services. You don’t want customers going elsewhere to try something else.

  1. Bold signage and banners to grab the attention

When a potential customer is looking for food and refreshment one of the first things they’ll spot is your food stall name, so make it stand out! A sign or banner using a large, simple typeface and bold colours is great for grabbing attention from far and wide.

Be sure to have clear signage that identifies your brand and the type of food or drink you serve, you don’t want to leave customers guessing. And if you’re running promotional offers, then be sure to display these loud and clear!

From branded pavement signs and custom feather flags to small hanging signs, side menu boards and PVC banners, you’ll want them all to match your brand’s design and colour scheme.

If you’ve got the money, have your signs professionally printed and designed by an expert, but make sure to always thoroughly check them for typos or errors. You don’t want your signage to catch the eye for the wrong reasons.

  1. Make your food look great

The old saying that ‘we eat first with our eyes’ rings true in today’s social media-driven, highly visual world. Many people love taking photos of their food and uploading them to whatever social site they prefer.

As well as ensuring your grub always tastes and smells delicious, it’s also worth considering its presentation, too. Check out these ideas to get your started:

  • Think contrasting colours. For example, a bowl of delicious tasting porridge is sure to be improved by the addition of some fresh red berries and an amber-coloured swirl of maple syrup.
  • Keep vegetables at their brightest. Over-cooked vegetables tend to lose their colour and look far less appetising.
  • Seared meat at its best. Many dishes look better if the meat they contain has been seared to a golden brown beforehand.
  • Take care when cooking fried foods. You don’t want them turning into a dark brown, greasy mess.
  • Don’t forget shape and texture. Getting the right shape and feel to a dish could be just as important as colour when it comes to making food look uber-appetising.
  1. Know how to talk to customers about your food

No one wants to be subjected to a hard sell when looking for a bite to eat, but building a rapport with customers by being friendly and approachable won’t do any harm at all. Being passionate about your food and brand could lead to further conversation and potential future business.

On the subject of talking about your food, all staff need to know what goes into your food or where to find out the information if they don’t know. Many customers have allergies and if they’re wrongly told the ingredients in a dish, you could have a serious problem on your hands.

Public liability insurance for catering is a must-have in such circumstances.

  1. Make your food stall a fun place to be

food stall with bunting

Besides your great tasting food, how else can you get people to stop at your food stall when there’s so much else to distract them? Could you introduce a little bit of theatre into your culinary performance? Or even just playing some music and stringing up lights could create the perfect ambience.

Getting to know your regulars and treating them like members of the family will help make them feel comfortable whenever they come back for more. And better yet, they’ll be far more likely to refer other friends to you, too.

Remember your fellow traders will need a spot of lunch, too, so make friends with regular stall holders and you could see a steady stream of custom coming from them. It may also be smart to speak to your fellow market traders to find out what you should know when starting up your market trader career.

  1. Provide outdoor seating and encourage people to stay and spend

A table and chairs or a cosy place to shelter from the elements will all encourage customers to stay with you that bit longer. You never know, they might even want seconds! 

Be aware that if you’re encouraging people to stay around your stall then you’ll need to be even more careful of potential slip and trip hazards.

Public liability insurance for catering is one way to protect your business, but it’s even better to stop accidents from happening in the first place by keeping everywhere clean and tidy. 

  1. Light up your stall signage

When it comes to the UK climate, not every day is dry and bright. Investing in a tailor-made illuminated sign will not only increase your brand visibility but will help draw in customers throughout the seasons.

Check out some of the cool designs from signage specialists Goodwin & Goodwin. Which is your favourite?

  1. Label products clearly

We’re not just talking about having your prices clear and easy to see, food labelling is also a big priority. This makes customers feel so much more comfortable, as they’ll know what is in products at a glance.

Alongside public liability insurance for catering, you’ll also need to ensure staff have been well trained on food safety and allergens.

We’ve got some food hygiene tips for staff if your employees need a refresher.

  1. Dress staff in a catering uniform

Do you need a catering uniform? You might never have considered this question, but if you want to make your food stall stand out then it’s probably worth thinking about.

And it doesn’t need to be expensive, even just wearing smart, branded caps and aprons will make your business more visible and easily spotted in the crowd!

  1. Give free samples

Food markets and festivals are brilliant places to set up a food stall. But when there’s so much competition, you’ll probably need to tempt customers with a small free sample of your scrumptious delights.

But take care, even a small taste could make someone very ill if you haven’t got the right food handling processes in place.

  1. Launch an attention-grabbing promotion

There are so many promotions you could launch to benefit your business, such as buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) lunchtime deals and loyalty cards. Keep an eye out for other clever ideas you could use to bring attention to your food stall.

And once you’ve attracted a new customer, don’t let them slip away. Giving someone a discount on return visits via a loyalty card is a great way to encourage repeat customers.

Or how about offering a discount for engagement on social media? A simple share, like or comment can go a long way in spreading the love for your food stall business and growing your audience.

Offering potential discounts is also a useful way to inspire people to hand over their email address so you can keep in touch with them about future food events or services. But be warned, you must follow GDPR guidelines and ask customers for their permission to send promotional materials.

  1. Branded food wrappers to get your name out there

Every time a customer picks up food or drink from your stall there’s an opportunity to get your brand name out there. Branded paper bags, coffee cups, food wrappers, and serviettes are all simple ways to pick up a spot of extra marketing.

If you offer food delivery or want to advertise future offers or events, then have flyers printed for customers to take away. Remember to include a bit about your own business story on there, too, to help make that human connection.

Perhaps you only use sustainable packaging? Or only source ingredients locally? Or give a percentage of your sales to charity? Share your USPs and people will remember you!

For 20 easy marketing tips perfect for mobile caterers, read our handy guide. There’s bound to be at least one tip worth trying out next time you’re at a food market.

  1. Grow your social media presence

Your funky food stall and delicious dishes are perfect for advertising on social media, so don’t ignore this great source of free publicity. From regular posts highlighting new dishes to fun Instagram stories showing your location and hours for each day, it’s really easy to do.

Once you’re up and running, consider taking your street food socials to the next level by providing portable selfie walls, seasonal decorations or custom-made props. If customers have had a great time at your food stall, then they’ll be keen to share that with family and friends on their social media channels.

Giant doughnuts, pizza slices or ice cream cones are great fun, but be careful to ensure they’re all properly secured. If one falls down and injures a customer or damages someone’s property, you’ll need public liability insurance for catering to help cover the costs.

The team at Mobilers has given advice previously on Instagram best practice tips for mobile catering vans - many of which would be equally useful for a food stall.

  1. Give your food stall a refresh every once in a while

Here at Mobilers, we love hearing about the latest trends and ideas in the mobile catering world. Why not try researching fresh and inviting food stall presentation ideas on sites like Pinterest, or by checking out the competition at your next event?

An exciting refresh is not only an effective way to catch the eye of someone who may have missed you earlier. It’s also a useful way to keep your own staff engaged and excited about your business.

  1. Show off your culinary skills

person using tongs on sausages

Showcasing your culinary skills will get people talking about your food stall long after they’ve finished eating. Customers love seeing their food put together, there’s really no better way to drum up a crowd of hungry people.

  1. Find the right pitch for your food stall

Choosing which festivals, markets and events to attend with your food stall is an important business decision to make. To stand out from the crowd you’ll really want to offer something a bit different from the other caterers in attendance.

As well as asking the organisers what other food stalls will be on offer, you’ll also want to know the insurance situation. While it isn’t a legal requirement to have public liability insurance for catering businesses, most event organisers will stipulate that mobile caterers have a minimum public liability insurance to cover claims up to £5 million – indeed some will only accept £10 million coverage.

If you get cover through Mobilers, the public liability insurance for catering can be extended to £10 million at no extra cost if required by a contract or event. That’s why it’s so important to choose a specialist that understands the mobile catering industry like we do.

  1. Don’t forget public liability insurance for catering businesses

You’ll want your business to stand out for all the right reasons, but what happens if something unexpected and unpleasant happens. Well, you’ll want public liability insurance for catering professionals to keep everyone well protected.

This is an extremely important type of insurance for a mobile catering company to have, as it can protect your business against a wide range of compensation claims from customers and the general public.

Benefits of our public liability insurance for catering can include:

  • Immediate cover and quotations
  • Instant documentation
  • Access to exclusive products and schemes not available elsewhere

Got a question about public liability insurance for catering? Ask the specialists at Mobilers today.

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