I love food and I love to eat. This I guess is as a result of this quote which has inspired me all my life. It says “People who love to eat are always the best people.” Do you see yourself as among the people this quote is talking about? Probably you are, as a great majority of us are. We all love food, but some of us love to eat more than the others.
When we are talking about food, it does not matter if you are a vegetarian or not, as even vegetables are classified as food. In as much as we all love food, our daily activities most times will not give us the free time to prepare the foods we want and when we want them. This has warranted the great business opportunities in food prep business, so who will not be happy if they have someone who delivers all the foods they want by simply giving them a phone call?
In this practical guide, we will be exploring the prospects and the opportunities in the food prep business, and we will be providing all the detailed information you will need to start and profit from a food prep business in 2021 and beyond.
Technology has created a lot of comforts for us, but has also at the same time made our lives very stressful and to be living on a fast lane and has also taken away our most cherished and precious resource, which is our time. One of the comforts of technology is that our knowledge about nutrition has greatly increased, as we are not just only interested in “any food” but more so, we are more concerned if the foods are healthy, and to “woke generation”, if the food is organic?
Who then will have the luxury of time to plan wholesome, nutritious and delicious meals in our fast paced, stressful technology driven world? Here then comes meal prep business.
A meal prep business is a business model that offers customers nutritious and healthy food, based on the customer’s choice of ingredients, style of preparation and menu. I guess the light bulbs in your heads are going off right now, as you are beginning to understand the potentialities and opportunities in food prep business. Who will not be happy, if you can have someone professionally prepare your choice of meal, with your style of preparation and menu?
Now that you are eager and itching to get started in food prep business, let’s cut to the chase, by revealing to you every step that you need to take, in order to get started and profit from food prep business.
- Choose a Niche/Model for your Food Prep Business
The most profitable niches in meal prep business right now are:
- Diabetic diet
- Senior citizen diet
- Paleo diet
- Gluten-free diet
- Dairy-free diet
- High protein diet
There are probably more varieties of food as there are more countries in the world. So it will not be wise starting your food prep business by preparing all varieties of food. So you have the option to choose a niche/model and perfect on it, then you may decide to branch out to more areas as your business progresses.
For instance, you may decide to start with uncooked prepared meal ingredients, which is simply the delivery of all ingredients for a recipe, in the right proportions and the instruction to prepare the meal attached. This is best suited for singles and particularly those who do not like food wastage, as you deliver the right portions according to their requests.
Alternatively, you may choose to offer pre-made and fresh meals like salads, soups, rice, etc., and deliver to your customers. Another possible niche/model is to host meal prep workshops. With this model, you can prepare the ingredients for a tasty meal, provide a workspace for your customers to cook the meals themselves.
There are lots of possibilities, but the niche/model you decide to go with will be dependent on the demographic of your customers and their disposable income to enable them afford your offers.
- Create a business plan.
Food prep business is a business like every other business, hence the same commitment should be given to it. One of the ways to get committed to your business is to come up with a detailed business plan. A detailed and well- articulated business plan will help you stay on the path to success.
Your plan should cover your research, market demand, your plan for growth, and a projected value for investors or lenders in the future if any.
Part of the business plan involves getting and registering a name for your business. So check with the company house to see if your chosen name is available for registration. You have to be very creative while coming up with a name for your business, as a good name will help in your branding activities and also for your brand positioning.
Generally, doing a simple Google and trademark search will give you an idea of name availability. If your name is available, you might want to act quickly and get your domain name registered and also create your social media handles before someone else does.
After you have gotten a business name, you have to decide the legal structure for your business, if you are either going the route of a sole proprietor or a limited liability company. You may decide to seek the advice of a lawyer to know the best legal structure suited for your business.
Based on the niche/model you have chosen earlier, your business plan, should then be able to help you answer the following questions.
- What type of goods or services will you sell?
- How much will you charge for them?
- What will the supplies cost?
- What will the production process cost?
- How much time and money will be required to research and develop your products?
- Get the Proper Licenses, Permits, and Insurance
Food business is highly regulated, as it requires food handling and distribution, so it is very important to get all proper licenses, permits and insurance covers. The licenses, permits and insurance covers you will need will be determined by your business type, location and business structure.
So check with your local, state and federal authorities for appropriate licenses and permits. You should also check with your local chamber of commerce to see if they have any business requirements you must meet.
The likely licenses and permits depending on your state of operations, may include but no limited to sales privilege license, food handler’s license, catering license, health department permits, Employer Identification Number (EIN) or zoning permits.
Your new business will also require insurance cover, which may include workers compensation, unemployment or disability insurance. You can consult an insurance broker to get professional advice on the best insurance cover suitable for your food prep business.
- Decide How to Sell Your Meals
Based on the niche/model you have already chosen, you now have options regarding what type of meal prep business you can start. The niche/model will determine if you will be selling nationally or locally for instance.
So you can sell from a store front or from a website, it is totally up to you. But if you don’t have the capability to manage multiple kitchens or fulfilment centres, you might just go with a store front where customers can pick up their meals.
- Secure funding for your Business
Equipment needed: You will need ovens, stoves, refrigerators, food preparation stands, dishwashers, dishes for serving and utensils. This equipment can easily cost over $100,000 but it can be leased as part of a master equipment lease if you have a decent credit history.
The most common challenge that cuts across big corporations and small businesses is access to funding. The reason is that starting any type of business can be expensive, especially when you need a lot of supplies as food prep business do.
In order to build and grow a meal prep business, you most probably need funding, or you may already have a large sum locked up somewhere. No matter the position you are right now, we have outlined the likely sources of funding you may be able to access, so you can quickly and easily get started with your meal prep business.
- Business lines of credit: In covering your expenses, a business line of credit provides a certain amount of money you can access to cover the expenses. The benefit of this type of funding is that it offers more flexibility than your typical business loan.
- Business credit cards: As a new business owner, you may not have a strong credit history, so you might take advantage of a business credit card. There are many credit card companies that offers 0% introductory APR so you can borrow interest free money. Try as much as you can to pay off the credit during the introductory grace period.
- Equipment financing: Since you will be processing food and cooking meals in bulk, you will need industrial kitchen equipment. You will be entitled to get a loan from a lender to finance the purchase of the equipment, and the beauty of this type of funding, is that the equipment will be used as a collateral. Because of this built-in collateral, it will be very easy for you to qualify for this type of loan.
- Startup funding: As a brand-new startup, you can consider startup financing options like an SBA microloan or a business grant.
Don’t forget to open a business account for your new food business and also learn to separate your business and personal finances as much as possible. So open a business savings account or a business checking account, so you will be able to control the finances from your new business, without joining it with your personal finances.
- Finding and Managing Your Supplies
Do you have what it takes to handle daily supplies and logistics? A food prep business deals with a lot of supplies and logistics, as you will be constantly dealing with fresh foods orders, packaging and shipping materials.
You cannot successfully run a food prep business without having the right ingredients, so you must figure out a way to lower your costs of operations. One of the ways to keep costs low, is to for instance, buy ingredients in bulk from a wholesaler and also by controlling your inventory, as over stocking will increase your shipping costs.
We will recommend you use an inventory management app to help you keep track of all incoming and outgoing supplies.
- Create a Marketing Plan
At this stage, you have already chosen a niche/model, registered your business, prepared your business plan and have also secured funding, now is the time to prepare a marketing plan for your food prep business.
Marketing is very key to the success of any business, as your new business will make little or no sense, if you don’t have a deliberate plan on how you intend to market it.
In creating your marketing plan, you have to look at ways you can prove the value of your meals to your customers. For instance, will your marketing plan be able to give customers the perceived value that your offerings will help families save money and or time? Will your marketing be able to articulate what makes your meals so irresistible? Can you prove that children love your vegetable dishes with your marketing plan for instance?
So use your marketing plan to capitalise on what makes your meals so irresistible, which is your unique selling proposition, as the USP should be the foundation of your promotional activities.
As part of your marketing plan, you may have to create a website, which will be used to post daily menus, schedule meal prep appointments with customers, showcase food and provide contact information and hours of operation. You may also want to create a calendar that displays available appointments.
Your marketing plan also involves advertising. You can advertise on Internet directories such as ibusiness.com.ng and Yelp, which will be very important for your business success. Most customers use meal prep services for convenience, so you can place adverts on Google’s localisation tracking, so the customers can easily find you.
You can also use flyers to promote your business and also possibly sponsor food catering events for local business organisations when they hold a charity event.
In all you do, never forget word of mouth advertising, as you should encourage friends and customers to recommend your meals prep business to their friends, colleagues and family members.
How to keep customers coming back
The best way to get and keep customers is to serve really great food. This is the most powerful way to get new customers and keep them coming back. Offering an enrolment program for customers who wish to receive meals regularly is a great way to retain customers also.
How much profit can a meals prep business make?
Investopedia says the average profit margin for a food and beverage business is 5.5%. If the business is selling about $50,000 per month, the owner can expect to take home profits of 5.5% of that amount or $2,750 per month. You have to sell a lot of food per month to make good profits. This business is low margin/high volume in order to be successful.
How can you make your business more profitable?
This business model lends itself well to offering catering services. Providing food for large groups such as office parties, convention attendees, events, or large private dinner parties is an added revenue stream.
Learning how to start a meal prep business from home is totally doable. Especially if you do your due diligence and follow all of the proper steps we have outlined. If you can create a very good business plan, get your business legally registered, secure funding and you can cook really good and delicious food, then you have a meal prep business on your hands.
So what can you say is stopping you right now? Step out right now and get started with your food prep business.
What are your thoughts about this guide and do you have any business idea you want us to write about, let us know in the comment section.