How else can I find the right food offering?
Food trends come and go – what’s important is that you’re keeping your ear to the ground when it comes to your local customer base. Popular dishes can vary from area to area and, sometimes, seasons.
Conduct local market research
Before deciding on your offering, you need to have a strong grasp of your target market, and the current local takeaway environment in your area. Once a customer has found their perfect takeaway match (whether it’s a dish or takeaway business as a whole) it can be difficult to shift their allegiance elsewhere. Keep this in mind when planning your positioning – is there an untapped market that isn’t currently being catered for in your area? Why compete when you might not need to?
- Begin by speaking to your local community – what are their favourite takeaway cuisines? Dishes?
- Do they feel their tastes are catered for?
- Do they have a set of go-to places for takeaway food or do they like to try new places?
- How much would they be prepared to pay for a takeaway dish?
- What do they value most about takeaway food?
- Where’s the first place they look when searching for a takeaway service? Google? Social media? Local Facebook group? A delivery service mobile app? Local newspaper? Ask a friend?
- Research local takeaway providers – what are their reviews like? Take note of the areas that are listed in both positive and negative reviews as these are the things that matter most to your target market e.g. how quickly food is delivered, how hot the food is on delivery, the quality of ingredients, etc.
- Some delivery companies that you might decide to partner with offer insightful customer data analysis, which could further inform your operations. For example, Just Eat provides partners with significant amounts of non-personal data such as customers’ food preferences in specific locations to allow restaurants to tailor menus.
Try and find a niche
Food trends are still worthwhile keeping an eye on – as they can flag a potential untapped niche customer base in your local community. Many successful entrepreneurs recommend specialising or niching down to succeed. The idea is that if you build your business around a specific theme, it’ll be easier to become known.
So, whether it’s meal-size sandwiches, fine freezer food or dishes championing British seafood, keep a theme or specialty in mind when conceptualising your food dream. A unique idea or specialism will help give your small business a leg up above the crowd of the 6 million small businesses in the UK.
Think about your skills and commitment
Don’t forget the reason you’re doing this – your passion for food, your desire to run your own business, doing what you love on a daily basis. Running a food business demands a lot of enthusiasm, energy and time – involving long, unsociable hours. You need to be committed to turning your dream into a lucrative reality. You’re not only up against the major takeaway brands, but other hard working small businesses who are also trying to make themselves appealing and profitable without spending a large amount of cash.
Where do your skills lie? It’s all very well discovering there’s a huge opportunity to sell vegan food locally but if your interest lies elsewhere, you might find yourself struggling to commit to a business which doesn’t have your heart at the centre of it. For example, do you cook family dishes that have been handed down through generations? This in itself is a unique selling point! Do your market research, but don’t lose sight of your passion and where your skill set lies. Could you put your own spin on a niche opportunity e.g. Vietnamese vegan food?
What licenses do I need to get started?
Given the health and safety implications of getting it wrong, running a home takeaway business comes with a range of regulatory requirements. Click on the dropdowns below to reveal more.
Food safety and hygiene regulation compliance
It is essential that you meet specific food hygiene requirements to keep your customers safe. By ensuring the food you serve is safe to eat will help prevent food poisoning. When setting up your home takeaway business from home, you must introduce ways of working that will help ensure good food hygiene is in place from the start.
Food hygiene: There is clear guidance from the Food Standards Agency in regards to food hygiene – including “the 4cs” – cleaning, cooking, chilling and cross-contamination – storing food safely, transporting food safely and more.
Food safety: Food safety management is about complying with food hygiene and food standards. You must ensure that you have food safety management procedures in place. You must make sure:
- food is safe to eat
- you don’t add, remove or treat food in a way that makes it harmful to eat
- the food is the same quality that you say it is
- you don’t mislead people by the way food is labelled, advertised or marketed
- A list of your responsibilities can be found here.
Failure to comply with food safety and hygiene regulations could result in a financial penalty or even a prison sentence.
Food business registration and approval
You must register your new food business with your local authority at least 28 days before opening. It will only take a few minutes, is free and can’t be refused. Food law requires the registration of activities where food is supplied on a regular and organised basis. Once registered, local authority officers will arrange to visit your home to conduct a food hygiene inspection, which assesses your food preparation areas and food safety procedures to ensure they comply with food law and produce food that is safe to eat.
You must have your premises approved by the council before you undertake any activity.
Food Hygiene Rating
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (set up by the Food Standards Agency in partnership with local councils) gives businesses a rating out of 5 so that consumers can make informed choices about where to buy and eat food. After inspecting your food business, your local authority will publish your rating online. All businesses should be able to achieve the top rating of 5. If you do not, the food safety officer will outline the improvements that you need to make and will advise on how to achieve a higher rating. If your rating is good, you should display and promote it, as it shows how seriously your business takes food hygiene standards. Even if you don’t display it, customers can search the FSA website and make a judgement call from there.
Your rating will be based on three key areas:
- How hygienically your food is handled e.g. how it’s prepared, cooked, reheated, cooled and stored
- The condition and structure of your building e.g. handwashing facilities, pest control, the layout, lighting and ventilation
- How your business manages and records what it does
Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate
This is required if you prepare open high risk foods. You must have training to a level equivalent to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Level 2 Award in Food Safety and Catering within three months of starting work. A quick Google will point you in the right direction of a variety of affordable course options, such as CPD Online College costing £20+VAT, while Virtual College charges £15+VAT.
Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats – which food delivery company should I choose?
Using a third party delivery company such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats, will certainly make your life logistically easier during the hectic days of launching a small business. They will lighten the delivery load so you can focus on the quality of your product and other key business areas. Not only that, but these platforms will help market your business for you – something which you might not have time or budget for when establishing your menu and getting essential licences and qualifications in place.
However, these benefits come at a cost. Sign up fees, commission % per order and delivery fees all add up. Click on the dropdowns to reveal more.
Deliveroo claims to be the ‘UK’s favourite delivery partner’ – with 140,000 restaurants/takeaway businesses signed up to their services.
- Sign up fee: Around £500 (includes professional photography, a tablet, a wireless printer and up to 20 branded extras to help promote your business)
- Commission: 10-20% per order
- Delivery fee: £2.50/order
Just Eat claims it can put your takeaway business ‘in front of more potential customers than anyone else’ – with more than 12 million hungry people accessing their services every month.
- Sign up fee: £295
- Commission: 15-30% per order
- Delivery fee: £0.50 per order
Uber Eats claims it can help your takeaway business ‘unlock new growth’ and ‘manage it with ease’ using the Uber platform popular with drivers and riders around the world.
- Sign up fee: Around £300-430 depending on the package you choose
- Commission: 14% per order
- Delivery fee: £2.50 per order