Food vendor business is growing in popularity in Nigeria. Although, anyone can be a food vendor, yet not everyone can have a successful food vendor business. So, in this article, I want to show you how you can have a successful food vendor business and sell anywhere in Nigeria.
One of the unique truths about food vendor business is that you don’t have to be the cook or know how to cook or even have an office or restaurant where you cook. That means what you need is management skills, rather than cooking skills.
That takes us to the next point which is how to really get started in this business? What kind of foods are popular and successful with food vendors? How can a startup food vendor business compete with existing vendors? And what does it really cost to get started?
How Food Vendor Business works
Interestingly, food vendor business is also restaurant business but with a twist. Therefore, a restaurant can also be engage in the services of a food vendor. In other parts of the world, they may mean the same thing. But in Nigeria, food vendor business is a different class of restaurant business.
So, to clarify the difference, it means that Food Vendor Business is regarded as a restaurant business that cooks food on demand – but for a large group of people. This ‘but’ is what also differentiate it from home restaurant business, which is also a food on demand business.
That means, a food vendor is not the same as bukka joint or what Lagosians call ‘Iya-gutter’. That’s a group of food vendors that sell food at street corners or in shanties. However, a home restaurant business also engages in food vendor services. Don’t let the classifications fool you. They are all the same with just different approach to their business model.
A food vendor business takes bulk orders from customers to prepare food on demand. It could be for events like birthdays, weddings or burials – or bulk personal order for home use.
Learn The Business As A Beginner
If you haven’t been in the food business before, take your time to learn how it will all work out for you. You should even use a mentor to learn the ropes. Don’t assume it’s just food business that you will figure things out on your own.
What you learn from someone who’s already in the same business will save you lots of time and money you could have spent wrongly.
Moreover, it’s also a way of learning what your competitors already know that’s making them successful. So, don’t just think it’s about you learning how to cook, rather how to run a successful food vendor business.
If you wondering what kind of Nigeria food sell more in the food vendor business, my answer is rice is every form and recipe.
What Qualifies You to Start This Business?
The beauty of food vendor business is that you don’t even have to know how to cook. So, anyone can start this business if they have passion for food business. However, not knowing how to cook doesn’t mean you can just cook bad food.
No! But you can hire chefs or local cooks to help you out when ever you have orders to fulfill.
Anyone who wishes to Start Food Vendor Business can do so simply by learning how to manage a business. If you can run the business, know how to get customers regularly, and manage the people that help you, then you can run a successful food vendor business.
And the cost of startup is determined by you. It’s best to define your food business structure first, to enable you decide what you are offering and what you would need to offer it. That way, you don’t stock cooking gadgets you may hardly use.
How Lucrative is Food Vendor Business?
One thing you can’t take away from Nigerians is the love for good food. Nigerians love to eat. That’s why one of the requirements of a wife material is knowing how to cook.
Food business is amazingly lucrative. You cant do food business and lose, unless you don’t know what you are doing. It’s a high profit business – where you invest little and your profit margin is insanely awesome. And Nigerians love lavish parties.
However, according to Research and Markets website, the Nigerian food and grocery retail market had total revenues of $45.7 billion in 2020. That’s just for the main raw materials used in making the foods. Now, imagine how much cooked food made in the same year.
Challenges of Food Vendor Business
Before you decide Food Vendor Business is for you, also understand the challenges. The major challenge food vendors face is low patronage because of the target market or lack of proper marketing.
You will also have to deal with low quality Foodstuff. Imitations and low grade foodstuffs are all over the market. Don’t learn the hard way. It’s either you accept some apprenticeship or stick with buying only from major grocery stores.
Another challenge is bad referrals. Food vendor business thrive on referrals from customers who have bought your food or event guests that tasted your food. You should avoid bad referrals at all cost.
While you can deal with these challenges by making adjustments to market well and improve on the taste of your food, you cannot really avoid this last challenge. Travel risk is one challenge you may have to deal with.
If you live in a big city you might restrict your clientele within the city. But if your food is so good, you may not be able to do that, unless you have to disappoint some major customers.
Tips to Start Food Vendor Business
Now that you know you are qualified to Start Food Vendor Business, here are tips to help you get started. I have listed out the following tips for your consideration.
- Start Cost Effectively And Upgrade As Your Grow
- Brand Your Food Vendor Business
- Model Your Food Vendor Business
- Engage Commission Marketers
- Build Strong Referral Strategy
- Offer Professional Food Serving Bonus
You should also craft your food vendor business plan before starting out. If you haven’t done a business plan before, you can read the article on how to write a perfect business plan.
Start Cost Effectively And Upgrade As Your Grow
A lot of startups are primarily concerned about startup cost. I think that shouldn’t be a challenge if you think as a startup. Your first cooking job may not necessarily require high-tech gadgets to meet your order.
Start with what you can afford as a startup and probably upgrade as the need arises. Nobody is going to trust you to cook food for one thousand guests if you are just starting out. Honestly, you shouldn’t even jump to such offer if you haven’t handled 100 guest before.
Grow to meet up your cost. It’s a smarter way to start. You don’t want to mess up your brand by trying to prove you can do it when you know you weren’t prepared for it. Moreover, if you do a business plan, it will also take care your cost Plan for you.
Brand Your Food Vendor Business
One of the big factors of food vendor business success is branding. If your business would grow, branding will make it happen. Therefore, take branding seriously. I know the concern of most startups is usually the cost associated with branding.
But I don’t think branding a food vendor business should cost you much, unless you don’t understanding simple branding techniques. The whole idea of branding is to make your business visibly stand out, easily recognizable, and attractive enough to encourage regular patronage.
Model Your Food Vendor Business
Business models are often misunderstood by most startups. Some think it’s about ideas. A bit of it but more of process and strategy. I recommend that you take this food vendor business and remodel it in your own way.
A lot of us are still amazed at how brands like Uber and Airbnb created their business model out of already existing and age-long business models.
Interestingly, they didn’t do anything unusual or complex. Rather, they simplified a complex process. Taxi couldn’t be done any other way better than it was being done, not until Uber came along.
Engage Commission Marketers
Marketing can be difficult if you don’t know how. But you can leverage the power and influence of others to promote your business. Hire others who can help you with marketing on commission earning.
And there are many internet rats looking for opportunity to earn extra income you can explore.
Build Strong Referral Strategy
Having a strong referral marketing plan would attract more customers than you can possibly handle. But the secret to good referral is nothing but the following:
- Amazing food taste
- Your service packaging
- Branding advantage
- And marketing plan
I have attended an event where the food vendor, who happen not to have been there because they sent the food through a delivery service, attached a business card to every pack of food. After eating, most of the guests pocketed the card for future reference.
I also realize later that most of the guests used that vendor over and over. I got to know because I also attended their events.
Take advantage of every opportunity given to feed guests in an event to win more referral marketers. Party guests are your main target customers. If you can satisfy them, they will patronize you when they need a food vendor.
Offer Professional Food Serving Bonus
I know this is one of the services regularly offered by food vendors, but you can make yours exquisite. Recruited well trained waiters, and have clean uniforms to stand them out in every event. You can have different uniforms for different occasions. You can even bill high network customer for new uniforms for servers in their event.
Food serving can be provided as a special feature in your business. You can package this as another source of revenue as well.
Define The Target Customer
Even before you start out on your food vendor business, you must first identify all your potential customers. Your target customers shouldn’t be every customer profile for food business.
Be specific. The right way to identify your target customer is to first define your food vendor business model. Your business offer is a better way to determine those who would need your service and can afford the cost.
Let me classify some kind of food vendor customers:
- Event planners and managers
- Venue owners and managers
- Individual event owners
Event managers and venue managers can be your biggest source of attracting high net worth customers. You should target popular events places and approach celebrity event organizers to partner with them.
How to Market Your Food Vendor business
So far, I have shared some referral marketing ideas for your food business, but let me share some direct marketing tips you can use as well. However, your food variety and taste should be the key to your marketing plan.
Also, the best time to market your food vendor business is when ever you are providing food services to your customers. If you do this well, every customer you serve will be a contact point for more customers in the future. And you will never run out customers to serve.
Here are tips to explore:
- Use your branding so well to promote your business. Make sure everyone who attended events you were hired to cook becomes addicted to your brand.
- Deliberately give out souvenirs that guests can take home for use
- Make some take away food packs customized for your clients with your brand
- Get the master of ceremony to announce the company that made the food. You can achieve this in two ways easily – by making a special food pack for the MC and presenting it to him during the events. You can also request the MC to announce the cook of the event during the program.
Don’t pass over an opportunity when you see one. Even if you don’t like to cook, you like to eat. Let your love for eating drive you to start a food vendor service.
Moreover, your food taste is your signature brand. Carefully craft and maintain the best food recipes. When you are not serving customers, be experimenting on new food recipes you see online.
Finally, your ability to adapt to new food recipes would endear you to more clients. Event owners and organizers are looking for something new and appetizing for their events. You should give them options they didn’t know is there.