Burger Buzz

mobile catering for events

Starting a mobile catering business in 2023, is it worth it?

Since starting our business towards the later part of 2022 we have been asked in many different ways the same questions, is starting a mobile catering business in 2023 worth it? Basically they really want to know is it profitable, will it make me rich?

Well I’m going to give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run a successful mobile catering business and some tips which we’ve learnt over the last six months, for those that want a quick answer I’ll just say

Yes it’s profitable, but it takes a lot of work, in fact you will often spend more time working before and after an event than during the event itself. 

First things first.

So the obvious starting point is to decide what sort of catering you want to do, the classic Burgers and Hot dogs, or possibly pizza, maybe noodle meals or even a sweet stall, once decided on what time of mobile catering you’re going to be you need to do a lot of research, look up your competition on the web, have a look at what they sell and what sort of pricing they have.

Then decide if you want a USP, unique selling point, do you want to be competitive price wise and go for a heavy footfall of consumers who just want feeding, do you want to choose a more luxury product range, targeting consumers who are foodies and would rather pay more for a high end product. We chose the gourmet, high end route and built our website, vehicle and advertising around that as we wanted to stand out at an event with a dozen other catering vehicles, our food then comes at a slightly increased cost but it gives consumers a choice.

Your Vehicle

At this point you have an idea of what type of food you will be serving so you’ll need a vehicle or stand to serve from, whether you choose to serve from a catering van or have a stall that you build up you really want to stand out from the others around you, we chose a theme and colour scheme to grab attention, you’ll want to make it clear what sort of food you’re selling from a distance too, you can make it obvious with a name that matches the food type, in our case Burger Buzz, you can have a giant graphic showing what you sell. Simply ask yourself why someone would walk over to your vehicle/stand over the ones either side of you.

our journey mobile catering burgers

Legal Requirements

Next step is to look into all your legal requirements, this isn’t too difficult and there’s lots of guides out there but mainly you’ll need a food hygiene rating from a local environmental health officer

Here’s ours



then there’s a list of documents that most event organisers ask for if applicable, including


Insurance cover

Risk Assessment

Electrical Certificate

Food Hygiene Rating

Health & Safety Policy

LPG/Gas Certificate

Waste Control Agreement

PAT Testing

If you sign up with an events company like NCASS they will have templates for many of these and you upload them to their website so always have them on file.

Finding Events

Once you’re all set up and getting closer to that launch you’ll need to find a way to get opportunities to apply to cater for events, this alone will take up a lot of your spare time, we quickly realised that events don’t just fall in your lap and of course there’s many companies out there that will help you find opportunities at a cost, one that quickly adds up.

There’s some sites like Add to Event and Bark, where you can submit your business for free, and anyone looking for a mobile caterer for a wedding, corporate event, street part etc can put their event on for free and if in your area and matches your services offered you’ll get an email, to apply to service their event you’ll have to pay in tokens, 1 token is around £1 and usually they’re between 4-7 tokens, which if accepted is great but you’ll often see 10 others apply too, great for the platform and great for the event holder but can be costly for you when not chosen.

However these sites have given us work in the quiet weeks where there are no large events going on, the trick is to have a strong introduction and add some photo’s or your menu to stand out when the event organiser is looking through a dozen options.

The other way is our version of cold calling, find events through Google and contact them directly, usually they use an outside company to organise catering vehicles, but they’ll usually give you a contact email, send them a short but concise email informing them of what you do and events you’re interested in, add a couple of photo’s, remember they get tons of these so don’t overwhelm them and be polite.

Remember most established events require a pitch fee, there’s no scale but we find the pricing usually matches the expected footfall, a towns Christmas market could be £200 where a car show could be two or three times that.

Before you except an event, pitch fees

Ask the following questions before you commit to anything,

How many other vendors will be there and what are their food types.

Do you have ticket sales or estimated attendees.

What are the set-up times and serving times.

You can then decide if this event works for you, quite often we’ll get a chance to service an event with a smallish fee to then find out there’s 12 caterers and it’s a three hour event, you have to decide if there will be enough attendees spread across the caterers to make it worthwhile.

During your Event

It doesn’t hurt to look at the competition if there’s other traders there, check their offerings, setup, uniform and prices, if you’re the most expensive trader there it will most likely have an impact on your sales so you may have to make some adjustments on the fly.

Make friends with the other traders, we’ve got some work on the back of another trader recommending us or giving us the heads up of another event.

Make some notes regarding the event, if the same event comes up next year or something very similar, simple notes on how the day went may help a lot, especially if something comes to mind that would have made the day better or run more smoothly, if you ran out of a certain food type for example.

blog emergency call out to Stannington

Work outside of the Event

There is a lot of behind the scenes work involved in this business, simply shopping for stock and food can take up a lot of time before each event, it’s not just obvious food either, you have to keep a strict stock control to save on waste, makes sure you have enough packaging, sauces, sugar if you serve hot drinks, there’s so many little things you don’t want to run out of mid event, we have had to send someone to get us hot chocolate at an event before, it was just something we’d forgotten to check on.

Paper work takes up a good amount of time to, from communications with the event holders to looking for events themselves, we have a questionnaire form set up that asks around 12 basic questions which saves a lot of going back and forth via email.

Site visits, some events like you to go and meet with them, some we ask to go and see the site, especially if it’s one over many days and requires a large pitch fee, we want to make sure the event is suitable for our unit and setup and in many cases to try and get a slot more suitable allocated for us, there’s nothing worse than being the unit parked 15 minutes away from the main event when a dozen others are much closer.

Travel time, depending on the distance you’re willing to travel this can really extend the working day, we will travel anywhere depending on the event, our furthest so far is a seven hour round trip just in travel time and there’s a fair cost to this, especially if you take staff.

Cleaning, we pride ourselves on keeping a very clean and fresh looking unit, we take up to around 2 hours after the event to clean everything, to check stock levels again and have it almost ready for the next event, this is important in case a very short notice event comes through to you.

Repairs and updates, this can be a big one, we once had a blow out on a tyre that damaged piping underneath the vehicle, costly and very time consuming to fix, we’ve had machines stop working, machines that are built in to the unit creating a lot of work in replacing and recently we upgraded our fans after adding another fryer in to keep up with demand as we realised chips were slowing down our cooking process.


Taking everything into consideration we’d say yes a mobile catering business can be very profitable, but there’s a lot of work involved, unless the event is a ticketed event or a corporate style where the client pays up front there’s always the risk of the unknown, how many people go to the event, how many willing to buy food from you, we’ve ended up at just breaking even on a few events but then some have been really positive. One big tip, don’t be afraid to say no to an event that just feels off, if they want a high pitch fee with a lowish predicted footfall or too many other traders on-site, either don’t accept the event or challenge the pitch fee, we have on occasion bartered the pitch fee to a more reasonable amount, we gave clear reasons as to why this should happen, at the end of the day you have to protect your business and make it profitable.

We already have a good amount of events, including some large ones, booked in for this year and we’ve started to look at the larger more lucrative events over the smaller unknown attendance events, last year was good, this year will be even better.

Good luck with your own enterprise.