Many employees don’t have enough time to pack lunch before leaving the house. They prefer to just buy at the work place. However, a lot of workers are not too keen about the food served at their respective cafeteria or canteen. It’s either the dishes are not appetizing or they are overpriced. Those who work in business districts are surrounded by restaurants but restaurant meals are often expensive. It’s OK to treat yourself every now and then but eating at restaurants everyday will likely create a huge dent in your budget. Some workers are so busy that they prefer quick meals that they could eat at their desks. If you love to cook and have sufficient customer base, delivering packed lunches can be a profitable business. Here are some simple guidelines to help you start your own packed lunch business.
1. The first thing you need to do is to identify your target market and area where you want to concentrate your delivery during lunch time.
2. Do some research about packed lunch delivery service. Find out how much a usual packed lunch cost and popular lunch dishes. You can ask potential clients to answer a simple questionnaire to determine what kind of food and drinks they like; how often they buy packed lunches; how much are they willing to pay; etc.
3. Create a business plan based on your survey and research. Include important factors such as target market, marketing strategies, cost of ingredients, cost of packaging, cost of transportation, competitors, etc. Below are sample questions that you can address in your research:
- Is there a demand for packed lunches in your target area? It is advisable to focus on a smaller market when you are starting a business. You can gradually widen your market as your business expands.
- Are there existing packed lunch delivery services in the area? Once you’ve established that there’s a demand for the service, it is also important to determine the number of competitors in your target area. It may not be advisable to deliver lunch in a location where there are too many competitors.
- What are the necessary things needed to start a packed lunch business? List down important kitchenware and equipment that you will need to operate your business. Determine the availability and cost of ingredients, supplies and equipment.
4. Get proper registration requirements and documents. Choose a good business name for your lunch delivery business. Register the business at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for single proprietorship and at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for partnership or corporation. Register the business with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to secure TIN (Tax Identification Number).
5. Request permission from the office administration of your target location to deliver packed lunches to their work premises. It is recommended that you write a formal request to indicate your purpose. Provide important details about your business. Make sure you leave a contact number where they can reach you.
6. Create an initial menu good for at least one week. You can make a master menu that you can submit to each department head. Workers can pass it around to choose the dishes they want to order. It is advisable to give customers choices. Limiting your menu to one specific dish a day may prevent you from attracting a lot of customers. Include at least two meal options a day.
7. Determine ordering system. Making packed lunches involves shopping for ingredients, preparation, cooking, and delivery. It is advisable to get orders at least one day ahead to give you ample time to prepare. You can get orders through phone, text messages or email. If you live nearby, you have the option to get orders in person.
8. Choose quality packaging to prevent accidental spills. Include disposable utensils and napkins.
9. Ideal delivery time for packed lunches is between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. All meals should be delivered fresh to the location. Add cost of transportation when you compute packed lunch prices.
10. Determine mode of payment. You can arrange a pay-upon-delivery scheme or you can collect payment periodically (weekly, every 15 days, monthly, etc.).
11. Introduce new dishes and cuisines regularly to your menu to entice customers. Include healthy options.
12. Ensure quality product and service to encourage repeat orders. Prioritize cleanliness when preparing meals to make sure that all the dishes you serve are safe and free from contamination. Keep in mind that satisfied customers are likely to order regular packed lunches. Happy customers may recommend your packed lunch service to other employees.
Aside from lunch, you can also consider delivering snacks and dinner for people who work overtime or night shift.
Photo c/o Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a full-time mom to a charming young boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.