The mobile food business idea has vast potential in Zimbabwe. I once wrote an article on starting a mobile bar business in Zimbabwe. In it, I said you consider common outlets such as restaurants, bars, fast food outlets, and so on. They are usually built in or operated using brick-and-mortar facilities. You can move away from that and operate the same using a mobile approach. You build a framework that enables you to operate using a mobile unit. My focus, though, was on using an actual mobile unit, e.g. a mobile food truck or trailer. Today I want to share with you a much simpler and cost-effective mobile food business idea.

Key Approaches

I have noticed a growing trend lately in Masvingo CBD, which is what I want to discuss. The approach involves selling ready-to-eat food such as sadza, rice, and associated relishes. The interesting part of it all is the food is sold out of basic cooler boxes. There is a guy I know whose sole focus is mazondo and buns or sugar loaves. I guess he chose such starch options because they are convenient.

He has to buy them, and they are easy to handle, unlike sadza or rice. He also moves along with water for customers to wash their hands. All his items will be neatly arranged in just one cooler box. He has specific spots where he goes around lunchtime. I have noticed these are spots with his regular clients – people like street vendors and money changers, amongst others.

I have seen others using the same approach for other types of food. The last time I went to town, I saw a guy using a cooler box to sell ice cream from those normal cups. I did not get to ask him, but it appears like he prefills the cups at home and gets into town. Yet another man I know sells steak and chicken pies daily from a box. I could go on and on, but I am sure you get the idea. If not, here is a breakdown of the operational philosophy:

Operational Philosophy

The mindset is to start a mobile business with costs being as minimal as possible. By using a cooler box, you have eliminated a long list of operating costs. You do not pay any rentals for some outlet somewhere. You can move up and down streets or operate from your parked vehicle if you have one. This means transport costs are significantly low. It is also easier to operate solo, from food preparation to actual selling. This widens your profit margins because your operating costs are minimal. The design of cooler boxes in terms of temperature control means you can also keep the food at safe temperatures throughout; more on this later.

Then the other aspect is to figure out what sells quite fast and on a daily basis. You also have to come up with a presentable way of carrying and serving your food. The core strategy is to get to where the customers are. That way, you outmanoeuvre those who use fixed brick-and-mortar outlets. Customers get used to you coming to them at certain times every day. It is convenient for those who do not really have time to grab a bite. You also enjoy the flexibility of exploring many spots since you are not stuck to a building.

Important Things To Consider

You have to be presentable in every way. You yourself must be clean and smartly dressed. Your food items and everything to do with them, e.g. the packaging or serving, must be clean and alluring. If it is hot food, ensure you serve it while still hot. If it is cold food, ensure it is still sufficiently chilled when you serve it. This must call on you to schedule your runs meticulously. I know some food items can be dry foods which do not have a likelihood of polluting the environment. However, some of them can have such implications where the environment can end up polluted.

A smart thing to do is to serve customers and only leave when you are sure any disposals have been done properly. Ignoring this can get you in trouble with council authorities. You also have to figure out a way to serve your customers with minimal or zero disruption to the surroundings. Imagine serving people along a pavement or in a parking lot. That can draw attention that can end up in you getting into trouble. Make the whole interaction with a customer a pick and drop kind of thing.

Do not forget potential customers from indoor environments. Yes, you can exhaust your stock with just people outside but also consider those in nearby outlets. These can be people in boutiques, salons, pharmacies, and the like. Approach them to see if they can become regular customers. Another thing do not just focus on lunch foods alone. Think of breakfast or tea break foods such as baked foods; they might sell quite well.

This all sounds or seems really simple, I know. Regardless there are people making money out of this. I urge you to sometimes strike up conversations with people you see doing this. Maybe you can buy something from them and chat with them to find out how much they make and all. You will be amazed at how much some of them make in a day. Like I always tell people, never despise people you see doing seemingly insignificant business ventures. They might make much more money than others get from formal jobs.