Meal delivery including gourmet meal prep services has become an increasingly popular business model. It’s something you can do as a side business or, if you get enough regular clients, you could potentially turn it into a full-time business.
A lot of meal delivery businesses focus on a specific type of diet—for example, maybe you create vegan or gluten-free meals and deliver them locally.
If that’s a business idea you’re interested in, the following are some tips to help you get started.
Look for a Commissary Kitchen
Any business involving food is going to be subject to regulations. You’ll need business permits, sanitation permits, and also food handling permits. While your business might be technically home-based, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to comply with the requirements in your city or county.
A commissary kitchen can be a good solution to stay compliant with state and local regulations and health guidelines.
Before you start your business, you might want to see if there’s a commissary kitchen for rent near you.
A commissary kitchen lets you produce food, and the building is pre-inspected by health officials. It’s a much less expensive option than a stand-alone kitchen, along with the regulatory benefits.
Look for a commissary kitchen facility that’s located conveniently for delivery truck routes and that will accommodate special dietary needs like organic, kosher, and gluten-free. You should also look for a facility that will provide expedited permit processing with your local health department.
Figure Out Your Target Market
Beyond making sure you know what you need to be compliant in the food industry, one of the most important things you can do to build a successful food prep and meal delivery service is research ahead of time.
Identify exactly who your target market is.
You can’t appeal to everyone, and trying to is going to be a waste of time and money.
You need to narrow down your niche because this is going to drive your branding and marketing as well.
Maybe you want to appeal to families, for example, or perhaps young adults. Whatever it is, the more closely you can get to know your target audience and build your business around them, the better.
Create a Business Plan
Any successful business starts with a concrete plan. This helps you determine your direction moving forward and gives you a sense of organization in starting your business, which can otherwise be overwhelming.
A business plan will include a summary of your product, the current market, and growth opportunities.
Business plans also include:
- An overview of your business and target customers
- What you’ll need to operate your business
- The products and services you’ll provide
- Buyer habits and market opportunities
- An analysis of your competition and their strengths and weaknesses
- Details of what will be required to run the business day-to-day
- A financial analysis of your expenses and future projections
How Much Money Will You Need to Start Your Business?
The good thing about a meal prep business is that your costs are going to be pretty low when you’re starting out.
You can really scale it up as you need to and as your budget allows, but you don’t have to put in a ton of money right away until you start to get clients.
Your biggest initial expense might be administrative costs for the necessary licenses and permits, along with renting a kitchen space.
Beyond that, you can purchase other things like food and storage containers as you need them. When you’re just starting out, you probably won’t have any employees just yet, either.
Marketing a Meal Prep Business
Having a great website and also using social media and word-of-mouth advertising are the best ways to market a meal prep business.
If you’re only delivering meals locally, you can take advantage of local SEO. This means that you’re targeting keywords in your specific location, so people in your area can find you. Local SEO is less competitive, and the keywords tend to be easier to rank for than general keywords.
When it comes to the creation of your website, you can hire a freelancer to develop a custom site. You’ll also need to ensure it includes the ability to gather orders. Any legitimate business is going to have a website, and this is the primary source of information for most people interested in what you have to offer.
Overall, a meal prep delivery business can be lucrative, with planning from the start and an eye toward the business side of things.