A catering trailer is a freestanding unit that is transported to different locations on the back of a truck for the purpose of selling food. Although trailers can be purpose-built by specialist companies, it is significantly cheaper to carry out your own conversion from a base model. There is a number of legal obligations that must be met before trading begins and the trailer should be adequately equipped so that hygiene and operational standards remain high at all times.
Purchase a trailer that is going to be big enough to deal with your business requirements. Visit the American Truck Buyer website (see Resources), which has a section that is solely dedicated to new and used trailer sales. Input your Postcode and the website will list results that relate to trailers that are available for sale in your local area.
Consider the important of safety and ensure the trailer is lined with flame-retardant materials that slow the spread of fire if an accident situation occurs. Ensure the trailer is fitted with fire extinguishers that are easy to access. Fit deep fat fryers with a liquid fire suppression system so fires can be quickly contained. Take evasive action to preserve the safety of your trailer and those working within it by consulting a local fire officer for additional advice. Make sure all safety equipment is satisfactory for the nature of your business.
Investigate legislation for selling food from catering trailers to ensure that you are able to operate legally. Talk to your local state health department to build up a profile of your obligations and send all employees, including yourself, on a basic food handling training course so levels of hygiene can be maintained once business begins.
Decide how your trailer is going to be powered. Consider the use of a generator, which can be fitted to the exterior of the trailer in a self-contained casing alongside additional fuel. Look at water and plumbing requirements so a constant supply of clean water is always available. These particular additions may require professional installation and should be taken care of before any other items are fitted.
Strip out the trailer so you have a blank canvass to work with. Make a detailed list of everything that will be required to make your trailer active as a food catering facility. Consider the locations of key purchases such as cooking equipment, hand-washing facilities, refrigeration storage units and worktops. The iFood website (see Resources) lists a number of different companies where equipment can be purchased. Fit worktops first, allowing room for other equipment to be integrated to maximise available space
Purchase stock for your trailer and carry out a test run of all equipment and safety features. Run through individual menu items so every member of staff gains hands-on experience of your product range. Ensure each staff member receives full safety training so accidents can be avoided. A first aid kit should also be made available. Invite family and friends for a tasting session so feedback can be obtained.