Food Cart Business: Things to Consider

We have asked a number of employed mom and dads what business they would like to start while they are employed. A number of them have said that stating a food cart is easy and fast to setup. The cost isn’t that much and the income potential is good. In the Philippines, a lot of food cart businesses have sprung up and excelled in their craft.

We’d like to share some things to consider so that starting up your food cart business before starting one:

  1. Good Concept – Most food carts are designed to give quick service. It is advisable to stick to a concept for a quick recall from the customers. A unique concept gathers curiosity among customers to give your food cart a try. This would also include your “catchy” name and your theme for your food cart. Be consistent with your concept and stick to it and better not mix and match just to be at par with the others.
  2. Focus on the Product – You have to match or exceed the expectations of your concept. Your product would be the life blood of your food cart business. Good product = People will come back for more. This would involve consistency, affordability and the quality of your product. Make sure that what you started or improved would stay the same as time goes by. Some food cart businesses have failed on this part especially when they have operated for quite some time already, they do short cuts and decrease the quality.
  3. Good Location – This is very important! You have to make sure that the site of your food cart is visible to the public. It is advisable to hang-out for hours in a prospect location and see for yourself the amount of foot traffic in the area.
  4. Good Stall Design – For promotion purposes, a catchy and desirable design would attract customers to your food cart. The design of your food cart should be unique and be distinguishable from the others. A good friend of the Support Local Mom and Dad Business Movement, LogoMoto PH, can help out with your design needs for your food cart. Also, online promotion would be a great help in promoting your business, a good and simple website would also boost the visibility of your food cart business.
  5. Operating Systems – Being new and a startup, operating your foodcart should follow certain standards. This would make your business be consistent from the day you started and up to the present. Prepare a manual on how to do things for you and your staff to follow. You wouldn’t want complaints of having your products or services inconsistent when customers have availed a week or month ago. If its better, adapt it. If its not, scrap it. Better document everything and make it as a habit for you and your staff.
  6. Funding – Having the needed funds or capital to start your food cart business is a necessity. There may be financing institutions that can help you out in funding your business, we suggest that having your own would be a better option. Maybe for expansion of your food cart business, considering financial institutions may be a better idea.
  7. Good Service – In the food industry, reputation is a major factor in making a business successful. Maintaining a good service level, efficient systems, and clean products and workstations will go a long way and help you achieve longevity and further build credibility.
  8. Do it Right – Get the necessary permits and licenses. If you operate your business without the proper permits and licenses, its good to say that what you are operating is a monkey business.

One good example of this is one of our friends, and a fellow mom and dad businessman. Bagwings have started out as a small stall in a weekend market in Muntinlupa City. Now they have expanded to two other locations and a food truck is on its way. Maybe we can follow his footsteps in starting a successful food cart business.

There may be other things to consider in running a food cart business. But, the basics, we have tackled already. Another alternative in the food cart business is Franchising. Franchising an existing food cart business is a good idea and there are a lot of reasons to franchise a business. The only question that we pose is: “Do they really help local mom and dad businessmen?” or they just take advantage of the franchisees?

For us, it would be better to be unique and original. Make a name for yourself and supporting other mom and dad businesses would be very helpful in making the local business scene be more engaged in nation building.

How about a Turon and BananaQue Food Cart? Who’s up to it?

Turon Wars (Part 3): Where Will You Buy Your Turon?

Where will you buy our beloved turon?

Turon Wars (Part 1)

Turon Wars (Part 2)

From the home-made turon and bananaque vendor where the sales and income directly affects their daily monetary needs.

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Turon from our local mom and dad businessmen

or

From the mall giants who ventured into the micro and small business interests of local mom and dads in the community.

Turon from the mall giants

Turon from the mall giants

So, which turon will it be?

Turon Wars (Part 2): How Big Business Is Swallowing Up Our Beloved Tindahans

http://bloggingmama.com/turon/

The first thing anyone notices when they check out the turon on display in SM, Waltermart or any other bigger commercial establishment is the consistency of what’s being offered for sale: from the size to the color to the taste of each turon, the ones you buy from their in-store grocery are always the same. It’s not like the ones you buy outside from the average street vendor—everything is uniformly done.

Turon, on the other hand, varies from one tindero or tindera to another—perhaps one is more generous with the caramel, or the other fries theirs a little bit longer, making the turon darker and crisper. The bananas could be sweeter or smaller one day, or cut a little bit bigger the next. But each turon was made in their homes, as part of a plan to provide for their families—perhaps to pay for day to day expenses or offset tuition costs.

The average price of turon in SM and other malls ranges from 15 to 20 pesos, while the turon you buy from a street vendor will be 10 pesos from the walking tinderas, or 12 pesos if they have a fixed stand somewhere. A couple of extra pesos will get you a larger turon or turon with cheese or langka (jackfruit) if you feel like giving your taste buds a break from your usual snack. Nowadays, many people who are more stringent about food preparation and hygiene, or who prefer to eat inside an air-conditioned food court, buy from these malls. But these small comforts which you think are only bought with a few extra pesos in your wallet have been making it harder for these street vendors to make a living.

Think about it: it’s true that it’s very convenient to just go to the mall and buy yourself a piece, but isn’t it just as convenient anyway to buy one from someone just around the corner of your village? Furthermore, these big malls are selling these turons to increase their profit margins—profit margins that don’t necessarily guarantee better salaries or working conditions for their contractual workers. Meanwhile, buying from the nearest manang fanning her bananacue pile will help her substantially—you could be helping fund her child’s education, or perhaps their groceries for next week. Your patronage of their homegrown businesses—which, let’s face it, are done in environments not really that much more or less sterile as that used to source your big mall’s turon—will have a big impact on their lives.

These larger businesses have been crowding out smaller family-owned establishments over the span of decades, and street vendors. What you gain from them in terms of flavor consistency and comfort, is lost by the individual sellers, who end up scrimping on basic necessities just to pay for the goods which keep their livelihood going. Just think of the street vendors along the roads of universities or near public transportation hubs—those who take the time to chat them up find out that their turon and bananacue business provides for many family members, perhaps even as the only means of income for that group of people. Surely it is better to try turon even from the nearest vendor and help both your tummy and their budgets.

We should be ethical consumers and think about what we do with the things we buy. What is the essence of turon, if not as a homemade, beloved and familiar treat that we first learned to savor with our family and friends? Turon is a Filipino food meant to be shared and to bring comfort. When you next think of where to get your sugar fix, have a peek at what’s in manang’s bilao instead of enduring a trip to the mall. You may find yourself coming back for that perfect rush of carbs and caramel.

Turon Wars (Part 1): A Traditional Comfort Food as a Mom and Dad Business

Moving enough of a familiar product to make a profit is no easy feat—and what could be more ubiquitous than the beloved turon? This humble snack, made of bananas and a little sugar wrapped in a spring roll wrapper before being deep-fried, has graced both the bilaos of many a street vendor, and the tables of fine-dining establishments. Whether you like your traditional turon, the delicious varieties that come with langka or cheese, or have eaten it a la mode with hazelnut spread and chocolate in your latest dining hot spot, this is a food that has enjoyed enduring popularity.

Making it seems straightforward enough; along with banana-cue—fried bananas covered in sugar or syrup on a stick—the turon is something anyone with a big frying pan and ingredients can make. Cooking turon and selling it is actually a great home-based business because of the minimal funds you’ll need for starting it up, as well as the level of skill required to make this easy recipe. As long as you maintain your proportions of ingredients properly, wrap the turon well and keep an eye on them in the pan so they don’t overcook, you’ll have yourself a beautiful batch of turon that would make your lola proud.

The trick is to build yourself a solid customer base that will keep coming back for your turon and banana-cue. In selling turon, remember that the first selling point is making it affordable—most street vendors price turon at 10 pesos per piece, and charge a couple of pesos more if the turon includes cheese or langka, or is a larger size. Apart from affordability, it must be kept portable—so wrapping the turon tightly is a must before you fry it to ensure it doesn’t fall apart.

The beauty of selling banana-cue alongside it is that if you run out of spring roll wrappers, you can just make banana-cue and keep your stock of bananas from going to waste. It’s an efficient and basic business model that has helped a lot of Filipinos provide for their families—and even build up enough capital to start bigger businesses. This food is also very easy to take from one place to another and doesn’t spoil easily, which is convenient for both the seller and the people who enjoy taking a bite out of this delectable snack everyday. When you choose to sell turon, location actually matters only in terms of foot traffic, so whether you want to make it a staple in your sari-sari store, bring several dozen to work and sell to your officemates, or even set up a little stand in your subdivision just outside your house, any entrepreneur can make it work.

Eating turon is a simple pleasure that has been elevated to elegant cuisine. The timeless flavor combination of thickly-sliced cooked bananas and rich caramel, accompanied by the satisfying crunch of a freshly-fried wrapper, makes for one incredible mouthful that will keep you full for several hours, making it a wonderful treat that isn’t laden with unhealthy amounts of fat and sugar. Adding cheese and langka are an easy way to boost profits and to add a different layer of satisfaction to turon—cheese enhances the richness of the caramel-banana combination and provides a contrast to the sweetness, which langka (jackfruit) strips are a healthier but delicious fruit which gives your turon a more tropical punch.

Think of your turon as the Asian cousin to the equally-delicious dessert of bananas foster, a pick-me-up that needs no utensils and can put a little sweetness to anyone’s day. There’s a reason why there are so many street vendors from corner to corner, earning an honest living and catering to both the casual buyer and their loyal customers alike—every batch of turon is different from each other, no matter how indiscernibly so it may be for anyone else who doesn’t understand why you keep coming back to that one stand. Turon’s appeal is just something no one can resist—you know you’re a Filipino when you find yourself looking for this dessert no matter where you happen to be.

Contributor: Lesly Bries