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How To Start A Home Based Meal Delivery Service

Nick Stroot


The set up you need to help you run a home based meal delivery service in your local community.


  • April 14, 2019
    1:15 PM
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So what I want to get into now I've shared kind of my testimony and how it led to where I'm at now this is kind of a little more a lot more detail actually of how I got the business you know up and running and then what comes like the day to day operations how it works how it kind of looks like. Another beautiful shot of the flat state of Kansas there for you. So this is the space that it started out it's you might be able to see the right but it was. The space is like 1000 feet by 13 feet so it ends up around 200 square feet or so. So you know physically like looking out is like well there's enough room in here to move and put the stuff you know put my appliances and cabinets and all those things in and work around you know a big table in the middle to prep on and. I was like well that's enough room to move around and stuff and so and also enough counter space and just space in general and so basically in that kind of a size area I can cater for because I do meal delivery but I'm also available for catering and the biggest I've done is a wedding for like 125 people and I was able to to do that out of the out of the kitchen in my home. The House kitchen is up stairs this is again this is in the basement to do this kind of work provides food for the public in the state of Kansas you have to have a kitchen that is completely separate from the one where you do your personal home you know food prep in so this one has. What will go into those details here in a minute. So I got the space you know this is this is good this is possible step one step 2. You know what's the regulations what is what I need to be able to have in this space to meet the Kansas regulations of you know food safety so I got online and found out what is required and actually take a state of Kansas there it's so amazing I called and asked about it and they said you know the lady said yeah you know we even do free consultation so if you're interested in doing this you know invite us out and we can go through it together and tell us how you're going to do it and we can let you know of things that you might not be thinking of you know as far as regulations and requirements that we need for our requirements and so I was like oh well that's that's great yeah come on out so we had a little consultation and that's the thing I was so we're going to construction I was nervous of inspectors and stuff like that because they're kind of like always out to get you they want to find what's wrong but with this it was totally different they were they wanted to help they want everybody be safe but they want to help you you know they're not trying to shut you down or anything unless you're you know not following the rules. So if you got the space and you can physically get started with it. The next step from the state then you've got to look at local which was the city of Bel Air which is the town that I live in. Find out what their regulations were it was easier that was on the Internet yes they allow home based businesses so there's like you know most the typical examples like home daycare and like they said like accountants will do work from their home it's a legitimate home based businesses so when I told them what I was going to do it was a little different and. There was a whole page of the whole like 2 month process where I had to. Let those that the council know and then they had to like end up voting on it based on you know at an official thing official meeting and before that I had to. A letter for all the neighbors within like 500 feet of my house their properties that touch mine and deliver them letters and let them know what I intend to do and make sure that you know if you've got something wrong with this problem you need to come to the meeting and talk about it type of thing so all the neighbors knew what I was doing too and I one neighbor actually suggested I went the step further and I went door to door with my family and handed out these letters that I typed up and told them what I was doing interviews myself in that type of thing so making connections there isn't go and get to meet everybody so that was really nice. And I was and I had to go about it that way because the neighborhood that I live in it's not a home we don't have a homeowners association. So that was kind of one hurdle that we were able to you know be around anyway we didn't have to deal with it I don't know how that would work in H O A but. Now I don't know but we don't have to mess with that so everything was all clear the day that I got so I went to that council meeting and presented to the to the city council and they took their vote and there was some kind of details of that that was kind of funny that you know that worked out but they voted and everybody and approved it and so it was on and I had the biggest smile on my face and it was it was almost embarrassing and they were like oh a look at this well I'm not going to face it but I was just so excited and so happy. So so we got all clear and it was time to start demolition. Again this is the space there's a couple more views of it we had to walk out. Walk out get right there so I got some nice you know sunlight that comes in and it's you know naturally lit to. There was a family that lived there before had there was 2 toilets there was one on the right side there and this one used to be a toilet and they were doing computer classes in the basement of this home years ago I think it was in like the eighty's I want to say so they had a boys' and girls' bathroom and a big double vanity so I ended up moving this wall that you can see where the tile stops there jackhammers up the floor and my dad is a plumber so we put in a pee trap in the drain in the floor so I could have a forgery in for my 3 compartment sink and then. Hacked Off one part of the vanity and so I still had one sink there and then the other sink we ran the drain over into the kitchen side so I had a employee hand washing sink this is another requirement. So again it was another one of those things that just kind of it was there God just worked this out already everything was all in place this it was a lot easier than it could have been. That's the yeah you can see where the pull the cord is laying there used that wall used to be there but again I moved it back and that made the employee restroom does me. And then there is a shower back in there and the inspector that was there she was like you need like a mop sink you know if you're when you off the floor you got a place to dump the water and she took a look at the shower and she's like oh well yeah you can use that works too she's like perfect another thing that's I didn't think about or didn't know and just was there and ready. So I said there was some sticky tile on the floor so I peeled all that up and threw it all away and got this nice. Vinyl flooring. You can shatter a big heavy picture of glass on that floor and it doesn't ask me how I know and it will not damage that floor it's very it's waterproof very durable exactly what you need for a kitchen and it looks I think it looks really nice the vinyl flooring to come a long ways. Through the remodelling companies I worked with for a while I had connections with a lot of. Suppliers that would supply like the flooring and those cabinets there and they were able to advise me you know you want this kind these are laminate covered so that they wipe down real easy and they're really durable because you're going to be putting heavy pots and using them a lot. So I did that the range hood up there I was able to drill a hole in the side of the house and run a vent out there. I don't remember what size the fan isn't that good but now I'm venting my. The range anything it's cooked on the range to the outside. When you're boiling water and stuff a lot of steam builds up and if you don't have it if you're cooking that much volume you have to have invented out there is just way too much humidity and. And then the neighbor likes it too and he knows what I was doing and so he was like I was talking to him one day and he's like yeah you know I smell the food some days like it smells really good and so that's kind of another bonus so then we needed a. You need a 3 compartment sink also was another thing wash rinse and sanitize so. When I was working for the Garden Grill chef Miguel was using a an accountant by the name well it doesn't matter but he was using this account and I knew about this and I talked to him I got in touch with this guy and he was like yeah I'll do it for you know. To do you know taxes and then he like does the month to month accounting type stuff keeping track of my credit cards or you know entering that all in and the register and everything. But he also at that same time when I met him he was just closing down a restaurant that he had and I told him I was like yeah I'm still looking for a couple things one of the 3 compartments think it's like oh well I got this one you need to check it out sure enough it was exactly what I needed. Those things are kind of expensive it was one of the major costs that was involved in this and he by him meeting him and doing that I saved a ton of money on that. Another thing that got worked out like I could say it over and over again yes so so it required a demo and the city knew what I was doing so I had to get a permit and I got a building permit and you know so it was Everything's up to code with the city and. So right there at that point I had this thing physically built from we started demo like June and by November everything was set and ready to go for my kit my my grand opening was the Thanksgiving the Thanksgiving meal that I prepare like a 12 piece Thanksgiving meal mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and gravy and veggie chicken and the whole meal so that was my 1st day of cooking in my kitchen and man it was a it was amazing it went really well but it was a lot of hard work getting Zion whenever Thanksgivings gets closer each year because it is my busiest day of the year. So so at that point you know like the space is there were ready to go. The next step is you know you've got to be organized with this house. As far as like how people are going to find out about it how are you going to keep track of these orders How do you going to you know not just keep track of it but also receive them and what do you know packaging and this and that so. So I set up a website through I think it's called we believe maybe I'm pronouncing it wrong. That I built a website it kind of tells the story and then it's got a tab you'll be able to find it it's you can look for it later Garden Grill menu dot com and it has some pictures some story and it also has a tab that is the menu and that is the menu that what I'm making I cook Monday Wednesday and Friday each week for the most part and I'm constantly changing it will go into more detail about that in a bit but so that's that's where people go they check it out and it's always updated like a post like 2 weeks worth of menus and once we get close to the end I'll post another 2 or 4 weeks or whatever. And it's actually it's up to date now and I've got next week's menu up to. As for advertising there's a business card that's what I've done there's business cards and then chef Miguel was so kind this guy's like a he's a brother he. He had set up the Garden Grill cafe website you know it was a Facebook page and he'd turn it over me as as admin so he gave control of that to me for me to use and all the friends and contacts and likes and followers and stuff all I did it was amazing all I did was change the profile picture in say a word about this when I was about to do it and right away people started asking like is something going on what's going on do it you know the type of thing and so it was really hurting I was like All right you know and so then I finally shared what was going to happen and a lot of people were really excited and. So so that's one way I got the. And out through that and also like I mentioned the check wellness meetings that we do at the 3 angels church the luncheon learns I told the people there and then I also at that time I didn't have Facebook but or a Facebook page of my own but I had to get one so I could control the web the face the garden girl Facebook page and so through there I started getting in contact with family and friends and everybody and so network really were good and then there's also a group in Wichita the Wichita begin foodies group and all the billions that are in Wichita kind of on there and they share ideas and where to eat and type of thing and so I mentioned it on there and basically. Not everybody knows still at this point but enough people know that it's able to be supported and I get I get enough orders for some items that I actually have to say that I'm sold out of because I just physically cannot make that much and get him out and get him delivered in a safe amount of time. And that's kind of a kind of a good problem to have. So. How do you know how to order is all everything that we need to know is on the website but. The I like my preferred method is people just text me they'll say like out you know can you bring me to servings on Monday you know one on Wednesday and you know 2 on Friday type of thing and I enter it in. And I mail back and I kept I got shorter you know thank you and then. I entered in a website so I learned how to use through the again through the. The red the. Remodelling company I ended up learning how to use Google sheets and I had lost track of spreadsheets like back in the high school days so it was like a crash course really learned Google learn how to use spreadsheets and I set up a spreadsheet that I can replicate you know I line it out with their name their address the number of servings you know any notes and what side they want and how much they owe how much they paid and all these everything's all in there and I print out a sheet each week or each day actually and take it with me and you know note along as I go and I've got my directions of like where they're living in all this so that's how I keep all of that all straight. I also like I mentioned kind of I got in I started with the photography as a way to show the food because with my business you can't you walk down the street let you walk down my street you can't smell the food you can't you can you know the word of mouth thing is really good and that's really one of the major ways that I'm able to share and it's like the best way really because you. Some of the things that the people say about the food they just can't hide the extent of the enthusiasm and so it's when they when somebody else is really excited about your food and like the service and everything. You know somebody is really just apt to to give it a try. So we've got all organized how we keep track of everything and next to kind of moves into pricing so the chef taught me that. We want to the so I got in a fog of photography it was taking good pictures of the food like really nice pictures and tried to learn about this got a good camera and started posting pictures of the food. This is kind of like a roundabout view of the kitchen here the big table in the middle. Instead of a cutting board I found a nice chopping block but your block and. There's the nice sink. And then kind of a divided mix and stand mixer some good naives. That's kind of like us I use that space mostly for like a lot of just extra room for prep and that type of thing sometimes have to spread out the containers there too. So you can kind of have a feel for how the kitchen is nice L.E.D. lights so there's it's plenty bright and that type of thing it's a great place to work. So how to figure pricing chef Tommy basically if you want to figure. One 3rd of the cost is needs to be you know kind of around about what it's going to actually cost to make that food like how much including the container how much you know is this the sauce is going to cost you know how much it may cost to make a $1.00 3rd is cost $1.00 3rd of it is going to be you know basically to cover your overhead utilities. Just overhead really and then another the final 3rd of it is basically going to work and to be your your profit what you make off of it. I think I want to say I should have looked into this but I remember now there was I think there was something that Ellen why did said about. Pricing in something like this but you might want to look into that I think there's something there. So kind of finding out what it's going to cost and basically multiply you know what is your cost to make that food and put it in containers and multiply that by 3 and you kind of have your number. Then it's also important to see what everybody else is doing compare your quality with. Like a. Like a value like what the value is like. You know is it is it like quick like food truck food or is it real like more nice like a sit down meal type food and then if that's when you know see where you fit in there and then see what those people are charging for that and you want to be competitive. And make it to where you know it's the affordable and also keep in mind like your clientele those. So so once you have those numbers figured out basically you need to know where to get the supplies and stuff like you don't want to be I didn't want to be like shopping all over town like trying to find 5 different places so basically a lot of my ingredients come from Walmart natural grocers the health reasons they have those here OK natural grocers. Costco is awesome and. The Asian markets we have we have a lot of Asian markets in Wichita and there's 2 of them that are really amazing one is huge it's like the Wal-Mart of Asian markets I get a lot of spices from there some of the produce tofu of course is a really good price there fresh herbs. And then just some really interesting products things that you wouldn't come across and that's the key to it is if you can get flavors infused into your food that are unusual or an ordinary but in a good way people get hooked on it and it's unique and grabs their attention so you've got the ingredients and. You need to know what to put those can that food in because you've got to get it out the door so for containers. It's a funny thing the ones that vege and out are using here the big one and the smaller one right there you want to hold those up no the next ones. The plastic ones with the yellow in the blue Yeah that's that's more or less what I do like the small one is like I'll do it like a side salad in it and then an entree will will go in that larger one for example like a slice of the Sanya and a side salad or you know a couple manicotti or you know whatever it may be goes in the entree one so they get a an entree and A side a lot of times the side is like it's either a soup or a salad I usually try to give them an option like that and so they get a nice soup from scratch and the entree So from there another portion of it is. Delivering in the city and how much to charge for it and I kind of did a little bit of the math and figured in a delivery charge for like the dot there north Woodlawn that's where we live in Wichita and so you know that's close all deliver for a dollar and it basically I work it out to. Roundtrip for every 10 miles I have to drive it's like a dollar. And a lot of people like that because it keeps it it's affordable and no matter if I deliver to you know 5 people over in the $2.00 to $3.00 range everybody has to pay that because if they weren't you know if they were the only ones ordering you know it would be too hard to say well I'm going to be in that area so it's only to this time but next week I'm not so it's flat like that all the way around and that's on my Web site as well so it's up front everybody can know you can kind of guesstimate how much it's going to cost. It's delivery only That's one of the stipulations built in with the city since to keep traffic down you can't come to the house and pick up unless you're my friend. And I do work out a little bit. But. So. So that's where the delivery is then yeah containers like I said those are the containers and I'll get those at on Amazon is a good place there is there are some companies that just straight just sell containers. The prices are kind of iffy on those Amazon seems really reliable and then there's also a place in town called American fun food and they basically sell to sell containers and stuff like that to hotdog carts and movie theaters and things like that you know it's hotdog things and you can rent. What's called cotton candy machines and they do all this it's a pretty big company and I get a lot of stuff from them too. You know and then and again as I'm going to visit he like all these places like I'm becoming friends with the people the family that owns the Asian market and you know visit with them and bring them food from time to time. You know visit with the guy that I'm waiting for at the American fun food and talk to him about his family and you know just get to know these people even if they're not you know they're not customers and he can surprise them every once in a while with with a with a food you know something to eat or a dessert or something the young man at the Asian market loves cinnamon rolls and so I surprised him with one to one time and he really liked it. Yeah then there's the whole this is something that's come up recently too is the whole compostable versus not compostable containers. The compostable ones cost a little bit more but you need to keep costs down but the ones that I do use are all recyclable so there's that So you know that's kind of an option kind of a thing that people are torn about right now but that's just what I do with it. That's the deliveries and that's one of the things too if somebody orders and the total is like $40.00 or more I go ahead and deliver it for free while it's really up and close there we go. Mac N cheese. I used or chatty pasta on that one that was always trying to find different even to something as simple as you using a different type of pasta than somebody would expect. You know makes the meals unique in your own These are it's basically Allman joy it's chocolate Allman coconut cookies. Those have been a real hit. I did. And. We got a few more here pizza. Oh I think there's about 6 or 8 different types of pizza that I do this one happens to be the Greek pizza. And again everything I do is completely from scratch and you can taste that in the food it's all when it's all that fresh. People notice it and it makes a huge difference a lot you know many restaurants don't and so when you're delivering the licious meals like that that's part that's one of the other components besides the spices that I was talking about when everything's all fresh from scratch handmade homemade everybody knows homemade is better it's. Another one that's been really popular the Lord just gave me this idea Popeye's budgetary if you can Popeye's. Off from scratch. I got I got a wild idea for a thing for Valentine's one day and did ravioli mushroom mushroom and the leak ravioli making the pasta from scratch. That was really hard and challenging I limited it but I should have limited it even lower ravioli ravioli takes a long time to make if you've ever made it. This is a new one. For my hummus Bowl. I use jackfruit from time to time. A lot of people really like it and so I think you can season it with anything whether it's barbecue or Greek seasoning or like this seasoning with pickles hummus that straight from scratch I made the PITA and then there is a an awesome to Heaney sauce that goes with a man and then OK so maybe somebody can help me out the green sauce is. It's kind of a it's a Mediterranean green sauce made with mostly whole seedless and salons throw in some garlic so it's got a little bit of a kick to it that whole thing is just been delicious. Again here's another shot of Wichita downtown. The way it works is since I live on the east side I handle like some of my customers and they know that they can get the meal for lunch and you know deliver to them by lunch time and that's kind of being you know generous like. The last one usually gets. Before 1 o'clock but try to make it no later than 1 o'clock so they can have it for lunch and then the rest of the deliveries are people that probably are going to eat it for dinner or they don't care when the lunch or that type of thing. So that's kind of how I work and as I leave my house I start on the east side of Wichita and then deliver the people there and get it for lunch and then I get to downtown which is like the middle that's where the last lunch delivery is and then I've got some other customers on the west side and their lunch deliveries over so I get out and deliver those and as I come back to the east side across town anybody that's on that side of town or in that area that wants it for later I can catch them on the way back you know to make to be efficient about it and constantly using the Google Maps to find the quickest route you know because it's it's a game like you got to get that food there and you want to you know because the quicker you get it done the quicker done you go in the cleanup and that type of thing. So that's the city. Some of the other costs that are involved in it with this type of business like it's amazing like the overhead is really low and when you're doing a business like a store front type of thing we have to rent the space those bills just roll and roll no matter what happens no matter if you're sick or whatever the bills have to be paid and you know like the rent space and the utilities and all this where with this the the the overheads a lot lower so I can you know it's able to work into our friend and some time off or or whatever and you can kind of take vacation when you need to like you know this example I was able a lot of opportunities that come up where I've been able to do this just because of the flexibility this business but there are still costs. I have an accountant like I mentioned he I enter the stuff in the checking account he's there for I run OK. The way that I pay for everything I have a credit card from Costco and it has we call a 5 for the cash back on it and if everybody's known about this but even if you don't have a business take advantage of those cashback credit cards if your credit is good keep building your credit make it good but whenever you know how much you spend 2 percent of that is put back into your you know on the side as cash so the business is spending this money and. Building up cash as the year goes along too so you know want to take advantage of that so everything gets put on a credit card and then each month of course it gets paid off you have to pay it off it's very important to not get into debt paid off so the accounting. Everything is put on the credit card and then one of the other stipulations that I'm you know there's with the state you have to have pest control so I have a bug guy he comes when the season is bug season like now I just started he will come once every couple months I think he sprays and if there's more you know if I see bugs I holler at him and he comes and you know treats and there was a bunch of ants one day that were you know making their way in and he came in annihilated and. He's really good. The you till it is basically the business will write a check to my wife and I personally and to it's a reimbursement of the utilities that are being used like water and gas in this so we usually do like $300.00 a month for that to reimburse us for that licensing the city charges like $50.00 a year to be license and you have to renew it I just renewed it the state however is 250 dollars each year. And that will come with a that health inspection where they come in and it's the most nerve wracking day the of the well the 2nd most nerve racking to the year where they watch you cook and you're trying to get out the door quick and making sure everything is just so and somebody's watching over you but if. It all works out all right so I'll run through a typical day real quick. So you got to so we post the menu on Facebook on the website maybe I'll advertise for it on Facebook and say hey you know we're doing jack for sure on this bill tomorrow. The cutoff is 4 pm the day before that I cook then there's you know it's cut off no more orders and I'm able to go shopping at that point. I make that order sheet that you know is ready to receive those orders that are all posted on the menu so as soon as they start coming in I don't get swamped with all these orders they're just I can enter in minutes I go and the cool thing about that Google sheets I use it on the desktop at home but also on my phone so if I'm out and I get that text you know hanging out for a minute I can quick intern in the Google sheets through my phone. Using technology. To your advantage as much as possible is definitely a it's that's what it's there for so a lot of people abuse it use it to your advantage. So that we take those orders and get them all entered in and make sure everything's all straight with it and figure out how much they're going to know and this and that. And then after that when you have to like organize a route like the most efficient like I was talking about west side or the east side to the west side and then back. So all the orders are in it's cut off time to go grocery shopping and again with that try to make it the most efficient as you can you know if I have to go out and pick up the boys I might leave in the afternoon go make a couple stops to pick up groceries go grab the boys and then come home you know try to maximize your time as much as you can has been a really big thing. Time management. So you got the groceries next. You always have to like keep an eye on those containers make sure you don't run out or you know we have time maybe look for there's something better not everything goes into that like all do vegan sushi and so I have little bento boxes that you know you played it just like you would get it as sushi place a smear of what Sabi and a little spot of the pickle ginger and the sushi. Oh sometimes for fun if I do fried rice I'll get the Chinese takeout boxes that's always kind of a funnel and he just anyone anything like that. So going to make sure we got the containers and then the day before basically just you know prep as much as you can you know again you want to be fresh so I try there's the whole issue of you don't want to cook anything because once you cook it then the next day you maybe have to warm it up again and then it's going to cool again probably and then the customer will have to warm it up so saving all the cooking for the for the very last like that actual day you don't want to reheat the food should not be repeated like 3 times so I make it and read it and then they are heated up and then they once they get it they repeat it to eat it later so doing as much prep as I can sometimes I make the dressings and put them in containers the night before make the sauces anything you can do to get ahead. So then it's time it's the day it's ready to cook. My wife and the boys we all get up and get the boys ready my wife takes them to daycare and she goes to work and I had downstairs and it's on from there from 7 o'clock till about 11 I am cooking and. Towards the end wrapping up packaging it and I go to go to deliver leave the house about 111130 and I'm out delivering for about till about 3 in the afternoon typically you've got that food safety window so you kind of have to make sure again don't take too many orders so that you can get the food delivered safely. Another way to maximize time is while you're out pick up any groceries maybe that you might know you need the next day and yeah that pretty much sums up how how it goes from day to day. There's other details with a business like this but. Tax exemption for you know some reselling the food and then keeping in touch with my accountant to see how much money is going to be needed to pay that sales tax quarterly and things you know so you make sure you have enough set aside and you're prepared for that. You know so to kind of close it up. That's that really summarizes it it seems like a lot of parts and it got it got this way and got I had a lot of it in place as as I as I kind of knew how was going to do it as I started but as as a couple years went on everything I kind of fine tune and I learned tricks and you know just how to how to make the best of it and make it even more smooth and efficient. And yeah like again like I said it's just me it's a one I'm a one man show it's I'm the chef and I go shopping and I do the cleaning in and all these things so it's definitely possible it's a lot of work but like I said it's totally worth it so. I guess I pretty much wraps it up and I'll be doing a a demo later like I said it's going to be one of the things that I 1st ate at discos it's one of the 1st vegetarian meals that I ever bought when I went out to eat so. Looking forward to that this media was brought to you by audio 1st a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W audio verse or.


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