How to start a takeaway business from home

Got a brilliant idea for a home takeaway business, but not sure how to get started? Our below guide will tell you everything you need to turn your love of food into a thriving takeaway business.

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If there have been any winners from the chaos of Covid and lockdown, then the takeaway sector has certainly been among them.

With millions of us locked indoors during various national and regional lockdowns, local eateries were given a huge boost of business as we left the kitchens behind and turned instead to the ease of a takeaway menu. Delivery giants like Uber Eats and Deliveroo also thrived.

As consumer needs have changed post-Covid – with people now looking for a more intimate and personalised customer dining experience – the industry has also shifted. A huge number of small, home-run takeaway businesses have launched in the past couple of years.

All this means now is a great time to set up a takeaway business and begin directly catering for consumers with delicious home-cooked meals.

The benefits are many, particularly for startups, as by taking advantage of existing resources you can minimise the cost of other overheads like rent or travel. But the setup, as our experts know all too well, can be confusing. Luckily, our experience has taught us all the juicy details, including the rules and regulations around setup.

So put your feet up, whack on some Saturday night TV, and let us deliver the information right to you, by telling you everything you need to know to setting up a small business takeaway in the below guide.

The first step to starting any business is sourcing funding, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Use our free online comparison tool to compare the best business loan providers across the UK, and get the best deal available. Now we're cooking!

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At Startups.co.uk, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have helpful resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – you can use the tool below to get started today.

What Does Your Business Need Help With?

Startups spoke to James Tulley, who told us about his experience setting up Teesside-based takeaway delivery business Deja Street Food:

Before Covid-19, I had a full time job as a chef working Monday to Friday and ran my business at the weekends. When the country locked down my business had to close. Unfortunately, I wasn’t entitled to furlough and I had to do something to prevent losing my home so I set up a gourmet home delivery service. The offering changed weekly and was a set menu from a different country each week, with re-heat instructions. Thankfully, it was a massive success! “

Should you start a takeaway business now?

According to a recent, post-Covid market report by the British Takeaway Campaign, the takeaway sector is currently experiencing never-before-seen growth. The report found that 38% of households ordered takeaway at least once a week at the height of the pandemic (and that's just the ones that will admit to it) spending an average of £45 per month in 2020.

But this isn't just a flash in the post-pandemic pan – the market was growing even before the first national lockdown began. Over the past five years, it rose by 43% and is expected to hit £22 bn in 2025.

That's an astonishing rate, and one that definitely bodes well for new startups.

With food delivery companies upping capacity and waiving sign up fees, this is the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for your future takeaway business – by setting up your kitchen, getting the qualifications you need, gaining the experience you need, and getting your brand out there.

Best of all, starting a takeaway business from your home doesn’t require a hefty initial investment from you. Although delivery companies usually charge businesses a sign up fee, this typically isn’t payable until you start earning money – something to check with the delivery company before you sign up!

And if you’re worried about the commission charges that come with partnering up with a delivery company, there is another way to get your takeaway business up and running.

You could use a takeaway ordering system provider to create a website with an integrated ordering system. Or, if you already have a website, integrate one into it. It’s worth bearing in mind that these options require you to have your own delivery or pick up service. But you can find out more about these options later on.

“Covid-19 was the biggest challenge I’ve ever had to face and to be honest, the past 18 or so months has been crazy stressful. [But] the takeaway food business has been booming since lockdown, as long as your food is good and you market well, you should do ok.”

– James Tulley, founder of Deja Street Food.

James Tulley

James Tulley, founder of Deja Street Food

Design a home takeaway business plan

The first step to starting any business is to design a business plan.

Your business plan is the document that adds structure to your proposal and helps you focus your objectives on an achievable and realistic target.

It should cover every aspect of what your potential firm might look like, from licensing to predicted revenue. These details will make it a great resource for attracting investors.

Read our free guide to designing a business plan to learn more about what to include in, and how to get started on, your business plan.

Make sure you have the right home takeaway business licenses

Turning your love of food into a takeaway business from your home comes with similar rules and regulations to starting a catering business, including the licenses required, and the standard of cleanliness you should be demonstrating.

Government legislation states that you need to register your food business at least 28 days before opening. And if you’re already trading, you should register as soon as possible.

Before you start a takeaway from home business, you should also make sure you have a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate. Virtual College offers a City and Guilds accredited Level 2 Food Hygiene course for £12.

Compare food delivery companies

The three main delivery companies – Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats – all have different fees, commission rates, and regulations. Here’s an overview.

DeliverooJust EatUberEats
Sign up fees

Around £500 (includes equipment and professional photography)
Sign up fees

£295 (now waived due to Covid-19)
Sign up fees

Around £300 - £430 depending on package required
Commission percentage

10%-20%/order
Commission percentage

14%/order
Commission percentage

15%- 30%
Delivery fee

£2.50/order
Delivery fee

£0.50 service charge
Delivery fee

£2.50/order
Need help staying on schedule?

Starting a takeaway business takes time and effort, and it's important to make sure you don't waste any of either.

We recommend using project management software to help streamline processes, track progress and assign tasks. Whether you're starting your business alone or with other people, it's a great way to keep things moving in the right direction.

Find out which project management tools we recommend.

The figures above offer a top level insight, and proper research should be conducted before you sign up to a food delivery company.

It’s also worth noting that while Just Eat seems to come out on top for lowest fees, it does have a more rigorous partner approval process than both Deliveroo and UberEats.

Weigh up the pros and cons of using a third party delivery company

Pros of using a third party delivery company
Cons of using a third party delivery company
Fairly easy to sign up

Start business within a week

They’ll market your business for you

Deliveries taken care of
Associated with a brand name that isn’t yours

Customer service somewhat out of your hands

Commission and delivery charges apply

Payments can take up to seven days to transfer to your bank account

Online ordering systems (order and pay apps)

While third party delivery companies make the lives of takeaway business owners easier, they do, in return, take a relatively large chunk of your earnings.

That’s why, if you have the means to deliver your own food, or want to encourage your customers to pick their takeaway up, you could always use an online ordering system. An online ordering system can either integrate into your website or, you can use a white label order and pay app supplier to host your digital menu and process your payments.

Online ordering systems and order and pay apps are cheaper and take less commission than the likes of UberEats and Deliveroo, yet give your customers the means to order their food directly through you. In fact, some online ordering systems offer their base package for free and just take a percentage of every transaction made through the system or app.

So how do you get one? Start by getting in touch with a takeaway online ordering system or order and pay provider. If you don't know where to start, you can always use startup.co.uk's questionnaire to guide you. All you need to do is answer a few basic questions about your prospective business, and we'll pair you up with the best providers for your needs.

Once set up, customers will be able to order and pay online and orders will come straight through to your phone.

Free online ordering systems

Free online ordering systems allow you to create an ordering platform and take orders for free. But is there a catch? You’ll probably be expected to pay for the following optional services:

  • A fee to have payments paid directly into your business account, rather than via your online ordering platform
  • Any advanced marketing services
  • A sales optimised website
  • A branded mobile app

The best online ordering systems for takeaway businesses

Choosing the right order and pay system for your business takes a lot of thought. While some providers offer to set up your order and pay system for free, be prepared to be charged a commission percentage of each transaction made through the platform. The table below shows a selection of website ordering systems.

Square OnlineFlipdishOrdering DirectFood BookingTakeaway Genie
Free?

Free to set up with a Square account
Free?

Free to set up
Free?

0% commission
Free?

Free to set up yourself (requires basic computer skills)
Free?

Yes – but no custom domain, can’t accept cash payments, only for one location
Additional fees

2.5% of each transaction made through the platform
Additional fees

7% order fee
2.5% card processing fee
Additional fees

£199 set up cost
£8/week thereafter
Optional £7/week for the app
Additional fees

Optional £25/month for a sales optimised website
Additional fees

£25/month for its essential package, which includes everything not included in its free package

Square Online enables you to create a basic online ordering system for free. Once you've set up a Square online store, you'll be able to put a link to it on your social media pages.

Others, like Flipdish, help you to create enticing, user-friendly websites with online ordering built in – and help you to put a marketing strategy in place too! It's up to you to decide on how sophisticated you want your online ordering platform to be, and how much of each sale you're willing to give up!

Using an online ordering system versus a delivery company

Online ordering systemDelivery company
Set up costs£0 - £200£300 - £500
Commission 0% - 7%10% - 30%
Delivery?NoYes
Instant engagementNoYes
Competition with other businessesNoYes
Self-marketing requiredYesNo

What else do you need to consider?

Create an attractive menu

You may not be used to cooking at speed. This means you need to consider menu items that you can cook quickly using the facilities that you have. Opt for menu items that you can prepare as much as possible before you open for business – garnishes, sauces, and even whole menu items like casseroles and curries.

Deja Street Food menus

Deja Street Food menus

Get active on social media – if you haven’t already!

As you’ll be relatively new to the home takeaway business game, you’ll also need to take it upon yourself to drum up business.

While delivery companies and takeaway ordering companies can carry out some marketing on your behalf, you should be building your own brand image by using the likes of Instagram and Facebook to interact with your target audience.

Or perhaps you’ve already got a loyal Instagram foodie following that you can call upon to try your new menu?

Why not check out our guide to small business marketing to see what hints and tips you can pick up?

Deja Street Food Instagram account

Deja Street Food Instagram account

“Find a concept that you're passionate about, ensure it’s different to what everyone else is doing and make yourself stand out from the crowd. A great logo and visual marketing is important – post regularly on the socials and build your brand. You're selling food, so make sure your posts are visual and show off what you do.”

– James Tulley, Deja Street Food.

Keep on top of your finances

Starting a takeaway business takes time and money, and accountancy software can help with both.

Whether you run the business alone as a sole trader or with a team of chefs and delivery drivers, you need to make sure you keep your finances in order. When you start taking orders, and payments, you'll need to start tracking your spending, revenue and profit. You can do this with spreadsheets and a lot of work, but we recommend getting help. Getting an accountant is expensive, so it's easier to use software that'll help you do the legwork.

Accountancy software is designed to simplify the complex processes related to money. From tracking your outgoings to managing your taxes, you'll find any finance process simpler with the right tools in place. Take a look at the accountancy software that we've rated best.

“Ensure you cost your dishes properly. Work out exactly how much it costs to produce each dish including packaging. It’s really, really important. You can then cost it correctly. Food costs should be roughly 20-30% of your sale price. There's no point selling a dish for £5 if it costs you £3 to produce.”

– James Tulley, Deja Street Food

Use software to your advantage

Similar to the above, software can help you set up your business to succeed in many ways; it can make organising your tasks, keeping track of your customer base, and taking payment so much easier. Using software tools – which are now readily available to even the smallest businesses – can save business owners quite literally hours of time each week, and can even help you offer better customer service.

Consider our top recommended software tools for task and team management, managing customer information, and taking payment in-store below:

What should I do next?

Here’s a round up of how to start a takeaway business from home:

  1. Get in touch with the different delivery companies or online ordering providers to see if their services are a feasible option
  2. Make sure to register your business with the Food Standards Agency within 28 days
  3. Make sure your kitchen is fully equipped, and you have the relevant food hygiene certificates
  4. Get active on social media. Instigate a discussion around your new takeaway business. You could even get some advice from a digital marketing agency. Startups has partnered with a number of agencies who would be happy to give you advice
  5. Brainstorm menu ideas and do some practice run throughs of each of your dishes by cooking for people in your household

“My number one piece of advice for people wanting to set up a takeaway business is that things always go wrong, you should expect it, and to be flexible and understand you’ll have to give a lot of your time to make sure it succeeds.

“And above all, make sure your food is amazing! Get your recipes fixed and all the ingredients weighed to the gram so the food is consistent when different staff cook it.”

– James Tulley, Deja Street Food

Startups.co.uk can help your business succeed

At Startups.co.uk, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have helpful resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – you can use the tool below to get started today.

What Does Your Business Need Help With?
Helena Young
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