Cooling Van Business: Enhancing events, catering for party needs

Provides Regular Income

Precious moments are usually cherished by all and are often celebrated. Whether it be to mark birthdays, weddings or graduation, life comes with its fair share of ceremonies. But celebrations, regardless of whether they are low-key or ostentatious don’t come cheap. They come with budgets and it is up to the celebrant to find ways to minimise cost. In all of this, one aspect that cannot be compromised is the guests’ comfort. The quality of treatment given to guests can make or mar a party.

So, for an event to be memorable, everything has to be well planned, with lots of attention paid to details. This is where the issue of food and drinks come in. Hosts have to provide chilled drinks, as well as preserve food items till later in the day.

It is in recognition of this that some business people are going into the cooling van business. They usually provide vans that serve party needs in any location, and even across the country. These vehicles have built-in power system, which activates the cooling system. With these vehicles, event organisers can go to rest, as their drinks and water, including food items would be well preserved, irrespective of epileptic power supply experienced across the country.

Lizzy Izadede, an event planner and manager sais the business is quite encouraging and operators never run out of money, especially now that many people embrace the culture of awarding catering services to contractors at outdoor events. She explains that due to the mobility and professional packaging of items, organisers of highbrow events go for them, as it spares them the problems of hiring drums and sourcing ice blocks to chill their drinks.

“Nigerians like celebration, and despite the economic downturn, they still organise big parties and most times engage us for supplies of cold drinks. They know with or without electricity, our drinks and water must be cold because the van is a moving refrigerator.

“Cold drinks are very important to any successful event and most people cannot do without taking cold water or drinks. Aside making drinks cold, we also preserve salad and such other food items that easily go bad. Such food items as fried meat, chicken and salad that don’t need heat have to be refrigerated to preserve their original taste,” she said.

Explaining that she often takes her cooling van to neighbouring states and the grassroots, Izadede said some celebrants are able to monitor the sharing of drinks and other consumables using the cool van.

“Aside providing cooling services, we also help monitor the movement of drinks and other things put in our care. At the end of the day, most celebrants call on us to give account of how the food and drinks were shared. So, it is a way of checking wastage and people that come to events to steal drinks.

“We supply the quantity of drinks in the cabin, as well as tell them when they are to be replenished. Depending on the setting and environment, it may not take up to 10 minutes to ice the drinks and other items, but the most important thing is keeping food items cold, so they don’t lose their taste,” she says.

Julie Amatat explained that there are two types of cooling vans: one for carrying food items such as frozen chicken parts, fish, meat, diary products and others, while the other type is for outdoor catering services.

On the viability of the business, she said: “I make between N300, 000 and N500, 000 monthly from both vans. Hiring out the frozen food van to some southern states could cost between N150, 000 to N200, 000, as the farther the state the higher the charges. Ordinarily, the catering services cooling van costs between N40, 000 and N80, 000, depending on the duration and location of the party.

“If the party venue is within the metropolis, the fees would be less, but if it is in the rural area, where one has to navigate through rough terrains, the fee would be higher. I make more money operating in the rural areas, where we are usually patronised during festivals, burials and house-warming. At times, I make about a million Naira.”

According to Joseph Ibinga, the business is another ‘oil field’, as it gives operators some prestige and does not involve much stress.

“I make between N80, 000 to N100, 000 a week and more, if I have to be at rallies, crusades and even political gatherings. On such occasions,
I make over a million Naira. The business is such that operators are always engaged and there are no dull moments. The more an operators realises this and keys into the activities of the day, the better his/her finances,” he says.

On what a new entrant needs to go into the business, Ibinga said it is unnecessary to acquire a new cooling van to start, as it is possible to start with a fairly used van and then go for a brand new one later.

“I started with a fairly used cooling van and now, I have about three. The business is promising, especially as Nigerians are getting used to hiring people for their catering services. Aside weddings, birthday parties and burials, we also provide services for festivals,” he says.

Explaining some of the challenges in the business, Raphael Orienta said if a van is not properly maintained, it could complicate things, especially after working for long hours. Suggesting a way out of this, he advised proper and constant engine check after each outing to determine if there is need for any repair. It is also advantageous to undertake routine check to ensure that all is well with the vehicle.

“Since the vehicle is not for pleasure rides, it should be handled with great care, by not allowing any roadside mechanic or just anyone to handle it. In the process of repairing, quacks might compound the problem. So, it is recommended to always engage professional services.

“These experts understand the dynamics of the vehicle and would know how best to handle it. Besides, cooling van is like adding a fridge to a vehicle; so whenever the engine is faulty, it is better to take it to a mechanic and not allow those that handle the motor engine to also handle the cooling section,” he said.

So, how often should a cooling van be serviced?

Orienta advises that an operator should have a competent technician that checks the vehicle regularly, carrying out minor services, while a comprehensive service could be done once in two or three years.

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