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Cargo Trailer for Catering?

1609 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  reefer rental
Hi there - preparing for the upcoming season and need additional space for hauling and handling jobs in multiple locations.  I am looking at a 6x12' enclosed trailer with a ramp (has transitions to bridge the gaps between the ramp and the floor, and the ramp and the ground so theoretically should making rolling things on and off easier).  I'm really wanting something without an engine - a second truck/van will be a two-or three-year-out purchase, just not ready to make that investment right now so specifically looking for feedback on a trailer set-up.  

Any experience/thoughts/words of caution or wisdom?  

I just read a comment about a preference for a liftgate truck as you can only use a ramp for 2-wheeled carts, which I hadn't considered and has now made me thing I better ask around before I make this purchase.  Trailer will have a 6' ramp which isn't a particularly steep slope so was thinking it shouldn't really be different than going up and down a small hill with the vehicle, but perhaps there is something I'm not considering?  My thought was wheeled carts & dollies, with cambuckle straps to secure.

We're primarily transporting 'bulk' food items & plating/prettying on-site - some things like dessert bites are done ahead but have never really had much issue (and we drive down a wicked-steep hill every time we leave our kitchen).  But I'd also like to be able to wheel off racks of glassware, etc, and now questioning if I'll have problems.

Any advice/input about issues you may have had using this set-up, pros/cons, would be much appreciated.  Also - if you have any advice on 'essential transportation equpiment', we'd love that too.  Many thanks!
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Are you looking for new or used?

Can you test drive (or in this case pull lol) IT?

This will give you the chance to look it over more closely...

Roll everything up and down the ramp.

Scrape a bit of paint off from the bottom and check for rust (easy peasy for the seller to just grind it down and make pretty again with a new coat of paint).

Pop the wheels off and check for signs of wear as well as the amt of grease present (is it old?) .

What is the deck made of?

If it is used and made from wood ask if it was ever used to transport animals.

If so just pass it by.

You can never be sure how sanitary it is without replacing it.


This now makes 3 small but growing businesses I have heard of in as many days.

Things are looking up!

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Trailers suck for your purposes. Bite the bullet and get a van, it will be a lot easier.

Very few trailers have side doors, most vans do, and they are invaluable.

Delivering or setting up in underground parkades is horrible with trailers

You need a powerfull vehicle to pull a trailer, but can't use this to haul food with, eqpt. maybe, but not food.

No one says you can't get a tailgate lift for a van. I used plain old ramps for years--300lb bbqs and fulled loaded cambros go over no problem.
... get a van, it will be a lot easier.

Very few trailers have side doors, most vans do, and they are invaluable.

Delivering or setting up in underground parkades is horrible with trailers
Yes, yes, yes. Also ramps need room when unloading and many times will not be advantageous, applicable, nor available. How many different people drive your vehicles and how many can backup a trailer? A catered event is not a good time for OJT. Finding parking space for a vehicle with a trailer limits your options and many times will prove to be more of a hindrance than a blessing.
I pulled a 20' trailer for years when I did movie catering, they were a pain in the ass. The best thing we did was to convert over to a cube truck with lift gate replacing the trailer. Yes it was added cost, with $20k for the truck, fuel, insurance and maintenance. Didn't cost anything for the driver because that person was already being paid to sit on his ass while I drove.

I'll echo what cheflayne said about drivers and backing. I can back a trailer up a gnats ass, do your drivers have a lot of trailer experience? They need it.
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I appreciate all the thoughts, gives me a few more things to consider.  Thanks!

Y'all have very different (and much larger) businesses than me - we live in rural PA, so no underground blockades here, and we primarily cater for groups of 30-150.   In general, we're pulling into a large parking lot & among the first to arrive so while it's absolutely a consideration, I'm not so over-concerned about the size/ramp constraints.  I went back through & only found a small handful of jobs that a trailer would have been a major issue (and obviously we have another option, albeit not as convenient).  

I am looking at a new, 6x12 with an extra 6" interior height, also has a side door, standard vehicle can tow.  They don't cost enough new to consider buying used.  It's $5,000 out the door with all the bells and whistles - I can pay cash for that.  A truck right now is a bit more overhead than I'm ready to take on.  Not to mention the financing since I'm only 2 years in business -  I have a feeling the interest rate would be through the roof. That said, I just came across a 2011 Chevy Express Cube Van with a lift gate for under $15,000 and now I'm thinkin' I should research that option a little further as that price point would be feasible.  Things to think about.
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Even lift gates can be a slow hassle.

4 important keypoints in using a catering trailer are 

1) get one  as low to the ground as possible

2) make sure it is high enough to comfortably stand in-- having to stoop and bend into 

the thing to get things in and out gets old really fast.

3) While narrow sounds convenient, get one that's wide enough to store what you need along

the sides, while still allowing walking-access down the middle. 

4) If its not too big of one, be sure it has a front jack-wheel so you can wheel it about when 

its detached from the vehicle. This feature has saved my butt more than a few times in a 

tough to maneuver situtation, such as not being able to turn around. You're not gonna manhandle 

an 8 x 24 ft, 2 axle box-trailer easily, but a 6 x 12 shouldnt be a problem. 
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