How To Start A Food Truck Business

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How To Start A Food Truck Business In 2021: Best Biz Or Better Options?

Over the past few years, the food truck business has become so popular that it’s quite the trend now in some cities.

If you are looking for a low-investment small business idea and have a passion for food, a food truck business could just be the answer.

Though small in scale compared to a full-fledged restaurant, the steps and preparations you need to accomplish are equally important.

If you feel you are the next successful food truck owner in your area but don’t know how and where to start, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we have listed 8 crucial steps that all future food truck business owners should take.

Towards the end of this article I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions on how to start a Food Truck Business…

But most importantly, I’ll show you the exact system I used to build my own investment portfolio to over $40,000 a month in mostly passive income.

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Table of Contents

How To Start A Food Truck Business In 8 Steps:

1. Research Your Target Market.

According to Restaurant MBA, the failure rate of food truck operations in three years is going to be at 60%. The success and failure of a food truck business largely depends on how much effort you’ve put into planning.

When you are starting a food truck business, it is critical to ensure that you are filling a gap in the market or meeting a need.

Evaluate Available Space.

Finding the location for your food truck is an important aspect of the planning process. You need to be familiar with local rules and regulations governing food truck parking, particularly on busy streets, to determine what is and isn’t permissible.

Check Out The Competition.

Get a sense of what cuisines are common in your area once you have an idea of the potential locations for your food truck. You wouldn’t want to be the third food truck that offers falafel, for example.

Choose a food idea that is not being offered by any other food trucks in the community, but you should also be mindful that it’s also something that would appeal to a wide range of people.

2. Choose A Food Truck Name & Concept.

After you’ve identified the cuisines and spaces that are available in the area, narrowing down your food truck concept and name would be a lot easier. While you should think about consumer demand, you should also consider something that reflects your own interests and experiences.

Among the most popular food truck concepts are:

  • Fusion dishes: This approach merges two unique cuisines to create dishes that attract a wider audience.
  • Organic & health foods: Trendy health foods include acai bowls, cold-pressed juice, and creative salad combinations.
  • Gourmet sandwiches: To make your dish stand out, create a theme or try nontraditional ingredients.
  • Pizza: A wood-fired pizza concept would appeal to most people.
  • Regional cuisine: Local delicacies could be a successful food concept such as lobster rolls in New England or breakfast tacos in Texas .

Pick A Name For Your Food Truck.

The next thing to consider if you want to know how to start a food truck business is to come up with a catchy name.

Our guide on naming a business provides a complete perspective, but here are some suggestions for naming your food truck:

  • Make sure the name of your food truck is unique.
  • Make your name as descriptive as possible.
  • Make the name catchy and simple to pronounce.
  • Choose a business name that can expand with your business.

Design Your Food Truck Logo.

Your business logo should represent the concept and name that you’ve decided for your food truck.

You need to have something that conjures high-quality food while still being interesting enough to compete with other food trucks.

Your logo will also appear on menus, business cards, social media, and in all of your marketing. Your business logo and colors should easily tell what your food truck is selling.

3. Create A Food Truck Business Plan.

Your food truck, like any other business, will require a well-prepared business plan if it should thrive. Your business plan formalizes your idea and necessitates a financial strategy that you need to map out.

Your food truck business plan lays the groundwork for how you want your company to start, function, and develop. The following sections should be included in your food truck business plan:

Business description: 

Provide a description of the food truck industry in your area, including its current state and future prospects, as well as your concept, theme, and other markets and industries that may have a direct influence on your business.

Market analysis: 

Identify and evaluate market trends in the food truck industry, your target market, and competitors. Is there, for example, a food truck in your location serving the same type of cuisine, or a regular restaurant with a similar target client base?

Organization and management: 

Explain your business strategy, including standard operating procedures (SOPs), staffing, and the roles and duties of each major partner and employee.

Product line:

Provide a detailed account of your menu, ingredients, and methods, as well as the cost of the food preparation and the price you want to charge for it.

Marketing plan: 

Describe your marketing strategy for your food truck business. Word-of-mouth, influencer marketing, and social media marketing are all important marketing avenues for food trucks.

Funding request and proposal: 

Declare how much money you need to launch your food truck and how you intend to get it. If you’re looking for a business loan, make it clear how much money you need.

Financial projections: 

Make a list of your expected costs, earnings, and losses for the first three to five years.

Take note that one of the important steps you also need to accomplish is to open a business bank account for your food truck.

4. Get Licenses And Registrations For Your Food Truck.

Depending on where you live, food truck licenses and permits will range from $100 to $500. It will require at least two types of licenses and permits. The first is your business license, and the second is your food service permit.

But additional permits may be required by some states. California, for example, needs the following:

  • Mobile Food Facility Permit
  • Health Permit
  • Food Safety Certification
  • Food Handler Permit for Employees
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Business Insurance

Different cities use different standards for issuing food service permits, so the best way to know for sure is to go online and contact your local government, specifically the local health department, to obtain all of the required information on regulations.

Parking Permits & Regulations

Here are some pointers to ensure that you have the right spots to park your food truck:

  • Request a list of prohibited parking areas from your county clerk.
  • For information about lesser-known parking regulations, contact your local motor vehicle department.
  • Get ready to pay for parking meters.
  • Locate safe overnight parking for your food truck.

 

Securing A Commercial Kitchen

At times, a commercial kitchen or commissary may be required for your food preparation depending on your state and local guidelines.

To find one, you could do your own research online or reach out the food truck community in your area for their recommendations.

It could be any of the following: brick-and-mortar restaurant, catering kitchen, or a designated commissary. This space will be used mainly for your food preparation and the disposal of dirty water.

5. Finance Your Food Truck Business.

A food truck business can set you back between $40k to $200k, depending on the following:

  • Location
  • Cooking appliances
  • Type of food truck

A second-hand food truck will cost a lot less than a brand new, customized one.

The table below, based on data from mobile-cuisine.com, gives you a rough estimate of the itemized costs involved in starting a food truck business.

Food Truck Business Estimated Startup Costs

The following are the food truck startup items and their corresponding approximate costs:

One-Time Costs
  • Purchasing a Food Truck: $5,000 – $125,000
  • Vehicle Inspection: $100 – $500
  • Retrofitting & Bringing Your Truck to Code: $25,000 – $50,000
  • Generator: $1,500 – $10,000
  • POS Software System & Hardware: $500 – $1500
  • Paint: $1,000 – $3,000
  • Truck Wrap: $2,500 – $5,000
  • Initial Food Purchases: $500 – $2,000
  • Utensils, Papers & Goods: $500 – $2,000
  • Website Design: $500 – $3,500
  • Initial Office Equipment & Supplies: $200 – $1,000
  • Advertising & Public Relations: $500 – $2,000
  • Professional, Legal & Consulting Fees: $500 – $2,000
Recurring Startup Costs
  • Payroll (Up to Four Staff Members): $1,500 – $3,500
  • Commercial Kitchen & Commissary Rent: $500 – $3,000
  • Monthly Credit Card Processing Fees: Around 3% of sales
  • Fuel: $250 – $400
  • Insurance: $5,000
  • Permits & Licensing: $50 – $10,000, depending on location
  • Total Estimated Costs: $40,000 – $200,000

The majority of aspiring food truck owners cannot afford the start-up costs involved in starting a food truck business.

Hence, business financing often is the route they take to achieve this. A business plan is one of the first important things that most lenders would ask from you, including the amount of loan you wish to borrow, and of course, your credit history.

Below are some financing options that you can consider:

  • Equipment Loan/ Financing Program
  • Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS)
  • Business Credit Cards
  • Personal Loan
  • Microloan from Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • Find investors.
  • Crowdfunding
  • Lease a second-hand truck with basic equipment.

6. Design Your Menu Board.

The best way to present your food is with a menu board mounted on the side of your truck. The layout and style should be consistent with your brand and theme. The most essential element, though, is that your food board is highly readable and engaging.

Here are some pointers to consider while creating a menu board for your food truck:

  • Your menu board design should complement the style of your truck. Typically, a chalkboard with a handwritten menu work fine, particularly if you update your menu quite often.
  • Your menu board should be readable.
  • The text should stand out against the background.
  • The meal description should be brief and straightforward.
  • Highlight your best sellers, new specials, and promotions.
  • Add photos of your dishes on a large menu board to allow your clients make a selection, especially if the line is long. 
  • If at all possible, avoid using the dollar sign since it draws attention to the price rather than how nicely you describe your dishes.

7. Purchase, Insure & Outfit Your Food Truck.

Food trucks can range from $3,250 for a used trailer to $200,000 for a brand new one. This pricing covers the cost of upgrading and wrapping, and accounts for various truck size requirements.

Investing in a high-quality food truck from the start reduces your chances of incurring repair costs later on. Search for a local food truck maker to guarantee that all of your requirements are accomplished. Once you have secured this part, this will save you a lot of money in the long term.

Check that your truck is equipped with code-compliant equipment, such as:

  • Ovens and refrigerators are properly working.
  • Hot and cold water are provided together with adequate pressure.
  • First-aid kits and fire extinguishers are on board.
  • Adequate and proper food storage is available.

Where To Buy A Food Truck

When buying a second-hand food truck, you can look for an individual vendor on Craiglist or eBay to buy one.  Alternatively, you can check out directory sites dedicated for food trucks.

A secondhand truck is usually already fully equipped for approximately $50,000, however you will need to do some exterior repainting and interior renovation to complement your food truck business concept.

You may also buy a new food truck from a manufacturer, such as Prestige Food Trucks or Cruising Kitchens.

They can create a bespoke food truck based on your preferences. Brand new, customized food trucks will set you back between $100k and $200k to build.

Food Truck Insurance

You would need five types of insurance to get a comprehensive food truck insurance coverage. Here’s a rundown of the insurance you’ll need along with an estimate of the costs:

  • Commercial Vehicle Insurance
  • Property Insurance
  • General Liability
  • Workers Compensation
  • General Auto Insurance

Some of the things that might impact your insurance costs are as follows:

  • Your individual coverage limits
  • Food truck type
  • The location of your food truck business (State and city)
  • The value and type of personal business property that needs to be insured
  • The number of places and events you go to every year
  • If your cooking equipment meets a variety of professional culinary standards
  • Your business hours and days 
  • If your food truck business is seasonal
  • The number of equipment permanently mounted and moved to numerous events

Outfitting Your Food Truck

Apart from the cooking appliances such as ovens, grills, or cooktops you will have to put inside your food truck, a few more items still need to be installed.

Details may differ based on your food truck concept, however all food trucks will need a generator which  is required to power your truck. Pick a generator that is easy to transport, quiet, and efficient.

8. Market Your Food Truck.

Once you’re ready with your truck and you’ve decided on a location, the next step in launching a food truck company is to promote it.

A good food truck marketing plan combines online and conventional marketing tactics, such as social media marketing, sending fliers, vending at local events, and developing a website.

Social Media Marketing

Leveraging Facebook and Instagram is an excellent approach to attract potential customers. With billions of social media users out there, it’s a no-brainer.  In addition, Instagram is a great platform to show off images of your food.

Do regular posts to maximize impact, and make use of local hashtags so that people can find your food truck faster. Also, mention your hours and locations so that people may easily locate you. If you take orders over the phone or online, include that information in your social network bio too.

Your Instagram account of your food truck should include your contact details, location, as well as good quality photos of your food.

Targeted Postcards

It may take some time for a sufficient number of customers to find your food truck before your business begins earning a consistent profit. Mail postcards providing a promo or a free special that could attract interested and hungry visitors.

Participate In Festivals & Local Events.

Festivals are an excellent opportunity to attract new customers and learn from other food truck entrepreneurs.

The majority of towns and cities host outdoor activities such as fairs and farmers’ markets, especially during the spring and summer months.

Engaging in these events is a smart move to raise awareness about your food truck while also earning extra.

Create A Website.

A website is a must-have for any business. It informs prospective customers about who you are, what type of food you serve, and where they can locate your truck. Your website is also an excellent platform for displaying your event calendar.

Developing Your Food Truck Business Plan:

Here are some pointers to make your business launch go as smoothly as possible.

Supplement Sales By Catering Events.

A lot of food truck businesses augment their revenues by allowing customers to rent their trucks for special occasions such as weddings and workers appreciation days.

Accept Online Orders.

People on the go will appreciate if you accept orders online, whether it’s through your website or over SMS. This would make their overall experience of your food truck enjoyable and convenient.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Really Make Money With A Food Truck?

Yes, You can!

But…

There’s a lot that comes along with starting a food truck business that many people struggle with.

Now, don’t get me wrong…

You can certainly make money with a food truck, but if you’re gonna put in the amount of grueling work to do this business (which, trust me, isn’t easy), you might as well bring in some REAL money while you’re learning the ropes.

The program that helped skyrocket my online business to over $40,000+ per month is so simple that making money really does become second nature.

What Kind Of Design Should I Give My Food Truck?

The easiest way to do this is to employ a designer. Once you’ve got a concept, seek for a designer to create your work.

The cost for a simple food truck wrap design is about $500. Always be mindful of  your brand, ensuring that your truck design and logo represent who and what you are.

Clearly relay your expectations and objectives, set a timeframe, and put everything on paper. 

What Are Some Popular Food Truck Concepts?

With your food truck concept, your goal should be something that sets you apart from your competitors but also has a widespread appeal. Some of the  common options are:

  • Barbecue and slow-cooker food trucks
  • Wood-fired pizza
  • Gourmet burgers and hot dogs
  • Gourmet mac and cheese
  • Coffee trucks
  • Tacos or rice and beans
  • Smoothies and cold-pressed juices

How Profitable Is A Food Truck Business?

Food trucks could potentially make a lot of money. According to Profitable Venture, it is not unusual for successful food trucks in big metropolitan areas to generate $20,000 to $50,000 in monthly sales.

In smaller, more mid-sized cities, food trucks are likely to earn much less, ranging from $5,000 to $16,000 monthly.

Bottom Line

If you’ve ever wondered how to start a food truck business, it’s a rewarding but time-consuming endeavor with a lot of potential for development and profit.

The food truck business is tough but ultimately profitable if you put in the effort to develop a thorough business plan that includes market research and a strong marketing strategy.

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How Do You Actually Make Money?

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