10 things to Know About Starting a Food Truck Business
A mobile food truck business is a great way to expand existing restaurant sales or break into the food industry. While in the past food trucks have been associated with simple fare, like sandwiches, hot dogs or ice cream, today’s food truck business has exploded in variety. Today restaurant food trucks offer every kind of cuisine imaginable, and while sandwiches are still on the menu, customers can find such items as gourmet cupcakes to sushi.
Read on for ten things you should know about starting a restaurant food truck business.
1. Not every neighborhood allows food trucks. The first step in starting a food truck business is to find out if they are legal. Some towns or cities have restrictions for mobile vendors. Determine where you can set up shop, first.
2. Food trucks cost money. While far cheaper than a brick-and-mortar restaurant, a food truck itself will costs thousands of dollars, even used. Unless you have a lot of extra cash lying around, you will most likely need to look for financing either through a bank, small business bureau or investors. Read more about finding financing for your food business.
3. A mobile food truck business requires licensing and permits. Depending on where you are doing business, you may need to apply for special licenses and permits. Sometimes the number of permits allowed in one area is capped, causing a long waiting period for food truck owners.
4. Health and safety are important in a food truck business. If you plan to serve food to the public, whether in house or via a food truck, you need to take the necessary steps to ensure safety of both workers and customers. Food should be stored, prepared and served in sanitary conditions, at the proper temperature.
You will need to apply for a health license before you can do business. The local health inspector will walk you through the regulations needed to make sure your food truck business is safe.
5. Restaurants and food trucks don’t always mix. Restaurants in your neighborhood may not take kindly to you parking your food truck nearby. Competition in the food business is always fierce.
6. Location is important for a successful food truck business. One of the biggest advantages a food truck has over a restaurant is that it can bring the food to the customers. But you still need to know where the customers are. Keeping in mind that you can’t just park anywhere (because of restrictions and licensing) it’s a balancing act to park in a legal area which is also busy.
7. Food trucks still provide a dining experience. From the menu, to the customer service to the food, patrons will walk away from your food truck with an experience similar to eating in a restaurant. If any of the above criteria is off, they may not come back.
8. Social media is a great tool for food trucks. More and more mobile food truck businesses are turning to sites like Facebook and Twitter for promotion. You can tweet where you are going to be each day and post specials and other promotions.
9. Food trucks offer a great way to expand business. Because you are mobile, food trucks are a great way to break into catering. Consider- if your main food truck business is selling lunch to the office crowd downtown, why not capitalize on evening and weekend events- dinner parties, holiday parties, even weddings. What better way to get the word about your business? Read more about restaurant catering.
10. Owning a food truck business is a lot of hard work. Being the owner of any small business is a lot of hard work. It means long hours, juggling different positions, from cook to server to bookkeeper and accountant. While certainly rewarding, never think that the food business is an easy buck. Read more about popular restaurant myths.
Food trucks are still one of the most popular restaurant concepts at the moment.
They offer low start up costs and low over head. But like a traditional brick and mortar restaurant, a food truck is still a business and as such, still requires hard work and dedication to make it successful.