Determine the Cost to Start a Food Truck… Before You Start a Food Truck

You’re this person. You’ve worked really hard six nights a week, sometimes seven, at one of the favorite local restaurants in the city you love. You like your manager (ok, maybe you do), but you’ve done this for three years, and at the same time each night, when the customer smiles at you and thanks you for your service, you think to yourself, “How much does it cost to start a food truck?”

As an estimate, a food truck can cost between $25,000 and $100,000.

Maybe you’re this person. You’ve worked for more than one catering company. Big, big events. You know your city well because you’ve worked 100 events or more, all over town. But, in your “spare” time you cook. And you love it! And, it’s time, I mean, it’s really time. It’s 1 am and the reception is over, and you’re cleaning up and there’s that thought again. “I wonder, how much does it cost to start up a food truck business?”

So, how much DOES it cost to start up a food truck? The first thing to do is define “cost”!

Time. Opportunity. Money

Starting a food truck will cost you a few things. Costs aren’t all bad, they’re just real, a part of doing business, and it’s good to consider what lies ahead before you start a food truck.

Time. Being your own boss sounds a lot like freedom, and sometimes it is, or at least will be with lots of hard work. Early on in your food truck venture though, be prepared to put in the time. You’re the owner, and the success of your food truck business is on you. On “us” – you and the Masshole Lobster Truck team together if you decide a lobster truck is in your future. More on how we can help you later!

Opportunity. Most people don’t consider opportunity cost when they first think to themselves “how much does it cost to start a food truck?” Simply put, if I choose to start a food truck, what will I NOT be doing? Here’s one answer. Work for someone else that’s what! 😉 How’s that for a positive spin on costs?

Money. We get it. That’s what you’re really wanting to know when you consider “how much does it cost to start up a food truck business?” Ok, so let’s explore.

How much MONEY does it cost to start a food truck?

Here’s some really encouraging news. By reading this article you’re already showing the wisdom that it takes to be a successful food truck business owner. You’re either just starting or in the middle of researching this business that you’ve dreamed about for perhaps, a very long time. You didn’t jump into it as you consider how much it costs to start up a food truck. Instead, you’re looking for answers.

You’re business planning. Maybe you didn’t even know to call it that, but that’s what you’re doing. And, we commend you. So much so that as a franchise team whose job it is to help our franchisees, we’d love to help you now, before you’ve even decided that the smell of butter dripping off a fresh lobster roll is a sensation you can deal with day in and day out!

To start, he’s a short list of cost categories that should be part of your food truck start-up business planning, then we’ll take a more detailed look at how much it costs to start a food truck.

  • Initial food truck start-up costs – business license, permits
  • Food truck and equipment costs
  • Food, kitchen, and serving costs
  • Labor costs
  • Marketing costs

More: How to Improve Your Food Truck Profit Margins: Let’s Take a Look Inside the Numbers

Business license and permit costs for a food truck

You’ll need to be the owner of a business license, in this case, a food truck business license, before becoming the owner of a food truck. Depending on the city and state you live in this might also be called a vendor license.

Your license may cost anywhere from $50 to $500. In some states, costs will vary depending on your projected / actual monthly revenue. You can learn a little more about food truck business licenses here. (link to blog MLT(f) blog 2210 about business licenses if published.)

Also, depending on where you live, your city, county and/or state may require other special permits for operation.

Food truck and equipment costs

As you first said to yourself – “Self, how much does it cost to start a food truck? – you were really thinking about the truck, we just know it. Fair enough. It’s not a small investment.

Depending on whether you choose a truck or a trailer, the age of the vehicle, the size of the vehicle, and the cost of the interior buildout, a food truck can cost between $25,000 and $100,000.

Our food truck franchise team at Masshole Lobster Truck is a group of detailed planners who can show you the difference between $25,000 and $100,000, so feel confident that should you decide that your destiny is to roll up on some big events in your town (you see what we did there) with some fresh lobster, you’ll be doing so with the full confidence that you’ve made smart decisions concerning your lobster franchise start-up costs.

Oh yeah, gas. That’s a cost. Truck repairs. Yep, it’s a truck, it will need a repair eventually. You’ll need a phone.

Food, kitchen, and serving costs

Regarding product inventory, all the necessary kitchen tools, pots and pans, and items like paper products – all the “food truck things” to make the magic happen and produce happy customers, as you might have already thought about, that’s a matter of the type of food you serve.

At Masshole Lobster Truck, we recommend a simple and straightforward food menu. Be great at fewer things! Your space is limited no matter the size of your food truck, and you should plan accordingly as you factor just how much it costs to start a food truck.

Our team would welcome the opportunity to help you plan and learn more about the actual food costs involved should you choose to become a Masshole Lobster Truck franchise owner. Franchise food truck.

Labor costs

While the success of your business is on you (Remember, it’s on you and us together when you decide to be a Masshole Lobster Truck franchise owner), you’ll have employees.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $10/hr to $18/hr depending on your market and how competitive the food truck labor force is within that market.

A little friendly advice. Don’t underpay. You want good people. Reliable people. Who feel valued and who take their job seriously. Don’t undervalue the actual value of this expense.

Marketing your food truck

You really should be thinking “how much does it cost to start AND MARKET a food truck”? Some food truck franchise owners choose to just think about the food. They love the kitchen. The get-your-hands-dirty (not really dirty, it’s an old lobster truck expression, right! Actually more like “buttery” in our case) part of the business.

But, marketing is important and key to your success, especially in the beginning. Your goal is to build a following and let word of mouth and your schedule posted on the internet take over.

There’s plenty of competition though. People like choices and variety, so you need to consider how you’ll stand out. From the wrap on the truck to the website to the shirts, caps, and social media ads.

Good news alert! Having made a few lobster rolls in our time and learned the best way to mark a food truck business start-up, we have an idea or two about the cost to start AND MARKET a food truck.

How much does it cost to start a food truck? Maybe the best thing to do is get on a call together. Again, we commend your research and up-front planning! It’s the right way to go about it! And, we’d be more than happy to help you learn about this amazing food truck franchise opportunity!