Have you ever wondered how to start a food truck business? In many cities across the United States, food trucks can be found everywhere – near nature parks, around local businesses, and in industrial complexes.
Whatever the place, people will roll up to a food truck to get something different for lunch or dinner.
Maybe you have eaten at one and that’s where the thought hit you: “This is good, but I can do better.” And that is almost immediately followed by “Starting a food truck business can’t be that difficult.”
Do you have a passion for food? Are you good at business? Would you consider yourself a walking GPS in your city?
You may be closer to starting a food truck business than you think. Understanding how to start a food truck business is not unlike any other undertaking–it requires a process, a checklist of sorts.
Any foodie with entrepreneurial aspirations can tell you that the food truck business can be rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. Loving food and liking business aren’t the only things that it requires to drive a kitchen on wheels.
Fortunately, we know a little more about the food truck business. Who are we? Masshole Lobster Truck.
Yes, you read that right and we couldn’t be smiling more because we know what it takes to achieve greatness in this industry.
Find a Truck and Supplies
Duh, right? You’d be surprised how many people spend weeks making a business plan for their food truck enterprise, but don’t even have the wheels to make it happen.
Unfortunately, some food truck businesses didn’t pick up. This is a $1.2 billion industry–authentic grub from a real food truck. Surely, there is a little coin in there for you.
It’s not like you can run to the local food truck car lot. You need to find where you can find a good deal on a food truck and get it. If you don’t feel comfortable food truck shopping on those open platform sites, there are a few made just for you.
Once you have a truck, you can test yourself and get the supplies you need to whet the appetite of new consumers. What cooking equipment will you need?
Do you know what food prep equipment to get? What about serving, warming, and refrigerating equipment? And, of course, don’t forget janitorial equipment? Make your list and get to shopping.
More: food truck equipment
Do Your Homework
Your target market is easily the most important thing you need to know when learning how to start a food truck business.
This research will help you sell a winning product and create the winning recipe for success. These answers will guide you in determining your costs and even provide insight into securing funding.
Will you have competition in the city? Are there food trucks cooking the same food that interests you? If the answer is yes, that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful, but you will need some unique value propositions.
What will make your food better? Look into local restaurants in the food niche you want to take over. What makes those restaurants successful?
If you want to know how to start a food truck business in your town, you must be willing to do what it takes to reach that target audience and feed them well.
Know Your Additional Costs
There is so much more to know when looking into how to start a food truck business than just finding a truck and buying the food. Remember that website, Food Truck Empire?
They have some other costs you may not have considered, which are crucial to getting on the road. Those ancillary price tags include:
- Insurance: $2,000 to $4,000 per year
- Initial Product Inventory: $1,000 to $2,000
- Payment Processing: $200 to $1,000
- Commissary Fees: $400 to 1,200
- Permits and Licenses: $100 to $500
And then, there are a few other things to know where your profits will go. Will you have employees?
Will they have benefits?
What about the technology you need, like a point-of-sale system?
Then, there is all the marketing you need, like direct mail, digital marketing, truck wrapping, or email outreach.
How much does it cost to start a food truck business?
It varies, but largely on the choices, you make to be successful.
The Board of Health
Yes, the government has to approve how to start a food truck business. There are federal, state, and local regulations for which you need to abide to drive your retirement all over your city.
There are health inspectors in your city whose job focuses on the compliance of a food truck. Most of their inspections are random and thorough. Those inspections consist of:
- Proof of ownership, identification, and license of the vehicle
- Proof of District-issued Food Manager Identification Card
- Food is stored and kept at a proper temperature
- Records of food purchase
- Compliance to all health, food, and fire codes
The inspectors also want to know if your licenses are current to operate your food truck and business in the city? This isn’t selling Twinkies out of the bed of a pickup.
Starting a food truck business is more than your passion. You must be responsible for the people you serve. Those permits and licenses make you a legitimate business owner and a responsible chef.
Create a Business Plan
To get the funding, promote the business, and show you are serious about how to start a food truck business, a business plan is imperative.
If you don’t know what to do and where to start, the U.S. Small Business Administration makes it easy for you with nine steps:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organizational management
- Product description
- Marketing strategy
- Funding requests
- Appendix of supporting documents
There are other things to know about starting a food truck business, but those five steps will give you the momentum you need to start running your dream in reality.