How to Open a Food Truck Business
If you love to cook and feed people, then a food truck business might be the perfect choice for you. It can offer a wealth of benefits for you. For one, there are lower costs for starting a food truck business when compared to a traditional restaurant. There is no rent or lease involved, and you won’t have a landlord to deal with.
You can also be more creative with your food options. You can cook whatever you want in the style that you want. There doesn’t’ have to be a head chef or owner telling you what to do. You can use your imagination and let it run wild, as long as you aren’t offending your customers, of course! Perhaps the best thing about a food truck is the unmatched amount of flexibility it provides you. If this sounds like the life for you, then here is how you can open a food truck business successfully.
Figure Out Your Startup Costs
While a food truck is less expensive than a brick-and-mortar restaurant, there are still going to be startup costs. A brand new fully-equipped food truck with all the bells and whistles can cost as much as $100,000. However, just like any other vehicle, a food truck gets less valuable as soon as it’s driven off the lot. If you shop around you can get a used one for much less that still has everything you need. You may be able to get away with $15,000 to $20,000 if you get lucky.
Plus you will need supplies, specialty equipment that is not included in the food truck, and marketing materials. This includes your logo, branding, website, and anything else that will help you get the word out. Once you have all of that figured out, you can get a sense of how much revenue you need to bring in to start making a profit.
Find Your Place in the Market
There are lots of food trucks out there, and you need to do something to stand out in a crowd. The more you can set yourself apart from everyone else, the better chance you have of finding success. Figure out what makes your food truck unique, and focus on that. Do you make a certain food really well? Maybe it’s an attitude that you have in your branding. It could even be that you have a fun overall theme that will attract customers who are looking for something exciting and new. Whatever it is, show it off and get your audience to experience it. If you do this right, you will get great word of mouth and your marketing becomes that much easier.
Draft a Business Plan
Once you have an idea of what you want to do and how you want to do it, you can then draft a business plan. Your plan will help you explain your business to potential investors as well as give you a blueprint for moving forward. You should include everything about your business in the plan. This means mapping out your marketing strategy, detailing your startup and product costs, how you will run your day-to-day operations, and everything in between. Be as detailed as possible, because even though you may tweak it as you go, your plan is the best roadmap you have towards success.
Food services and restaurants have unique coverage needs for their insurance. People will be coming near your truck and eating your food. There is always the possibility that they get sick from your food or they can get injured on your property. You should also have your truck and your equipment insured against damage, theft, and vandalism. A food services insurance package will make sure that you have the right coverage for your business. Plus, if you have any coverage needs that are specific to you, then you can have that added onto your policy. If you plan to have employees, then most likely your state requires you to have workers’ compensation coverage. A lawsuit or another negative incident could ruin your business, so you must protect yourself as well as possible.
When running a food truck, being creative is everything. Unless you have a specific spot every day, you want your audience to follow you wherever you park in your area. Your creativity should shine through in the food that you cook, your marketing content, and in the personality you bring when you interact with your customers. Food truck marketing needs to be dynamic and you need to post things daily. Your customers want to know where you will be and what food you will be serving every day. It’s all about separating yourself from the pack, so do not hold anything back if you think it will bring eyeballs to your brand and mouths to your truck.
Keep An Eye On Social Media
Food trucks tend to give off young and trendy vibes. That means that you must have a social media presence. However, it’s not just about posting on a regular basis. You also need to engage with your audience. Reply to any comments you get, especially if they are reviews. Thank customers for positive reviews, and make every effort to make it right with someone who leaves a negative one. Even if you don’t solve their problem, your audience will see that you are making an effort and will credit you for it. Social media is a powerful tool, but it must be managed right for you to have success.
Get Your Licensing In Place
Food services businesses must be licensed in most jurisdictions. In fact, depending on where you operate, you may be required to only serve out of certain locations. Make sure that you have all of your required licenses and registrations in place before launch, and get inspected by the local health authority. You do not want to be shut down before you have a chance to gain momentum because you didn’t do your paperwork.
Starting a food truck business can be profitable and fun. Just make sure that you take the steps you need to open well and stay in it for the long haul.