Consumer demand for good food at low prices has made the potential market for food trucks explode. Food trucks also offer a hassle-free experience, since customers don’t have to wait to be seated, they don’t have to wait for an overworked server, and they don’t have to wait long periods of time for their food to be ready. These restaurants on wheels have garnered loyal customers from all over due to their ability to be at multiple locations on the same day. If you think you’re ready to dive in and start a food truck business, here are some things you need to know before you start.
1. Your Budget
Budget is crucial to any food business since any misstep could topple operations completely. It can be expensive to get up and running, literally. You need to find an operational truck and understand the maintenance requirements. You need to decide where and how you’ll prepare and store food. You need to decide if you’ll hire help, the route you’ll be traveling, and your menu. All of this takes time and money to plan. If you don’t have enough cash to get started, look into food truck financing. If you’ve got sturdy personal finances and a solid business plan, you can get the funding you need to make your food truck a reality.
2. Your Truck Preferences
For many people, their only option is building a truck from scratch. This can save you a lot of money, but it will still cost a lot of your time and energy, especially if you don’t know much about vehicles and you need to hire help. Or, you can avoid the hassle and spend a little more money on a truck directly from a food truck manufacturer. There are a lot of options if you’re looking for a fully customized build, but if the cost and time required don’t appeal to you, you can always try renting a truck to get a feel for your operations needs first.
3. Your Local Area
If you plan on driving and parking your truck within your local area, you should do a little research to familiarize yourself with potential locations for your truck. What places have hungry people that aren’t looking to travel far? Which places host events with lots of foot traffic? What types of food are missing around you, and which foods do people seem to flock to? What special permits and fees will be required in order to operate legally? It is important to know where you’re actually allowed to park, for legal and safety reasons.
4. Your Menu
When creating your menu, consider your budget and the room you’ll have in your truck. If most of the ingredients need to be kept cold, you’ll need to make sure you have enough fridge or freezer space. The more complicated your menu, the more storage space you’ll need, and the more time people will take to look over all of their options. Popular food trucks can get away with selling very limited menus because the food or drinks can be made as quickly as the crowds buy. There’s often no room for backed-up lines, especially if you’re close to a street.
5. Your Marketing Plan
Food trucks have an excellent marketing advantage: mobile advertising. If your truck is decked out appropriately, you’ll get plenty of free marketing just by driving around, but it shouldn’t stop there. A solid marketing plan is essential to your success. Be active on social media to let customers know where you’ll be. Sell merch, even if it’s just some stickers or hats. Work with local festivals to help spread word of mouth. There are countless ways to attract new customers!
Starting a food truck can be a fun and exciting new business venture, but it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of hard work running a restaurant, let alone one on wheels! With the right preparation, you’ll be the next truck with a line down the block.