8 Tips to Start a Food Truck Business

people gathered near food truck in downtown

Who doesn’t like to grab a bite at the food truck? Yes, we all do. Food trucks are meant to satisfy people’s cravings, and if you have a relevant business idea, you need to know how to tackle such hunger pangs. In short, if you have an appealing idea to cook and sell lip-smacking foods to people, you need to start this business today. 

A food truck business does not cost a bomb. The costs might range between $40,000 to $50,000, depending upon the kind of truck you would like to purchase and spend on its exterior décor. Primarily, food trucks are associated with physical truck-like stores where people can purchase food items by cash only. But due to digital technology, you can now embed your store presence on an online platform, also known as the Point-of-Sale System. This enables the customers to place orders online, and you can earn revenue without the hassle of the cash approach. 

Another major point of consideration while setting up a food truck is the placement. Even if online sales are possible now, your food truck should be visible to the customers. When a customer spots your truck and buys once, he will repeat his purchases in the future and suggest to others. 

Let us go through the entire process of starting a food truck business. You might need to add a few steps in some instances, but if you are diligent in the below steps, you are on the right track.  

1. Planning and research – remember these two key points

Before you set up a food truck, you should plan concretely. You cannot just call it a dream business venture and buy the food truck the next day. You have to research the area where you would like to set up this business. 

Firstly, you have to check the place where your food truck needs to be installed. It could be a popular space in the city where all food trucks and joints are available. It is a good thing to install your food truck there. But if there are already 1-2 ice-cream food trucks in that space, you cannot install a third ice-cream-selling food truck there. So, just evaluate the competition at the requisite place and think of an innovative food item to sell. Maybe there are no food trucks selling momos or healthy food items. You could start one. 

Next is to measure the space available for the food truck. Remember, it is not a food joint where you can have ample space. It is a food truck, and the space open is always limited. You need to plan further on how you can manage the food truck operations in that specified area. 

2. Choose a food truck concept, and visualize the brand identity

Yes, food trucks do have concepts as it is not always the typical hamburger style. Also, it has a brand as people will recognize you on the street or the internet. So, you should not think of the food truck business as a random thing but should consciously think over the concept and brand name. 

You can either fulfill the customer requirement or come up with an innovative idea. Yes, the risks attached to the creative concept are higher, but if you can nail it, you could be the unique, highest-selling food truck in the area. You can try out unique recipes on your friends or acquaintances, provide some samples for surveys before you actually put them on the menu. 

You can even pick up a healthy food niche such as sprouts, sugar-free juices, and energy drinks, brown bread sandwiches, or you can even cater to the specific customer preferences such as vegan snacks, gluten-free bread sandwiches, lactose-free smoothies, and so on. 

While analyzing the brand identity, you need to be as creative as possible. Your food truck name and logo should be easy to pronounce and remember, but it should tell a lot about your personality. It could be something random like ‘Egg Stop,’ but ‘Egg Rolls’ is not acceptable. Try to be funny and appealing to the public. They will stop by your food truck because of the name and know instantly what you are trying to sell. 

3. Prepare a full-fledged business plan 

Many first-time truck owners think that it is a small truck and does not need a business plan. But if you have the intuition, you could be the next food truck chain owner. So, do not undermine your talents and ambitions; keep them rising with the help of a good and practical business plan

You will need funds to start, milestones and financial projections to achieve, and market evaluation to be done. You need a workable marketing strategy as the truck itself cannot generate revenue; it should be promoted well. You have to design the menu, decide the ingredients, the systems to cook food and sell online. Take your time to prepare the business plan and ensure that you have a mentor and a non-biased friend to analyse it properly. 

4. Get your business in order legally

Even though this step is executed after you have sufficient funding for the business, we would like to make you aware of the legal requirements of the business. Food trucks need licenses and approvals from specific authorities to run smoothly. These permissions depend on the city and state in which you have opened the food truck business. You can check with the Health Department, Chamber of Commerce, and other institutions in your city. If you know an acquaintance who has a food truck business, ask them clearly about the same. 

You will need a business and food service license, an Employer Identification Number, and Employee Health Permit. You also have to be aware of the parking restrictions and permits required in that area. So, when you arrange for the funding, ensure that you also have the legal aspects in order. 

Read more: Legal steps to start a business

5. Arrange the funding for the business

You can start the business with savings, borrowing from a financial institution, and seeking sponsors. You should have a realistic funding plan, and it should be clearly mentioned in the business plan you prepared earlier. Some business owners rely on a business credit card, overdraft facility, or micro loaning institutions for the same. 

6. Purchase a food truck, collect all the supplies and equipment 

You could save on the food truck by buying a used one or at a discounted price. You can arrange some food processing equipment and utensils from your home. But if these are not available, then be ready to make a huge investment. All these items will be useful in preparing food at the truck efficiently. So, ensure that you invest in high-quality equipment and tools. 

Make a list of all this equipment, supplies, tools (you can refer to checklists on the internet), and check your funding plan for the same. 

7. Set up effective systems in place

You will need someone to assist you in food truck operations. If you prefer to be the sole owner, you can hire staff to take care of the operations. But create a system for them to avoid any discrepancies. Moreover, you can choose a system to accept orders, such as the Point-of-sale systems. 

8. Create an advertising and marketing plan

Visibility is one of the factors to attract customers to your food truck. Hence, the food truck name and logo play a pivotal role in the same. Further, you can set up an official website and be active on social media channels. The menu boards, the website design, and the logo, should be in sync with each other and refer to one brand. Choose a feasible location for your food truck, depending on your target audience. If you sell healthy food items, you should install a food truck near a fitness park or gyms. You can participate in community events, cater to parties, and be a part of food festivals. 

Yes, there are challenges in opening a food truck business, but you need not worry about the same when you have a business plan in place. When you are aware and focused on the competition, existing customer preferences, and laws, you can thrive and grow this business easily. Believe in yourself and your food truck idea, and you will reach your goal without any interference.