How Does a Food Truck Business Work

If you love food but can't stand the idea of spending your entire paycheck paying rent, consider a career as a food truck owner instead. How does a food truck business work exactly?

Food trucks are opening all over the country, and there is no better time to jump on this profitable bandwagon. Read on for everything you need to know about opening and running a successful food truck business.

Secure your space

The first step to starting a food truck business is securing your space. It’s important that you have an appropriate location in which to park your mobile eatery, whether that be an empty parking lot, or near other popular restaurants and attractions where people frequently eat out. Before you sign the lease, take a walk through at least twice to make sure there are no obstacles in your way, such as lamp posts or trees. Once you have secured your location, it’s time to pick out your food truck. 

How much does it cost?

Depending on how big of business you aim for, you can either purchase a used truck (often for just a couple of thousand dollars) or invest in a new one that might cost you up to $150,000. Be sure to check your city’s regulations before you invest in a food truck, because if you don’t meet certain standards your business may not be allowed to operate. Next, license and register your vehicle with the city where you will be operating. This will require that you set up a separate bank account for your business and obtain a business license from your state.

Design a menu

Another important step in opening a food truck is designing your menu. This can prove challenging if you have no experience cooking or running a restaurant, but there are plenty of resources available to help get you started. The internet is a great place to find recipes as well as inspiration for your food truck design. You can also use the internet to locate comparable menu items from existing food trucks in your area so you can note their prices and what they are offering. Consider hiring a professional chef who is experienced in building menus, or at least someone who has experience working with food trucks.

Drive Traffic

The keys to success in a mobile business are getting enough traffic and selling enough food. While you will spend less money on rent than you would for a brick-and-mortar business, you will need to spend money on advertising and marketing which means the only way to make money is to sell food at a low price, sometimes for even lower than cooking costs. Even if you have a great menu, customers won’t come to your food truck if they don’t know that you are there. Marketing ideas include posting fliers, using social media, and getting the word out to local schools and organizations.

One way to drive traffic to your food truk is to create a web site with your menu and place that web site in your Google My Business and Yelp listings. You can easily create a shoppable web site and a menu with MenuStripe. Sign up for a free 14-day trial to see how it can help your business grow with free organic traffic

Hire the right people

Another key to opening and running a successful food truck business is having a good team in place before your doors even open. Have people on your team who can do everything from marketing to cooking to cleaning so you can spend most of your time doing what you love best; selling food.

Estimate the cost of living

Wherever you’re located, the cost of living will likely be higher than in other areas where food trucks aren’t as popular. Of course, if you’re opening a food truck in a big city, you can expect to spend significantly more. For example, renting a parking space in Los Angeles for even just one day could cost $350–$400, whereas in New York City it will probably be $500–$600.

How much can you invest?

Before you open your food truck business, consider how much money you are willing to invest and how much time you want to spend on the venture. If all of this seems overwhelming, remember that there are plenty of people out there who have made a living running their own food trucks.

Before you start your food truck business, you need to know the ins and outs of running a mobile eatery. You will want to first decide how much money you can afford to invest in your food truck business, and how much time you are willing to spend on managing it. Also, remember that if you want to own a successful food truck business, then the only way you can make money is by selling food at low prices.

You should also take into consideration any additional expenses that might include marketing and advertising for a mobile eatery. Remember that in order for your food truck business to be successful, you must have the support of local schools and organizations as well as social media advertising.

Register your business

Before opening your food truck, you need to have your mobile business registered with the city in which you plan to do business. You will also need to obtain a business license from your city and perhaps even a permit or two if it is required by law. Next, you will need to purchase all of the equipment you will need for cooking and serving food (ice chests, etc.). You also may want to line up a few vendors for supplies such as coffee beans or basic condiments that are frequently used in food trucks.

How to advertise your food truck business

You can advertise on social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, or by printing out colorful fliers that explain what your business is about. You can also post flyers in local schools or offices and even distribute them around town. You can also attend local fairs and festivals or radio call-in shows to advertise your business.

Check regulations

Before you start your food truck business, you will definitely want to make sure that the city where you are located has no regulations against the operation of a mobile eatery. This is the first step in finding out just how much money and other resources you will need to invest in running your own food truck. If it turns out that your city does not allow mobile food trucks, then consider finding another locale for starting your business.

Create an enticing menu

Your next step in starting up a food truck business is to come up with an enticing menu for all of your customers. The best menu items are those that are unique to your food truck business. For example, if you open a health food truck, you will want to offer fresh and healthy foods. If you open an Italian food truck, then offer choice Italian dishes like sausage sandwiches or deep-fried calamari.

Take the time to research what is popular in your area before you start up a mobile eatery. This will help you to come up with a menu that is both healthy and delicious. If your menu is based on typical fast-food items, then you might not be able to sell enough food for the money that it takes to run your mobile eatery properly.

You can create a shoppable online menu with MenuStripe with no prigramming skills and go online within an hour.

Find a nice spot for your food truck

You also will want to do some homework on a location for your mobile restaurant. You should look for a spot that is not only safe but also has easy access, ample parking, and is close to homes and businesses. This area will be the part of town that you will be spending much of your money on advertising so make sure it is worth it. In addition, you will likely need to apply for permits and licenses when starting up your food truck business.

You will also want to get rid of any junk out in front of your business before opening so that people know what you are about and what they might order if they get hungry enough while passing by.

What food truck to buy?

You may also want to consider renting or buying an old food truck. While some food trucks are very nice, others are not at all looking as though they have been well maintained. This might be a big turnoff for customers who are used to traveling in pristine, well-maintained vehicles.

If you decide that you don't want to buy an old food truck, then you will have to spend more money on a mobile home or trailer that will house your business needs. You will definitely want to make sure that the location is legal and safe before moving in so that you can avoid fines or other legal problems.

Marketing your food truck

Once your mobile food truck is up and running, you will want to be sure that you are advertising properly. This area is going to cost you a lot of money when marketing your business but it is worth it in the end. You can consider getting a mobile sign advertisement to put on the side of your vehicle that has the menu on it. These are relatively inexpensive. You might also consider getting an ad in the local newspaper advertising your business as well as online services including Craigslist and Twitter.

Find financing for your food truck business

If you need financing for your start-up costs, then look into some local banks or even some businesses who may be willing to help if they see that there is a great potential for profit here. Ask around to see if anyone in the local area might be willing to provide you with a loan. This can be a good way to get your business up and running, but it’s not going to be easy.

Ready to create a web site for your food truck? Start your 14-day trial with MenuStripe