40 Tips to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business

We've interviewed 200 food truck owners about what does it take to start and run a successful food truck business. This article if full of insight knowledge about a fudd truck business you will not find anywhere.

The food truck business is booming. Why not get your piece of the pie? Below is a simple, foolproof plan to help you get started on your way to success with a food truck empire.

Here at MenuStripe, we work with a big number of food truck businesses. We have interviewed 200 food truck owners and  compiled a list of 40 most important things a food truck owner needs to know to start and operate a successful food truck business. 

The top 10 are presented here for a quick overview. Read on to see all 40 tips. By the way, If you need a food truck web site, give us a try. MenuStipe is the easiest way to take your food truck online in an hour or less with no skills. Start your free 14-day trial today.

  1. Find the perfect food truck
  2. Hire employees and drivers
  3. Purchase inventory and equipment (phrases, gas or electricity, water, ingredients).
  4. Choose an area for your business and research local laws. 
  5. Advertise and establish relationships with customers in that area. 
  6. Organize route map for optimal customer coverage. 
  7. Keep detailed records of sales, expenditures, income: calculate profit margin each day.
  8. Create a marketing plan that maximizes profits
  9. Implement positive cash flow cycle.
  10. Profit!


  1. Find the perfect food truck to begin with

    Do an informal survey within your family, friends, and colleagues to find out what food trucks they have heard of or used in the past. Also look online for reviews and opinions from other customers who have traveled to places with food trucks such as your city, state, or province. Listen to their experiences and consider what they liked about the food truck they sampled so that you can use this experience when planning out your path to success in the food truck business.

  2. Hire your employees

    Most food truck owners begin their business by hiring a part-time chef to prepare the food and bus the customers while they are still working on the first step of the process, choosing a food truck. Then once they have chosen their truck or trucks they can start paying employees to work for them three days a week until they have enough funding to fully staff their business. 

  3. Buy inventory and equipment

    You'll need an ample supply of ingredients or ingredients that can be made into multiple varieties, such as wraps and tacos, in order to make as much money as possible from your menu items. You'll also need plenty of plasticware, napkins, and oil for the deep fryer. You may want to consider purchasing a propane grill if you plan on selling items such as hot dogs or burgers and may also want to invest in a small refrigerator to keep your ingredients fresh. If you plan on having a food truck that is mobile and on the go, such as one that travels to different places throughout the day, you will need an ample amount of fuel for your vehicle. You will definitely need someone who can drive up front while you are preparing food in back.

  4. Choose an area for your business

    Find out what permits or licenses you might need in order to operate your business in the city, county, or province where you plan to open up shop and choose a place that will be successful and profitable for your business. Some places that might be suitable include shopping centers, fairs and festivals, parks, beaches, parking lots of schools and universities, etc. Combining a food truck with live music or other forms of entertainment will bring in even more customers who are in the area and looking for something fun to do on a weekday evening or weekend afternoon.

  5. Advertise and establish relationships with customrs in that area

    Once you have chosen a spot where you want your business to grow, start advertising about your food truck in that area. Go door-to-door to let local residents know that your food truck will be in the area during the week and possibly on weekends so they can take advantage of the specials and deals that you are offering during this time period. Be friendly, genuine, and professional in order to build relationships with customers who may be interested in purchasing items from your menu and coming back for more. Include a business card with each sale so they can come back when they are looking for something delicious to eat at another time.

  6. Organize your route map

    Find the busiest locations in your area and plan out a path that will get you to each of these locations for a period of one day, three days, or a week. You could also decide to stay put for one day or entire weekends if there is a festival nearby or you are able to work out a deal with the venue owner where you will be able to set up next to their business.
  7. Keep detailed records of sales, expenditures, income: calculate profit margin each day

    Every day you open up your food truck business calculate the profit margin for that day and how much money you made. Some food trucks may wind up making less than $20 that day, and some may be able to turn a profit of over $50,000 in one month. You will need to adjust your menu items based on the amount of sales you have at that time in order to make as much money as possible from your food truck business.
  8. Create a marketing plan that maximized profits

    Figure out the ways you plan on advertising your food truck such as word of mouth, online, fliers, and print ads. The main idea is to get people in the area who are hungry to know about your food truck so they can come see what it is all about and possibly make a purchase.

  9. Implement a positive cash flow cycle

    Make sure that you have plenty of customers each day so you are able to make sales consistently without going into debt or having a negative balance in your books. If you run out of food on your menu then it will be hard for you to make profit margins since customers will not be able to purchase anything from you.
  10. Establish a credit history. 

    Credit is king when it comes to making your business work and making sure that you are able to make profit margins each day. The best way to establish credit is to pay for everything in cash and pay the vendors on time so that you do not go into debt or owe money to anyone. Paying the utilities and bills on time will also help build up good credit. Some food trucks have found success by connecting with local vendors, such as coffee shops, BBQ places, other trucks, etc., who have an established business relationship with them so that they can pay their bills on time for certain items before the food truck even opens up shop. This way they can open up shop with a good credit history already in place.

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  11. Consistently organize and clean your truck. 

    The more your truck is filled, the more profit you will be building each day. The same goes for keeping it organized so that you know what you have at all times. Have someone come in and inspect the truck every week to make sure it is in order for them to get busy selling food and making sales. You should also be cleaning the truck when it is closed so that no damage occurs throughout the time period of being closed.
  12. Communicate with your truck owner as much as possible. 

    The more you communicate the better you will be able to make money. The owner of your food truck is in charge of making sure everything is working properly and that is why they need to keep the truck organized so you can get busy selling food and making sales every day. The goal for the owner should be to set up a system that works for them and their business so they can have no problems either during business hours or on weekends when no one is expected to order from them. This way the owner can focus on selling their food rather than worrying about anything else at all times.

  13. Attract customers with discounts, holiday activities, contests, etc. 

    A food truck owner can do a lot to effectively sell their products and keep customers coming back to their truck for more every day. Some of these ideas could include keeping the truck stocked with the best items possible, having specials going on most of the time, having contests that can get the attention of customers who like to win free or discounted prizes, organizing events that give free food to bring into town or different places around the area, etc. This will make it easier for people to become familiar with your food truck and as time goes by they will not hesitate when making a purchase from you.

  14. Try finding other sources of revenue

    There are a lot of other things that can help a food truck owner to be successful. One of them could be getting an account with multiple banks and trusted payment services to come with the in-depth banking process that can make business transactions much easier for the owner. It is also important to have someone to include in the business and make sure that everything runs smoothly when it comes down to the details of paperwork, tax season, etc.
  15. Be creative with your menu items

    A lot of food trucks use their menus as a way for customers to become familiar with their products and see what they have on sale almost daily. This can be a great way to build business, as well as create more of a personal relationship between the food truck owner and customer. Many people like the idea of being able to walk by and have a tasty treat waiting for them when they come down to their favorite food truck.
  16. Communicate with your customers

    Just because you are out every day doesn’t mean you need to leave your customers in the dark. A lot of people do not realize that their favorite food trucks are running 24/7, and when they come down at all hours of the day or night for that matter, they may become very hungry and then get upset when they realize there is nothing left to eat from their favorite truck. Establish a relationship with customers by using various communication methods in order to keep them updated on what is happening with your business. This will make sure that they know about any specials or special events occurring and also gives them a chance to ask you questions about your business.
  17. Offer loyalty rewards to customers

    Offering loyalty rewards to customers will show them that you care about their business and want their continued patronage. If the food truck owner comes up with a plan for this, then they should consider giving out discounts on food, clothing, or anything else marketed towards their customers that they may be interested in such as grocery coupons for day-to-day living items or an offer of free drinks from one of their favorite coffee shops.
  18. Have an employee manual created

    The employee manual should include important information that the employees need to know about your food truck, such as:

    a. The rules for getting paid on time. 

    b. How to fix different problems with the truck if they are in charge of operating it, such as checking the oil and keeping it clean, maintaining all of the supplies needed to prepare food in back, etc. 

    c. How to cook the food and what goes into each menu item. 

    d. How to act in front of customers and deal with conflicts or problems. 

    e. What you expect from them in order to keep their job.

  19. Be on top of your finances at all times

    The owner of the food truck should be a well-informed business person in order to ensure that they know exactly how much money they are able to make from each day by having a good system in place. This way they can make sure to keep enough money on hand so they are not running into credit problems or loosing money after paying their bills. They should also have a personal budget set up for both their day-to-day spending needs as well as business related expenses such as food and supplies needed for the truck.
  20. Familiarize yourself with your city, county, and state laws

    The food truck owner should be aware of all of the laws that are in place for the area that they plan to do business. These laws should apply to either the food truck or any type of business being run from a stationary location or mobile vehicle.
  21. Set up a filing system to keep track of taxes and receipts

    Having a filing system in place can make it easier for you to keep track of your taxes and other expenses needed for your business. The owner should set up a chart where they will be able to record all of their purchases as well as date them and record the amount spent on each receipt. They should also create a list where they will be able to record all of the necessary information on how they paid their bills such as credit card charges, checks, new credit cards, etc.
  22. Create a financial plan and budget

    The owner of the food truck should allot money each month to different sections of their business so that they can make sure that they are making enough money to cover all expenses, run the business properly, and lastly save money so that when taxes are next due for them they can take advantage of as much tax write-offs as possible.
  23. Find a place to store your truck and all of your equipment

    A lot of food trucks also find it very beneficial to have a place that they can move their food truck into, store their equipment, and open up their business at anytime in the future if they wanted so. This way the owner will not have to worry about closing down or losing money because the equipment or food is gone before they are able to get their business open up again on a regular basis. Finding a place that has enough parking space for you as well as adequate lighting and other things can make a huge difference in how fast you are able to sell and get rid of the food that you have on your menu such as meats, Fish, etc.
  24. Manage customer expectations and feedback

    Having a customer service plan in place that can help you to keep your customers happy and coming back again for more is a must for any food truck owner. They should be actively listening to their customers carefully so they can make sure they are meeting or exceeding their expectations when it comes to the food that they agreed upon purchasing. If a customer feels like they are not getting what they paid for then it will make it difficult to continue doing business with them in the future.

  25. Establish a marketing strategy

    It is important for the owner to create a marketing strategy that will get the word out about what they have available to eat from the food truck and also give people a reason to come back to them again for another purchase in the future. This would entail making sure your website is running smoothly, having social media accounts, and hosting food truck events that can attract attention and people who may be interested in coming into town for business or pleasure.
  26. Stay up-to-date with any new laws or ordinances

    It is also very important for owners of food trucks to make sure they are up-to-date on any new ordinance changes that are being implemented by their city, county or state. It is important because if you do not follow the rules and end up getting shut down or having to pay a fine for breaking the law then it will make it difficult for you to conduct business like you normally would have.
  27. Keep organized and have an idea of what the client wants

    It is also very important that you keep your paperwork organized, as well as having an idea of what the clients want from you in order to keep them coming back for more. If people see that they are getting good quality food or other items at a good price then it will be easier to run your food truck as opposed to dealing with disgruntled clients who feel as if they are losing money because of unsatisfactory items or poor customer service.
  28. Make sure you get your food from sources that are reliable

    You will want to make sure that you get the food for your menu items from a source that is going to be reliable and not take advantage of you or low-ball the prices to save money on their end. This can be a problem for someone who does not know where to shop for their ingredients and goes to different food suppliers who tell them they can offer the best deals, but in reality they will not provide them with what they are looking for and then have problems selling their food later on down the road once people figure out there is something wrong with it or it doesn’t taste like it used to.
  29. Make sure your food is safe

    It is also very important that you make sure that your food is safe to eat. This means that all of the ingredients you use should be of high standards for someone who plans on selling their food to people and making them happy with what they order from you. This can help you build more credibility as well as make people keep coming back for more and again feeling satisfied by the taste and quality of everything they are eating from the food truck.

  30. Take into account factors such as cold weather, hot weather, rain, etc. 

    It is important to keep in mind factors such as the weather, whether it is raining, cloudy, or hot. This will help you to plan for what kind of food you may need to order or prepare based on how hot it may be out during the day. The owner of the food truck should also keep in mind that when customers are looking for a meal that they will probably be eating on a regular basis then they may want to order items that can easily go with what kind of drinks they are ordering such as coffee or iced tea and beverages like Coke, diet coke, beer, etc.

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  31. Make sure your truck is clean at all times

    We have already mentioned in this article that one of the biggest problems that most food trucks owner face is customers not wanting to eat the food when it arrives because it was left dirty or prepared improperly. It can be difficult to make sure that your food truck is kept clean at all times when you are working in a small space and run on a limited amount of electricity, but it can be done with a little effort. It is very important to make sure that you are using high quality cooking and cleaning supplies, as well as using high quality products to keep the inside of your food truck looking good and fresh.
  32. Create a menu that is unique and that people will want to try

    Creating a menu that is unique can help you to stand out from the crowd of other food trucks doing business in the same area. Make sure your customers know what they are getting once they order because many people hear the phrase “street food” and believe it means cheap, greasy, and made with no care provided for. Your customers will appreciate it if you explain everything about what is on the menu for them so they can make an informed decision when ordering from your food truck.

  33. Be sure that you have enough inventory if you plan on taking on catering jobs

    It is important to keep yourself stocked up so you are not left in the position of having to cancel a food truck catering job because you are out of supplies for when the customers start to arrive. If you plan on using a service such as Foodora which picks up food from other restaurants and delivers it, then you should make sure that you have enough foods prepared for them so they can provide a fun and unique dining experience that your customer will want to return for. The more time they have their food prepared by you, the better it will taste.
  34. Understand what your prices are

    You should also be able to explain your pricing to your customers so they are able to understand how much they are paying for the food that they are ordering and why you decided on that amount, as well as what the liquids cost. Understanding this beforehand can make it easier for you to turn away customers that might be a little higher than your normal price range and still have them take their business elsewhere because of the amount of money they decided to spend.
  35. Consider being a food truck operator

    Being an owner can be challenging, but having a mobile food business that you can operate while still living in one location is a great way to avoid the financial hassles associated with running a restaurant or full-time truck. You will have to make sure that everything you do is legal and above board, but it can be a lot of fun and an excellent way to get your name out there for people to see.

  36. Insure yourself properly

    It is also important when it comes to operating a food truck business that you have insurance in place that can protect you from any type of property damage, personal injury, or other loss. This can prevent you from having a lot of financial difficulties if an accident occurs and it will also help if any lawsuits are filed against you.

  37. Make sure that you are properly licensed to do business legally

    If you plan on doing business in an area that requires a license or permit from the government or municipality then make sure you apply for all of these and pay the necessary fees to be issued with this permission. There are different levels of these licenses, so it is important that you ensure that you check with all the laws about these types of issues before making any plans if your area has any required licenses or permits needed in order to operate a food truck business.
  38. Make sure you know where water is located in your city, county, etc.

    If you are planning on doing business in a city, county, etc. that has a well or water source close by then you should make sure to find out where this is located so that you can use it when needed and not have to dispose of it for another source of water close by. This will help save the city money and make them happy if they know that they don’t need to pay extra to have other people haul away all of their waste water.
  39. Make sure you setup your paper work right for taxes and fees

    It is also very important that you know how to setup your paper work so that you can avoid any problems with the government when it comes to taxes and fees. If you decide not to have a business license or other permit then you will not be able to pay taxes on the food truck and any other income that you make from it because there is no way for them to track how much money you are making.
  40. Be sure to make all of your tax payments on time or before they are due

    It is also very important that you make sure you are making all of the required tax payments by the day they are due or before they are due. This can help you to avoid having late payment penalties and fees being tacked on to your account and give you more money for the month.

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