If you love to cook and have dreamed of opening your own restaurant, you might be considering a food truck business. After all, a truck costs less than a full-blown restaurant. However, before you put your life savings into a food truck, you should understand that it’s not just a fun, casual pursuit. Working on a food truck is strenuous physical work. You’ll often be on your feet for long hours covered in sweat, and you’ll be exhausted by the end of each day. If you’re aware of these challenges and are still yearning to give it a shot, then read on to learn the essential steps of starting a food truck business.
1. Research your Location
Even though your truck is a mobile vehicle, you’ll need to find a place to park and serve customers. If you want repeat business, you’ll need to park there on a regular basis. In order to make a profit, you’ll need to find a spot that has enough foot traffic without too much competition. You also need to confirm that the people in the area have culinary tastes that fit your menu and that there aren’t other trucks with the exact same menu as yours.
2. Create your Branding and Niche
Based on your food interests and personal experience, create a mobile restaurant name and menu that fits your taste and style. Design your logo, truck design and menu to appeal to your target market and differentiate your truck from competitors. Some of the more promising ideas today are ethnic fusion and healthy organic food, but more popular ideas such as pizza or gourmet sandwiches can also work if you add an original twist.
3. Business Plan
This step is often overlooked for a simple business like a food truck, but a business plan is a great way to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. A business plan also enables you to calculate your expenses and develop a more profitable strategy. Also, you’ll need one in order to apply for a business loan.
4. Acquire Funding
Startup costs for a food truck business range from $40,000 to $250,000. You might already have enough saved up, but getting a business loan allows you to keep some cash in reserve. Given that most businesses don’t become profitable right away, you’ll need some cash on hand to survive for the first year or so.
5. Get a Truck
After you get the funding together, you need to buy a truck. A used truck can be as cheap as $3000, but a new one can cost as much as $180,000. Make sure it’s in good running condition and that the food preparation equipment is up to code. There are also safety codes that may require equipment such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits. Know the regulations for your location. Also, make sure the interior of the truck is large enough to accommodate all your cooking gear and your staff.
6. Outfit your Truck
After you have an adequate vehicle, it’s time to fit it with all the necessary food prep equipment such as grills, refrigerators and all the other cookware and appliances that you’ll need. You’ll also want to have a modern point of sale (POS) system so that you can speed up your order processing. Customers are on foot, so they won’t enjoy waiting long for their food.
7. Licensing and Permits
Before you pull into your spot and start dishing out falafels, make sure you have all the required licenses and permits to legally sell food at your chosen spot. You’ll usually need special parking permits, a business license, health permits and other requirements. Check your city and state agencies for a comprehensive list of all the legal requirements to run your business.
Owning a food truck can be demanding and strenuous, but if you’re ready to embrace all the challenges, you could end up having a lot of fun and earning a good profit.