How to Start a Food Truck Business

Food trucks have become very popular in recent years–thanks to shows like The Great Food Truck Race and Food Truck Nation. A lot of food entrepreneurs have ventured into this business because food trucks have fewer expenses than brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Statistics show that the food truck industry in the U.S. has grown by 6.6% every year from 2016 and is currently valued at $1.2 billion. If you’re looking to establish your own food truck business, here are some tips to guide you.

1. Do Your Research

Like any other business, you need to do thorough research beforehand. If you don’t research, you are more likely to fail. Food trucks have a high failure rate; 60% of the businesses close within the first three years.

To steer clear of failure and stand out from the competition, research successful food trucks, the busy times, the best locations, and local laws and regulations. Once you have this information, you can set up shop.

2. Have a Budget

After completing your research, you’ll have a rough idea about how much money you need for the essentials. Set a budget for the food items, the food truck, insurance, employees’ salaries, marketing, and permits. List all the items you need for the food truck and consult seasoned food truck owners to get more ideas.

3. Buy the Food Truck

A food truck isn’t cheap, so you need to be cautious when selecting one. Depending on your budget and needs, you can decide to lease or buy a new or used truck. It’s pretty easy to find a food truck for sale online. Search on local classifieds for cheaper alternatives.

Car experts at Mac Haik Ford, a Ford Dealership in Houston, Texas, advise food entrepreneurs with a big budget to get a new truck they can customize. Investing in a quality food truck will minimize your repair and maintenance costs in the long run. Once you get the truck, you can customize it to fit your needs.

4. Get Licenses and Permits

Food truck permits vary from state to state. Since you’ll be handling food, you’ll need several licenses, including a health permit, vehicle license, food service license, and a general business permit.

Research the specific laws that govern food truck businesses in your jurisdiction to avoid getting into trouble.

5. Hire Employees

As of 2021, there were 38,064 food truck employees in the U.S, an 8.6% increase from 2016. As your business grows, you’ll need one or two people to help you make food and serve it.

Depending on your location, your food truck might get many customers at specific times. To avoid keeping your customers waiting, hire part-time and full-time employees to help sell and prepare the food. In addition, ensure that they meet all the health regulations.

Starting a food truck business isn’t easy. Just like a restaurant, you need to plan everything well to succeed. Follow these tips to build a food truck business that stands out from the crowd.

6. Get the Board of Health’s approval

You need to make sure you abide by the rules and regulations. There are many considerations to be taken into consideration as a food-based business.

In light of this, it is likely you will want to first determine what regulations the Board of Health requires. The fact that food trucks suffer from the same health department inspections as restaurants is not surprising. Health inspectors generally look for the following things:

  • Identify, license, and prove ownership of the vehicle.
  • A copy of the District’s Food Manager Identification Card.
  • Keeping food at the right temperature is essential.
  • Purchase records of food.
  • There are health and fire codes in place.

7. Market and advertise food trucks

Advertising and marketing for your food truck are vital to its success, since it won’t have a permanent physical address. To make your brand more visible to the public, you can use a wide range of marketing techniques.

Here are some ideas for marketing food trucks:

  • You can make your logo more noticeable if you make it eye-catching. Add it to your truck, your flyers, and on your website.
  • Design an eye-catching menu board. A good menu board should be legible, attractive, and should clearly display your food.
  • Your company website should include a section on the “About Us” section, photos, and the regular locations.
  • Engage your customers in social media by setting up a social media account where they can follow events, see pictures, and interact.
  • Your food truck should be located in unique areas. It is a good idea to start by exploring neighborhoods to determine where your business will be most successful. Establish name recognition with your customer base by visiting good locations regularly once you have selected them.

Attend local food truck festivals and catered parties. Customers will get to know your business through these events.

8. Find a parking spot

Last but not least, find a good parking spot. Food truck businesses have the advantage (and also the challenge) of being mobile. Although you have the ability to go where your customers are (to a certain extent), you’ll also need to plan where to locate for the best customer attraction, as well as, where to park your truck.

Licenses and permits are specific to your city, just as parking restrictions for food trucks are, so you’ll want to consult your local regulations for more information.

Food truck business challenges

Time: 

Food truck businesses are known for their long hours. Running such a business requires a lot more than full-time work. There’s planning, shopping, marketing, booking events, cleaning, truck maintenance, accounting, and tax preparation. 

Competition and market: 

To increase your chances of success, thoroughly research your market – you will most certainly face competition from other mobile food vendors. 

Ordinances and zoning: 

Food trucks are allowed to park in different areas and for different amounts of time. To avoid tickets and fines, make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules of each location where you will operate.