Previously Owned Food Trucks vs. Custom Built Food Trucks (Which one is right for you?)

Financing

This is a guest post from Ian Smith over at Prestige Food Trucks, one of our recommended food truck vendors, who shares some thoughts about buying a truck that’s been previously owned, or going custom brand new.

The food truck scene has been a growing industry over the past few years, and rightfully so. Both already existing restaurants and first time entrepreneurs will see great benefit from opening up a food truck, but at a much lower barrier to entry than that of building out a restaurant. Not only are the initial and operating costs typically going to be much lower for a food truck, but you also have the huge added benefit of the ability to take your concept mobile. It’s not difficult to see the great opportunity of operating a food truck, but it may sometimes not be clear exactly how to get into the industry. One of the main questions that upcoming food truck owners may have when entering the industry is: what are the differences between purchasing a previously owned food truck and buying a custom built food truck?

The Main Differences to Understand

There are many distinctions that can be made when looking at a previously owned food truck versus a custom built one. Here are the major variations between the two that you’ll want to factor in when making your purchasing decision.

  1. Price

One of the main differences that has to be kept in mind, is the price. First, analyze your budget and see what kind of capitol that you have allocated to purchase a food truck. If you’ve set aside or have been approved for financing on $20,000-$40,000, than that’s roughly how much a previously owned food truck will cost. But, if you have a slightly higher budget, then you can afford to go with a custom built food truck. A custom built food truck typically starts at around $80,000 and goes up from there depending on many factors: year of the vehicle, gas or diesel, how many miles are on the vehicle, size of the cooking line, size of the generator, etc. It’s key to keep in mind that when you are purchasing a previously owned food truck, though the cost is initially lower, it is highly likely that shortly after purchasing the used food truck you will have to put money into the mechanical work required to fix the vehicle or trying to customize the food truck to fit your business’ needs. And these fixes aren’t cheap, the price of a previously owned food truck can easily be more than double the initial price tag, after you factor in all of the money that may be necessary to repair or customize it.

  1. Equipment and Layout
You May Also Like...  How To Increase Your Odds Of Getting Food Truck Financing

Having a food truck customized with the proper equipment suited to efficiently operate your specific cuisine is essential. When purchasing a previously owned food truck, essentially what you see is what you get. The used food trucks will have cooking equipment installed that you may not need and the equipment could be in a layout that you don’t like, which can cause major problems when trying to efficiently cook food or even having the right tools to cook your food at all. And it’s not typically going to be an easy or cheap process to remove the cooking equipment that is already installed and place new equipment in the used food truck. When you go with a custom built food truck, the type of commercial equipment and layout is completely up to the customer. Also, when going custom built, you can go with the brand of commercial cooking equipment that you’d prefer as opposed to a different or even cheap brand that you might find on a previously owned food truck.

  1. Quality of the Vehicle

Picking out a reliable vehicle that you can safely operate your business in is one of the most important variables to look at when purchasing a food truck. If the vehicle breaks down, then you simply can’t operate your food truck. So not only will there be missed profits, but there will also be mechanical costs involved to fix the vehicle. And this is a common situation that people who purchase previously owned food trucks run into. Not being able to operate your business for two weeks and having to fork over thousands of dollars, can be a business killer for some. When purchasing a custom built food truck, you’ll have the peace of mind because you and/or the manufacturer can pick out a reliable vehicle. And if you have a larger budget, then you can opt-in to purchase a brand new vehicle so that there will be very minimal to no issues at all.

  1. Warranties
You May Also Like...  The Ins And Outs Of Getting Food Truck Financing

Knowing that you have back up plans is important for your food truck business, and this is where warranties can really shine. When purchasing a previously owned food truck, it is highly unlikely that you’ll have any warranties at all and if anything happens to the food truck, then you are out of luck and have to pay a lot of money. But, when purchasing a custom built food truck you’ll typically find many warranties, which include:

  • 3 year warranty on all of your refrigeration equipment.
  • 2 year warranty on your generator.
  • 1 year warranty on cooking equipment.
  • If you can afford to purchase a brand new vehicle you’ll find your usual 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty on the vehicle itself.
  • With some builders, like Prestige Food Trucks, you can even get a warranty on the custom manufacturing work that was done to build out your food truck, currently Prestige Food Trucks offers a one year warranty on all of the work that they’ve done on your food truck.
  1. Health Codes

A key difference between purchasing a previously owned food truck and a custom built food truck is the health codes that they both have to meet. If you purchase a previously owned food truck in a different location than you’ll be operating in, you may find that the food truck is not up to code and you cannot use that food truck in your city. This is because health codes vary by location. You don’t want to run into the issue where you purchase a used food truck and then you can’t even use it at all. And that’s where the custom builders come into play. Custom food truck builders should do their due diligence to ensure that your food truck is guaranteed to operate wherever it is that you intend to run your food truck.

You May Also Like...  How to Run a Food Truck 16: Prepare for Health Inspections

Which Option is the Right One for you?

There are many factors that come into play when you are trying to decide between purchasing a previously owned food truck and a custom built one. And if you are serious about entering the food truck industry, than it is important that you select a food truck that will be able to meet your business’ needs and last you for years to come. If you want a food truck that will be able to do that, then your better option would usually be to go with a custom builder.

Be sure to check out Prestige Food Trucks for more info!

Recently on FoodTruckr

Creating a Mobile App for Your Food Truck Business Why create a mobile app for your food truck business? Mobile apps can help your business easily advertise and sell your products and services. Creating a social media presence with a mobile app will h...
FoodTruckr Heroes: Stripchezze We’ve talked before about how important it is to get involved with your local community—and today’s FoodTruckr Hero is a great example of how you can attain success by embracing the people, places, an...
FoodTruckr Heroes: Destination Desserts We love food trucks with really specific philosophies, but it’s even better when a truck’s mission supports a truly important cause. Today’s FoodTruckr Hero is a non-profit “social venture bakery” out...
2 Simple Ways Food Truck Entrepreneurs Can Get Their Customers Excited For Spring Editor’s Note: Today we’re excited to present a post from Jeremy Adams. Jeremy is the President/CEO of Prestige Food Trucks, which is the world's leading custom food truck manufacturer. In his current...
The 12 Days of FoodTruckr: 4 Tips for Email On the fourth day of Christmas, FoodTruckr’s giving you… Four Tips for Email! Yesterday’s FoodTruckr post was all about ways to give back to your customers, but today’s article is going to focus on ...
How to Run a Food Truck 10: Perform Preventive Food Truck Maintenance In last week’s “How to Run a Food Truck” lesson, we covered an important topic that many of you are facing right now—preparing for the off-season and figuring out how to keep your business going durin...
Gypsy Express’ Unique Background Is Why The Food Truck Industry Is So Great Not everyone who enters the food truck industry has a background in food, if you will. Some people enter this industry to become chefs, even though they have little experience in that department. Othe...
How to Run a Food Truck 26: Consider an Expansion Today is an exciting day here at FoodTruckr—we’re wrapping up the “How to Run a Food Truck” series with a final lesson on one of the biggest undertakings a food truck owner can embark upon! Before ...
Business Bites: Nifty Napkins, WiFi on the Go, and IFTTT Recipes Today I'm going to hit you with a couple quick articles, and then I'm going to dig deep into our App of the Week. This week's app is an intuitive intersection of time-saver and social media powerhouse...
How Food Truck Owners Can Prepare Their Business For The Fall Depending on where you operate a food truck business, fall could be a busy time of the year for you or the opposite. Nonetheless, mobile kitchen owners have to be prepared. In the spirit of fall ap...
This Food Truck Business Marketing Video Provides Excellent Tips For Growth Life in the food truck industry can be very troublesome from time to time. While some people might think it is a get-rich-quick scheme, others -- you know, the folks who have actually started their ow...
FS011- A Successful Start (and a Cold Winter!) With Tony from Rig-A-Tony’s In this episode of FoodTruckr School, we're very happy to welcome Tony Fumarolo, owner of Rig-a-Tony's, a relatively new Italian food truck that serves the community of Fort Wayne, Indiana. As ...
How To Attract More Customers By Making The Food Truck Environment Enjoyable QUICK: What is the most important ingredient for any food truck business? Answer: It depends. After all, every food truck has to have a flawless business plan, recipes that will make food lovers dr...
How to Start a Food Truck 15A: Buy or Lease a Food Truck We’re right around the halfway point in the series, and it’s time for us to take on one of the most exciting topics we’ve ever covered: how to buy a food truck. Like last week’s lesson, this is a pret...
FS009- How Craig Expanded His Food Truck Business into Catering and Classes In this episode of FoodTruckr School, I'm very happy to introduce you to Craig Barbour, owner of the Roots food truck in Charlotte, North Carolina. Craig's background in the catering industry b...

About the Author

Pat Flynn is the founder and CEO of FoodTruckr. He’s a regular ol’ Joe and happy family man who happens to be a successful online entrepreneur. When he’s not building companies, engaging fans, or (most likely) chasing his kids around the house wearing something ridiculous, he’s tracking down a buffalo chicken grilled cheese sandwich from the Urban Eats truck in San Diego. Twitter is his favorite hangout—say hi to Pat @PatFlynn.

Love it? Share it: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

  • Ken Holik

    Love the post, Pat. As the owner of a van and truck wrap company in Elk Grove IL , I know plenty of food truck guys and plenty of them own used trucks and say they do just fine. It all depends on the quality of truck you buy and what work you’re willing to put into it.

  • nikita1310

    This is an Awesome Article. – Hanuman Chalisa

  • ChalkBoard Special

    Why decide either, when you can rent ours for 1 day or even more and find out which one is best. Luck favors the prepared – We are your luck, knowledge is power and in this case savings http://www.Chalkboardspecial.com