FoodTruckr | How to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business https://foodtruckr.com Sat, 21 Aug 2021 01:54:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.1 https://foodtruckr.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/FoodTruckrLogo-150x150.jpg FoodTruckr | How to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business https://foodtruckr.com 32 32 FoodTruckr | How to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business FoodTruckr | How to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business pat@foodtruckr.com pat@foodtruckr.com (FoodTruckr | How to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business) 2014 | Flynndustries, LLC How to Start, Run and Grow a Successful Food Truck Business FoodTruckr | How to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business http://foodtruckr.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/ftr-podcast.png https://foodtruckr.com/blog/ Food Trucks for Rent (Lease, Promotions, OR Events) https://foodtruckr.com/business/food-trucks-for-rent/ https://foodtruckr.com/business/food-trucks-for-rent/#respond Sat, 21 Aug 2021 00:29:28 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=24926 Looking to rent a food truck? Just pick one of the three types of rentals below to get the resources you need. Rent a food truck for your business Rent a food truck for a marketing promotion Rent a food truck for a party or event If you’re not sure which one is right for […]

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Looking to rent a food truck? Just pick one of the three types of rentals below to get the resources you need.

If you’re not sure which one is right for you, don’t worry. We get thousands of visitors each year looking for food trucks for rent. 

Whether you are renting for a catered event, to build your own mobile business, or to launch a live marketing promotion, below are our top recommendations when it comes to food truck rentals.

Continue below for more information…

Rent a Food Truck for Your Mobile Equipment Needs

If you’re a company or an entrepreneur that needs mobile infrastructure for your business or project, then you probably have a few questions.

Can I do short-term and/or long-term rentals?

Short-term rentals are usually for one-off events. For example, a production company looking to rent a food truck for a commercial shoot may pay for a daily or weekly rental.

Long-term rentals and leases are usually a month or longer, and are used by companies that want a mobile food solution or to test out a business idea. A long-term rental will get your business off the ground and start generating buzz without committing to purchasing your own truck. 

Recently we’ve noticed that school and school districts are considering food trucks to supplement their meal programs for students.

Where can I rent a food truck? 

There are several online resources you can use to source a food truck rental:

1. Roaming Hunger – Their Marketplace is a great place to start since it’s a free resource.

No matter where you’re located, you’ll get food truck options for your needs. Or they’ll point you in the right direction if there are alternative choices.

They help with both short and long-term rentals and also have programs in place that help support smaller businesses. And if you’re looking to buy or even build a food truck, Roaming Hunger has resources.

2. Foodtruckrental.com – This website has listings that include food trucks ready to lease.

3. Local food truck owners – You can try reaching out to local food truck owners to see who has equipment that you can rent. 

While you can expect to find a car rental place in nearly every city, food truck rental businesses can be hard to find. This is why most people turn to online databases, which can put you in touch with resources near you. 

How much does it cost to rent mobile food equipment?

Short term rentals can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Pricing will depend on whether you need to wrap the truck and what it’s going to be used for. The greater the risk to the owner, the higher the cost.

Long term rentals will range from just over $1,000 all the way to over $5,000 per month. Again, it depends on the type of equipment you’re needing, your location, and what the food truck will be used for.

Is it cheaper to rent vs. buy or build a food truck?

For short term use, it’s typically better to rent a truck since you won’t need it for long.

For long term use, you need to look at the financials and determine which option is cheaper. The monthly costs of renting should be compared to what you would pay if you bought your truck outright, including financing costs such as loans, etc.

Food Trucks for Branded Marketing Promotions 

In recent years, marketing activations with food trucks and other mobile infrastructure are becoming more popular, especially now that outdoor events are becoming the norm. 

Brands use food trucks for one day activations, pop-up shops in high traffic areas, and for national tours to target specific audiences and customers. 

If you’re looking to launch a promotion, we recommend contacting RMNG, a full-service Experiential Marketing Agency. They have over a decade of experience sourcing trucks for one day events and setting up longer term marketing tours. 

Their clients include all sorts of companies, including Apple, Budweiser, Beyond Meat, Doritos, and dozens (if not hundreds) more. Check out more of their recent projects here

Rent a Food Truck for a Party or Event

If you need food truck catering for your event, we recommend you go to Roaming Hunger

With over 18,000 food trucks across the US and Canada you’ll probably find a food truck to fit your needs.

Once you give them your event information they’ll find you local food trucks, trailers, and carts that are available to come feed your guests, along with a free quote from each caterer.

The Bottom Line 

We hope you’ve found this article useful in finding a food truck for rent. The resources above can help you get exactly what you need no matter what type of rental you’re looking for.

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4 Top Tax Tips for Food Truck Owners https://foodtruckr.com/business/tax-tips-for-food-truck-owners/ https://foodtruckr.com/business/tax-tips-for-food-truck-owners/#respond Wed, 28 Jul 2021 04:02:51 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=24794 This article was created by FinancePal to help food trucks owners get ahead on their business finances and taxes. FinancePal helps food trucks get the accounting and finance support they need without heavy upfront costs. It’s essentially a finance department in your back pocket. Let’s be honest; you probably entered the culinary field because you […]

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This article was created by FinancePal to help food trucks owners get ahead on their business finances and taxes. FinancePal helps food trucks get the accounting and finance support they need without heavy upfront costs. It’s essentially a finance department in your back pocket.

Let’s be honest; you probably entered the culinary field because you are passionate about making and serving delicious food, not because you are a tax-code expert.

However, getting intimate with the unique food truck tax landscape is crucial for any owner because even the slightest tax misstep can incur fines and fees — the last thing you need in a business of fine margins.

To protect your food truck business from tax penalties — and even save a bit of money on your tax returns — get familiar with the four following food truck tax tips:

1. Document Your Tax Deductions

As a food trucker, there are several significant deductions you can take advantage of to save money on your taxes.

For example, you can deduct miles traveled in your truck. You have two options:

In either case, you should track all of your miles and the direct expenses for your truck. Then, at tax time, your accountant can determine which method saves you the most on your taxes. It’s crucial to get this right — choosing the correct method can save you thousands on your taxes.

If you travel with your food truck to a trade show, conference, or festival, you may be able to deduct related food and lodging costs. Remember to document the dates of these events and to keep your receipts. You need to be able to show that these are necessary travel expenses.

2. Business Classification Affects Taxes

Sole Proprietor

When starting a business, many new owners operate as a sole proprietorship.

Sole proprietors still file their personal tax returns using Schedule C (Profit and Loss for Small Business) and Schedule SE (Self Employment Tax).

In addition, many sole proprietors must split their yearly tax liability into quarterly estimated tax payments, made on April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15, respectively.

The main reason why sole proprietorships are so ubiquitous is that they are easy to set up; it is the default classification when starting a new business with a single owner, and doing so requires no additional paperwork.

There is a significant downside to operating as a sole proprietorship: the lack of protection. If your business falls into debt or gets slapped with a lawsuit, your personal assets are considered fair game for settling liabilities.

Limited Liability Company

Because of the lack of protection sole proprietors face, many food truckers choose to classify their business as a Limited Liability Company, or LLC.

Like sole proprietorships, LLCs file personal tax returns using Schedule C and Schedule SE and typically make quarterly estimated tax payments.

The primary difference between a sole proprietorship and an LLC boils down to protection; an LLC can protect a business owner’s personal assets from being used to settle liabilities such as lawsuits or debt.

Partnership

In the food truck industry, it is not uncommon to operate with multiple owners. But if this is the case, the default classification is a partnership rather than a sole proprietorship.

Partnerships function in a similar way to sole proprietorships — the main exception being that you must file form 1065 (U.S. Return of Partnership Income).

Much like with sole proprietorships, partnerships leave the owners’ personal assets exposed. To protect your — and your co-owner’s — home and personal accounts, you may want to consider setting up a Limited Liability Company taxed as a partnership.

Other Business Classifications

There are several other classifications — namely, S-Corps and C-Corps — but most food truck owners don’t need to worry about these unless they consistently generate high levels of revenue.

There can be some significant benefits to corporate designation, but there are also additional complexities and costs to contend with.

The main downside to operating as a corporation is that your business taxes get exponentially more complicated.  If your business reaches the point where corporate classification makes sense, you will likely need to employ finance professionals to handle your financials.

If you think you have reached the point where you should consider changing your entity type, scheduling a consultation with a CPA can save you thousands — or keep you from making an expensive mistake.

3. Be Smart About Sales Tax

Calculating and collecting sales tax is a nuisance for any food truck operator.  Not only is it your responsibility to collect, but there are penalties for even minor mistakes.

In areas with variable local taxes, it may be tempting to charge the average tax rate, but doing so runs the risk of over-collecting or under-collecting, which can cause a major headache down the road.

If you over-collect sales tax, you will need to remit the overage to the state or refund it to the customer. If you under-collect, you may be personally liable for the difference.

Once you register your business, you will start receiving periodic letters and notices alerting you to changes in state and local tax rules and rates. Never skim or ignore these — it is imperative to know the exact sales tax rate where you do business.

4. Get Expert Financial Help When You Need It

In the past, employing a dedicated team to handle your business’s financials was a privilege reserved only for larger companies with room for the added overhead.

However, thanks to technological advances, outsourcing your accounting and bookkeeping to third-party firms staffed with expert CPAs and bookkeepers is easier now than ever.

As a food truck owner, you understand that wearing many hats comes with the territory. The balancing act between working, shopping, prepping, marketing, doing your taxes, and a thousand other things, is never over.

When you get to a point where you need to bring in outside help, outsourcing your accounting and finance projects might be the best stop forward.

The most effective way to knock your food truck taxes out of the park is by working with an expert team of accountants and bookkeepers, such as the finance professionals at FinancePal.

It is easy to think of accounting and bookkeeping as necessary evils to keep the IRS off your back. But a highly competent financial team can provide essential business insights, find crucial tax savings, and allow food truck operators to spend less time stressing the financials and more time serving customers. Sign up to get a custom quote today for FinancePal’s professional financial services.

More About FinancePal

If you are not familiar with FinancePal, it is is full-service accounting and bookkeeping solution serving small and medium sized businesses nationwide across various industries. FinancePal leverages best in class technology and marries it with efficient processes and trained professionals to provide our customers with an affordable highly quality monthly service. Their services include:

  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Bill pay
  • Payroll
  • Sales tax filings
  • Tax preparation
  • Advisory service

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50 Food Truck Owners Speak Out: “What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Food Truck” https://foodtruckr.com/how-to-start-a-food-truck/what-i-wish-id-known-before-starting-my-food-truck/ https://foodtruckr.com/how-to-start-a-food-truck/what-i-wish-id-known-before-starting-my-food-truck/#comments Thu, 01 Jul 2021 07:40:55 +0000 http://foodtruckr.com/?p=76 Do you remember the enthusiasm you felt upon that initial spark: “Hey! I should open a food truck!” What would you say to yourself now, these many moons later? Would you warn yourself off, or encourage yourself forward?

We at FoodTruckr wanted to know, and we bet you do too. So we asked food truck owners from across the country one simple question:

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started your food truck?

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Originally published in 2014, this article has been updated for 2020.

We asked food truck owners from across the country one simple question: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started your food truck? Oh boy, did you all deliver! 

From the cynical to the hilarious to the outright unexpected, you shared tremendously practical insights for any aspiring food truck owner out there. This is precisely the type of knowledge we here at FoodTruckr aspire to share in our quest to create a resource for the entire food truck community. From tips and tricks on compiling the paperwork to advice on fostering relationships with customers, consider this a crash course in food truck fundamentals taught by experts.   

Want to start a food truck? Check out How to Start a Food Truck: The Ultimate Guide

Regulations And Permits 

Hands-down, navigating all the regulations was the most consistent external source of frustration we heard. Luckily, food truck owners had plenty of advice about avoiding potential headaches. 

Want to learn more about permits? You’ll find more info in Lesson 21 of our How to Start a Food Truck Book

First, Do Your Homework 

Ben from Luke’s Lobster  (New York, NY)

Luke'sLobster

I wish I had known how anti-truck the NYC government is. If I had known that there was no way I could legally own a permit for my business, that it was illegal to staff my truck the way I staff a restaurant, and that it would suddenly become illegal to sell from a metered parking spot whether or not I pay the meter.

In short, if I had known that despite running an honest business I would have to operate in gray areas of the law at the whim of the NYPD, I would have been more prepared for the trials of the business.

Chuy from Mariscos Jalisco (Olympic, CA) 

MariscosJalisco

I wish I would have known how much the regulations would change over time with the general acceptance of our industry. I believe there needs to be a central location for all food truck vendors to check the laws and regulations of each county in California and eventually all states. 

Check out Lesson 5 and 8 in our How to Start a Food Truck Book for more info on food truck laws.

Stay Up To Date On Rules In Your Area 

Jordan from Mustache Mike’s (San Francisco, CA) 

As an owner, it can get quite confusing trying to keep up with and understand all of the different mobile vending laws and to obtain all of the required credentials. 

Each state and city’s requirements are different, but out here in California you need about a handful of different credentials before opening up your doors such as a California Seller’s Permit (from the state), a Local Health Department Permit (from the county), a city business/peddler’s license (from the city), etc. 

As a food truck owner you also need to have a Food Safety Handler’s certification and even your truck itself needs to be certified as well through the Housing & Community Development (HCD Department). If you operate in multiple counties or in different cities, you would need a whole new set of credentials for those locations as well.

Roy from Champion Cheesesteaks (Atlanta, GA) 

In Georgia, we are in the most regulated state in the country, strong in terms of what the health department required, and there’s no streamlined method of being able to get a truck approved because each county is different. It’s almost impossible to get a license.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

Felix from Gillian’s Italian Ice (Suffolk County, NY)

GilliansItalianIce

When I bought my truck, I expected to be able to park it somewhere and sell without being bothered. This is not the case, and the special permit needed requires everything from a lease to rent the spot I am parked in to providing toilet facilities. The fine is heavy if you are caught selling on the side of a road, for example. 

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

Give Yourself Enough Time To Get Everything Together

Bollywood Zing (Smyrna, GA)

BollywoodZing

I wish I would have known what all went into the permitting process and how involved it is so that I could have been more prepared and ahead of the game.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

Melissa from Melissa’s Chicken and Waffles (Orlando, FL)

MelissasChickenandWaffles

Check with promoters, farmers markets, lunch spots, etc. about their waiting lists for trucks. A lot of trucks come out with the thought that they will be able to bring their new truck to all these events, but sometimes the waiting lists are months, even years.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

Finally, Don’t Be Afraid To Challenge Inefficient Systems 

Rachel from La Cocinita (New Orleans, LA)

LaCocinita

I wish I’d known that it would be so difficult to obtain a permit to operate our truck. That struggle—which took months—was what initially inspired my partner and me to start the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition back in early 2012. We spent a year and a half working with city officials on legislative reform, which were just recently passed by the City Council and the Mayor. 

Starting in January, there will be 100 permits for food trucks (there were previously only a dozen or so). Also, we have gained access to certain areas of downtown that were previously off limits. We increased the amount of time food trucks can stay parked in one spot. Most significantly, we completely eliminated the proximity restriction that prevented us from parking within 600 feet of restaurants.

Before You Hit The Streets 

Food trucks may seem like fun, but they require serious business planning to be profitable and sustainable. Many food truck owners expressed great thoughts on this very point.

Want to learn more about creating a business plan? Read Lesson 9 in our How to Start a Food Truck Book

Upfront Costs Are Higher Than You Realize 

Lisa from Two for the Road (San Diego, CA)

TwoForTheRoad

Expect it to cost you a lot more than you think to run your business. You need a license for every city you visit. Liability insurance will run upwards of $1,900 per year. Fuel costs are very high—most trucks only get about 7 MPG. 

You will be at the store or stores every day because you cannot buy in bulk, often because you don’t have the space to store the product. This means that you will often pay more than a regular restaurant does.

Want to learn more about insurance? You’ll find more info in Lesson 18 of our How to Start a Food Truck Book

Joe from Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon (Trabuco Canyon, CA)

ChefJoeYoukhansTastingSpoon

I wish I would have known how truly expensive it was going to be to get the business off the ground. Even with a detailed business plan, it was 30% more than anticipated. 

There Are A Lot Of Unexpected Expenses  

Louie & Daniel from Rito Loco (Washington DC) 

RitoLoco

I think the one thing that we wish knew prior to getting into the food truck business is how efficiently we could actually run the business. When we first started, we hired a marketing/PR rep—a waste of money! We spent extra money all over the place, but learned how to run a really lean operation.

Juan from MIHO Gastrotruck (San Diego, CA)

MIHOGastrotruck

Always prepare for the unexpected; truck breaking down, selling out too soon, preparing too much. The best advice I can give is just like any other business you venture into, “Do your homework and write a solid business plan!” 

There are so many trucks that rolled out that didn’t do the proper research and development, financial projections, break-even, and capital requirements. Without this essential piece you are setting yourself up to fail.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published.  

Do Your Research Before Hitting The Roads 

Leah from Babycakes Truck (Chicago, IL)

BabycakesTruck

I would have to say that I wish I had better understood the food truck climate in Chicago, where consumers are rather uneducated in general about food trucks and the city seems utterly opposed to the entire industry. 

I had researched the market in LA and New York and had some major misconceptions about how much money a food truck here in Chicago would realistically be able to generate in a day. 

The truth is, my food truck serves more as an advertising vehicle for other revenue generating channels, such as catering, food delivery and cooking classes. Though we do make money with the food truck at special events, the daily grind is just not that profitable. 

Sameer from Rickshaw Stop (San Antonio, TX) 

RickshawStop

No matter how good your food is, your business plan needs to be equally good—if not better—and vice versa. Do your homework about your market. Don’t think The Great Food Truck Race windfalls will be as easy as seen on television. It’s a business, not a cooking hobby.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

The Day To Day Life 

Hands-on ownership is not a suggestion; it’s a requirement. And vacations are hard to come by. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves.

You’ll Do A Lot More Than Just Cooking

Stephanie from Seabirds Truck (Costa Mesa, CA) 

Seabirds

A few months into starting the truck, I realized that in order for us to grow, I needed to remove myself from the truck to have time for answering emails, booking stops, developing new menus, promotion and marketing, etc. 

With doing that, I had to pay about three people to replace me, and I noticed that the quality of product and service dropped. For instance, sometimes menu items would be served that were under my standards or we would open our doors for service later than we had on our schedule.

John from Capelo’s Hill Country Barbecue (San Francisco, CA)

CapelosHillCountryBarbecue

The food truck business is not just about your passion for food. It’s a crazy combination of business, time management, marketing and most importantly making people happy with your product. How you spend your time is extremely valuable to the success of your food truck business.

Food Preparation Is Surprisingly Time Consuming

Christina from Son of a Bun (Los Angeles, CA) 

SonOfABun

Before I got into the Food Truck Business, I wish I knew how time consuming it was to get all my product. It is difficult for food trucks to receive product deliveries, because a last minute event may pop up and you won’t be able to stay there to receive it. Now, I spend extra time in the mornings just driving around in my cars, shopping for ingredients

My advice: engineer your menus to be simple and don’t use too many ingredients or specialty items.

Want to learn more about shopping for ingredients? Click here.

Guy from Nana G’s Chicken & Waffles (Atlanta, GA)

NanaGsChickenAndWaffles

The amount of time you’ll spend shuttling food. I feel like I’m always at Restaurant Depot, Sam’s, or the local grocery store.

Scott from Streetza Pizza (Milwaukee, WI)

StreetzaPizza

Owning a food truck is a much greater time commitment than most potential owners think. Especially when you are making things from scratch. 

The amount of prep and post sale time is actually about equal to the service time. Something to take into account when you are estimating your labor costs in your P&Ls.

Being Your Own Boss Is A Major Time Commitment   

Paawan from The Chai Cart (San Francisco, CA)

TheChaiCart

I wish I had known that this business would really limit my ability to take vacations. I run three chai carts in downtown San Francisco and chai is something people have everyday. There are really no options for authentic and/or good chai in San Francisco.

My customers expect us to be open every day. It’s great to become part of people’s lives, but it does add the pressure of running the business seamlessly, without any breaks.

Nick from Slider House Burger Co. and Tortally Tasty (San Diego, CA)

TortallyTasty

I wish I would have known that it’s an endless cycle of long, long hours day in and day out. As Jacob Bartlett of the Mastiff truck said, “We don’t work full time. We work all the time.” And it has been my family business since 1926 so I have a very unique view on it that has kinda been warped by the online business world. 

There are tiny-ass margins and way too many people to deal with. And what I’ve found in this industry is that the most successful truck operators are the ones who 1) have a passion for food and 2) love people and interacting with them daily.

Matt from Scratch Truck (Indianapolis, IN)

ScratchTruck

The one thing that I wish I knew before I started is that the time it takes to make a truck successful. I am sure it is the same in any business, but I didn’t realize it would be seven days a week, 11 hours a day. 

If my eyes are open, I am working on the business in some capacity. It is all-consuming. I love it, but didn’t realize there would be so much to do all the time.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

Jamie from Where’s the Fire (Apple Valley, CA)

One thing I wish I knew before starting this business is how much work goes into it. I mean I didn’t think it would be easy, but most outsiders just think “Oh my goodness your job is so easy, you cook on your truck for 5 hours and you’re done.” 

No! It takes so much time cleaning, shopping, prepping, menu changes & development, driving, on site cooking & cleaning, emails, interacting with coordinator, marketing, increasing catering sales, etc. 

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

Networking Can Make Or Break Your Business  

Kenneth from Devilicious Food Truck (Temecula, CA)

Devilicious

We have learned that this industry relies on the cooperation of other food truck owners, local businesses, and suppliers. There is more to the back end of the business which we didn’t realize before starting it. 

There is networking, finding reliable suppliers, and food preparation. Lots of food preparation. Basically owning a food truck is your life.

Timothy from Flatiron Catering Group (Los Angeles, CA)

FlatIronTruck

The food truck world is just like a restaurant, it’s dog-eat-dog, and no one is going to help you figure it out. The way to succeed is to earn respect from your fellow food truckers.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published.  

Booking And Working Events

Make food so good it sells itself…almost. Finding the right events and taking advantage of those opportunities is an art in itself.

Watch Out For Hidden Fees    

Stephanie from Seabirds Truck (Costa Mesa, CA)

The nature of the food truck industry relies a lot on chance and luck; you roll the dice every time you go to an event without a guarantee of sales. Sometimes you score big and other times you lose money. 

You have to rely on a lot on the word of event organizers that may exaggerate a little to get your truck to come. Or they may want a fee or percentage for you to be at their big event. You never really know what to expect, but with time you can start to understand the patterns a bit better.

Lisa from Two for the Road (San Diego, CA)

TwoForTheRoad

Fees are high to attend events ($200-$900) and many places you stop will require that you give them up to 20% back of your sales.

Mike from Garliscapes Food Truck (Orange County, CA)

Garlicscape

Booking, booking and booking. The ability to book the right events is the single most important piece to this “food truck” puzzle. 

When we started, I thought, “If we have great food, they will come”. That is true, but if you’re at a bunk event because you booked incorrectly, you’re out of luck.

Rhea from Neri’s Curbside Cravings (Los Angeles, CA)

NerisCurbsideCravings

Oh, how I wished I would have known right away which locations and events make the most! When we decided to get into the food truck business, we were ready for all the hard work that any business entails. 

Being in the food industry (having a family run business and my own share of restaurants in the previous years), I know that this is a business that requires a lot of patience, long hours and diligence.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

Account For Prep Time When Planning 

Dustin & Kristen from Dusty Buns (Fresno, CA)

DustyBunsBistro

We wish we could’ve known the amount to prep for each new gig. After our first year, we started building charts and learned that wisdom only comes with time and trials. We hope to keep up with the ever-changing market and improve each year!

Jim from Jimmy Ray’s Bar-b-que (Woodburn, IN)

JimmyRaysBar-B-Que

Being at street, farmers markets, fairs, festivals, or special occasion vending are what adds to the fun of your business and definitely help in the bottom line. 

Try to make setup time, after you reach your site, a quick and somewhat easy chore. It takes us roughly 45 minutes to an hour to setup. Other trucks in the Association are setup in 5-10 minutes. We cook outside our truck, on a large grill, while all the others cook inside their truck.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published. 

Scout The Area To Find The Best Locations

Michael and Cheryl from The Burger Bus (Denver, CO)

TheBurgerBus

If possible, try to secure some locations to park your food truck. Find as many as you can, they don’t always work out.

Fishlips Sushi (Los Angeles, CA) 

FishlipsSushi

The one thing I wish I’d known: how to find the good location for serving!

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published.

Maintaining Your Truck

We’ve covered the food side of the food truck business. What’s left? Oh yes, the truck. From temperamental transmissions to wonky power steering, your truck is both your best friend and your greatest adversary.

Become Your Own Mechanic 

Nancy from Kurbside Eatz (Houston, TX)

KurbsideEatz

One thing I wish I knew was that, I needed to get a job as a part time mechanic, if not, an electrician. I’m sure most will agree!

Justin from Bernie’s Burger Bus (Houston, TX)

BerniesBurgerBus

I would have become a diesel mechanic first.

Andrea from Border Grill (Los Angeles, CA and Las Vegas, NV)

BorderGrill

We designed and custom built our trucks. This has been incredible. Learning how to create a super efficient cooking machine. We can produce just as many orders out of our trucks as a restaurant kitchen ten times the size. We love the trucks!

Nic from Blue Sky Dining (Durham, NC)

BlueSkyDining

Be a better truck mechanic! Anyone can make a pan gravy, but can anyone replace their power steering pump?

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published.

Research The Best Equipment  

Nathan from Oh My Gogi! (Oklahoma City, OK)

OhMyGogi

We are going into our fourth week now and my Gogi truck is a 1987 Chevy StepVan. She has who knows how many miles and a countless number of people who have tried to rig her to run. Me being a car enthusiast, I want the old girl to run properly. 

That being said she really needed a lot. Replaced the entire transmission, the driveshaft, tires, brakes, wiring, re-customized the interior, had the engine tuned up. But even now I am having some engine issues. 

The thing I wish I knew before starting would be to know which trucks run longer, have the quickest available replacement parts, which is easiest to maintain, and the pros/cons of diesel vs gasoline. The cooking, cleaning and serving are the fun part, even if I’m working 18 hour days. Sucks being stuck on the side of the road thinking about all the profits being lost on a Saturday night.

Joel from St. John’s Fire (Houston, TX)

StJohnsFire

Since I have been in the restaurant business for over 30 years the easy part was the menu and food. I think what I need most was some guidelines on the build of the truck

For example, what size of fresh water tank is needed for a two shift day? How much propane is need for a week? Generator size? Does an air conditioner really make a difference in a 130 degree truck in Houston summer? 

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published.

Adam from Food Shark (San Antonio, TX)

FoodShark

I wish we knew that Honda EU 2000 generators were the way to go with generators. You can take them tens of feet from the truck, so you won’t get gassed out. It’s more for a place where you’re gonna set up and be for awhile with some space around, like we pretty much always are (not for a mobile city unit unless you have them mounted on top but then what a bitch to have to climb up there and start them every day). 

If you have a big loud generator on the front or rear bumper, you might give yourselves carbon monoxide poisoning which over time is not too good not to mention the noise. Anyway, portable, quietish, dependable generators which you can move fairly far from the truck will keep the occupants healthier, at least for Food Shark.

Splurging On Quality Equipment Is Worth It  

Wendy from W.O.W! (Atlanta, GA)

WOWFoodTruck

I wish someone had told me not to cut corners. I wish I had gotten a newer truck. We had so many repairs the first year we were in business. 

We had to replace the engine, transmission, all tires etc…if I had just taken that money and bought a better truck in the first place we would’ve been much better off.

Ryan from Dashboard Diner (Indianapolis, IN)

DashboardDiner

We should have built two food trucks instead of one. We have had great success since launching the truck in the fall of 2011 and are currently in the process of getting ready to build another one in the future. The food truck business is the future of restaurants.

Maintenance Will Be Time Consuming   

Julie from Sam’s ChowderMobile (El Granada, CA)

SamsChowderMobile

The one thing we wish we knew before starting in the food truck business is the amount of maintenance/repairs that would be required for our trucks. A typical restaurant deals with ongoing maintenance for the facility and kitchen equipment. With a food truck, you have those same maintenance issues, but in addition, you have all the maintenance issues that come with owning a heavily used vehicle. 

Our trucks serve the entire San Francisco Bay Area, as far north as Napa, and as far south as Monterey. Being headquartered in Half Moon Bay, they put on a lot of mileage, and there is constant need for them to be serviced, which gets expensive, and causes them to be unavailable for periods of time.

Evangeline from The Buttermilk Truck (Los Angeles, CA)

ButtermilkTruck

The one thing I wish I would have known is all the extra maintenance that comes with owning and operating a food truck; including, but not limited to generator maintenance, equipment maintenance, vehicle maintenance, etc.

Note: This food truck has closed since this article was published.

Connecting with Your Customers 

You’re nowhere without your customers. And your super-fans are the lifeblood of your business. Becoming a master of ceremony is just as important as becoming a master chef.

FT In Blog Opt In

Use Social Media To Your Advantage

Chef Heidi from The Flip Truck (Orange County, CA)

TheFlipTruck

The one thing I wish I had known before I began my business would is how critical a big social media push would have been to help launch the business. I would have put way more focus avenues like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the likes – connecting, announcing, introducing, giving offers, specials and a better communication effort to the world of social media. 

I didn’t realize the enormous community that relies on social media and had I started that focus three years ago, I feel like we would have come to a certain level of success long before we did!

Want to learn more about effectively using social media? Click here.

A Strong Brand Yields An Enthusiastic Response 

Mark from The Hogfather BBQ (Pink Hill, NC)

TheHogfatherBBQ

The one thing I wish I knew prior to operating The Hogfather BBQ food truck is that I never expected such enthusiasm for the brand

I thought people were honking at me because I was driving slow, but once they got up to the side and front of my vehicle they would take pictures, wave, and give me a thumbs up approval. It took some time getting used to that, especially when I was timid driving a large truck.

Want to learn more about building a strong brand? Click here.

A Strong Community Helps You Cope With Setbacks 

Beckie from Quiero Arepas (Denver, CO)

QuieroArepas

When disaster strikes you are convinced that no one has it so bad. Then, through talks with other owners, the knowledge you gain along the way and the building of an amazing repair person arsenal, you feel empowered that you have earned your place every day. There isn’t anything we’d rather be doing. We love our truck!

What Say You?

We’d love to read your response to the all-important question: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started your food truck? Please share in the comments. 

We so appreciate your continued input on this important topics because it helps to shape the future of FoodTruckr content. We’re here to serve your interests; we’re building this resource together. 

Images by pasa47, troismarteaux, meddygarnet, BruceTurner, Townsquare Media Albany, AlishaV, weeklydig, and Scott McLeod

About the Author

FoodTruckr is the #1 online destination for current and aspiring food truck owners looking to succeed in the mobile food industry. Self described “food truck devotees,” the FoodTruckr team enjoys reading about successful entrepreneurs, salivating over photos of burritos on Twitter, and long walks through food truck parks. Chat with FoodTruckr on Facebook or check out the FoodTruckr School podcast for more awesome tips to level up your business.

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Sign Up For National Food Truck Day (It’s Free!) https://foodtruckr.com/events/sign-up-for-national-food-truck-day-its-free/ Wed, 26 May 2021 22:23:42 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=24323 National Food Truck Day started in 2016 and – since then – the event has attracted hundreds of participating vendors each year. Now, the holiday is taking on special significance given the pandemic’s effect on the food industry. Fortune recently reported 10% of restaurants nationwide closed since 2020, 22.5% of which were mobile vendors. Now […]

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National Food Truck Day started in 2016 and – since then – the event has attracted hundreds of participating vendors each year. Now, the holiday is taking on special significance given the pandemic’s effect on the food industry.

Fortune recently reported 10% of restaurants nationwide closed since 2020, 22.5% of which were mobile vendors. Now more than ever, it’s important to support and celebrate the essential workers and small business owners who kept their service windows open during this trying year.

This year, National Food Truck Day (happening June 25) will become a weeklong celebration from June 20 to June 27.

For food truck owners who wish to participate, it’s FREE and takes 2 minutes to sign up.

Just visit this link and enter some basic information.

Unlock More Benefits!

Trucks can take advantage of an exclusive benefits package the food truck catering company Roaming Hunger is offering through their Apple Pay Program. Sign up by May 31 to take advantage of the entire package.

If you’re not yet on Roaming Hunger, you can join for free here: https://vendor.roaminghunger.com/

When you sign up for Roaming Hunger’s Apple Pay Program you’ll get the following:

  • Up to $100 to reimburse any consumer deals/discounts you offer if customers pay with Apple Pay (sign up by May 31st!)
  • You’ll be featured in TimeOut’s media channels (in select markets)
  • You’ll be eligible to have Influencers and Local Press come visit your truck (in select markets)
  • A display that you offer Apple Pay on Roaming Hunger’s map pages along with your location
  • PLUS Access a $25 bonus just for signing up & a chance to win $1,000 (sign up by May 31st)

NOTE: You do need a Roaming Hunger account to take advantage of this benefits package.

Once you have access to your account, please sign up for National Food Truck Day. The final step will lead you to sign up for the Apple Pay Program so you can unlock more benefits.

Signing up to participate in National Food Truck Day is completely free and there’s no requirement to be a food truck on Roaming Hunger.

Let’s make it the biggest National Food Truck Day ever! We want every food truck to own this special holiday and make it their own. We can’t wait to celebrate your truck!

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3 Tips For Making Your Food Truck Stand Out In 2021 https://foodtruckr.com/uncategorized/3-tips-for-making-your-food-truck-stand-out-in-2021/ Mon, 12 Apr 2021 18:44:56 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=24075 It’s no secret that 2020 was a nightmare year for the American restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, 17% of all food service businesses in the United States – more than 110,000 of them – closed last year, and another 400,000 are in deep financial trouble. The coronavirus pandemic was a perfect storm […]

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It’s no secret that 2020 was a nightmare year for the American restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, 17% of all food service businesses in the United States – more than 110,000 of them – closed last year, and another 400,000 are in deep financial trouble. The coronavirus pandemic was a perfect storm for restaurants as they faced government-mandated shutdowns and a public wary of leaving their homes. It is no wonder those in the food industry are feeling bleak. Fewer than half of restaurateurs think their businesses will rebound in the months and years ahead.

Despite this catastrophic downturn, food trucks actually fared much better than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Food trucks nationwide reported a modest uptick in total revenues of .4 percent in 2020. In 2021, that number is expected to rise to 2.4 percent. That’s nowhere near as strong as previous years, but at least the numbers are going up and not down. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the most important is that it is relatively inexpensive to start a food truck compared to a traditional restaurant. Food trucks also have the luxury of being able to move to different locations based on demographics and shopping trends.

Of course, success with a food truck business is not automatic. Any company that doesn’t get off on the right foot is going to struggle, no matter how strong the industry as a whole may be. That is why it’s important for owners of these mobile restaurants to make sure that they are focusing on what matters most. Here are some basic things that aspiring mobile restaurateurs should think about when they are planning their next food truck.

Put Effort Into Your Design 

Even before people can see your food or even look at a menu, they can see your truck. And appearance does matter. You need to have a truck that looks like an appealing place to buy food. 

An old rusty trailer is not going to instill much confidence among diners, but one that is inviting and friendly will always make a good impression. 

StickerYou makes decals and stickers that can easily be placed on a truck to clearly identify your business and provide an attractive representation of what you have to offer. For only a few hundred dollars, you can make the plainest truck really pop and even impress patrons with customized products from StickerYou such as clothing and hats.

So what kind of stickers are available? The most obvious are large vinyl banners that people can see at a distance. This is a great way to stand out from the crowd because you have a colorful, interesting visual brand that doesn’t look like any of the other food trucks in your area.  Vinyl stickers can be easily be put onto your truck and just as easily removed if you ever want to switch up your brand or logo. You don’t want to do anything that could damage the paint and vinyl stickers easily peel off. 

But it’s not just big stickers that make a statement. You can order small stickers to place on your food boxes and even place them in takeaway bags as free gifts for your customers. If you want to order stickers, go to this link and use the discount code TRUCK15.

Know The Market 

There are an estimated 24,000 food trucks in the United States. You can find just about any kind of food – from simple hotdogs to elaborate gourmet fare. This kind of diversity is great, but the only way to make it work for you is to make sure that your preferred kind of cuisine has a built-in market in the area where you wish to open. 

Just as important, make sure that the area is not oversaturated with similar cuisine. A little bit of research can go a long way.

Build a Loyal Customer Base

In many parts of the country, food trucks tend to cluster. This creates the equivalent of an outdoor food court. With so much choice, hungry diners need to have a compelling reason to eat at your truck rather than someone else’s. 

Creating specials, instituting loyalty programs, and allowing customers to order on an app so they don’t need to wait are all good ways to build goodwill and keep your guests happy. Also, don’t forget to have an active social media presence and interact with your fans online. 

The Bottom Line

There’s no single magic bullet to making it in the food truck industry. There are a lot of factors that ultimately guide how well a business will do. But by getting ahead of the game and doing some early research and preparation, aspiring restaurateurs will put themselves in a much better position to succeed.

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Food Truck Marketing In 2021: 5 Quick Tips https://foodtruckr.com/marketing/food-truck-marketing-5-quick-tips/ https://foodtruckr.com/marketing/food-truck-marketing-5-quick-tips/#comments Fri, 09 Apr 2021 19:45:15 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=24043 This article was written by marketing expert Heather Cox. See her info at the end of the bottom. Whether you are starting a new food truck or are a seasoned pro, keeping your marketing approach up-to-date is the key to longevity. In 2021  – in the midst of a shifting marketplace – getting creative about […]

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This article was written by marketing expert Heather Cox. See her info at the end of the bottom.

Whether you are starting a new food truck or are a seasoned pro, keeping your marketing approach up-to-date is the key to longevity. In 2021  – in the midst of a shifting marketplace – getting creative about your approach can help your food truck thrive.

Many major changes we saw in 2020 are becoming a permanent part of our world. Remote offices are increasingly becoming the norm, telehealth is on the rise, and online shopping is more popular than ever. In short, the world is going to stay somewhat socially distanced for the foreseeable future.

Food trucks once relied on word-of-mouth and walk-in traffic to thrive. Now, your success is about creating a presence in a virtual space. Below, we will give you some guidance on how to adapt your marketing approach and succeed in a post-pandemic market.

Provide Contactless Menus

The use of QR Codes to create contactless menus for your food truck has increased due to COVID – and customers have come to appreciate the convenience of looking at menus on their personal devices. A QR code is a great way to let people know about your online menu and any other online services you may offer.

Ready to get started? Use this link to create a QR code with your logo and different styles to match your brand. Once you are done, you can also share your QR Code on your website, on your food truck and your social media platforms.

Link Your Bio On Instagram

A strong social media presence is more important than ever before – and Instagram is a particularly good option for those in the food industry. A good food picture can really entice a customer.

Using services like LinkTree or SociaTap is a great way to create multiple links within your Instagram profile. It helps direct people to different parts of your website to view your menu, purchase merchandise, see your locations, and more.

Want to really step up your game? Create a “Link in Bio” page on your website. Add buttons with your multiple links to increase traffic and improve SEO while creating calls to action. It’s a win-win!

Be Consistent On Social Media

A consistent brand is a recognizable brand. If you are a burger truck, you want consumers to picture your logo the second they start craving a burger for lunch. Being active on social media  – where your customers hang out in their free time – is a good way to embed your company in the minds of consumers.

Creating a consistent social media brand is a great way to let people know that your food truck is active during the spring season. Posting every day about where you are located, what specials you are featuring, and photos of your food truck food will show your friends, fans, and new customers that you are trustworthy and ready to serve! It will also let people know where and how to find you.

Run A Contest

These days, consumers are averse to traditional forms of advertising. A contest is more interactive, and customers get something in return for participating.

Running a contest is a great way to increase the visibility of your food truck and brand. Create a photography contest where the best photo of your food truck wins or create a giveaway on Instagram. Have followers tag two people to be entered to win a gift card to your truck or a free meal. This is basically a free way to get exposure and give your customers something to look forward to.

Make sure to check your local guidelines around online giveaways and contests, however. Some cities or states may have specific guidelines.

Collaborate With Your Peers 

Collaborations are all the rage in 2021. While you may be tempted to think of fellow food trucks as your competitors, partnering with other brands oftentimes creates a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.

Get together with other food truck owners for a food truck Friday in your local town. Or, talk to a local brewery and see if you can set up on the corner so patrons can get food and drinks in one place. There are plenty of creative ways to collaborate and elevate both your brands in the process.

Food Truck Marketing In 2021: The Bottom Line 

Going in 2021, marketing can feel like an uphill battle for those in the food industry — especially food truck owners. Traditional routes of reaching customers are no longer viable, but creativity and innovation can help you thrive.

Creating a sense of community in online spaces and finding creative ways to interact with customers are vital to a successful 2021 marketing campaign. The above tips and tricks should give you a rough idea of where to get started.

Have another marketing tip for other food truck owners? Drop a comment and let us know!

 

More about the Writer

Heather Cox is the owner of BGWD and an expert in Social Media and Web Design for food trucks and restaurants. With over 14 years of restaurant industry experience, she knows how to make you look great online and get you more customers using your website and social channels.

Her favorite Food Truck food is Cheese Curds and she enjoys going to Food and Food Truck Festivals in and around Delaware! Because what else is there to do in Delaware except to eat!?

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WEBINAR: Food Truck Branding 101 https://foodtruckr.com/branding/webinar-food-truck-branding-101/ Sat, 05 Dec 2020 02:09:43 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=23149 How strong is your brand? Time for a checkup!  Check out this free webinar on how you can take your food truck brand to the next level. Watch Now   A brand is about more than a cute logo and a catchy slogan; it is how you connect with your community on a fundamental level. For food […]

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How strong is your brand? Time for a checkup! 

Check out this free webinar on how you can take your food truck brand to the next level.

Watch Now

 

A brand is about more than a cute logo and a catchy slogan; it is how you connect with your community on a fundamental level. For food truck owners, hitting the streets with a strong brand in place is key to success. 

In this webinar, Ross Resnick (CEO of Roaming Hunger) and Ross Kimbarovsky (CEO of crowdspring) team up to teach you how to create an impactful brand. 

In this webinar, you’ll learn… 

  • How brands foster a sense of community and create intimacy with your customers 
  • The science behind logos and imagery, including how subtleties like color scheme unconsciously affect consumers 
  • Interactive exercises to help you identify and analyze strong branding 
  • Guidance on succinct copywriting with a clear CTA to inspire conversions 
  • Basic aspects of food truck branding including menu presentation, photo placement, logo creation, and more 

These two founders have helped thousands of food trucks get started, develop unique brands, and grow their businesses. You can trust their knowledge and gain invaluable insight from their guidance.

Check out the webinar here. (email required)

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6 Types of Insurance Food Truck Owners Need https://foodtruckr.com/food-truck-insurance/insurance-types-food-truck-owners-need/ Thu, 24 Sep 2020 21:56:27 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=22153 Historically, the food truck industry grows about two percent each year. That will surely increase in the next year or two, as many food entrepreneurs look towards food mobility as an alternative to brick and mortar locations. Depending on the type of food truck you operate, there might be different types of insurance requirements and […]

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Mistakes
Historically, the food truck industry grows about two percent each year. That will surely increase in the next year or two, as many food entrepreneurs look towards food mobility as an alternative to brick and mortar locations.

Depending on the type of food truck you operate, there might be different types of insurance requirements and considerations. For example, a truck that prepares food with commercial equipment might need a different type of coverage than an ice cream truck.

While you may be able to bundle together the different types of coverages you need, in many circumstances, you will have to piece together different policies to ensure that you have the most comprehensive coverage for your business and your own financial protection.

Choosing the right types of insurance that you need for your business can be tricky and not all are necessary for your particular situation.

Here are a few types of insurance that most food truck owners could find beneficial:

Food Truck Insurance

As a food truck owner, the first insurance option is to look into a specific food truck insurance policy.

What is food truck insurance? A food truck insurance policy protects you from any claims that might be made against your business’ day-to-day operations. This could include anything from potential injuries, damages, general liability, or illness, which is particularly important when serving food.

Finding ways to protect your business from unfortunate events is crucial because depending on the claim, you could face major financial loss without adequate coverage. Remember to do your research and ensure that the company you purchase a policy is reputable.

A simple way to test this is to ask if they offer free additional insured services (all of them should say yes).

Here’s a few companies that you can look into:

  1. FLIP – with policies starting at $299 per year, the Food Liability Insurance Program makes it easy to insure your food truck.
  2. Insure My Food Truck – another company that’s been in the food truck insurance game for a while, IMFT can get you a fast quote and have you insured in no time.
  3. Progressive Commercial – Progressive bundles a few types of insurance into custom food truck packages, including commercial auto, general liability, and worker’s comp.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Because the foundation of your business relies on your ability to sell food or drinks from a vehicle, commercial auto insurance is one of the most important types of safeguards to have.

Remember that it can vary state to state, but in most circumstances, you will be required to carry a certain amount of insurance—even if you aren’t cooking or preparing the food in your vehicle.

A commercial auto policy will secure your business vehicle, similar to how car insurance protects your personal vehicle. It is important to differentiate between the two because a personal automobile insurance policy will not cover damages on a vehicle that is used for business purposes.

Similar to auto policies, commercial auto insurance is made up of different components within the policy to protect your vehicle from certain events. Here are some of the components of a typical commercial auto policy:

Collision coverage: Collision coverage will pay for the physical damage done to your vehicle in an accident if you were to hit someone else or if they were to hit you. This type of coverage is usually required if you are financing or leasing the vehicle.

Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage will pay for damage outside of an accident from things such as theft, fire, natural disasters, or vandalism.

Liability coverage: Liability covers bodily and property damage to others if you are in an accident and are deemed at fault. This component of a commercial auto policy will financially protect you from a lawsuit and also pay for various items such as accrued medical costs for the other party in the accident.

Additional coverage: Most companies will offer additional coverage options and add-ons such as rental car reimbursement, tow truck coverage, underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, and loan or lease gap coverage.

Commercial Property Insurance

While a commercial auto will protect your vehicle from damage, commercial property insurance will protect the contents within your actual vehicle from damage. This could include your everyday equipment such as commercial stoves, point of sale systems, food, or utensils.

This type of coverage protects your contents from damage or loss caused by unanticipated events such as theft, natural disasters, or fire.

Workers’ Compensation

If you have one or more employees, you will need some kind of workers’ compensation insurance for your food truck. Most states will require this type of coverage as it protects you if one of your workers were to get injured or fall ill while on the job. This can help you pay for your workers’ immediate and ongoing medical bills and lost wages. If you have employer liability coverage as a component of your workers’ compensation policy, you will also be covered from legal fees and settlement costs if the employee decides to sue as a result of their injury or illness.

Life Insurance

Although life insurance may not be legally required for your business, it is important to have as a safeguard in both your professional and personal life. Life insurance provides an income replacement if you were to unexpectedly pass away. If your food truck provides a source of income that your family depends on, it is important to secure a term life insurance policy.

A term life insurance policy is beneficial for small business owners because it costs substantially less each month than a whole life insurance policy. You can customize the length of time you need coverage for depending on the financial status of your business. Additionally, this type of insurance is particularly important if you used family assets to support your food truck business.

Disability Insurance

Disability insurance for business owners can be a bit complicated to secure at times, however,  it’s often worth the extra time investment to ensure that both your business finances and personal finances wouldn’t suffer in an unanticipated event.

If you were to become injured and unable to operate your food truck, having some kind of coverage is essential. A long-term disability insurance policy pays you an income replacement each month if you were permanently injured or disabled.

Perhaps this is your first experience as a business owner altogether or maybe you have owned a business before, but this will be your first food truck. In any case, it is important to understand that financial planning is a necessary part of ensuring your food truck’s future success and how choosing the right type of insurance coverage plays a large part in this equation.

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7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Food Truck https://foodtruckr.com/how-to-start-a-food-truck/7-questions-to-ask-yourself-before-starting-a-food-truck/ Tue, 01 Sep 2020 21:41:38 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=21826 Whether you’re looking for a new career path or are a seasoned veteran in the restaurant business, starting your own food truck is a massive emotional, financial, and physical undertaking that you should not approach lightly. In some respects, food trucks follow the same formula for success as any other business: a savvy plan, a […]

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Whether you’re looking for a new career path or are a seasoned veteran in the restaurant business, starting your own food truck is a massive emotional, financial, and physical undertaking that you should not approach lightly.

In some respects, food trucks follow the same formula for success as any other business: a savvy plan, a unique angle, great customer service, and some old-fashioned elbow grease. But at the same time, food truck owners experience certain obstacles and circumstances that set them apart from any other type of hospitality service.

To ensure you’re fully prepared for the responsibilities that come with owning your own food truck, here are the 7 most important questions you should ask yourself before you get behind the wheel.

Need answers to all the questions below? Get the How to Start a Food Truck: The Definitive Guide

1. Am I Prepared for the Upfront Costs of Starting a Food Truck?

Let’s face it—no matter what kind of business you want to start, there are going to be financial risks involved (although the magnitude of these risks might vary). Prospective food truck owners, especially, must anticipate all kinds of upfront hurdles that are likely to come their way.

The most obvious, and essential, upfront expense is the cost of the food truck itself, in addition to the kitchen equipment it carries. But food truck operators need to be aware of the following as well:

  • Permits, especially those required to park and vend on city streets. Regulations will vary depending on the areas you serve, so be sure to research before you set up shop for the day.
  • Insurance, including everything from auto insurance to general liability.
  • Funds for repairs and other roadblocks in the event of any breakdowns as you travel from one location to the next.
  • Any necessary procedural updates to meet the board of health standards.
  • Allocations toward salaries and benefits for any employees you decide to hire.

2. How Can I Fund My Food Truck?

If you’ve determined that you don’t have the cash-on-hand to juggle your baseline expenses, the next question to ask yourself is: what’s the best way for me to build up my capital?

Answering this question requires you to think strategically. Not only will you need to brace yourself for the upfront costs, but you’ll also have to budget in enough money to keep yourself without seeing any profits in the immediate future.

However, as with most aspects of new business, there is no one formula for success when it comes to financing. Here are a few ideas and common ways to fund your business:

  • Small Business Loans – Whether it’s from a bank or from the SBA, getting a loan is one of the best options if your credit score is great.
  • Raising money – For individuals who have a dependable professional network, convincing family and friends to back a new business idea might be enough to get their feet off the ground. Other have gone through Kickstarter and other fundraising websites.
  • Borrowing against assets – Entrepreneurs who already have wealth built up in their home have found borrowing against their home equity a worthy option to further investigate.

3. What Does It Take to Run a Food Truck?

The ability to run a successful food truck is so much more than manning the grill on a busy weekend. Even the best chefs and restaurateurs are doomed to fail if they aren’t ready to grapple with the administrative demands of food trucking.

One way to describe running a food truck is to look at two things: costs and revenue.

Costs:

The successful food truck owner should know where all the major costs will be. Any food service on wheels is paying for gas, generators, and parking spots, which are all costs that your brick-and-mortar competitors won’t have to consider.

Once you know the costs, it’s important for food trucks to factor in their own unique variables to the standard menu price point equation. Be sure that your meals, whatever they may be, give you wiggle room to support you in the long-term.

Revenue:

The day-to-day grind on the streets is essential to building brand visibility within your local communities, but private events and bookings—such as food festivals, graduation parties, and even weddings—are other lucrative opportunities to diversify your revenue streams. And don’t forget about having a solution for order ahead, pick-up, and delivery.

The ability to physically move your business proves to be a food truck’s greatest asset or its most formidable weakness, depending on how you use it. Regardless of how often you relocate, make sure that your customers are fully aware of where you plan to set up shop for the day.

To find catering and event opportunities in our area, start with Roaming Hunger.

4. Where Can I Buy a Food Truck?

When it comes to sourcing a food truck, you have three options:

Each option comes with benefits and costs. Buying a used food truck, for example, comes with the risk of unknown problems with the engine and the kitchen. Building a new food truck will come with a lot less risk, but it will be more expensive. Renting is also an option, but often supplies are limited and the monthly costs can be high.

A great place to start your search for your new mobile business is a reputable online site that offers food trucks, carts, and trailers for sale. Sites like Roaming Hunger’s Marketplace provide detailed information on the types of equipment that are included in a sale, such as food storage, sanitation stations, and extra perks like air conditioning.

5. Do I Have a Business Plan?

Before you invest too much time and money into any part of your food truck business, you need to ask yourself: do I have a strategy for sustaining this business in the long-term? And what is my plan to get there?

Business planning provides the perfect opportunity to step away from the day-to-day grind and see the larger, encompassing strategy you’ll need to turn your food truck into an entire fleet.

The plan and model by which you run your food truck will include the objectives that you believe will drive the most future value and potential. Include your ideal customer, employee efficiency, partnership opportunities, and efforts to continue establishing your personal brand within the communities you serve.

In order to make these objectives effective, however, it’s important that each bullet point in your plan is linked to a meaningful goal. Use the SMART goals philosophy to create objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and constrained to a designated time period. Even if you don’t hit these goals the first time around, these SMART constraints will give you valuable insights into how to improve for your next business planning sprint.

6. What Makes Me Different From the Competition?

In most circumstances, a potential customer looking to grab a quick bite has a wide range of options to choose from. What will make them wait in line at your window instead of choosing a sit-down restaurant or a nearby lunch cafe?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the competitive nature that is the restaurant industry, it’s essential to remember that there are a number of tangible benefits that make food trucks a more worthy venture than the average restaurant, and these advantages are the key to leading the pack in your local food scene.

Where restaurants are cemented to a single location, you can experiment with different streets, parking areas, and seasonal events. Similarly, a sit-down spot is limited to advertising outside of its store-front or with an external, paid campaign.

Food trucks are their own advertising, and your visibility is limited in only the places you visit. Finally, as you expand your brand to include additional trucks, recognize that proportionally lower costs to open a food truck (versus an entire restaurant) make new food trucks a much smaller risk. This allows food truck owners to make much bolder choices that can result in a higher payout.

7. How Can I Grow My Customer Base?

As the saying goes, a stagnant business is a dying one, and organizations that are not concerned with consistently attracting and delighting new customers will be hard-pressed to keep their spot on the street. The question for you, therefore, is how you can continue to market and publicize your food truck in the weeks or months after you cut the “first day of business” ribbon.

Fortunately, there’s more than one way to drive fresh sales to your food truck. Changing up your menu from season to season helps your truck stay relevant beyond the summer months, and experimenting with customer loyalty programs (such as a free side after a certain number of visits) are relatively simple places to start.

Regardless of the tactics you decide to use, the key to new customer engagement at any level is connecting with the communities you serve. Perhaps this means volunteering your time and efforts toward a fundraiser that your customer base is passionate about. You may not yield a huge sum of profits from these types of events at the end of the night, but they more often than not will prove their value over time.

At the end of the day, word-of-mouth marketing will always yield the highest traffic and customer interest, with over 90% of consumers believing suggestions from family and friends over an advertising campaign. In an industry where so much depends on a customer’s taste, the bottom line for any customer growth is continuing to create delicious, buzz-worthy food that people are excited to talk about. If you’re equipped with the right recipes and ready to answer these 7 crucial questions, then your food truck is already steered in the right direction.

Continue on to our “What I Wish I Knew” article for advice from over 50 food truck owners on what they learned starting a food truck business.

The post 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Food Truck appeared first on FoodTruckr | How to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business.

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5 Menu Ideas For New Food Truck Owners https://foodtruckr.com/menu/5-menu-ideas-for-new-food-truck-owners/ Fri, 17 Jul 2020 19:17:22 +0000 https://foodtruckr.com/?p=7515 You’re new to the food truck industry (or getting ready to enter it), and you have a million things running through your head as a result. Of course, one of the things is probably your menu. Here’s the thing: People are going to love your food! You put a lot of time into this, and […]

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Menu
You’re new to the food truck industry (or getting ready to enter it), and you have a million things running through your head as a result.

Of course, one of the things is probably your menu.

Here’s the thing: People are going to love your food! You put a lot of time into this, and you surely have some unique recipes up your sleeve. However, in hopes of helping you with the food, we are about to drop five menu ideas for new mobile kitchen owners!

Check them out below!

For more information about what you should sell, click here

5 Menu Ideas For New Food Truck Owners

  • Incorporate A Popular Meal
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Go Outside Of Your Concept
  • Get Seasonal With Your Menu
  • Don’t Forget About The Beverage Department
  • Always Add Your Own Unique Twist

Idea No. 1: Incorporate A Popular Meal

Incorporate a popular meal? How are you supposed to do that when you are new to the food truck industry and don’t even know what is going to be a hit at your lunch truck?

Here’s what we mean by this: Add a popular meal in general to your menu. For example, a burger and fries, chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwich, any type of sandwich, a salad, etc.

Of course, you probably want to add a popular meal that relates to your food truck concept, and we get that. However, it’s not a bad idea to have a meal that most people are used to because you never know who is going to order at your truck — this popular item might stand out to them!

Idea No. 2: Don’t Be Afraid To Go Outside Of Your Concept

Street tacos are big in the food truck industry, but you are afraid to add them to your menu because they don’t relate to your concept. Spoiler alert: It’s okay to go outside of your concept from time to time!

Just mark up this item/meal as a special, or only offer it for a limited time.

This is your kitchen, and your business, so if you want to cook something that doesn’t exactly relate to your food concept, then by all means do so! You’re the boss!

Not to mention, there are some foods that trend based on the time of year, and you might want to follow these trends in hopes of attracting more customers. For instance, pumpkin spice is the king of fall, so feel free to add your own pumpkin spice treat during the fall.

Idea No. 3: Get Seasonal With Your Menu

If you want to attract customers year-round, then you might have to get seasonal with your menu. Now, you don’t have to change up your entire menu — well, unless you want to, that is — but it would be wise to add a couple of different meals for the winter and summer. For example, incorporate some type of soup in the winter (or comfort food), and then add a cold dessert in the summer!

Like we stated above, pumpkin spice is big during the fall months, and you have every right to add pumpkin spice anything to your menu during this season.

Looking to take your food truck business to the next level? If so, then The Food Truck Growth Kit has your name written all over it!

Idea No. 4: Always Add Your Own Unique Twist

You want to stand out in the food truck industry, which is why you should always add your own unique twist to your meals.

Let’s go back to Idea No. 1. Let’s say your concept is Mexican food, and let’s also say you want to add a burger to your menu as your popular meal. How do you add your own unique twist to something like that? It’s up to you! Here are some suggestions: Smother your burger with green chili, or simply add chili peppers.

There are an endless amount of ways to spice up meals, and you surely can add your own unique twist to even the most basic/common meals.

Keep doing you, food truck owners!

For more information on testing out recipes, click here

RELATED: 3 Ways To Keep Your Food Truck Employees Motivated

Idea No. 5: Don’t Forget About The Beverage Department

When trying to perfect your menu for your grand opening, it’s very easy to put beverages on the back burner. With that in mind, if you really want to stick out, then you will give every single food item on your menu the time of day, and this includes your beverages.

While, yes, it is perfectly fine to have a soda/pop machine at your mobile kitchen, it would also be wise to concoct some homemade drinks, such as mango tea, smoothies, milkshakes, etc.

Being unique and standing out is the name of the game in this industry, so make sure to add some unique drinks to your menu!

To dig your teeth into what FoodTruckr has to offer, make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, and also make sure to check out more content that we bring to the table.

About the Author

FoodTruckr is the #1 online destination for current and aspiring food truck owners looking to succeed in the mobile food industry. Self described “food truck devotees,” the FoodTruckr team enjoys reading about successful entrepreneurs, salivating over photos of burritos on Twitter, and long walks through food truck parks. Chat with FoodTruckr on Facebook or check out the FoodTruckr School podcast for more awesome tips to level up your business.

The post 5 Menu Ideas For New Food Truck Owners appeared first on FoodTruckr | How to Start and Run a Successful Food Truck Business.

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