50 Food Truck Owners Speak Out: “What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Food Truck”

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. 

You May Also Like...  How to Start a Food Truck 11: Calculate Profit Margins

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


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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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  • Chris Adams October 1, 2013, 2:53 pm

    Excellent resource. Indeed, “Expect the unexpected” is common advice. Thankfully, this post gives some form to “the unexpected.”

    Although food trucks are about fanfare and great food, running a truck is hard work, with numerous challenges and pitfalls (as clearly described in your article). From the trucks I’ve worked with the common indicator of success is passion. There has to be a true, enduring, passion at the core.

    Thanks for launching the site. Looking forward to valuable content and resources to keep the food truck movement rollin’!

    • foodtruckr October 1, 2013, 5:22 pm

      Chris, your point about passion is a great one — it takes sincere, committed passion to succeed in a business as tough as the food truck industry, and that drive is what keeps you going through all the challenges along the way.

      So glad you’re enjoying the site! We’re excited to be a part of the community. Please just let us know if you have any questions or topics you’d like to see us cover!

  • 2mashaa November 7, 2013, 10:07 pm

    You know what you just gave me a business idea….. no one owns a food-truck where I live 🙂

    • foodtruckr November 10, 2013, 11:39 am

      That’s great! We love to see people expanding the food truck community. What area are you in?

    • Angie Byboth January 20, 2015, 3:08 pm

      Sadly there’s probably a reason for that.

      • dooby doo September 29, 2015, 12:00 am

        yea. I remember the good old chip trick in my town. it was eventually kicked out and shortly after they erected a burger king across the road from where it used to be. Damn corporations always get these stupid regulations passed that prevents small business owners from making any money or even a living.

  • Andrew Molino November 26, 2013, 1:11 am

    I want to add one more truck to the list, as i am a little late, just like i usually am with my food truck. I have 2 degrees from culinary school and over 15 years of cooking experience, managing, ordering, running day to day operations. I love to cook, and be creative! I knew that this was going to be a quite a challenging experience going in, and i did it anyway. I am the Owner/Operator of Saucy Sam’s mobile kitchen near Williamsport, PA. I don’t think i could narrow it down to JUST ONE thing i wish i knew prior to starting up lol. It’s kind of a combination of everything! I was ready for inspections, permits, time, prep, designs for menus/truck signage, and most of the basics in establishing a business. What i didn’t plan on was people not being able to do their job the way i wanted them to and in a timely manner. I was begging for people to do work on my truck, but everyone seemed too busy, or too expensive. I ended up some doing some plumbing and electrical work myself because no one could help me. I even installed my own ac unit on top of the truck (which doesnt work, because i don’t have enough power to run it.) Aside from that, Some events want you to pay from $500-$1000 to be there for a DAY! I don’t really think they understand how much food i would need to sell to break even on that, but those events are definitely not worth the risk… I believe a food truck can work in the right market, it is just too bad that everyone in my area is afraid to try it. I have been open for 5 months now, and will probably be one of the casualties in the long list of failed food industry owners. It’s weird to me because everyone states that my food is AMAZING and THE BEST THEY HAVE EVER HAD, but those returning customers isn’t enough to keep it running much longer. I tear up the competition at events in the area, but can’t seem to get consistent drive- by traffic business. I knew it was going to be difficult, but you will never really understand until you exhaust all your resources to make your dream come true, and put all the blood, sweat, and tears in, just to watch it backfire. Im considering contacting Robert Irvine On that note, Anyone looking to buy a food truck?

    • foodtruckr December 2, 2013, 4:58 pm

      Thanks for your detailed story, Andrew. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having trouble maintaining regular traffic. That’s definitely one of the hardest parts of this business, and you bring up a great point — that no matter how much you’re prepare ahead of time, opening a food truck is still a huge risk. Please let us know if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can do to help!

      • Andrew molino December 7, 2013, 7:13 pm

        Do you know of any cheap marketing strategies other than facebook? 🙂

        • foodtruckr December 11, 2013, 9:47 am

          Most definitely — marketing doesn’t have to be expensive! So much of it really hinges on how well you use the platforms that you have available. For example, with Facebook, you can try running a promotion or discount for people who have liked your page. This prompts people to share the page with friends and gets more eyes looking at your content.

          A few other ideas: You could also try getting your story out to local media outlets. Many newspapers and TV news stations are on the lookout for human interest stories, and you could pitch them a piece on your truck. Participate in community events or sponsor a charity in your truck’s name. Let people know that you’re available for catering events (perhaps holiday parties or the Superbowl in January).

          Also, check out Pat’s latest podcast on email marketing… it includes lots of great tips that could help you out! https://foodtruckr.com/2013/12/foodtruck-ask-email-address/

  • Cherry Kress January 27, 2014, 11:28 am

    Oh me oh my! Yes, I identify with all of the above, great article! Im co-owner of Nitro Burger in Lincoln, NE… this year we are entering our 4th season and coming out with a new facility. In the past we had a smaller truck and could fit into some tight spots. Now.. a huge hot rod diner bus with limited places to park (absolutely no public parking allowed here). Our biggest frustration with a large facility is finding places to park on a regular basis that meet all the criteria you need for a sweet location. Most prime locations are larger corporations or chains and its hard to move up that ladder to get the permission you need. Oui! I wish we had known prior to start up how difficult it was to secure regular, profitable lunch and dinner spots (and what fee or offer is appropriate to give back to the property owner), especially in a city where the industry is just beginning to grow. Any advice?

    • foodtruckr February 4, 2014, 4:40 pm

      Hey Cherry! Sorry for the late response; I somehow missed this comment! It’s really great to hear that you’re moving on to a bigger and better truck, but I can definitely see where that will make parking a challenge. Finding a consistent place to serve is tough, so I would recommend that you focus on building relationships with one or two prime property owners. You could consider giving them a larger percentage of your sales than what you might give to someone who lets you use their lot once in exchange for a consistent place to park (because though it will cost more upfront, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headaches by knowing you have a guaranteed spot — plus your customers will be able to find you easily!).

      As for building those relationships and moving up the ladder to get permission, the best advice I can give you is to be persistent. Make calls, leave voicemails if you have to, send follow-up emails, and try to schedule in-person appointments to speak with whoever’s in charge of letting you use the lot (because it’s much harder to turn someone down in person!). Come prepared with plans of when you’d like to use the lot, how many people you expect to serve, how long you’ll serve each day, and a clear list of the benefits the owner will receive. It’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to say “yes” to you, so think about sweetening the deal with something like a lunch discount for their employees or a bonus percentage of the sales if you surpass X amount in a week, etc.

      Hope that helps, and please let me know if you have any other questions! You can also email me personally at [email protected] and I”ll be happy to help with anything I can.

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

      • Cherry Kress February 5, 2014, 2:11 pm

        Nicole, thank you for the great feedback! We have done some of the same negotiating in the past but it has been difficult to even find small business that meet all the criteria we need to secure a good lunch spot that works for us, the business owner, and our customers, especially the space requirements. It seems this is a problem even in cities where local politics are supportive of food trucks. We plan to send out a press release prior to introducing the new concept this season, and were trying to decide the best method of local presentation, email or in person, so I appreciate the support! And thank you for the contact info, please contact me at [email protected] should you need anything as well. Great to connect with you!

        -Cherry, Nitro Burger

        • foodtruckr February 6, 2014, 11:44 am

          You’re very welcome, Cherry… I’m glad it was helpful! Please keep me posted on your progress in finding those elusive lunch spots. We always love to know what’s working and not working for real FoodTruckrs like you. 🙂

          Great to connect with you also, and best of luck!
          Nicole

  • Lauren Davis February 12, 2014, 7:53 pm

    Heard! Whoever mentioned mechanic and electrician forgot about plumber!

    • foodtruckr February 14, 2014, 8:49 am

      Ah, very true… we know plumbing issues can be a struggle for many FoodTruckrs, too!

  • Christian March 7, 2014, 7:09 pm

    At what point in time would you recommend starting a marketing campaign on Facebook, Twitter, etc. for the business before it actually opens.

    • foodtruckr March 11, 2014, 11:26 pm

      Hey Christian, thanks for the question! The short answer is that it depends on a few factors like the size of your network, the area where you’re starting your truck, and how much time you’re planning on spending using social networks. For most trucks, I’d generally suggest beginning to promote the truck around 1-2 months before opening. In small towns, you might be able to start on the earlier end and build up some buzz with locals who will be excited about a new food truck option — whereas in larger cities where you’ll be facing a lot of competition, you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle by starting too early.

      Hope that helps, and let us know if there are any other questions we can help with!
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

      • Chris June 4, 2015, 9:51 am

        I know this is an old thread, but I was curious if anyone has any input of social media platforms as of today. What are people using today to communicate more. Have any of the platforms that have been used in the past years become stale? I want to add logos to my truck when I build it, but don’t want to add something that no one uses anymore or miss out on something that is growing and will dominate. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter I assume will continue to be used but are they still the right platforms to promote or even Four Square. With technology changing so fast and new apps being built, the one thing I can count on is my own website, but what is beyond that? Is the Social Media articles posted a year ago or longer still relevant to the same degree or has that menu changed?

        • foodtruckr June 8, 2015, 9:09 am

          Hi, Chris! That’s a really excellent question! Facebook and Twitter are definitely important for your food truck business. FourSquare, some would argue, is becoming less relevant. We’re also big fans of using Instagram to highlight your tasty, delicious food. People love photos! You could also check out this recent article on social media if you’d like! >> https://foodtruckr.com/2015/03/run-food-truck-20-improve-social-media-outreach/

          Happy Monday!
          – Non at FoodTruckr HQ

          • Chris June 8, 2015, 10:27 am

            Thank Non. I will give it a read. My next step is financing. What a process. With good credit, a company wanted a min of 17% to finance a truck. I was blown away, especially when he said that this is typical for those with great credit and that those who have OK to bad credit, it is closer to 30-35%. This part is not fun. I can’t wait to get on the road.

  • Jupiter Johnson April 28, 2014, 7:37 pm

    So would you say that it’s better to invest in a brick and mortar business as opposed to a food truck. Everything is in the infancy stage, but I want to start a food truck at the top of 2016. If you had to put a figure on it without cutting corners. How much do you think the start up cost is? In addition my food truck idea is pretty exotic and no one in my area or region is specializing in the cuisine or style of cuisine.

    • foodtruckr April 30, 2014, 12:34 pm

      To be totally honest, food trucks are better for some people and brick and mortars are better for others — it all really depends on your personal financial situation and your ultimate goals for the business. That said, I think the goal you’ve set to open in 2016 is a a realistic one that will give you lots of time to plan and research the requirements in your area, so that’s a good start toward a food truck!

      As far as startup costs go, again — it varies dramatically and depends on what you’re looking for. One of our recent posts covered some of the factors that can affect the cost of the truck itself (which is a major component of your overall startup cost), so I’d recommend checking that out: https://foodtruckr.com/2014/04/start-food-truck-15a-buy-lease-food-truck/. This post from Forbes also has some helpful information: http://www.forbes.com/sites/investopedia/2012/09/27/the-cost-of-starting-a-food-truck/. They set the estimated range at $50k to $200k (a pretty high end that most people won’t face), with most trucks coming in around $70k-$80k.

      With the time you’re planning for the startup and the fact that you have a unique idea that others aren’t doing, I think you’re on the right path! Be sure to do some market research and test your idea with friends and family to get feedback on how viable it really is. And as soon as you’re able to, start setting aside the startup funds and looking into the local laws in your city — those are the two things that will really determine whether or not a food truck is right for you.

      Let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

      • Once Upon a Thai November 14, 2014, 6:31 pm

        hello Nicole ,
        love your website ,so helpful and i am in Ireland so the same principles apply internationally
        i was wondering can you point me in the direction of a good business plan template,
        thank you
        John

        • foodtruckr November 18, 2014, 12:22 pm

          Hey John — glad you’re enjoying FoodTruckr! I don’t know of any particular business plan templates, but we do have a fantastic business planning worksheet that will help you create your own. If you send me a quick email at [email protected], I’ll send you a copy!

          Best,
          Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

    • Amy E. Rose Herrmann June 17, 2014, 11:43 am

      I had a brick and mortar location for several years and it was difficult. The primary issue was that it was at a seasonal location (ski resort). I was busy in the winter and sleepy in the summer (my lease required summer operation, despite the lack of traffic). My rent for one year would have been enough to buy a decent, used, food truck. At least with a food truck I could go to the people and not beg for them to come to me!

      • foodtruckr June 18, 2014, 12:17 pm

        That’s also a great point, Amy! So much of the decision to go for a food truck or a brick and mortar hinges on location–and how many months out of the year you’re planning to operate.

  • malcolm B May 7, 2014, 9:18 pm

    I live in an city where food trucks are a dime a dozen in the college/downtown areas. What do you think is the best way to introduce my new truck and not be shunned as the new kid on the block.. By customers and other vendors?

    • foodtruckr May 13, 2014, 9:56 am

      Hi Malcolm — that’s a great question! We get a lot of comments from FoodTruckrs who are starting out in cities where the industry isn’t as popular, but it can be really tough to break in to the market when trucks are already popular in your area.

      Here are a few suggestions:

      1. Find your truck’s unique selling proposition and use it! What sets you apart from all of the other trucks in your area? Do you use special ingredients or offer a twist on a popular dish that no one else does? Highlight it in your marketing and make it a central focus of your truck’s brand.
      2. Start marketing early. Set up a Facebook and Twitter page for your truck and begin showing people what you’re up to now. Connect with fans and other business owners who will be interested in what you’re doing.
      3. Get involved in the food truck community. Does your city have a food truck organization, or an area where food trucks regularly get together and sell? Start participating now and volunteer to help out with events, etc. You will need to show other food truck owners that you’re prepared to pay your dues, so show them that you’re serious by giving back to others and putting in the necessary work.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions, and be sure to tell us when you get your truck up and running. 🙂 We’d love to see what you’ve come up with!

      All the best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Kimberly May 13, 2014, 9:41 am

    Great article, and as a food truck owner as of 8 months ago, I agree that these tips are spot on! I do have a question about generators and would love feedback from you and your readers. We need a new one and would LOVE recommendations. We were running a 6,500 propane generator and could definitely use more power, and we are open to gas or propane. Suggestions?

    Thanks!
    Kimberly

    • foodtruckr May 13, 2014, 10:04 am

      Hi Kimberly,
      Hmm… that’s a tough one! We don’t have specific recommendations for the best generators, but I will ask our fans for their tips today and see if we can get some responses for you. 🙂 Thanks for reaching out!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

    • foodtruckr May 19, 2014, 12:31 pm

      Hi Kimberly,

      Just wanted to let you know what our fans had to say about your generator! Everyone recommended propane, and mentioned that gas generators have to be filled too often. There were 2 votes for the Generac propane generators, and one fan specifically mentioned that his Generac 7500 Propane generator is working out well for his truck. Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

      • Kimberly May 19, 2014, 4:37 pm

        Thanks so much! We’ve also heard good things about the Generac generators. We actually just bought a Honda gas generator and have been pleased so far. We went with gas because we spent so much tome refilling our propane generator! I guess it has more to do with the size of the tank (as well as quality of the brand) than with gas or propane. We bought this one used for a really good price since we couldn’t decide on which new one to select. If we decide we don’t like the Honda we still have the option of going with a different brand and/or fuel, and in the meantime this is certainly a better option that paying $360 per week to rent one!

        • foodtruckr May 20, 2014, 9:31 am

          Great, I’m glad you found one that’s working out! Buying used is always a great way to cut costs and is definitely WAY cheaper than renting one. I hope your Honda proves to be an upgrade long term. 🙂

          Be sure to let us know if you need anything else!
          Nicole

        • Greg August 11, 2015, 12:18 am

          Hi Kimberly,

          I am an authorized distributor of solar power for food trucks- would be happy to discuss your trucks suitability for a clean, free and renewable power source!

          Greg
          [email protected]

          • Lonnie Wilcox January 4, 2016, 11:03 pm

            Wow, Greg just in begin g stages of getting a truck for use in Utah, solo would definitely be the way to go . Would love your insite. I’ve copied your info down. My email is [email protected]

          • Guif April 23, 2016, 9:16 pm

            That sounds like an amazing option!

        • Ergaya Royal TV November 5, 2015, 9:42 pm

          Is it very noisy?

  • Jack Madison May 26, 2014, 5:57 am

    I have a trailer so I negate the concern of “can I serve food today.” I have an suv and a truck which are in excellent condition so I never worry. The cool thing is it completely closes up to look like a regular travel trailer. I customized an Airstream.
    I’ve attached flat steel bars around the trailer in an attractive way where I can stick my magnet menu, signs, logo…etc.
    Works like a charm.
    And two of the things customers compliment me on besides our food is the fact that I have small stools/tables along with music playing in front of it. Of course I know I’m lucky with being able to do that in my spot but no one seems to mind.

    • foodtruckr May 28, 2014, 11:36 am

      That’s awesome, Jack! What’s the name of your business? I’d love to check out photos of your trailer!

      Also, I love the idea of setting out some stools and tables, and the music is a perfect touch. It’s always great to see FoodTruckrs doing something to really set themselves apart. 🙂

      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Tamara May 27, 2014, 7:02 pm

    This is so helpful! I’m starting the process in Florida, with a bit of a twist: I’m hoping to tap into all the boaters that congregate on weekends in our shallow bays by opening a food boat. I’m having issues finding anyone that knows exactly what permits I need, and how I can utilize a commissary if I choose to. I’ve called the state, with questionable results. I know it’s legally possible, (the statute dealing with MFDVs states “MFDVs may even be watercraft”) it’s just nobody knows what to do with me!

    Anybody have any ideas?

    I am also thinking of just doing electric appliances so I don’t have to deal with an ansul system. No fryers because of environmental issues.

    All thought would be appreciated!

    The Galley Wench

    • foodtruckr May 28, 2014, 11:48 am

      A food boat!!! I love this idea so, so much, though I can imagine how it might be even harder than usual to get a straight answer as to what is and isn’t allowed. As I’m sure you know, the restrictions can vary a lot based on where you’re at in Florida. I did find a few general resources that might help you out though!

      This PDF outlines the guidelines for mobile food establishments in Florida: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/10022/136400/mobile_guide.pdf

      Here’s where you can apply for an MFDV from the FL Dept. of Business and Professional Regulations: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/intentions2.asp?chBoard=true&SID=&boardid=200&professionid=2014

      Finally, be sure to also check out the article we posted this morning in the “How to Start a Food Truck” series. It deals exclusively with getting licenses and permits in order, and I think there should be a lot of helpful info there. In particular, check out the link to the SBA page that we mentioned in the “Introduction” section: https://foodtruckr.com/2014/05/start-food-truck-19-organize-licenses-permits/

      Hope some of that helps, Tamara — and please let us know how your quest to open a food boat goes! 🙂

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Stephanie June 10, 2014, 10:51 am

    Hi everyone! This article was very helpful! I’m so glad I found this website!! I’m in the process of getting my food truck started. Right now I am running a small family restaurant that I have personally developed, it’s been fun but my dream is going mobile. I already have my truck, most of my equipment, most of my tools, pots and pans etc as well as my menu, my business name and my logo, my style/theme and my colors. My next step now is getting more familiar with the permits and licenses that I will need. I’m located in Florida but would like to expand and go where the people are hungry! I’m a little hesitant because starting a food truck is a huge step and is a huge responsibility. I don’t want my “what ifs” to stop me. This has been my dream for many years and after getting a business degree as well as a culinary background I feel I’m ready to begin my next chapter in life. Does anyone have ANY advice or words of wisdom to prepare me better for this adventure? Anything would be greatly appreciated!!
    Thank u!
    Stephanie

    • foodtruckr June 11, 2014, 12:27 pm

      Hi Stephanie! I’m so glad to hear that this article and the website in general have been helpful to you. It’s really exciting to hear your passion for the food truck industry, and it sounds like you’ve already made some great strides toward getting your business started… way to go!

      One thing I would suggest: as you’re considering expanding and moving on to different areas, keep in mind that most cities and counties have their own rules and require their own licenses and permits. It will be probably be helpful to do some research on the cities near you and see which one has the best opportunities for food trucks, and start there before moving on to other jurisdictions.

      Starting a food truck is a really huge step, but I think you’ve got a better starting point than most with your business degree and culinary background — as well as your experience running a restaurant! If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out the “How to Start a Food Truck” series on our blog (you can find it by scrolling up and clicking on the bar at the top of your screen). There are some lessons specifically on finding the info on permits and licenses in your area that I think should be pretty helpful to you.

      Best of luck to you as you set out on the rest of your food truck adventure, and be sure to let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help!

      All the best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

    • Aaron Merullo August 17, 2014, 8:52 am

      I just commented above, but in Florida our biggest challenge is weather. There is no way to prepare for it. Summertime here can be very slow for business-

  • Marie Johnson June 19, 2014, 6:38 pm

    Very nice article! So helpful to those starting out and a refresher for us in the business! Since you mentioned you would love to hear responses from this article, I would love to let future food truck owners or those thinking of getting a food trucks some personal pointers… and some thoughts on what I wish I knew when I wanted to start my mobile unit. I really wish I had someone back in the day to guide me through the process. Also, here are a few things you can expect.

    1) Get your ducks in a row. You think your ducks are in a row… they are NOT. Go over everything again.
    2) LISTEN to your elders and fellow foodies. LISTEN to the guidelines on this website and other websites, you cannot get enough information.
    3)When they say come up with a business plan, it is not only for financing but also for personal goals. I cannot stress how important this step is. Almost every city has a Small Business Development Center of sorts… they can guide you through the entire process.. FOR FREE… no need to be afraid, they are there to help you.
    4) Get ready to jump through hoops and over hurdles. Please do not let it stop you from your dreams but you must be prepared to hit a few brick walls.. when that happens… cry a river, build a bridge and get over it.
    5) Financing… plan on this taking 3 times as long as you think… just know this before you get to the point that you really want to hurt somebody.
    6) Cost of start up … you think you have everything on your list you need…you don’t. Go over it again.

    7) Get to know a human from every department you will need to talk to… health, city, county, fire chief, PD, ticket lady, distributors, etc… when you call them write down their name, get a direct number and never lose it.

    8) Patience… if only I knew at start up that it takes everyone else two weeks to do something.. this will cost you time and money so have no fear to get on the paperwork people when they are slowing you down…learn some zen tricks to keep you from yelling and/or having a stroke.
    9) You have to love customers, you have to love to make them smile or this business is not for you. To make a customer smile is pure happiness for me, to see them eat and love my food is very satisfying to me! I love them all dearly! Even when I get a hard to satisfy customer I accept the challenge to meet their needs.

    Customers are the fuel for your business, and they deserve to be appreciated… if you cannot deal with unruly customers well, then find another business to get into before you spend the money.

    • foodtruckr July 7, 2014, 10:57 am

      Hi Marie,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! This is all really great advice for FoodTruckrs, and we really appreciate you sharing your experience. Though we’re quite late in responding to your message (our notifications somehow got turned off!), I’d love to talk with you more about what you’ve gone through in starting a food truck. Would you mind emailing me at [email protected] so we can chat?

      Thank you so much, and hope to hear from you soon!

      All the best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

      • Marie Johnson July 9, 2014, 12:49 am

        Nicole – I would be happy to! I will email you first thing in the morning 🙂

    • Leticia Jimenez July 6, 2015, 10:09 pm

      Thank you for the wonderful insight. always a blessing when others share valuable information. How many people do you have on staff? I don’t hear too much about the pros and cons of business partners and how many people are needed to start the food truck business.

      • Ergaya Royal TV November 5, 2015, 10:01 pm

        Ye, I am curious too. In my truch it will be me only. I hope I can do it.

        • Marie Johnson April 13, 2016, 11:17 pm

          .You can do it! Never give up!

      • Marie Johnson April 13, 2016, 5:52 pm

        I am sorry to reply to this so late ~ I only have 1 scooper at this time. For starting a food truck, you better just expect yourself to do most or ALL of the work! If you are needing more, try to get friends that can/want to help.

        Pros and Cons of business partners ~ since this posting I have started yet another business as well, this one with a partner.
        For my food truck, it was all me… she’s my baby.. I designed her, I created her, I gave birth and implemented all the ideas. I create all recipes from scratch, I am face to face with ALL of my customers! Yes, there are trying moments but the payoff is huge! For a partner to come in on that end, no way. It would be like someone else raising my child while I observed.. uh uh.. nope.
        For the food truck my recommendation would be to keep it simple to start, YOU need to start the truck, YOU need to know the city, county, state, federal rules, YOU need to know every single aspect of your truck… e.g. what kind of generator do I need? (btw bite the bullet and get a Honda) Where/What is my supply line? How do I fix my generator? How do I fix my fuse box? How many amps can my truck take on? What the hell is a watt exactly? What are my plans for when the transmission fails?Am I a mechanic or do I have one in my pocket? Where do I pay taxes? Am I crossing city/county tax lines? How much to they want to sqeeze out of me now? etc…
        Nobody can compare to you knowing every square millimeter of your business.
        For the new business, I have someone whom had his own restaurant. He has a wife and kids, goals and projects, also another small business. I have my life as well, so we thought this would be a good match. I can say this, it is really nice to work with someone who has been in the food business. IF you choose to get a partner, them having a food service background IS CRITICAL for success! Also, you and your partner must both have the numerical skills it will take for success.. each must know the cost of product, what your margins are and how much profit you need. With my partner so far it is gold… we understand each others schedules, each others OTHER businesses and what has to be done. We both work the business, we do not just delegate someone else to do everything… we both have our hands dirty 🙂
        If you must get a partner, the above info is crucial along with ..maybe it’s not good to work with your best buddy… if you can, choose someone very wisely that maybe you are not too close to but just enough to do the business and not *hang out with* all the time. I’m sorry, this may sound crass, but the partner must have a purpose to assist you and you them.

    • Delicious December 11, 2015, 8:57 am

      Great advice, simple and sweet!

    • Geri Pearson April 13, 2016, 9:37 am

      That was some great advice for people who want to start in the business!

  • Stephanie Fry June 28, 2014, 7:35 pm

    Hey guys! Great article, thanks for all the info. I want to get into the food truck business but I guess I’m so confused as where to start 🙁 I’ve been doing lots of research and putting ideas together for menus. I used to cater private events…but this food truck stuff seems way more complicated. Any advice for newbies?

    • foodtruckr July 7, 2014, 10:55 am

      Hi Stephanie,

      I’m so sorry for the late reply to your message! Our comment notifications somehow got turned off, but we wanted to be sure to give you some advice on starting a truck. 🙂

      Running a food truck is definitely pretty complex, but there are a few things you can do to start off the right way:

      1. Start learning about the food truck laws in your city to find out whether or not it’s a viable business option for you.
      2. Look into the startup costs for opening a food truck and figuring out how much you’ll need to save or find financing for.
      3. Come up with a concept for your truck and outline a sample menu to guide you along the way.

      Finally, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the “How to Start a Food Truck” series here on FoodTruckr: https://foodtruckr.com/how-to-start-food-truck. This series is our guide to opening a food truck, and it takes you step-by-step through the entire process. There’s tons of information there that we think will be helpful to you!

      In the meantime, be sure to let us know if you have any more questions! You can always contact us here by leaving a comment, or you can email [email protected] as well. 🙂

      All the best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Jax Lazzo Rhapsody June 29, 2014, 6:40 am

    For a while, I’ve been wanting to do this, I even have an exquisite plan for multiple vehicles, the focus though is to just get one going first. I already know what vehicle will give me what I need to do so, as much as I love stepvans(wanted one since I was a kid, eapecially a ups custom), one would not be big enough. I’ve looked up my cities seemingly simple requirents, I and my friends are excellent cooks.

    I will be starting with nothing, getting a truck, getting it up to my operational standards, pricing needed appliances, storage, painting the truck, planning out my hybrid energy system, room for five plus driver. A slew of other things before even getting paperwork and foodstuff.

    I don’t know how long or when I’ll be able to do this, but I will be back, when I do.

    • foodtruckr July 7, 2014, 10:50 am

      Hi Jax! I’m really glad to hear that you’ve thought so much about starting your food truck and that you’ve already done a lot of the necessary research — that’s awesome! A lot of people jump headfirst into this business, so it’s really good to see that you’ve got a clear vision and a mission to accomplish.

      If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out our “How to Start a Food Truck” series as you’re working on getting your truck up and running. You can use the lessons there as a sort of checklist to keep yourself organized, and you’ll also find a lot of great resources that can help you with everything from finding the best parking in your city to registering your business. You can find the series here: https://foodtruckr.com/how-to-start-food-truck

      Please let us know if you have any questions along the way!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Christopher Dawson June 30, 2014, 1:44 pm

    Great article. I have a trailer available to me that is in a permanent spot and I was wanting to do a very limited menu. Basically wings with my homemade sauces, chips and drinks. My two questions I have are –1– can I get people to come to me since the trailer is permanent? My “city” is small and it is a college town with an awesome brewery right down the street (perfect with wings!) but foot traffic isn’t huge. –2– Is it a good idea to do a very limited menu? The name and graphics are great (I am/was a professional graphic designer) and I think my sauces will be the main focus that I could sell at the trailer and in local stores but are just wings enough? Hard work and long hours are no problem, so long as the reward reflects it.

    • foodtruckr July 7, 2014, 10:47 am

      Hi Christopher,

      I think this sounds like a great idea! You can definitely get by without foot traffic so long as you’re establishing your business in other ways. The location next to the brewery is great, but you’ll need to advertise your location clearly through your website and social media pages. Bottling the sauces and selling in stores (and local farmer’s markets, etc.) will be a great way to promote your business, as would perhaps doing some catering.

      As far as the menu, I would recommend having a few additional options besides the sauces and wings. It’s always best to keep your menu as focused as possible, but offering some sides and snack items will serve you well here since you’ll be in a static location. Particularly since you’ll be next to a brewery, I think you could do some great business with the late night crowd if you offer some tasty finger foods.

      Great to see how willing you are to put in the work and long hours — that will go a long way toward your success!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

      • Christopher Dawson July 8, 2014, 11:28 am

        Thanks for the advice and encouragement! You are awesome for providing both.

    • Aaron Merullo August 17, 2014, 8:56 am

      A limited menu is the way to go. The most successful food trucks and restaurants focus on one or two items and perfect them. Also, when you have a line you want the food out as quickly as possible. Think of it as “gourmet” state fair style service. You want the items made to order as quickly as possible, and it needs to be consistently good. Also, the brewery should become your best friend-

  • Stephanie VanArsdale July 14, 2014, 11:00 am

    Hello all I admire what you all are doing and am looking into doing the same. My dream was to own my own restaurant but I really don’t want that much over head or employee s. I’m looking to get a truck and travel with it from state to state while my husband works (nursing). I’m looking down the road a year or two but would love to start planning and getting all my ducks in a row so called. So any information where to start what to expect cost etc would be greatly greatly appreciated.

    Thank you
    Stephanie V

    • foodtruckr July 14, 2014, 12:48 pm

      Hi Stephanie,

      We’re glad to hear that you’re interested in starting a food truck! You’ve got the right idea in starting this early, as you’ll have plenty of time to research and work out the logistics.

      If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend checking out our “How to Start a Food Truck” blog series here: https://foodtruckr.com/how-to-start-food-truck. It’s filled with a ton of great information on opening a truck, and the very first lesson in the series has some information on general startup costs for food trucks vs. restaurants. You’ll also find info on researching the laws in your area, finding a truck, and writing a business plan, that I think will be very helpful to you.

      I would caution that taking the truck from state to state will require a lot of additional licenses, permits, and expenses. Every city has its own unique laws, so most food truck owners already have to get a number of different licenses and permits simply to travel to different locations in their own metropolitan areas. Crossing state lines and trying to figure out the requirements for each city and each state will complicate the process significantly. Though it’s not impossible, I’d definitely suggest spending some time frequenting places in your own area first so you can really get your legs as a food truck owner — and then considering expanding, perhaps even by owning multiple trucks!

      Please let us know if you have any other questions, and best of luck as you get started researching!
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • William Scott July 19, 2014, 3:48 am

    So I’m looking at getting into the food truck industry with a partner. Right now he and his wife are running a BBQ restaurant out of a Holiday Inn. They food is spot on, especially their sides. The restaurant that they are running is more for the guests of the hotel and they really do not cater to the general public. I myself am already the owner of a very successful small business. Aside from my great customer service and extreme knowledge of the business that I’m already in I found out the secret to my success in my business is that I am a marketing guru and an extremely hard worker. My concerns are mainly about profit margins. I will be financing the truck and supplies and as well as doing the marketing and promotion while he and his wife run the truck. The plan is to pay them by the hour along with all of the other overhead expenses and split the profits after putting back 30% of the profits for emergency expenses and for capital expenditures to improve and grow the business. For a moderately successful business what kind of profit margins should I expect. It’s not all about the net profit but I’m trying to gauge how long it will take to make the truck the success I know it can be. I also want to gauge how long before the truck becomes profitable to be self sustaining. Thanks in advance for your time.

    • foodtruckr July 23, 2014, 11:49 am

      Hi William,

      Those are great questions. Unfortunately, there are simply too many variables (and very little industry trend data available) for us to really give you any kind of a concrete answer as to what type of profit margins to expect and to estimate how long it will take your truck to become profitable. I will do my best to point you in the right direction though!

      Have you written out a formal business plan yet? If you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend checking out these two posts from FoodTruckr on writing a business plan. As you write out the plan, you’ll put together a lot of figures and perform some calculations based on your area, the costs of menu items, and anticipated volume that should give you a better indication as to the types of profits you can expect. Here are the links: https://foodtruckr.com/2013/10/write-food-truck-business-plan/ and https://foodtruckr.com/2014/03/start-food-truck-write-business-plan/

      I would also suggest talking with a trusted financial advisor who can help you figure out the general trends in your area for new start-ups (particularly those in the food industry). If your partners have records on the business they’ve already done, this data would also be very helpful in determining what you’ll need to charge to achieve X profits and how quickly you can expect the truck to begin turning a profit.

      It sounds like you’ve already done a lot of thinking on this, and you’ve definitely got some great experience that will help you get started in the food truck industry! We’re always excited to see people who have really thought about the logistics of what they’re getting themselves into, as they have the greatest chances of success. Please let us know if there’s anything else we can help you with along the way!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Aaron Merullo August 17, 2014, 8:49 am

    depending on where you live a HUGE factor that nobody mentioned is weather. up north ice and snow can sideline you in the winter, and here in Florida, where I am all of us food truck owners are also meteorologists. I can tell you the 10 day forecast every Monday morning. We get heavy rain and thunderstorms most afternoons in summer, and many of our food truck events are dinnertime events in open parking lots, apartment complexes, etc. People plan dinner after lunch. If it looks bad they will not be bringing umbrellas to eat soggy food from a food truck. We have had weeks here in summertime when all of our events have been cancelled. A solution to this is opening for lunch and working office parks where you can sell from 11-2, then get out before the weather turns.

    • foodtruckr August 18, 2014, 10:42 am

      Aaron, that’s a fantastic point! We’ll be writing about that in the future on FoodTruckr. While there are a lot of factors you can control with some leg work and advance prep, the weather is one that’s just plain out of your hands. I love your idea to focus on working lunch and office parks when you know that the afternoons are usually filled with rain.

  • Megan B September 3, 2014, 10:37 am

    I am recently seriously considering starting a food truck. My husband will graduate with a business degree in 2015 and I have the passion for food that is necessary to run a successful food truck. I am currently a teacher in Cincinnati and teaching ‘just ain’t what it used to be’ around here. I am ready for the hard work and risk it will take to become successful at food trucking. There are already a handful of food trucks in Cincinnati so I know it can be done. I have two questions. First, will current food truck owners in my city be helpful, or will they see me as competition and be unwilling to help? My other question is, my husband and I plan on having children within the next three years. Is starting a food truck and getting pregnant within the first two years a realistic goal? Thank you in advance for any advice and I loved this article and commentary. It has given me two pages of notes!!!

    • foodtruckr September 4, 2014, 11:46 am

      Hi Megan,

      So excited to hear that you’re thinking about a food truck! Between your passion for food and your husband’s business expertise, it sounds like you’ll have a great start. To answer your two questions, for the most part, we’ve found that current food truck owners are super helpful and a very friendly community! If you’ve got your own unique style, brand, and menu ideas, I can’t imagine that the other Cincinnati trucks would be anything less than welcoming. Having more food trucks around is good for everybody, as it legitimizes the business in the eyes of new customers and the government (making it easier to get better laws in place).

      As far as having kids while also having a food truck, I think it’s definitely possible, but it’s certainly something to discuss more with your family and your doctor at the time. The two factors you would need to watch out for are working long hours and sometimes strenuous labor — but with a solid plan in place of how you’ll take time off when you need to and a commitment to balancing work with your personal needs, I’m sure you and your husband can find a way to make it work!

      I’m really glad to hear that this article was helpful to you and gave you lots of notes. We love this advice from real food truck owners, as so many of the people featured here have really worked hard to achieve the success they have today. If you haven’t already done so, I’d definitely recommend checking out the “How to Start a Food Truck” series on our blog (here’s a link to all the posts: https://foodtruckr.com/how-to-start-food-truck/). This series is a step-by-step guide to getting started, and there’s a lot more valuable information that you’ll find to help you out along the way.

      Let us know if you have any other questions or if there’s anything else we can do to help, and keep us posted on your progress!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

    • mary November 20, 2014, 11:26 am
  • Barney C September 13, 2014, 11:15 am

    Great article. I have a property that is 50 feet from a $400 Million Casino. It is literally a 1 minute walk to the front door. I am in the real estate investment business and although I would like to own a restaurant, I know how much work and time is involved. My property has a building that I am renovating as well as corner lot that I can build a covered patio. All of this very visible from the outside of the Casino that is next door. I would like to get a restaurant tenant but we all know the difficult and expensive part is building the kitchen. I thought it may be a good test to bring in a food truck to the property for a very busy 3 day weekend. Just would like some opinions?

    • foodtruckr September 13, 2014, 4:27 pm

      Hey Barney,

      I think it sounds like a GREAT idea! We’ve seen a lot of food truck owners parter with local bars and breweries to offer food for hungry patrons, and I think bringing some trucks to the casino would be a huge hit. I would just spend some time researching the local laws and restrictions in your area to make sure your plan is viable. A lot of cities have limitations on how close food trucks can park to certain types of establishments, so you would need to make sure there wouldn’t be any violations there.

      Let us know if we can help out with any other questions!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Shirley5412 September 16, 2014, 8:49 pm

    Be aware of phoney bad reviews. We had a competitor who from day one put up horrible reviews on every review site out there. There are nasty nasty people out there.

  • Shirley5412 September 16, 2014, 9:01 pm

    The other thing you need to do is not to take food service advice from people who have NEVER been in the food industry, your neighbour, your former boss, the nice guy who leans in the window of your chip truck and tells you that boy you sure would make a killing if you just added organic this or fresh caught that, no, none of these will make you money. My husband believed that people would drive 50 miles out of their way for a gourmet made from scratch burger with different authentic cheeses and bacon etc. Nope, we found that people just wanted a basic burger, with a Kraft slice on top which costs under 50 cents to build. We sell thousands of these monthly and people really really enjoy them. Who’d a thought a no name burger patty, bought 50 in a box would be so popular. Well we realized if it works for Mcdonalds and they sell billions who were we to re-invent the burger. DONT LET YOUR EGO get in the way of making a living for your family. There is a reason Mcdonalds sells so many burgers, PEOPLE LOVE THEM. end of. THIS IS THE BEST advice I can give anyone starting a chip truck. MAKE IT QUICK, CHEAP and get it out in under 4 minutes. Dont believe me?, check on online sales sites like for used food trucks, hundreds out there and they have all their spiffy advertisement painted on the side. Just do basic, decent, meant for the masses food and you will make a very good living. Dont waste your time doing silly fru fru stuff, you wont make any money and it is all about making a living for you and your family. A family of 6 in a park for a day just wants to spend 20 bucks or under and wants Mcdonald style food. They dont want your chef ego food. Buy a pack of no name weiners and buns at McDonalds for 2 bucks a pack and sell for 2 dollars made. They will be extremely happy and you will be spending winters relaxing on a beach.

    • Kenneth Joseph Collins Jr. December 8, 2014, 5:03 pm

      I like your ideas keep it simple, quick and convenient. People just want some good but at a reasonable price like the dollar menu at McDonald’s. Take that menu, add more items that are quick,simple you will many a good living on a food truck.

    • Perry Collins June 2, 2015, 5:33 pm

      why not do both? get the simple stuff and offer the ego stuff to those who want it 😛

    • hiopal July 17, 2015, 4:33 pm

      Sounds like you’re a “money over morals” type. I don’t think people who
      choose to offer interesting organic meals care about “chef ego” food as
      much as they care about offering nutritious foods that aren’t available
      at places like McDonald’s. Those “no name burgers” you’re serving are
      contributing to the obesity and disease rates in this country. I’d
      rather serve healthy “frou frou” (that’s how you spell it, by the way)
      food than poisoned junk from some generic box. Instead of looking to
      just make a quick buck by slapping bland ingredients together, I would
      rather put a little more heart and brain power into finding a way to
      make a good living while having a clear conscience about what I’m
      feeding my customers. As a customer, I’d also rather pay an extra measly
      $1 or $2 to eat a healthy meal made with fresh, local ingredients than
      to have frozen poisoned beef patties any day.

      • Marcin_BodyRocker January 15, 2016, 12:17 pm

        Yes, but the American way is cheap and fast, without looking at the ingredients. I do agree with you fully and I am the same way, but the majority does not care at all.

    • dooby doo September 29, 2015, 12:02 am

      loose meat burgers are even cheaper to make and where I live you’re allowed to sell MOOSE MEAT so loose moose meat burgers. so good.

    • Ergaya Royal TV November 5, 2015, 9:52 pm

      I agree. Great advice. I am doing my truck now and start this dec. I will sell coffee, donuts and other similar simple stuff. No fru fru stuff. People are tired of fancy foods, they just want to eat what they are familiar with.

    • yuppicide April 28, 2016, 10:26 am

      If I buy a hot dog from you and taste those $2 Walmart no name hot dogs, I’m not coming back to your food truck ever again. They’re disgusting. Same thing goes with chili. If you’re going to serve Hormel chili on top of your hot dog, I can tell, and I won’t come back.

      I’m not the type of person to ask for a refund, that would be wrong, but once I know you sell crap you’re not getting any more business.

  • CC September 30, 2014, 10:46 am

    How much does it cost to start up the business?
    How much do you earn a week?
    How long does it take to make back the money to start up?

    • foodtruckr October 1, 2014, 1:19 pm

      Hi CC,

      Those are all great questions! Unfortunately, the answers aren’t super clear-cut — it depends heavily on a number of factors, including the area you’re in, what kind of food you’re serving, how many hours per week you work, etc. General startup costs can be a little easier to estimate, and I would recommend checking out this article from our “How to Start a Food Truck” series to learn more about the costs you’ll be looking at as well as some other important factors to consider before getting started.

      https://foodtruckr.com/2014/01/start-food-truck-go-mobile-brick-mortar/

      Hope this info helps!

      Best,

      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • jboesch October 8, 2014, 2:19 pm

    Awesome article. Something that I’ve heard to ring true for a lot of food truck operators is along the lines of what Scott from Streetza Pizza said. We had interviewed a guy named Chad over at our blog (http://7shifts.com/mobile-eats-why-a-food-truck-might-be-your-best-move/), who interviewed a few food truck operators. Most food truck owners said the amount of prep work that goes into making your food, especially if you’re making it from scratch, is insanely time consuming. You basically live in your truck most of the day selling food, then you go home and prep for the next day. I now have more respect than I ever did for food truck owners.

    Another thing that has come up, is tipping food trucks. Does anybody do that? I know they don’t get paid a tonne and I always try and round up if I can.

    • foodtruckr October 10, 2014, 12:42 pm

      Thanks Jordan! You’re really right — it’s amazing to see how much of their daily lives food truck owners pour into their trucks. These are really committed, passionate business owners and they deserve so much more respect than they receive! It’s a tough job.

      As far as tipping goes, we’ve definitely seen some customers leave tips (and some food trucks have tip jars)! Our philosophy is that FoodTruckrs always appreciate tips, and the person operating the truck window will let you know if for some reason the owner of their truck has said they can’t accept tips. So absent of that, tip away!

      Thanks so much for reading our site!
      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Anthony Crossley November 6, 2014, 12:39 pm

    So I live in Lake Havasu City Arizona and am in the process of building a food truck. Right now I’m finishing up my business plan and getting ready to present to a bank. What I’m having the hardest time with is the planning of the truck, if that makes sense. I want to have a rottiserie in the truck so I’ve decided that buying a empty or near empty truck and then outfitting it with the equipment that I need is the best plan (am I wrong?). I have a great source for refurbished equipment such as my range, fryer, reach-in etc. at a great price. But I have no idea on where to start with the truck. What size, how to make everything fit, what type of truck, what should already be in the truck? I’m nearly done with my price list and securing my vendors and farmers. I should be securing the loan by the end of next week and will need to purchase the truck and get it up and running as soon as possible. Any help or resources in this are would be greatly appreciatede.

  • Cory Martin November 16, 2014, 8:55 pm

    Hi, I’m an aspiring food truck owner in Cincinnati. Can any of you tell me where I can find the market size for this industry? I just need specifics for my business plan such as yearly average sales and many other statistics. Thanks for your help!

    • foodtruckr November 18, 2014, 12:20 pm

      Hey Cory,

      That’s a good question — but unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of statistics available for the industry as a whole. Making this type of information available is one of our long-term goals here at FoodTruckr, but for now, the best advice I can offer is to talk to other food truck owners in Cincinnati to see what type of business they’re doing. Though there are a ton of variables that go into your annual sales and profits, location is one of the biggest determining factors, so they may be able to give you some insight as to what you can expect in your first year.

      Hope that helps, and please let us know if you have any other questions!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

    • mary November 20, 2014, 11:24 am
  • Anne December 6, 2014, 2:58 pm

    No pain no gain. It is still worthwhile to go through all the miseries because you establishing a business for yourself and perhaps for your sons and daughters. In a good area it can fetch unto $200,000 a year. Now that’s what I call entrepreneurship!

    • Craig Reynolds May 4, 2015, 3:55 pm

      Sounds like a good number up front, but I’m curious how much actually remains after all expenses are deducted. From everything I’ve read it sounds like the expenses are significant.

  • Lucas December 18, 2014, 6:37 pm

    Wow! Great article. I’m really inspired. Thank you all so much. I’ve drawn all my plans and ready to start a food truck business here in Ghana but how to get the truck here is my challenge. Can I be linked up to some manufacturers please? Will be so grateful.

  • Jason Stern January 25, 2015, 2:41 pm

    Great article. I noticed GA was represented as the most regulated states. We are in GA and any advice on where to start in regards to the red tape licensing would help. The are few resources for us on the first steps.

    • foodtruckr January 30, 2015, 11:42 am

      Hey Jason,

      Great question — I’m not sure where you’re at in GA, but I’ve heard that the Atlanta Street Food Coalition has some great resources available for aspiring food truck owners. I’d recommend contacting them to see if they can point you in the right direction!

      Best,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Carl J. February 9, 2015, 9:34 am

    How does one recommend setting up a iPad POS kiosk for the food truck? I was told that Maclocks is the best (http://www.maclocks.com/i-pad-lock/ipad-pos-stand-ipad-pos-system.html) for POS solutions, anyone have any experience with this?

    • foodtruckr February 10, 2015, 1:28 pm

      Hey Carl,

      Great question! We’re big fans of Square here at FoodTruckr, but there are a ton of great mobile options available. We wrote about some other great systems + some of the key things to look for in a POS provider in this article from our “How to Start a Food Truck” series: https://foodtruckr.com/2014/07/start-food-truck-26-set-point-sale-system/

      Best wishes,
      Nicole at FoodTruckr HQ

  • ErikaLevi February 11, 2015, 4:49 pm

    If you own a food truck, make sure not to let a customer walk away just because they don’t carry cash.

    Swipe Up allows you to transform your phone into a portable mobile card processing unit. All you need to do is plug in the swiper, swipe the credit card (or punch in the numbers) and presto, you’re good to go.

    Get money on your bank the very next day and pay one of the lowest rates in the market. Only with Swipe Up.

  • Giovanni March 2, 2015, 8:06 am

    This was a a good article with helpful advice. I don’t own a food truck yet (in the planning stage now), but I can say as an Army diesel mechanic and auto enthusiast, it helps to have general knowledge of engine maintenance and knowledge of major components such as drivetrain and transmission systems. Learn how to perform general tune-up, too. Before starting a food truck you might want to take a few auto mechanic classes at your local community college or get a part-time job at a mechanic. Remember though, just because you can do it doesn’t me that you will always have the means available to perform certain tasks. You can also become friends with a mechanic and you might even be able to park at their shop and sell food!

    • foodtruckr March 3, 2015, 9:05 am

      Thanks, Giovanni! It definitely helps to either know (or know someone who knows) about basic truck maintenance, for sure! Thanks for the comment!

  • kcinca March 18, 2015, 12:21 pm

    Am I glad I stumbled on this site! I have a bit of a unique situation: My sister wants to start a clothing boutique and my brother wants to start a food truck, and they’ve both asked me to take care of the marketing. I recently learned that there are a lot of new mobile boutiques starting up, so I suggested to my sister that she may want to go that route since there is less investment risk upfront. Then she can transition to brick and mortar later if all goes well. Anyway, my question has to do with marketing. Do any of you go the extra step to build your own email contact lists? Do you find that valuable at all or does it not make sense since you’re always driving from city to city? I’m a bit skeptical about relying on social media only because I’ve run social media for a number of businesses and I know when Facebook went public, the reach of those businesses on Facebook went WAY down. 95% of posts weren’t getting to our fans anymore and Facebook made if obvious they wanted us to pay to reach more people. Some of the businesses that I worked with who had not built an email list were kind of stuck at that point since they had no way of reaching their fans since they didn’t collect their info. Instagram is great, but they are now owned by FB so I’m wondering if the same thing will eventually happen there as well. So what do you guys recommend? Should we get contact info from customers, or just rely on social media? Thanks!

  • Wing Nut April 11, 2015, 1:35 am

    great article.its definitely not like the movies make it out to be

  • disqus_x7t843TNtA April 17, 2015, 8:02 pm

    I am planning on starting a Food Truck but my first question is, where in the US is the best place to start, where is it easier, I read the article above and I live in Georgia but I just looked at the application all 17 pages, and the other requirements that are required and it is almost impossible to start a food truck here so I would like to know where is the best and easiest state to start the business out of?

  • Opi April 24, 2015, 7:52 am

    Hello everyone, thank you for the great article and insight on the mobile food industry. I am in the process of starting my own food van business which I’m very excited about and now also more aware of the problems and risks I could face.
    My biggest doubt is knowing what type of van/ truck. What I should look out for, if I should buy it fitted with a kitchen or customize it myself. ANY advice on this matter would be wholly appreciated, I would love to be able to see the inside a few vans to get a better idea.
    Thank you and keep up the good work!

    • foodtruckr June 8, 2015, 9:24 am

      Hi, Opi! That’s a great question! The neat thing is that the mobile food industry is changing and innovating. Recently we had a podcast episode about Metrofiets. They are using cargo bikes to deliver food! I’d recommend checking out our post on choosing the right truck for you here: https://foodtruckr.com/2015/05/fs034-make-huge-impact-small-footprint-phil-metrofiets/

      Cheers!
      Non at FoodTruckr HQ

      • Tam Nguyen October 8, 2015, 5:54 am

        Hi Non,
        1 question! I am a very beginner. Looking for getting a truck but Could I ask for the truck plan/ blue print from truck renter and register for permit before buying the truck? I don’t want to get the wrong truck.

    • Better Buzz Mobile Espresso June 9, 2015, 1:36 pm

      Hi Opi! I battled with the same questions. I had to weigh out my options. I sat down and figured out how much it would cost me to do a complete build out (and is it worth the energy?) and how much it would cost me to buy a used truck that was almost what I was looking for and retro-fit it to meet my needs. I looked at Sprinters, step-vans, trailers and old box trucks. In the end, I opted for Chevy Workhorse step-van that already had a three-compartment sink, hand sink, refrigerator, generator (with optional shore power) and fresh/gray water tanks. I spent a month or so retro-fitting it and installing the wrap. I also needed to upgrade the suspension once I added weight to it. My next task is to put a heavy duty truck tires on it as well. When all was said and done, I bought the truck and retro-fitted it for the price of a used Sprinter (extended wheel base.)

      I searched for several months for a truck that was in my price range and met my needs. They are definitely out there, you just need to dig. I got super lucky and found a truck that was only an eight hour drive away. I flew down, drove it home and the rest is history!

  • Kimberly..H April 25, 2015, 8:31 pm

    This article was “AWESOME” it answered a lot of the questions I had and then some.If at all possible I would specifically like to know about food trucks that specialize in deserts.

  • Craig Reynolds May 4, 2015, 4:49 pm

    My wife and I plus one partner are trying to decide between a food truck or brick and mortar. We are both excellent cooks. She is Chinese and brings Chinese cooking to the mix. The beauty of this is that most dishes consist of just 3 ingredients or less plus seasonings. The partner is also Chinese and specializes in dumplings. Taste great and are fancifully made (not just flat pinched together) I am a lover of all Asian foods and have a unique ability to be able to taste out exactly what seasonings, spices and other condiments are in any dish and replicate it at home.

    Due to that ability I can take ordinary classic American foods and really kick them into something with a unique Asian flair (Asian Fusion?) All of our friends absolutely love my creations and her classic Chinese cooking so I’m confident we can succeed as long as we have a good location.

    There was a ton of great information regarding food trucks in this article, especially with regard to the legal hoops and truck maintenance expenses. The one thing that was missing and is key to our decision of whether to go the truck route or brick & mortar is the net profit potential after expenses. Easy enough to figure out for brick & mortar. Not so much for a truck.

    Is there anyway to find this out? I’m not looking for an absolute or max number. I would just like to know what to expect as an average net profit after all expenses for a truck in an average (not ideal or exceptional location and not doing events). If I can just get this average number we can make the decision.

    • foodtruckr June 8, 2015, 9:20 am

      Hi, Craig! It sounds like you’re really putting a lot of thought into this decision. We love that! It’s so important. And you pose a great question. It’s tough to say definitively. But you can check out our post on calculating profit margins here https://foodtruckr.com/2014/03/start-food-truck-11-calculate-profit-margins/ Let us know if this helps you!

      Happy Monday!

      – Non at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Sharlyn May 11, 2015, 6:01 pm

    Hi, Im a food service passionate with the interest in starting up a food truck, funds are limited, and the start for me is hard; not knowing anyone in the industry. Is there a mentorship program or book I can buy to help me out. I’m in the New Orleans area and I rarely see food trucks or trailers anywhere to get some sort of insight. Any suggestions?

    • foodtruckr June 8, 2015, 9:17 am

      Hi, Sharlyn! Totally awesome question. It’s great that you’re thinking about starting your own food truck! We’d like to think of the FoodTruckr blog and podcast as a sort of mentorship program 😀 But if you’d like something more substantial, we have our How To Start a Food Truck book! https://foodtruckr.com/book/

      – Non at FoodTruckr HQ

  • Abbas May 16, 2015, 5:52 pm

    Hi Nicole and everyone else at foodtruckr. Great Great article. I learned a lot. Thank you very much.

    I am planning to get into the food truck business myself. I am in Tanzania, East Africa and the food industry is doing quite well and is on the rise over here. A food truck would be something a new eating out experience for the people over here. Surely it is going to be tough in the beginning but I am confident that it will work out. The permits and the licenses are turning out to be a very tough to get as this kind of business is new and thus there are no exact regulations to fit this model.
    I am planning on serving breakfast, lunch and snacks/desserts in the evening. Most of this will be cooked earlier and properly packed for take away. Only fries, burger patties and fish fillets will be fried/grilled on the spot and therefore the kitchen will be quite small. This way most of the job will be just giving out the packed food and collecting the cash which can be done by maximum 2 people. Dinner is a bit of a long shot as many people here prefer to have that meal either at their homes or at the pubs.
    I was thinking of using gas fryers, gas flat top grill so to avoid putting a power generator. instead I was thinking of using a car inverter to power up the fridge for the drinking water, fresh juice and the other food stuff. I am also thinking of putting 3-4 solar panels on the roof of the truck which will be used to power up the lights, mixer/grinder and other small electrical items.
    I am planning to put all these things Body mounted on a Suzuki Carry Truck. I know, the truck is quite small but I have seen it in action in the Philippines and trust me if done properly this is a great food truck.

    Since I have not even started this business, I would like you and all the readers on this site to please give me ideas, suggestions and alternatives in regards to anything that I have written here.
    Once again, thank you for the great article.

    Cheers,
    Abbas

    • T J Chelak Jr June 3, 2015, 1:33 pm

      Abbas…can you register these Suzuski Carry Trucks…where do you find them?

      • Abbas June 6, 2015, 2:38 am

        Hi TJ,

        Sorry, what do you mean by register?
        These trucks are plenty over here. Car dealers have them in good stock as they are in demand. You cal also import them for the suppliers in Japan at reasonable prices. i was recommended to buy from http://www.tradecarview.com. i have not yet bought anything from them as i am still weighing my options.
        Cheers,
        Abbas

        • T J Chelak Jr June 6, 2015, 9:00 am

          I searched and found one, but the guy said it would have to be used as an off road vehicle…No paper work to be able to register it to make it road legal!! Can’t find this truck after a quick search in my area!!

          Thanks Abbas,
          TJ

  • Joyce Greco May 17, 2015, 10:17 am

    How many people do you need in the truck at each event for the smoothest operation?

  • MJP Skwally May 18, 2015, 9:30 pm

    how much would I have to pay to park at a location?

  • Kelli Rae Lege June 22, 2015, 6:15 pm

    What are the best places to store the food truck over night if you can not provide your own place???

  • David Desorcy July 6, 2015, 8:05 pm

    I would like to sell cinnamons and cracking chicken,burgers, hotdogs, coffee , so I think I need something to keep the buns very warm and a grill for the chicken, burgers. What else do I need? What size do I need? Thanks much.

  • La Loncherie Pasteleria July 10, 2015, 3:43 am

    This is great information. Hi! My name is Angie, and I want to start the food truck business. I have over 20 years of restaurant experience, but food truck is trickier I assume. I have a question, I have a commercial kitchen to prepare my food from, besides the sink
    s, generator, greasetrap, water supply, etc I am thinking that if I only use electrical appliances, like an electrical fryer, ventless, do you think I could save money on a hood ansul system? And which generator will give the best results? I really wish I could go with green energy!

  • Brina July 17, 2015, 10:22 pm

    What about solar instead of generators? Then you don’t need to breathe on that nasty gas all day

  • Danielle Bennett July 23, 2015, 11:25 am

    I loved this article so much, I read it more than once! We are trying to start a bbq truck in San Francisco, EEK! Currently we are selling our food from a convenience store. We’ve done tons of research and realize this is no task for the weak minded. That being said, I would like more information on “How to Start a Food Truck” guide. We are a family of 6, so I want to get as much info as I can before paying for the whole “kit-and-caboodle” Can you give me a more detailed description of the “Give it Your All” version. Thank You!

  • Romane Simon July 26, 2015, 5:37 pm

    how are you all doing, i am getting ready to start a foodtruck business, what are some of the things to be aware of,

  • Bilderberg CEO July 30, 2015, 4:07 am

    All of these regulations are completely unnecessary and stifling. You don’t need a bureaucracy to protect people. If your truck is unsanitary or your customers get food poisoning, you will not stay in business. There is no profit in killing your customers. It’s that simple.

  • Jay White August 24, 2015, 5:31 pm

    Here is a question. Not sure where best to ask it, so here goes… I am considering getting into something like this, but more along the lines of a stationary location, like a trailer. What are the benefits and downfalls of each, food truck vs semi mobile/stationary food trailer. Is there a better name for what I’m thinking? And is there a more accurate read for someone like me who is interested in such an operation?

    • Ergaya Royal TV November 5, 2015, 10:34 pm

      Well, in my opinion food truck will be better because you can change a place if you see that nobody is interested . Also you can go to ivents to earn some extra money

  • Lily Nicolas September 18, 2015, 12:53 pm

    Hello everyone, great article, I’m sorry to say, I have just starting doing my research on a food truck business and reading this article makes me really scared now. I know any business you are into brings challenge every day but wow! this is some serious stuff to consider about this food truck business. Any advice greatly appreciate.

  • Lilith October 2, 2015, 1:13 am

    Hello! food trucking business it’s been my dream for many years and I live in California ,I just don’t know where to start . Can somebody please help me with some advise or any advise . Im a first generation in USA and I’m ready for hard work . Thank you so much .

  • Atta Kiddo October 21, 2015, 12:37 am

    Hi I have a question I am from mexico and I am going to start a food truck coffee but I am having problems on how I will get electrical power , my husband and I have thought about a power inverter and adapting a car battery to it, one that can provide 2500 watts. It`s not a big truck its a piaggio..

  • Atta Kiddo October 21, 2015, 12:40 am

    Hi my name is Haydee I have a question I am from mexico and I am going to start a food truck coffee but I am having problems on how I will get electrical power , my husband and I have thought about a power inverter and adapting a car battery to it, one that can provide 2500 watts. It`s not a big truck it’s a piaggio..Can someone help us. We have been asking around and nobody has ever done this type of work and the generators are too big.

    • Ergaya Royal TV November 5, 2015, 10:13 pm

      http://www.fracino.com/ here is a coffee mashine that is run by gas FRacino. It is avaiable in Europe so I am not sure if it is available in the usa. I am planing to open mobile coffee too and I wanna buy this maschine.

  • Scott Graichen October 22, 2015, 12:35 am

    What are the burdens and benefits of being the first food truck in a city or region?

  • Carol Sensat October 28, 2015, 10:52 am

    Would it be easier, getting started, if your mobile café was a trailer pulled by a truck? I am thinking about doing this, so I want to know as much as I can in order to succeed.

  • P McCall November 11, 2015, 1:56 am

    I am looking to start a food truck business soon & I would love all the advice and tips if anyone is willing

  • Robin November 20, 2015, 12:42 am

    I absolutely loved the article but the two topics I have not found much information on as it relates to food trucks is finding a commissary everyone kept telling me to ask my church even most articles…which one would think great yes sure bet since Im a member and give them about 5 to 10% of my earning…wrong have not heard anything and a few years ago when I had a hotdog cart my church at that time flat out side no..to risky but for Christ sake I wasn’t even going to realistically store or cook anything there. I just need them to fill out a simple document that said I would or could however the commissary I did find charged 400 a month and as a bootstrapper and new comer to the food truck world that is not feasible and especially when Im not storing anything there because Im doing donut and coffee. The other road block Im running into that is not talked about much is the required HACCP plan this is required by almost every state and county health dept. Both the commissary and the HACPP plan are required before can do anything with your truck and they are the two most daunting things to get done…for me personally. Any comment or advise would be great.

  • Thea Palmette January 13, 2016, 6:55 pm

    Hey, the Tamanny Hall building ousted our fave deli on 17th and Park Ave South, on Union Square East, NYC. We need a egg sandwich/grill/food truck desperately!

    The closest deli is at the W hotel and very expensive and crowded.

  • Lex January 13, 2016, 9:09 pm

    My biggest concern is: how difficult might it be for my business to get a license/permit or a spot in a popular area that may have a long waiting list for truck owners? I’m afraid of doing all the work and then finding out that I can’t park my truck anywhere.

  • Oscar Torres January 17, 2016, 9:52 pm

    This is great guys. Keep up the good work!!

  • Judith February 3, 2016, 3:12 pm

    I loved the article and looked it up because I am contemplating starting a food truck. I already had a good idea about all of the permit, certificate issues, etc. what I am concerned about is whether the profit/liability margin is too vast? Do food truck owners make a profit? is it worth all the stress of food truck ownership?

  • Lisa Hellier February 10, 2016, 3:18 am

    I’m late to the game on this conversation, but I’ll throw my question out there just in case. I was wondering if anyone has experience or knowledge about trucks that only sell drinks. I’m living in China at the moment, and something I really love but it is not common in my hometown in the U.S. or the surrounding areas is bubble tea and milk teas and such. This idea is at the very beginning stages, but I was just curious if it is possible for a drink truck to do well or would it be better to make it a mix of simple foods and drinks?

  • Filippo Frigerio March 15, 2016, 7:47 am

    Hi to everyone! I’m an Italian guy wondering to come to the States after many years in Italy in the restaurant business; my girlfriend and me would like to start over with a food truck serving what we prepared for a long time in our restaurant.. Do you think is a good idea? We’re starting thinking about it seriously.

  • Arno Hattingh March 15, 2016, 8:41 am

    aWESOME ARTICLE! I’m about to order my brand new food truck and starting my own business. The first time we had a stall and ran dry after a year because we didn’t have capital to feed the demand and had to show away too many clients. My one question is – and I’m guessing the answer might be different for a truck than a stall – customer complaints. I’m currently a spa manager and boy oh boy, I’m resigning BECAUSE people complain about petty BS. Do customers complain about tits and tats at food trucks or do they recognise the fact that you’re serving good quality meals without a gazebo above their heads?

  • Julia Leyden April 10, 2016, 6:42 am

    I am starting with a non traditional ice cream and muffin cart. The company is a vegan allergy sensitive brand. Organically Yours ,(check us out on FB) is starting trading in the UK. We have designed the cart out of recycled materials and cast off products, keeping with our ethos of helping the environment. Our food is organic, seasonal, healthy and delicious! We are trying to get an app. For advanced orders… See you on the street.

  • Guif April 23, 2016, 9:39 pm

    I live along the Gulf Coast where almost every weekend they’re is a festival of some sort within a 3hr drive. I plan on capitalizing on the event /family festival with an old fashioned soda fountain set up. I will be serving only sodas, floats arms similar items, no hot food. Down in the Deep South cold drinks are premium, especially if you don’t have to go to the beer garden or wait in long food lines. My question is how does one figure out how much water storage I need, and anyone have experience with ice in a food truck?

  • yuppicide April 28, 2016, 10:33 am

    Great article. I’ve always wanted to start a food truck. I’ve seen a few people do really well. One guy turned the truck into an eventual brick and mortar in the same location he had the truck. I guess he bought the land and then built the building.

    As nice as having a truck you are able to drive, it seems to come with a lot of additional headaches. Seems like getting a nice sized trailer that I can tow behind a vehicle would be a better option. Cheaper too. Brand new as well.

  • Sanchi Jain June 5, 2016, 11:18 am

    Hello, Everyone. I am a college student doing BBA course. I have given a group project of new business idea which my group has decided “Food on wheels (food truck)” as an idea. So I am looking for someone to help us with the project ( as in guide us about we should go about it ) We have to make report on it. If you are owner of a food truck please help us and in return we will help promoting you.
    [email protected] – Is my email in case anyone wants to contact for help.
    Thank You

  • Anthony McFee June 7, 2016, 8:44 pm

    Hi there, first a big thanks to this website. So many resources and it’s a great place to learn, so thank you very much!! I’ve listened to all of your podcasts and I’m subscribed for any new ones! So, my name is Anthony From Boston MA and I’m thinking of starting a food truck business. I am currently emerging myself in all things food trucks to learn as much as I can to be as prepared as I can when it comes time to go through the process. Boston has a great page dedicated to food trucks and all of the necessary things you need to consider in order to do business in the city of Boston. They are also the strictest when it comes to getting the necessary permits and inspections to serve food from your truck. Since I wanted to know what the city health inspector looks for, I went to the page that lists all of the trucks that have been inspected in the city of Boston. When you click on each truck it tells you if they passed or failed inspection and why they failed. This gave me some great insight as to what the Boston health inspectors look for when inspecting a truck for service. I’m not sure of other cities or states have these resources but it’s a good idea to do a simple search: Food trucks in (your city). Also I think that if you have your truck built out to the specifications of your main city in which you live, you will then be more likely to obtain permits in other cities and towns without much issue if everything is in order. The website for Boston is:
    http://m.cityofboston.gov/foodtrucks/ Hope this information can help someone out there. Thank you!!

  • Dominika June 27, 2016, 5:40 am

    Great article! This trend is booming now and I don’t think it is going to stop. I have recently interviewed a couple of food truck owners. They share their tips on how to be successful; if anyone of you got inspired by this article, I am happy to share the interview: http://www.shopbox.com/blog/how-to-run-a-successful-food-truck-tips-from-the-owners

  • Jennifer von Freymann July 13, 2016, 11:55 am

    So excited!!! Question for someone just getting into the business…what about partnering with someone? How has that helped/worked for anyone? My partner is a finance whiz, has a passion for food and is great with people. I am the latter two, but don’t have much to offer with the finance side, whether monetary or insight. I want to see our business relationship balanced out.

  • Bodysurfing HBsurfing Alex Cal August 19, 2016, 1:39 pm

    i am about to invest in a food truck, i ve always been successful managing restaurants, iam also a chef….but reading this makes me think…brick and mortar

  • libra8a . August 23, 2016, 6:54 pm

    Ok, so I was thinking of buying an ice cream truck(not soft serve) and this has me questioning the decision. Can some one comfort me about buying an ice cream truck. I was considering moving to Tuscon where my brother and sister in law moved to. Is the hot weather good or bad(people stay inside) for such a business?

  • Jee Alamba October 5, 2016, 11:56 pm

    Does anyone have any advice for someone who is trying to introduce food that people aren’t quite familiar with? in this case, I am thinking of a west African food truck that will offer street foods that are easy to make and something that the American tastebuds can easily get adjusted to.

  • Lina March 8, 2017, 3:29 pm

    AMAZING ARTICLE! I’m a cybersecurity chick who has always had a passion for cooking. I guess you could say that rather then hacking into computers I’d rather be hacking into some new recipes! As of recently, I have been considering starting a food truck of my own and could not express how comforting it was to read this article – now I don’t feel so blind going into this!

    However, I had a few more questions:
    1. If I use my family’s old horse trailer as a food truck, will it have all the same inspection requirements as a truck? No cooking equipment required for what I’ll be selling – I’d make it in a commercial kitchen and transfer it over.
    2. Where can I look up regulations and permits in my area needed for food trucks? How do I know if I have all the ones I need?
    3. I’d like to say that my product is gluten free (GF) – is there a source who can approve that the recipe is indeed GF so that I do not falsely advertise it?

    Thanks a bunch!
    Lina