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How To Start A Food Truck

How To Start A  Food Truck

How To Start A Food Truck

Starting a food truck is a great way to enter the food business and test the waters before making a significant investment. The process of getting your food truck up and running may seem daunting, but the truth is that it’s much easier than you might think. You can make this process much easier with the right information and guidance. This guide will walk you through the entire process of how to start a food truck, from choosing the right food truck business idea to selecting the right POS system.

What is a Food Truck

A food truck is a mobile restaurant, serving food at public events and locations. They are often found at parks, fairs, festivals, stadiums, colleges, construction sites, and even company parking lots. Food trucks are also often used as catering trucks. Food trucks are often used for the same reasons as any other type of restaurant. But, they also come with their unique benefits. For example, they’re cheaper than most full-service restaurants and come with items that you won’t find at any other restaurant. They’re often more dynamic than most traditional restaurants and change their menus often based on the season or festival. They’re also easier to set up than a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Types of Food Trucks

Types of Food Trucks

There are various types of food trucks and there is no one set path for a food truck. They come in all types and cuisines. Instead of investing in a full brick-and-mortar location, you can start your own food service business with just a vehicle, cooking equipment, and ingredients. If you’re interested in starting a food truck business, the first step is finding the right idea. Food trucks are a great option for any type of event or gathering because they can be tailored to fit any theme or desired menu. Customers will have a variety of options when deciding what type of food truck to visit.

Some common types of food trucks include:

  • BBQ

  • Cupcakes

  • Fusion

  • Paninis

  • Local Fare

  • European

  • Regional

  • Waffles

  • Burgers

  • Ice Cream

Not all food trucks are designed to serve the public at large. Many of them are more like catering trucks, functioning as mobile kitchens for corporate and private events. So no matter what you want to serve or how you want to serve it, a food truck is versatile and able to handle whatever idea you have for it.

How much does it cost to open a Food Truck?

In one year, an entrepreneur spends an average of $28,276 on permits, licenses, and legal compliance for a food truck. There are five categories that you will have to consider before starting your food truck, administrative, health/menu/food safety, vehicle requirements and safety/hazard prevention, employment, and zoning.

  • Vehicle costs: +$20,000

    Vehicle costs can vary depending on the make and model you choose or if you pick a new vehicle versus a used vehicle. Some examples of common food truck vehicles are:

    • Trailers (Airstream, Caravan, Horsebox)

      A food truck trailer is a semi-trailer truck that is converted into a mobile restaurant. Unlike a traditional truck, which is designed to be unloaded and loaded with bulk cargo, a food truck trailer is usually loaded with tables, chairs, stoves, and other equipment needed to run a full-service restaurant. Food truck trailers are often larger than most normal passenger cars, making them a popular option for groups who want to serve large groups of people at once.

    • Where to Buy Trailers


    • Vans

      A food truck van is a large van or truck with a commercial kitchen that has been converted into a portable food truck. It can be used to serve customers at public events or be used as a food truck for a restaurant or food vendor. Food truck vans are a great choice for those looking to start their own food truck business but don’t have the money to buy a commercial truck.

    • Where to Buy Vans


    • VW Bus

      A vw bus is a vehicle that was manufactured by the vw brand from the 1950s through the 1981 model year. These unique vehicles are characterized by their split windows, curved chrome bumper, and pseudo– camper style. The vw bus has been a favorite for conversion into a food truck because of their design.

    • Where to Buy Custom VW Buses


    • School buses

      A food truck school bus is a school bus that’s been converted into a food truck. This can be done in a couple of different ways. In one case, the bus can be converted into a food truck by removing the seats and installing a kitchen/service window. In another case, the food truck school bus can be converted into a food truck by cutting out a side of the bus and installing a service window to serve customers from outside the bus.

    • Where to Buy Custom Schools Buses


    • Box Trucks

      These box trucks have at least one door and a walk-in delivery hatch. They are usually around 8-feet high, and most have a lift gate for making deliveries easier. They are often outfitted with various types of inventory shelves and racks to store and organize food products. Depending on the type of food served, box trucks may also be equipped with a refrigeration unit to keep perishable foods fresh.

    • Where to Buy Box Trucks


  • Equipment costs: +$45,000

    You will need to furnish the interior of your vehicle with commercial kitchen equipment if not already provided. This includes items like:

  • License and permit costs: +$25,000

    The amount of money you spend on licenses and related fees typically depends on your area. Larger cities typically charge higher fees than small towns. You may also have to pay fees for certain events or spaces. Some of what contributes to license and permit costs include:

    • Business license

      A business license is a document issued by a government authority to allow a business to operate. It typically includes information such as the name of the business, where it is located, the type of business it is, the license period, any conditions or restrictions on its activities, and other details. A business license is often required before you start operating your business and is needed to keep your business open.

    • Get a Business License

    • Foodservice license

      A food license is a permit issued by the local or state government that allows an individual or company to sell food to the public. The license may be required for a variety of reasons, such as ensuring that the public receives safe food, collecting taxes, or regulating the type of food that can be sold (e.g. selling only healthy foods to children). Food licenses are required by most countries, states, and municipalities, and there are a variety of different types of food licenses. Depending on the type of foodservice, a business will need to obtain a different license.

    • Get a Food Handlers License

    • Parking permits

      Food trucks or any type of vendor that parks on public streets need to obtain a parking permit. Permits can be obtained from your local government, and they are typically required if you plan to park in a metered or restricted parking area. Some cities may not require permits for food trucks but may require them to be parked in a particular location. The parking rules for food trucks may be different from the rules for other vehicles.

    • Find Parking Permits

    • Food Truck Insurance

      A food truck insurance policy is a commercial property and liability insurance policy tailored for the unique needs of food trucks. Commercial property insurance protects the food truck itself from physical damage if it is in a car accident or if something falls on it. Liability insurance covers the food truck owner if someone is hurt due to negligence on the part of the truck’s crew.

    • Find Food Truck Insurance

  • Inventory costs: $1,000 to $2,000

    You might pay between $1,000 to $2,000 per month to purchase menu and packaging items to ensure your guests have everything they need when first starting your food truck. Examples include:

  • Operational and maintenance-related costs: $500 to $10,000

    There are a lot of different factors that go into the maintenance and daily operations of a food truck business. Some factors that could contribute to operation costs include:

Writing a Food Truck Business Plan

Writing a Food Truck Business Plan

When starting a small business, it’s never too early to write your business plan. A business plan serves as a guide for every aspect of your new business. It will be your road map that takes you from a simple idea to a successful company.

Some of the items you should include in your business plan include:

  • Pick An Available Name

    This could be the hardest part of starting a food truck. There are resources out there to look up available names. You will want to pick something that expresses your menu selection to give your customers an immediate sense of what your food truck is all about.

  • Food Truck Business Name Generator

  • Executive Summary

    This is an overview of your business’s vital information. The concept, target market, why the business stands to succeed, financial overview, and funding needs. You may even want to list out your overall goals for the business here.

  • Executive Summary Template

  • Company Description

    Company description is a short paragraph or paragraph that describes your company’s products or services. The description should be relevant to your target audience. The main purpose of the company description is to sell your business to your potential customers. It also gives information about your company to your existing customers. It will provide additional details about what the business is all about. A mission statement on why your business exists or why your business is unique. Include flagship products, company leadership structure, staffing, and even an overview of marketing strategy.

  • Company Description Generator

  • Market Analysis

    This is the outlook for the food truck industry and independent research to support what consumers demand and your success potential. Include, statistics about growth in the industry, size and description of your target market, primary and secondary competitors, opportunities, and challenges.

  • Market Analysis Template

  • Management

    The organizational chart is a simple, visual way to represent the flow of work within a company. It’s a diagram that displays who reports to whom, which job titles exist within your company and the chain of command for employees. Management plans are crucial for any organization because they help keep things organized and make sure that everything runs smoothly. They also help keep employees accountable and on task by providing a visual outline of what they need to do every day. Ideally, your management plan should cover every aspect of your business, from hiring to firing, onboarding new employees to letting go of others who are no longer working out. A good management plan makes sure you have everything covered and that you’re prepared for any situation that might arise.

  • Management/Organization Chart Template

  • Products and Services

    Details about the menu items you’ll serve and why customers will buy them. Your menu and pricing; unique qualities of your menu; will you offer products at events, on the street, or catering.

  • Sales and Marketing

    Information about how you will attract customers and generate awareness about your food truck business. How will you advertise your business, your logo, what social media will you use, how much do you expect to spend on marketing and branding.

  • Sales and Marketing Plan Template

  • Financial Projections

    Reports that provide insight into your business’s anticipated revenue and profitability. Break-even analysis, profit and loss statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement for at least the next five years.

  • Financial Projections Template

  • Funding Request

    This section will describe to investors the details about your funding needs. For example: how much money you will need from investors to launch your business, what will you use funding for, how do you intend to repay loans or return an investment, what opportunities will the funding open up for your business?

How to get Food Truck equipment financing

Equipment loans for food trucks make sense for startup operations. You’re likely looking for funding to purchase and possibly renovate the most significant expenditure in your project. Many banks that cater to businesses will have an equipment loan option. Equipment financing allows food truck owners to finance used or new commercial equipment (such as kitchen appliances and cooking utensils) or even add another food truck to their lineup. This is useful for securing necessary equipment without paying the full price upfront. Instead, food truck owners can spread the expense over a fixed term and monthly payments through a loan. Typically, the food truck equipment being financed would serve as collateral to secure the loan.

Food truck owners can also lease equipment. Equipment leases, on the other hand, require regular payments over a fixed term to use a piece of equipment, and equipment ownership stays with the lender, not the business owner.

How to get a Startup Loan for your Food Truck

A food truck can potentially get started for around $50,000 in total. But, $50,000 is still the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to start-up costs. Costs for permitting, staffing, renovations, utilities, and the truck itself can add up. You might find yourself needing loans to get started. There are various types of loans available to you, but each one is designed for a different use.

Here are a few examples of startup loans you may be able to apply for:

  • Personal Loans

    Small, easy to obtain loans based on credit score. Many lenders offer personal loans with a wide range of interest rates and terms, making it easy to find a loan that suits your needs.

  • SBA Loans

    The SBA mobile food vendor loan is designed to help owners of mobile food vendors purchase equipment, start a new business, or make improvements to an existing one.

  • Microloans

    Some providers offer microloans for food trucks or small businesses. These are smaller loans, usually between $1,000 and $25,000. There are some requirements for these loans, such as a minimum credit score.

  • Business Term Loan

    If you’re looking to finance a new truck for your food truck business, a term loan may be the right choice for you. Term loans usually have fixed rates and fixed terms, which means the rate stays the same throughout the duration of the loan.

  • Business Line of Credit

    If you want to open a food truck and need financing, you can get a business line of credit to purchase inventory, supplies, and equipment. Most business lines of credit have a maximum amount that can be borrowed, and you will need to meet the requirements to qualify for the credit, which may include a history of profitable operations.

  • Equipment Loans

    You may be able to get a low-interest loan through the USDA to purchase equipment that will help you grow your business. Interest rates on these types of loans are usually lower than the rates on a normal business loan. Equipment loans are often easier to qualify for than other types of loans.

Food Truck Permits & Licenses

You’ll need the appropriate food truck permits and licenses for your city and state to sell food legally. Licenses may vary in name, so be sure to check with your county clerk or state business office to ensure you’ve covered all of your bases.

  • Business License

    Also known as a vendor license is a business license allows you to operate a business in your desired city and state. A food truck business license can typically cost anywhere from $50 to $500, but application prices and terms will vary depending on your city and state.

  • Get Business Licences

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)

    An Employer Identification Number, more commonly referred to as an EIN, is a federal tax ID number that registers your business with the IRS. It allows you to open a business bank account, create a credit profile, and hire employees. Your Employer Identification Number is free through the IRS and can be applied for through their website, or mail. The processing time can be around a month so be sure to apply before opening.

  • Get Employer Identification Number

  • Driver’s License

    To drive a food truck, you’ll be required to have a valid driver’s license and registration for your truck just as you would with your car. In most states, your standard driver’s license will be enough. Other states will use the weight and length of the vehicle to determine if you will need a commercial driver’s license.

  • Food Handler's Permit

    A food handler's permit, also known as a food handler's license is granted to those who complete food handler training and a food safety course. In most states, only the manager-on-shift is required to obtain the permit. Other states call for one or more employees to have a valid permit at all times if food is to be handled, prepared, cooked, or stored on the premise. Food handlers' permits typically cost less than $50 and are valid for approximately 5 years. Cities will typically require employees on a food truck to have their food handlers certificate and request that the cards are visible to the public.

  • Get Food Handlers Permits

  • Health Department Permit

    A health department permit or “food service license”, is issued by the health department and indicates that your truck passed the health inspection. An agent from the health department will examine your truck in search of violations and provide you with notes on what to correct and an overall grade for your truck. They check for proper food storage, and overall cleanliness, and that clear health and safety plans are in place. Most cities require that your health score be displayed where customers can see it. A health department permit can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000 depending on the city. You can contact your local health department to request and schedule a visit.

  • Kitchen Health and Safety Inspection Requirements

  • Seller’s Permit

    A seller’s permit is required in some states to allow foodservice business owners to purchase ingredients and supplies at wholesale prices without needing to pay sales tax. Check your local state government’s website to learn if a seller’s permit is needed and how to apply for one.

  • Get Seller’s Permits

  • Fire Certificates

    In some counties, you'll need to get your food truck inspected by the fire department as well. This will be necessary if you have cooking equipment and gas lines on your truck. The fire department will want to check your cooking equipment for proper installation and function, your wiring, and to ensure that there is a fire suppression system in your vehicle.

  • Parking Permits

    You’ll want to check with your local county clerk about the need for parking permits in the areas where you plan to sell your food. Some streets may be off-limits to food trucks entirely or have time and date restrictions. Other cities have designated dates for food trucks to reduce congestion.

  • Commissary Letter of Agreement

    ​​Your city may require that you store your supplies and do food prep in a commissary kitchen before setting out for the day in your food truck. If that is the case, you may also need a commissary letter of agreement, which is a signed document between you and the owner confirming your access to the facility and what services you’re permitted to use in that location.

  • Standard Operating Procedures Document

    Some cities require that food truck owners provide them with a standard operating procedures document before opening. This document should outline the process you and your employees take to perform tasks on your truck. You’ll need clear step-by-step lists detailing how each dish is made, how your equipment should be cleaned and sanitized, and even how your truck should be locked up for the night.

  • Special Event Permit

    A special event permit, also known as a “vending permit”, is a temporary permit that allows you to sell food at a particular venue location during the duration of an event. Most sporting events, festivals, and concerts will have an event coordinator who can inform you about the permit types needed to vend food on the property and how long those permits need to be valid.

How to register your food truck business

A food truck business that forms an LLC or corporation will need to designate a registered agent in the state(s) where it is registered. A registered agent is authorized to receive “service of process (official government notices and legal paperwork) on the business’s behalf. Some states allow business owners to serve as their registered agents. While the Sole Prop and Partnership structures come with less paperwork, fees, and compliance formalities, they do not provide business owners with personal liability protection if someone sues the company. That means the food truck operator’s assets (house, car, retirement funds, etc.) could be jeopardized. However, the LLC and corporation entity types provide legal separation between the business owner and the company.

How To Design A Food Truck

How to Design a Food Truck

Designing a food truck is going to be a big part of your branding and marketing, but also the safety and efficiency of the business. Having a colorful and stand out truck will draw people to you, but if it’s not properly designed on the interior, you risk safety issues and slow service.

Some ideas to think about when designing the interior layout of your truck should include:

  • Durable, non-slip, floors like commercial grade laminate or vinyl
  • Proper ventilation in the form of a hood fan and roof vent, with additional windowsif needed
  • Room for staff to move around while carrying hot pots and pans
  • Easy access to inventory and between workstations
  • Emergency exit
  • Refrigeration and dry storage
  • Food preparation area
  • Grills, deep fryers, ovens, and stove tops
  • Plating area
  • Serving area
  • Clean up station
  • Handwashing station as per your local regulations
Hiring Staff for Your Food Truck

Hiring Staff for Your Food Truck

Staff hiring can be a tricky process, but it doesn’t have to be. Most businesses have a hiring process, but a food truck needs something a bit more unique. The hiring process for a food truck should be based on skills, personality, and needs.

Some ideas may include:

  • Determine your needs

    When hiring staff, first determine the exact roles and responsibilities of each position. Depending on the type of food truck, the responsibilities may vary. For example, someone who works in a food truck that is on the road may have different responsibilities than someone who works in a food truck that stays at one location.

  • Outline Qualifications and Skills

    Next, outline the qualifications and skills needed for each position. Depending on the type of food truck, the skills needed may vary. For example, someone who works in a food truck that is on the road will need communication and driving skills, while someone who works in a food truck that stays at one location may not need any skills or qualifications.

  • Write a job description and post it on job search sites

    You can manually review resumes and cover letters, but if you want to speed up the process, you can use a job search site. These sites allow you to search candidates’ applications by entering keywords like relevant job titles, certification titles, or skill sets, making narrowing down applications more efficient.

  • Culinary Job Board

  • Arrange an in-person interview

    Scoping out the competition and interviewing the potential hires in person will give you a better understanding of who you are hiring and what their values are. You can discover more about the person’s work ethic, personality, and drive in person. This will help you in the long run as you work with your team to grow.

Create Your Menu

Create your Food Truck Menu menu

Creating the menu is going to be the most creative aspect of your business. Setting up a menu can take time and effort, but this is where you can show off your creativity with menu items and design.

Some ideas to consider include

  • Honor the Restaurant's Concept.

  • Break Down the Menu by Section.

  • Consider Food Allergies & Dietary Restrictions.

  • Set Price Points.

  • Design the Menu.

  • Upload the Menu to the Restaurant's Website.

  • Regularly Revisit Menu Options.

How to Advertise Your Food Truck

Advertising is the best way to get the owrd out about your food truck, but not all marketing is perfect for everyone. Each food truck will be different and your advertising should reflect what makes your food truck unique.

Some good marketing ideas are:

  • Attend festivals and events.

  • Go all-in on social media.

  • Explore location-based food truck advertising.

  • Come up with unique branding.

  • Do food delivery and catering.

  • Look for partnership opportunities in the neighborhood.

  • Offer discounts and promotions.

  • Travel to new places Host events with local performers.

Find The Right POS System

Find the right POS system

Signing up for the best POS system for your business will go a long way towards increasing your sales and saving you money. POS systems vary widely in terms of features, cost, and complexity. Before you choose a POS system, make sure it will work with the other software your business uses. POS systems that integrate with your existing inventory system can help your employees' process sales faster and more accurately. POS systems can also help you accept different types of payments, offer customer service features, and track inventory. We recommend Toast POS.

Toast POS is a cloud-based point of sale software for small to midsized businesses. It offers a mobile POS system with a sleek, user-friendly interface. The POS software is scalable to grow your business. It comes with robust reporting and tracking, inventory management, multiple vendor sync, and card reader integration. It also offers integrated inventory management. You can sync your existing inventory system with Toast.

Shop Toast POS

How to Start a Food Truck Q & A

What are the most common issues faced by food truck businesses?

Food trucks face many of the same issues as restaurants, including fluctuating food costs, rising minimum wages, and government regulations. However, food trucks have a few issues that restaurants don’t have to deal with, like finding the right location, obtaining permits, staffing, and purchasing or leasing the right kind of truck. These are just a small number of problems a food truck operator may face but it isn’t a complete list. Every area may offer more or unique challenges you may need to overcome to have a successful food truck.

What types of cuisine are the most popular in the food truck industry?

Asian, Latin, and American cuisines are the most popular, but you can also find food trucks that specialize in European, African, and Middle Eastern dishes. At first glance, it may seem like there’s not much variety in the food truck industry. After all, most of the food trucks serve some variation of hot dogs, tacos, burgers, or sandwiches.

However, a closer look reveals that there’s plenty of variety. Even though American, Latin, and Asian foods are the most common, there are also many subgenres and twists on these cuisines. For example, you can find many different types of tacos, burgers, and sandwiches. You can also find many different subgenres of these types of food.

Should I Buy New Or Used?

Whether you’re buying your first truck or upgrading from your current one, there are things to consider before making the purchase. When buying a used food truck, you might be missing some of the features that you would get with a brand new one, but you can get a better deal on a used truck. Buying a used truck may also give you a better chance of getting the one you want. If you’re looking at a new truck, make sure you get everything you need.

The main thing to consider when buying a used food truck is its history. Make sure you look into the truck’s past and see what it’s been used for. If it’s been hauling hazardous materials, you may want to rethink buying it. Another thing to think about is how much you can get the truck for versus how much it would cost to buy a new one. If you find a used truck with everything you need, buying it might be your best option.

How do seasons affect the food truck industry?

When we think of seasons, we often think of the weather. However, there are other things to consider when it comes to seasons and food trucks. People tend to enjoy eating out more in the warmer months. This means that there is typically higher demand during these months. As a food truck owner, you will want to ensure that you take advantage of these high-demand months. You also want to stock up on inventory during the low-demand months. These months may be less demanding and you will see a dip in your overall profits, but these are great times to try new menu items and areas.

2022-05-26 23:27:00
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