We put together Food Trucks 4 Thought to provide helpful tips on being successful in the food truck industry. Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned food truck master, we’ve got insights to help you take your food truck knowledge to the next level.
For more specific safety and troubleshooting information, check out our food truck tips!
1. What is a food truck?
A food truck is a fully self-sufficient mobile commercial kitchen. It has everything you need to operate a mobile business and pass health and fire codes. Some of the things that can be found in a food truck are propane lines, electric lines, water pump, water heater, fresh and waste water tanks, commercial exhaust system, generator, and cooking and refrigeration equipment.
Related Article: 3 ESSENTIAL TIPS ON HOW TO PASS FOOD TRUCK HEALTH INSPECTIONS
2. How much should I spend on a food truck?
Look to spend $120,00-$200,000 on starting a food truck business. The full buildout of the business can vary between $80,000 to $280,000. You’ll want to have some working and startup capital for things like insurance, labor costs, inventory, cooking supplies, and more.
3. What should I expect to earn when running a food truck?
The answer to this question will vary greatly, depending on the location and the work ethic of the owner. That being said, if the food truck is being run 40-50 hours, having an annual gross revenue of $200,000 to $500,000 would be feasible.
4. How do I get started with purchasing a food truck?
The first thing you’ll want to do is research. Food truck regulations differ from state to state. So, you need to research what the restrictions are in the area where you plan to operate your food truck.
Start by what looking at what permits or licenses you’ll need. There may be specific guidelines for step van size or what type of fuel it has to use. Additionally, you’ll need to research food truck storage (for when it’s not in use) and which food distributors you want to partner with.
You’ll have to analyze your options. Check if you’re eligible for grants, if you qualify for a loan, or if you’ll need an investor. Alternatively, you decide to use your personal savings to fund your new business.
5. What equipment can you install in a food truck?
Firstly, you’ll have to consider the size of your step van and your local regulations when choosing your equipment. A few things to consider are the wattage the chosen equipment will pull from your generator, the size of your exhaust hood, and what size step van will be required to fit all of your equipment.
If you’re unsure if a piece of equipment will be a good fit for your truck, we suggest asking your food truck builder for professional advise.
6. What should I consider when comparing food truck builders?
When comparing food truck builders, we recommend looking at how many food trucks they have built. Even more than quantity, consider the level of quality shown in their work.
Pay special attention to their kitchen layouts and the brand of the equipment they frequently use. Ask if they offer any warranty on their fabrication and what kind of support they offer after they deliver your truck.
Consider researching their business online. Look for pictures of their past clients and their contact information so you can reach out to them for an honest reference.
Be sure to check their website and social media channels for clues on how they treat their customers and how they stand against their competitors. Lastly, spend some time reading online reviews and looking for any media coverage they may have had in the past.
7. What’s your shipping process and timeframe?
For these large, oversized food trucks, shipping can be slightly complex. For overseas clients, we drive the truck to the port and a large cargo ship will take it overseas. When shipping overseas, the timeframe can be one to two months.
For shipping around the US, we put the food truck on trailer. On this trailer, it’s driven to its destination without any milage being put on the food truck. Shipping this way takes anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks, depending on how far it’s being shipped, weather, unforeseen circumstances, etc.
For all of our builds, we generally will include shipping in the proposal/quote. This way, you have the complete, total price in the beginning.
8. How long does it take to build a food truck?
It usually takes one to three months for food trucks to be finished once the chassis are delivered to us. Once the order is approved, the actual build out of the truck only takes around 4 weeks to complete. However, our production time will vary depending on how many trucks we have on queue waiting to be built.
9. Do you design and install the vinyl wrap as well?
Yes! When you receive your finished food truck from us, it will be ready to be inspected by the health department so you can start doing business right away!
As soon as your order is placed, our design partners will reach out to start working on the vinyl wrap design.
10. What is the best type of step van to use for a food truck?
Diesel trucks are the number one sought after engine type for food trucks. They have the ability to handle the extra weight and stress a mobile kitchen adds to your truck. Diesel engines last longer and are going to cost more upfront than a gas truck. However, the life you will receive out of a diesel truck is well worth the added upfront cost.
11. Should I go with a brand new step van or preowned step van?
If your budget can afford to go brand new with your step van, then we would recommend going that route. Going brand new with your step van would put the total cost from $130,000 to $180,000, while going with a preowned step van will put you in the $80,000 to $120,000 price range. When you have a brand new step van, you will have a 3-year 36,000-mile manufacturer warranty. And when you have a preowned step van, you will have no warranty on the actual step van itself. However, you will have warrantees on all brand new equipment and the build out regardless of whether the step van is new or preowned.
12. Can I provide the vehicle?
As long as the requested equipment fits inside the truck—while still allowing the aisle space required for health and fire codes—we can build out any vehicle. The client many supply the vehicle but may be charged a demo fee if needed. The client also may supply the equipment but will be charged for labor and install fees.
13. What do I do when I’m done with the food truck for the day?
When you’re done for the day and it’s time to close up shop, you have a few options. You can store your truck in a storage unit, park at a commissary, or partner with a restaurant to park on location. You’ll want to store your truck in a place that allows you to receive food shipments. You’ll also want to have access to fresh water, waste water disposal, and power for your refrigeration. Being able to plug in your refrigerators will be crucial because you won’t want to load and unload your fridge and freezer every day
14. What types of insurances or permitting do I need?
This is going to vary greatly depending on where you plan to do business. But, for the most part, you’ll need commercial auto insurance, commercial liability insurance, a license from your local health department, and to be able to accept sales tax in the different counties that you will travel to.
15. What are some of the expenses associated with running a food truck business?
Some of the expenses you will face when running a food truck will be vehicle and generator fuel costs, vehicle and generator maintenance costs, insurance, propane, miscellaneous kitchen and truck repairs, vendor fees, and of course, food and labor costs.
16. Use brand new or used equipment?
We prefer to use all new cooking and refrigeration equipment. This means that you’ll have a 3-year warranty on your refrigeration and 1-year warranty on your cooking equipment. You’ll also have a 2-year warranty on your generator and a 2-year guarantee on the fabrication, which is what we do to the truck. You have the option to go with the equipment brands that we prefer, or choose the brands that you like. Additionally, you have the choice of purchasing all of the equipment and having it shipped to us for the installation.
17. What the best ways to utilize a food truck?
Food trucks are perfect for catering private events, fundraisers, charities, serving on the street, or having a stationary business. Brick and mortar restaurants and catering companies can use it as an additional revenue source and mobile billboard as a way of gaining great exposure. Even non-food related businesses can use trucks as a mobile office, mobile billboard, or as a marketing tool to spread word about their product or service.
18. How long do food trucks typically last?
This is a question that cannot yet be answered. In 2008, the boom of the food truck started, so to date, we only have hard statistics for about 7 years. In this span of time, most trucks that started business in 2008 are still in operation. The builder you choose will have a lot to do with how long your truck actually lasts. Some things to consider would be the materials that the truck is made of, if the generator is for commercial or residential use, and how the overall fabrication was done. Commercial generators are key to optimum performance and life longevity.
19. Is this really what I want to do every day?
For starters, if you want to cook food and serve customers every single day, then that’s a great first step.
Related Article: TYPES OF PEOPLE WHO MAKE IDEAL FOOD TRUCK OWNERS
20. Do I have enough money to make this work?
The price of a food truck varies depending on the client. but you’ll want to set out to spend a minimum to $80k to $100,000.
20. If my food truck concept unique enough?
For this, you’re goal is to find a happy medium so that you have a unique food truck but not too unique so that you still have a large enough customer base.
21. Are you ready to work harder than you ever have before?
A successful food truck owner isn’t just a chef. He or she is also a business person. Which means, he or she has to know how to run every aspect of a business.
Related Article: ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OF A FOOD TRUCK OWNER