Bematech Blog - April 2, 2018
Food trucks have become popular among consumers in seemingly every demographic group, offering a wide variety of items. Popular television shows such as The Great Food Truck Race, Food Truck Face Off , and Food Truck Paradise are creating more attention for the Food truck industry. Some trucks are even operated by successful chefs and restaurateurs as well as upscale “foodies.” Want to know how to start a food truck and cash in on this trend?
Follow these five steps.
- Research your market and niche. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can successfully sell from a food truck today. Gourmet cuisine? Ethnic food? Healthy fare? Specialty sweets? Yes on all counts — and many more. It’s important to research your niche, however, before deciding what your specialty will be. Investigate what other food trucks already sell, and steer clear of similar offerings. Remember, you want to be the expert in your niche — not one of three local operators that offer, for example, Indian food or specialty cupcakes.
- Obtain the necessary financing. One thing some prospective food truck owners may overlook when thinking about how to start a food truck is finding financing early in the game. Determine what you’ll need to spend on the truck and the equipment required to operate your business, as well as costs for permits and insurance. Determine how much of a down payment you can afford. Then, create a finance plan and look for sources of financing.
- Select a truck and equipment. As experienced food truck operators will advise, decide exactly what equipment you’ll need before you buy a vehicle. If you’ll be preparing food on-site, the truck should be large, but if you’re just going to be warming hot food or storing cold food prepared elsewhere, a smaller one will work.Remember trucks are expensive: Because health department rules for restaurants also apply to food trucks, vehicles must be fitted with special equipment that boosts their cost to around $100,000. However, you may find a fully outfitted, locally available used truck for $20,000 to $40,000. Check such sites as UsedVending.com and CommercialTruckTrader.com.You’ll also need point of sale (POS) equipment to ring up sales and process payments. You may want to consider mobile POS technology that lets you take orders and handle transactions with a tablet or other mobile device.
- Obtain licenses, permits, and insurance. Every city has its own rules for how to start a food truck when it comes to licensing and permits; the same is true of insurance. Sooner rather than later, check with your city government about what health department licenses and parking permits food trucks need to operate there. Ask about insurance as well.
- Get connected. You’ll need to do more than just park your food truck in a busy area to generate business. Advice on how to start a food truck from the experts also includes joining local business owner associations and networking through community outreach will help you to secure potentially lucrative extra engagements — like catering special events and corporate functions. Some event planners will even pay you to park your food truck at their events to add a new twist to the agenda. Once event attendees have tried your food, they’ll likely contact you when they themselves need catering services.
It’s also important to leverage social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to attract new customers and engage with existing ones. Keep fans hooked with activities such as invitations to suggest or name new menu items or to win a prize by guessing where the truck may be parked at a certain time.
Operating a food truck can be a lucrative business, if you approach it in a strategic and logical manner. And now that you understand how to start a food truck, it’s time to get moving.
Keep your food truck customers safe.
Download our Food Handling Safety Guide!