how to start a food truck business

How to Start a Food Truck Business: Everything You Need to Know

Elena Hudgens
By Elena Hudgens 11 Min Read

Food trucks have recently grown relatively popular in the ever-changing restaurant industry. The benefit of mobility in the food truck format provides operators with access to many locations at a cheaper initial capital than is required to launch any other kind of restaurant. As a result, it’s no surprise that small restaurant operators prefer to invest in a food truck rather than a single permanent restaurant. This article will explain why opening a food truck rather than a separate restaurant is superior. We will walk you through every step which will tell you how to start a Food Truck Business. 

How to Start a Food Truck Business?

First and foremost, you should develop a food truck business strategy that will serve as a road map for your food truck’s future growth. It is natural to have reservations when establishing a large or small restaurant company, which is why you should discover how to construct a business plan for your food truck here.

Step 1: Estimate your expenditures and locate a truck

First and foremost, consider the prices.

What does it take to establish a food truck? Because there are so many options for what you’ll need to get started, it’s challenging to provide an exact estimate for beginning expenses. First, you’ll need to choose the perfect vehicle for your business, and you’ll almost certainly need to have it custom manufactured to your specifications, which may cost anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000. It would help if you also thought about costs such as ingredients and food.

  • Employee compensation and benefits
  • Insurance
  • To run your vehicle, you will need technology
  • Marketing, advertising, and other services

The vehicle itself will be the most expensive and time-consuming expenditure you’ll have to bear. Before deciding on a truck, consider a few layout choices, considering what you’ll need for your food truck company. 

Step 2: Obtain approval from the Board of Health

Then you’ll have to sort through the rules and regulations you’ll have to follow. As a food-based firm, there will undoubtedly be additional considerations to make in this area.

As a result, you should probably start by determining which Board of Health laws you must comply with. It’s perhaps not shocking to find that food trucks, like restaurants, are subjected to health department inspections. The majority of checks are performed to at least confirm the following:

  • Proof of car ownership, identification, and license
  • Evidence of a Food Manager Identification Card provided by the District.
  • Food is stored correctly and kept at the right temperature.
  • Food purchase records
  • The health and fire codes have been satisfied.

Step 3: Obtain permissions and licenses

Following your health needs, the following stage for starting a food truck is to get the necessary permissions and company licenses. Again, because beginning a food truck company entails handling food and selling it to people, there will undoubtedly be a slew of rules and permission procedures to navigate. Furthermore, your state and locality will heavily influence the respective licenses and permissions you require.

In reality, several localities, notably New York City, impose restrictions on the number of truck licenses that may be given at one time. It would help if you went to your city’s website to find out exactly what you need to do to obtain the necessary papers.

Keep in mind that this procedure may take some time and will almost certainly involve costs and verification of a Health Department permit, tax certification, and liability coverage.

Step 4: Determine how you will prepare your food

It’s time to consider your product now that you’ve thought out the behind-the-scenes intricacies and chosen on your vehicle.

After all, selecting what sort of food you’re going to create and sell, how that process will operate, what you’ll need, and what your menu will look like is an essential aspect of learning how to start a food truck company.

As you consider these options and make judgments, keep in mind that, unlike opening a restaurant with a physical location, a food truck has little room, making it impossible to cook meals inside.

As a result, you’ll need to consider whether your company should prepare food before leaving for the day’s job or whether you can prepare everything on-site. Furthermore, while developing your recipes, make sure the food on your menu can be replicated in significant amounts, tastes consistently excellent, is easy to serve, easy to consume, and travels well.

Step 5: Recruit personnel and obtain mobile food vendor licenses

With a food plan in place, the next step in beginning a food truck is to consider employing workers. You won’t have too many staff in a tiny environment like a food truck, but depending on your cuisine, procedure, and demand, you may want to explore employing help.

When you initially start, you may be able to work with friends, relatives, or a partner, but if your food truck quickly expands, some part-time or full-time staff will be beneficial. Furthermore, you’ll need to go above and beyond the standard hiring and onboarding procedure when it comes to food truck personnel.

Step 6: Figure out where you’re going to park

The movable aspect is one of the advantages (and disadvantages) of beginning a food truck business. While you have the freedom to travel (to a degree) where your customers are, you’ll also need to find out where the most excellent spots to draw clients are, as well as where you can and cannot park your truck.

Just with licenses and permits, parking limits for your food truck will be city-specific; consequently, you’ll want to research your local rules to see what your alternatives are.

This process will almost certainly be more difficult if you live in a major city, such as New York City.

Step 7: Begin marketing and publicizing your food truck

To begin, you’ll need to develop and implement specific marketing strategies to alert the local community to the existence of your food truck.

You may organize a “grand opening” or check if you can participate in a local event to attract attention and clients. It would help if you also considered establishing a website and a social media presence, as well as local advertising.

Furthermore, as a mobile business whose position may change regularly, it is critical to keep your consumers informed of where you will be. You’ll need to keep this in mind, whether it’s creating a weekly calendar or simply keeping your clients up to date on your website or social media accounts.

Related: 70 Most Important Marketing Tools for Small Business

Step 8: Think about implementing a point-of-sale system

You may be able to manage your food truck with a paper-based order system and a cash drawer, but you should consider investing in a point-of-sale system to automate the process. You’ll be able to handle orders, process payments (including credit cards), maintain inventory, build loyalty programs, and more with your food truck POS system.

Several POS systems on the market are expressly intended for food trucks.

You’ll be able to manage everything in one place, speed up and simplify your procedures, and better serve your consumers if you choose one of these systems. That is especially significant for food trucks, which frequently encounter a surge of consumers for a few short hours each day, resulting in huge queues. In this instance, you may want to consider implementing a pre-order system to assist your food truck in dealing with such a high volume of customers.

Step 9: Fine-tune your day-to-day routine

According to Kaye, owning a food truck company is far more challenging than most people believe because most people only see food trucks working around lunch hours.

“What people don’t realize is that we arrive at 6 a.m. to secure our location,” she adds. “That means we have to be to our kitchen at 4 a.m. to prepare and drive to the location.” After lunch, we returned to our kitchen and cleaned the vehicle and dishes. So we labor a 12- to 15-hour day for only a few hours of service.”

As a result, like the Kayes, you’ll want to consider how you’ll interact with your staff, where you’ll be daily, and which days will demand more effort or investment than others. You’ll be able to maximize your time and, ideally, your business by preparing ahead of time, even if it’s just at the start of each week.

Hope the above steps explained you how to start a food truck business. 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about how to start a food truck business, the next step is to pick the best food truck for your needs. With the correct process, tools, and support, you can make your food truck aspirations a reality.

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Posted by Elena Hudgens
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Elena Hudgens is an entrepreneur with 10+ years of experience. She started her journey by building her own e-commerce website on Shopify and turned her $1000 savings to millions in just 2 years. Soon she started different ventures in which she failed and succeeded. And now, she's on a mission to help other entrepreneurs with her life and business lessons.
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