According to statistics, the food truck industry is growing at nearly 8% a year in America, and over in the UK food trucks are truly a trend with hundreds of people choosing to begin their culinary business career on four wheels in hope of someday owning a restaurant.
If you have always dreamed of having a food truck, living a fast paced life serving delicious street food to foodie customers looking for the next big trendy food stuff wrapped in foil, then this simple guide to starting a food truck will help you on your way before you can say ‘Who’s next please?’:
The Research Stage
You absolutely should never go into any business without researching how you’re going to make money. To do that you need to know who you are selling to. Over the last year there has been a 42% increase in the amount of startups failing and you won’t be immune to that statistics if you don’t figure out your target market. Find out where you can sell, who you are competing against, regulations you have to abide by, how many options there are for where you can make money and why other food truck businesses have failed where you aim to succeed. The more you know, the better you can plan and be part of positive statistics.
What is Your Concept?
Once you have done your research it is time to decide on your concept. What are you going to be cooking and why? What is your business name? Your concept needs to have depth and a lot of logic and planning behind it and it will influence your entire brand. Getting it all right will have a huge impact on your success.
Solidify Your Plans
Now you need to solidify your ideas into an actual business plan. Imagine you will be going on Dragons Den or better The Apprentice and have friends and family give you feedback on any holes in your plan. The plan is the steps you will follow to succeed so you need to believe in it. Checkout this handy video on how to make a business plan to get you started.
One of the most important ways to stand out to your customers, aside from other people walking around with amazing looking food, and people sharing pictures of your food on Instagram, is an amazing menu board. Your menu board should showcase your food and get people hungry! Your menu board needs to be:
- Big enough to see without getting really close
- Easy to understand
- Contrast with surroundings
- Upsell your show pieces
- Be free from dollar, pound, AUD or other signage that will make customers focus on price ahead of the food
Sort Out The Finances
You will need to estimate startup costs looking at everything from diesel generators for sale to marketing costs and permit fees. It will cost you thousands of dollars, but exactly how much is down to you and it is important to accurately add how much it will all cost so you can then look at your startup costs. To fund your startup you may wish to:
- Save your own money
- Look at investment from banks, individuals or businesses
- Putting money together with a friend or family member who wants to go into business with you
- Look into local startup funding schemes
There is risk involved but the more research you do, and the more accurate you are in your business plan, the more likely you will be to succeed and make a ton more money than you initially invest.
Get The Truck And Fix It Up
One of the most exciting parts of your journey will be getting the truck and fixing it up because the dream becomes real then. You can lease or buy a truck and both options have their merits. You can also opt for an older truck to do up, or a newer truck for more expense. Some people opt for a labour of love and do up their truck from scratch, like this lady and her juice business truck. Other people aren’t handy in that way and want to put more money into a newer truck to give their business start a boost. You will want to balance the cost of the truck with fixing it up and outfitting it. You will want an excellent diesel generator, good fridges and ovens, and any specialist equipment relevant to your business idea. This food truck 101 supplies article is a great place to start your research. Remember the truck and its contents are the tools you need to create the food that earns the money so it is important to get right.
Get It All Legal
You must ensure you are licensed and hold all the relevant permits for your country and local area. You are likely to need food safety certificates, food handler permits, workers compensation, business insurance, health permits and mobile food permits as well as additional certification for any specialist equipment, tools and your business name. The vehicle itself should also be totally legal and up to date with checks and paperwork.
The Finishing Touches
Finally it is time for all the finishing touches! This includes making the outside of your van look great and of course, setting up its own Instagram account! Do look into a marketing expert if you think you need it as you want to get some hype about your food if possible. Often this comes down to a number of factors including how you present your food, the way your van looks when set up, and if you and your food are shareable – people want to tell other people about you. Everything from your customer service, to the items you use to package your food combine to create your unique brand. If you get it wrong it can be difficult to come back from that so do put thought and expertise into this final stage of your business setup.
The secret to getting ahead, is getting started – Mark Twain
If you’re desperate to be the next big thing in foodie culture in your area, it is really important to take the time to get your research complete so everything that follows is founded on information and not just a deep passion and belief you have thought of the next big thing. The more reliable your research, the more likely you are to get funding, to get your branding and product right and most importantly, the more likely you are to succeed.