How to Start a Food Truck Business

How to Start a Food Truck Business

Visits to food trucks may have been down in 2015, according to data collected by Foursquare. But food trucks remain a low overhead, popular business. Here’s a simple guide to setting up a food truck business.

Learn How to Start a Food Truck Business by Following These Steps

Choose a Niche

There are so many different types of food out there that can make for good food truck fare. But with limited space and resources, you can realistically only offer a few different menu items that fit into a specific category. Some food trucks offer tacos, some offer burgers, some offer desserts and some offer various other food categories. But you need to find something that fits with your expertise and appeals to your target customers and stick with it, rather than trying to do a little of everything.

Develop a Menu

From there, you need to figure out exactly what items fit with your niche and can easily be made in a small space with a limited amount of equipment. Create a menu that gives people enough of a variety to choose from, without overcomplicating things for yourself and your team. And once you figure out the expenses for each item, you’ll also need to set prices for each of your menu items that are fair but still help you cover the costs of running your business.

Secure a Truck

Once you have the food figured out, you need to get the truck. Find a vehicle that’s large enough for the equipment you need. But you’ll probably still need to get some custom workmanship done so that you can secure all of your equipment in place and still have room to move around inside. And on the outside, you should make the truck look nice enough so that customers will feel comfortable buying food there. You might also create some interesting signage that includes your business name and maybe a little bit about the food that you sell.

Get the Right Equipment

Then you’ll need to invest in the actual equipment that you need to make the items on your menu. You’ll want to get some compact cooking equipment, like a stovetop or small oven. Then you’ll also need some serving pieces to get your food out to customers, along with essentials like cleaning supplies.

Source Your Ingredients

You also need to find suppliers for the actual food. Find suppliers that offer quality ingredients that work for your menu. But you’ll also probably want to keep your food supply costs as low as possible, since food truck customers aren’t likely to pay massive prices for food. So shop around for deals or bulk discounts if possible.

Prepare for Health Inspections

Just because you aren’t starting a traditional restaurant doesn’t mean that you get to bypass health inspections. You’re still selling food to customers. So check with your local government to see exactly what is required of food truck businesses. But you should expect to have an initial inspection, and then annual or even random inspections after that. You may also need to register with your local government in order to do business in the area.

Find the Right Locations

The ability to move from place to place is certainly a benefit for many food trucks. But if you want to be successful, you need to find the best possible locations. You might choose places like fairs and local events when they come up. But you can also pick out some regular locations to set up shop during the week, so that people know where they can find you on a regular basis. If you can set up in high traffic areas whenever possible, you should be able to improve your chances of selling a fair amount of food.

Set Up a Social Media Presence

You can make it even easier for people to find you wherever you are if you set up a presence online and on social media. Update your Facebook page or Twitter account with where you’ll be on each day so that your loyal fans can find you and buy food from you. You can also update that information on your main website.

Maintain Your Truck

Over the course of running your business, you’re likely going to need to provide some maintenance to your truck to keep it in good working order. So find a good mechanic in your area and make sure that you schedule regular maintenance. The last thing you want is for your truck to break down when you’re on your way to a huge event.

Market Your Business

Aside from just posting your location on social media, you can market your business by sponsoring local events, advertising or even just getting out and talking to people in the community. Food trucks have a unique opportunity to simply go where the potential customers are. But you still have to do some marketing if you want to build a loyal customer base.

Food Truck Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

2 Reactions
  1. The truck is what I usually think of when I imagine a business like this. Like you said, it would have to be enticing enough to attract customers, like a first impression. Do you have any tips for customizing a truck? I’m not that great at designing so I could use some tips.

  2. Food trucks’ popularity has steadily risen over a short time and it has become a more attractive, viable business venture. If my brothers and I were to decide to start our own food truck business, I think it would be great to know beforehand what would be required of us so we can have everything set up in a jiffy. Like with all types of food businesses, I would presume that there will be health inspections along the line. Plus, you need to make sure that not one of your customers would fall ill eating your food. So getting quality equipment and properly maintaining them, I think, are one of the important keys to have — if you’re aiming for success.

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