Where to Buy a Food Truck (and How to do it)


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Buying a food truck for your business is a great way to start taking your culinary dreams on the road, but it’s essential to know how to find the perfect truck that suits your needs and budget.

In this article, we’ll explore some tips on where to buy a food truck, as well as what you should consider before making a purchase.

buy a food truck

Where to Buy a Food Truck

Finding the right food truck can seem like an overwhelming task. Take a look at these great options for finding the perfect one for your business.

eBay

buy a food truck

If you’re looking for a new truck to start your food truck business, consider browsing concession trailers on eBay. You can easily find food trucks for sale on the platform and purchase a new truck that fits your needs and budget.

Craigslist

buy a food truck

If you’re in the market for a food truck, Craigslist is a great place to start. You can find a variety of options, from food trailers to trucks with a food cart, all equipped with the necessary features for selling prepared food.

When browsing on Craigslist, be sure to look for trucks with a propane tank, which will allow you to cook and serve food without relying on electrical outlets.

Specialty Websites

buy a food truck

Buying a food truck on specialty websites can offer you a great selection of vehicles to choose from. With the right type of cooking equipment and a well-designed serving window, you can easily set up shop with any type of cuisine.

From mobile kitchens to BBQ trucks, you’ll find plenty of options that fit your culinary needs and budget.

Etsy

buy a food truck

Whether you are looking for a custom food trailer with a full kitchen or something more basic, Etsy has plenty of options. With competitive prices and fast shipping times, you can have your new truck in no time.

Plus, customization options are available if you’re looking to make your food truck stand out from the rest.

UsedFoodTrucks.com

buy a food truck

UsedFoodTrucks.com is the go-to source for pre-owned food trucks. With an extensive selection, you’ll find what you need quickly and easily.

View photos, pricing, and specs before making a decision, and get delivery options for added convenience.

Roaming Hunger

buy a food truck

Roaming Hunger provides quick access to buying, building, leasing, and selling food trucks. Plus, you can find paid catering opportunities or get selected for events with the booking marketplace.

Fill your calendar with private gigs, community events, exclusive partnerships, and more – all hassle-free!

Used Vending

buy a food truck

Used Vending is a trusted online marketplace for food trucks in the USA and Canada. They offer a wide range of food trucks for sale, including ice cream trucks and full tractor-trailer kitchens, with new trucks added daily.

Customers can set a “Me First Alert” to receive early notification of new trucks in their area. With a reputation for great deals, Used Vending is a top choice for those looking to buy a food truck.

Food Truck Empire

buy a food truck

Food Truck Empire has a huge selection of food trucks, carts, and concession trailers from sellers across the USA and Canada. Each listing is verified for legitimacy. You can also find custom mobile builds in the directory of top-notch manufacturers.

Chef Units

buy a food truck

Chef Units is a manufacturer of custom food trucks, trailers, and carts. They offer personalized designs and support throughout the build process.

They also offer used food trucks for sale and are a top choice for those looking to start or expand their food truck business.

SourceProsCons
eBayA large selection of food trucks, ability to place bids for best pricing.Potentially high shipping costs, no guarantee of condition, need for careful review of seller ratings.
CraigslistLocal listings that allow for physical inspection of trucks, potentially lower prices.Possibility of scams, quality and condition may vary significantly, may require more time and effort to find a good deal.
Specialty WebsitesA variety of options specifically tailored to food truck industry needs, usually verify the legitimacy of listings.Prices may be higher due to specialized nature, might not have local options.
EtsyCustomization options, competitive prices, and fast shipping.Mostly focused on smaller carts and trailers, fewer large food trucks.
UsedFoodTrucks.comExtensive selection, convenient delivery options.Prices may be higher due to the platform's focus on food trucks, fewer local listings.
Roaming HungerBuying, building, leasing, and selling options available, access to booking marketplace for events and catering.Can be more expensive, more focus on events and catering than truck sales.
Used VendingDaily updates with new trucks, the ability to set alerts for new listings.Large selection can be overwhelming, some listings may be overpriced.
Food Truck EmpireVerified listings, custom mobile builds, wide selection across the USA and Canada.N/A
Chef UnitsCustom designs and support throughout the build process, also offers used food trucks.Primarily focused on new builds, which can be expensive.

More Options to Buy a Food Truck

Explore Local Dealerships for Custom Builds

Consider visiting local dealerships that specialize in custom food truck builds for personalized solutions. These dealerships can assist in designing a food truck that aligns with your culinary style and business model, including the right kitchen layout, equipment, and branding. Local dealerships often provide valuable after-sale services and support, crucial for maintenance and repairs.

Check Government and Public Auctions

Government and public auctions can be excellent sources for finding food trucks at competitive prices. These auctions may feature vehicles from government fleets or seized assets, offering an opportunity to purchase below market rate. Keep an eye on local auction listings and government websites for upcoming dates and available vehicles.

Network with Other Food Truck Owners

Networking with other food truck owners can open up opportunities and insights into purchasing a food truck. You may find owners selling their older models or receive recommendations for reliable dealerships or manufacturers. Engage in food truck gatherings, industry meetups, and online forums to connect with industry peers.

Consider Financing Options

If upfront capital is limited, explore financing options. Dealerships, manufacturers, banks, and credit unions may offer financing plans or business loans suitable for your food truck purchase. Evaluate interest rates, repayment terms, and any additional fees to find a financial solution that fits your budget.

Inspect and Evaluate Before Purchasing

Ensure to thoroughly inspect and evaluate the food truck before purchase. Assess the vehicle’s condition, kitchen equipment, and layout. Bring a mechanic or food truck expert for a professional assessment. Confirm that the truck meets health and safety standards and can accommodate your menu offerings.

How to Buy a Food Truck

Buying a food truck can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it is important to know exactly what you need and how to go about the process.

Here are some things to consider when buying a food truck:

  1. Research Your Options: Start by researching different types of food trucks, deciding on your budget, and looking at available options.
  2. Inspect & Test Drive: Once you have narrowed down your choices, inspect the vehicles in person and take them for a test drive to make sure they meet your needs.
  3. Consider Additional Costs: In addition to the purchase price of a food truck, you should also factor in additional costs such as food service equipment, permits, taxes, insurance, and maintenance into your budget.
  4. Negotiate Price & Terms: When making an offer for your chosen vehicle, negotiate the best possible price and terms that are favorable for both you and the seller.
  5. Get The Necessary Permits & Licenses: Before starting your business operations, make sure that you obtain all necessary permits and licenses from local authorities according to regulations in your area.

The Food Truck Industry in 2023

The food truck industry is booming and poised to reach new heights in the next few years. The food truck industry was worth an estimated $1.4 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a rate of 3-5% in 2023.

With innovative technology, increased consumer demand, and growing investment opportunities, the food truck industry has become an exciting venture for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Why You Should Consider a Food Truck Business

Starting a mobile food business is an attractive and relatively inexpensive way to become your own boss, make money on your own terms, and bring joy to others.

Here are five reasons why you should consider starting a food truck business in 2023:

  • Low Initial Investment Costs: Food trucks require minimal startup costs compared to other businesses. You can get started for less than $50,000.
  • Flexible Hours: Food trucks offer flexibility when it comes to setting work hours that fit your lifestyle and personal commitments. You can operate your truck during peak times or just when you want to.
  • Less Competition: The food truck industry has far fewer competitors than the restaurant industry, giving you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and build a loyal following quickly.
  • Unique Experiences For Your Customers: A food truck offers an exciting and unique experience for customers that cannot be found at traditional restaurants or dining establishments.
  • High-Profit Potential: With proper planning, marketing, and management skills, you have the potential to make high profits with a food truck business since low overhead costs mean higher margins of profits for every sale made.

Should you buy, rent or lease a food truck?

Buying, renting, or leasing a food truck is an individual decision and should be based on the requirements of your business.

If you decide you need to save money upfront and you are able to find a reliable vehicle with low mileage, buying a used food truck might be the best option for you.

However, depending on your budget and food truck business plan, renting or leasing a food truck might better suit your needs as it could provide more flexibility in terms of payment options and access to newer vehicles.

BuyingRentingLeasing
Upfront CostsHigh, as you're paying for the entire vehicle, possibly even if financed.Low, typically just a security deposit and first month's rent.Moderate, usually requires a down payment and the first month's lease.
OwnershipYou own the vehicle and can modify it as you see fit.You don't own the vehicle and can't make any permanent modifications.You don't own the vehicle but may have an option to purchase it at the end of the lease term.
Maintenance CostsAll maintenance costs are your responsibility.Some or all maintenance costs may be covered in your rental agreement.Some or all maintenance costs may be covered in your lease agreement.
FlexibilityLess flexible as you are committed to the vehicle once purchased.More flexible, you can change trucks or end the contract with relative ease (based on contract terms).Medium flexibility, can negotiate the terms of the lease and have the option to change trucks or purchase at the end of the lease.
Long-term CostsInitially high but could be less over the long term as the vehicle is a business asset that can appreciate or depreciate in value.Can be high over the long term, as you are continually paying for the use of the truck but don't gain any equity.Can be high over the long term, as you are paying to use the vehicle but the payments do not go towards equity unless you purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease.
Tax ImplicationsCan claim depreciation and interest on the loan.Can typically deduct the full amount of the rental payments.Can usually deduct the full amount of the lease payments.

Is it better to buy a new or used food truck?

Buying a new food truck could be a better option if you want the latest model with all the latest features, however, it generally costs more than buying a used one.

On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget and you can find a reliable vehicle with low mileage, then buying a used food truck might be the best option for you.

Buying NewBuying Used
Initial CostHigh, as you're paying for the newest model with all the latest features.Generally lower, depends on the condition and age of the truck.
DepreciationRapid in the first few years, which can affect resale value.Slower, as most depreciation occurs in the early years of a vehicle's life.
Maintenance and Repair CostsGenerally low in the first few years as the vehicle is new and under warranty.Can be high, especially if the truck was not well maintained by previous owners.
CustomizationCan be designed to specific needs right from the manufacturer.Modifications might be needed, depending on the setup of the truck.
Financing OptionsUsually easy to finance because of their higher value and lower risk to lenders.May be harder to finance, as some lenders are hesitant to loan money for older vehicles.
Insurance RatesGenerally higher due to the higher replacement cost.Generally lower due to the lower replacement cost.
ReliabilityHigh, as the vehicle is brand new with no previous usage.Varies greatly depending on previous usage, maintenance, and age of the vehicle.

How much money do you need to buy a food truck?

The amount of money needed to buy a food truck depends on several factors such as the size and type of vehicle, its condition, and any necessary upgrades or repairs.

The average food truck can cost anywhere between $40,000 to $80,000 for a used one while a new food truck can cost between $75,000 and $150,000.

How much does it cost to operate a food truck business each month?

The cost of operating a food truck business each month can vary, depending on factors such as your location and type of food, as well as recurring expenses like rent, insurance, permits, labor, fuel costs, marketing and advertising, equipment maintenance, and repair costs, and food supplies.

An accountant or financial advisor familiar with the industry can provide an accurate monthly cost estimate.

What are the average salaries of food truck owners?

Food truck owners earn an average salary of between $24,000 and $153,000 per year nationally.

Food truck operator salaries are influenced by a variety of factors, not least of which is the dedication and hustle of the individual running the business. While the size of the business and the amount of labor put in by the owner play a significant role, there are other key factors that can significantly impact a food truck owner’s income.

  1. Location: Food trucks situated in high foot traffic areas, like busy city centers, festivals, or near large office complexes, may generate higher earnings than those in less trafficked or residential areas. This is because they have a larger potential customer base to draw from.
  2. Events: Catering to special events like weddings, corporate events, parties, and community events can also provide a significant boost to a food truck owner’s income. These events usually command a higher price per plate and can bring in a lot of customers in a short amount of time.
  3. Operating Hours: The number of hours and days the truck is in operation can significantly impact earnings. A truck that operates seven days a week will generally earn more than one that operates only a few days a week. However, the owner must balance this against the costs of operation and potential for burnout.
  4. Menu Pricing: Pricing can dramatically influence income. Pricing needs to be competitive yet sufficient to cover costs and provide a profit margin. This might involve adjusting prices to reflect the cost of ingredients, preparation time, and what the local market will bear.
  5. Menu Quality and Uniqueness: Trucks offering high-quality, unique or niche food items often attract more customers and can command higher prices, improving revenue.

In terms of labor:

  • Owner Involvement: An owner who is heavily involved in day-to-day operations, like cooking and serving, can reduce labor costs by not hiring additional staff. However, this also increases the owner’s workload.
  • Staff Costs: The number of employees needed and their wages can significantly affect a food truck’s profit margin. Balancing staff costs while maintaining efficient operations is crucial.

Overall, a food truck owner’s salary is determined by both revenue and costs, which are influenced by factors such as location, events, operating hours, menu pricing, and labor costs.

How profitable is a food truck business?

The income of a food truck business can vary greatly, ranging from $23,000 to over $100,000 annually.

Factors such as location, marketing campaigns, and menu offerings can have an impact on the degree of success the business will enjoy.

With sound operational practices and well-thought-out strategies in place, it’s possible for a food truck to reap tremendous rewards financially.

Are food trucks a good investment?

Deciding to invest in a food truck can be a rewarding experience. Smart food truck name ideas and participation in the occasional food truck festival can attract even more customers and improve profits.

A food truck franchise may also be an option, providing an established infrastructure, brand recognition, and customer loyalty increasing the chances of food truck success.

Image: Depositphotos

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Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor at Small Business Trends. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.

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