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There are a lot of positives to opening a food truck. From a start-up perspective, they have lower overheads than restaurants, they can be moved if one location doesn’t generate enough business, they can follow customers to the events they attend, they provide a great on-the-go option for increasingly busy customers, and, above all, they can be a lot of fun. You’ve probably decided to join the industry with all of these positives in mind – and because food is your passion – but if you want to start a mobile kitchen, read on for our top five things to consider before opening…
You need to be business savvy
No matter how good your food is, your business plan needs to be better. Do proper financial projections, capital requirements and permit applications. Make sure you know what is happening, when (and how much it will cost). It isn’t just about your passion for food, it’s a (sometimes stressful) combination of business, time management, marketing and creating amazing food. You can’t spend all your time on only one aspect.
You need to be a mechanic
There are two parts to this. First up, don’t cut corners on the original build of your truck - it’s the only chance you have to create a perfect vessel for your business and you will be kicking yourself down the track if you try to save time or money on building a certain part, only for it to break down a month into service. Secondly, remember that anyone can make a taco, but can anyone replace your accelerator cable? Learn the basics so you can try to do as much as you can yourself, but also know when to call in the experts.
You need to do your R&D
Research is going to be the longest and most tiring part of your set up. But it is also the most important. Of course, you need to research your truck set up, but even more importantly is researching your food and the logistics involved with getting it. It can be time consuming to get products when you don’t have a fixed address for delivery. Research when and where you will buy your food – wholesalers, markets, retail stores – and in what quantities. This is where you need to consider if it is worse to run out of food during service or risk food wastage. Products like frozen breads will help you here as they can be thawed and served when needed rather than thrown out at the end of a quieter than normal service.
On top of this, make sure you have thoroughly tested your food. You need to perfect each recipe so it is easy to make in large quantities, consistently tasty, easy to serve and travels well.
You need to be creative
You won’t be able to have an extensive menu, as space just won’t allow. So get creative with innovative food that offers a simple menu customers will love. Engineer your menu to use as few ingredients as possible, while still being creative, and making it worth a trip to find your truck.
You need to be adaptable
Always be prepared for the unexpected. Your truck will break down, you will sell out, you will prepare too much food. Know how to deal with all of these issues. It may be that your current location isn’t providing enough foot traffic – make sure you’re prepared to be adaptable with locations. Perhaps you should consider offering catering for private events and festivals as well.
Food trucks have come a long way since the humble ice cream van or hot dog stand. With more sophisticated marketing, menus and business plans, food trucks can truly be a successful business venture. Keep these five points in mind before you launch your truck and you’ll be sure to enjoy life on the road.