Food trucks have become a popular staple for casual foodies and an attractive business venture for up-and-coming chefs.
Food trucks are a popular option for chefs and restaurants because of their efficiency and low overhead.
Food trucks are one of the few businesses that you can bring the business to the people. Sounds interesting, right?
If you are interested in learning how to start a food truck business, stick around and read this article.
- How Profitable is Owning a Food Truck Business?
- What You’ll Need to Start a Food Truck Business [& Associated Costs]
- Do I Need a License a Certificate to Start a Food Truck Business?
- Why You Should Consider Starting a Food Truck Business As a Side Hustle
- How to Start a Food Truck Business in 5 Simple Steps
- Things to Consider When Building a Food Truck Business
- Inspiration: Food Truck Business Ideas
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Similar Businesses to Consider
- Wrapping Up
How Profitable is Owning a Food Truck Business?
You’re probably curious whether a food truck business is profitable.
The short answer is yes, and the long answer is absolutely yes.
A food truck’s mobility gives it a great advantage over stationary restaurants.
That extra mobility allows the business to move to populated locations whenever they choose.
Similar to online food delivery, food trucks have very little overhead.
You’d have to pay for heavy equipment, storage, and real estate fees with traditional restaurants.
These are just some of the many expenses you can expect when operating a traditional restaurant.
With food trucks, you only have to worry about leasing the vehicle, raw materials, and paying the food truck staff.
There are plenty of miscellaneous expenses, but overall, your gross profit calculation will show that revenue will far outweigh the costs of goods sold.
Additionally, according to this FoodTruckEmpire survey, food trucks make around $100,000 – $150,000 on average.
On the low 3% end, less than eight food trucks made less than $50,000.
What You’ll Need to Start a Food Truck Business [& Associated Costs]
Starting a food truck business may be cheaper than starting a restaurant, but it’s still not as simple as buying a truck and serving food to people.
While cheaper, you’ll have the standard labor, equipment, and marketing expenses as any other restaurant.
Unfortunately, you’ll also need to consider some unique costs when starting your food truck business.
- The food truck: The first, and most obvious expense, is the food truck which will run you around $100,000 to $175,000. You have plenty of options when purchasing a food truck. You can buy, rent, or lease your food truck. If you’re going to commit to the food truck business and can afford it, it’s always better to buy.
- Ingredients: While prices vary depending on your supplier and location, you can expect about 30% of your monthly revenue to go toward your ingredient costs. Additionally, consider the cost of storing your ingredients since they’ll be more susceptible to contamination.
- Equipment: Equipment fees for a food truck can range from low to expensive depending if you buy new, used, or lease your equipment. You can expect to pay a hefty amount for your portable machinery, knives, pans, and other kitchen utilities if you buy.
- Parking space: Since you need to be stationary for customers to reach you, you’ll have to pay for parking space. Depending on the location, this can be expensive, but generally, the more populated an area, the more expensive.
- Gas and maintenance fees: Since you’ll be operating out of a truck, you’ll have to consider the cost of repairs and gas. These expenses will fluctuate monthly, so you must keep tabs on them.
Do I Need a License a Certificate to Start a Food Truck Business?
While most businesses involve licensing and permits, a food truck requires more attention than others.
You must keep certain licenses and permits in mind when operating a food truck business.
- Business License
- Vehicle license and registration
- Health, fire, and safety permit
- Food handler permit
Why You Should Consider Starting a Food Truck Business As a Side Hustle
The main reason you should consider starting a food truck business is because of how accessible it is.
Investing in a food truck business is one of the there safer ways of getting into the restaurant industry.
Here are the main reasons you should consider starting one as a side hustle.
- Low overhead: Operating a food truck doesn’t involve too many expenses. You’ll have your gas and travel fees, raw materials, sanitation, and parking fees. Additionally, you only pay a small crew who handles cooking and serving.
- Extremely profitable: The profit opportunity from a food truck is higher than that of a restaurant. Since a food truck can move its location, it can go to the customers and find business.
- Hands-on: Since you’ll be working in a smaller environment, you’ll have the opportunity to be more hands-on. Being more hands-on means you can control your work environment better and help actively improve your business.
- Future investment: If you start as a food truck, you may earn enough future profit to create physical restaurant locations. Consider your food truck a potential investment in your future restaurant if that’s your desired path.
How to Start a Food Truck Business in 5 Simple Steps
Starting a food truck business is similar to most other businesses.
Before getting into the steps, you should sort a few things out.
First, make sure you have a business plan.
In your business plan, include your business name, executive summary, organizational goals and plans, marketing strategies, financial plans, and so on.
Then choose what type of food you want to specialize in and create a plan to market those products.
After you have these core things done, follow these steps to get your food truck businesses on the street serving food.
The first thing you want to do after covering your basis is market research.
While you should have done some market research when creating your business plan, you’ll go into more detail here.
Start by researching your location and your target demographic.
These are the two most critical things to consider when operating a food truck business.
Ensure You Have All Necessary Licenses and Permits
A food truck business takes more licensing and permits than your typical restaurant. Depending on your location, these requirements and fees will vary, but it’s important to stay on top of it all.
Generally, you’ll need a business and vehicle license and your food handler, health, fire, and safety permits.
Once you have all the necessary planning, research, and licensing, your next step is to acquire funding.
Paying for your licensing fees isn’t expensive.
Most businesses can do it out of pocket, but buying a whole food truck, kitchen equipment, and hiring employees will take plenty of resources.
You’ll want to take the time to consider how you’ll pay for the majority of your business’s needs.
Will you go through investors?
Take out bank loans, or will you fund the operation out of pocket?
Regardless of what you choose, you have to decide before committing to your purchases.
Buy Your Truck, Supplies, and Equipment
Now that you have some purchasing power, it’s time to get to the fun stuff, buying all your equipment.
Your food truck is extremely important and should be built to last and withstand heavy business.
You always want to look out for the best deals but don’t cheap out on the places that matter.
Buying used equipment is extremely common in the restaurant industry as it saves a butt-load of money.
Since new equipment can get expensive, you should consider purchasing from reliable vendors selling used equipment.
Create Your Menu and Serve Up Some Amazing Food
Finally, your final and most critical step is to create your menu and serve up some amazing food.
When creating your menu, ensure the food fits the area and is affordable.
Don’t disappoint your customers; ensure every meal you give them has all your effort and care put into it.
A food truck can build a great reputation based on its service and food alone.
Things to Consider When Building a Food Truck Business
Committing to any business is daunting, but there are plenty of things to consider when opening a food truck business.
Costs, investments, location, and optimal routing are just some of the many things you must consider when opening a food truck business.
Here’s some more detail.
Can You Run a Food Truck Business By Yourself?
While running a food truck business alone is completely possible, it isn’t recommended.
If you’re in an area that doesn’t have too many people, you can manage a food truck just fine, but if you want to earn more money, you’ll need to hire at least one or two more people.
Consider What Your Most Optimal Routes Will Be
Location is extremely important for food trucks.
No location is static, and it’s important that you move to where people need food.
Chart your course throughout the day or week and choose the best areas that work for you.
Additionally, keep track of events within your area of operation.
A food truck at an event has the chance to earn amazing profits.
Consider Adjust Your Menu Options
The food you serve should evolve and grow along with your business.
People want to try and experience new things.
If you’re moving from location to location, you’ll notice that the taste and interest of the community also change.
Test out what works and doesn’t, and adjust your menu accordingly.
It might just make your food truck the talk of the town.
Inspiration: Food Truck Business Ideas
If you don’t know what type of food truck business to start, here are some ideas.
- Taco Truck: Consider starting a taco truck. You have plenty of options and a variety of taco types and tortilla meals to choose from, and tacos are a favorite year-round.
- Fried Chicken Truck: Chicken-style food trucks can be great for high-traffic areas. Making fried chicken is easy, simple, and delicious. Consider starting a fried chicken truck if you want to start basic.
- Seafood Truck: A seafood truck is a bit complex, but if you’re near fishing ports and have access to fresh fish, consider a seafood truck. The reason seafood trucks are a bit more complex is that preparing and handling, along with storing, seafood can be difficult.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to questions you may still have about food trucks.
What is the most profitable type of food truck?
The most profitable type of food truck serves fast-food-style items and meals.
For example, burgers, tacos, and hotdogs are among the most popular food truck items because of how simple they are to make and how good they taste.
Is a food truck a good investment?
A food truck is a great investment and a great business to buy.
There’s less planning and commitment, and you have more opportunities to adjust your menus and capture an audience.
Simply put, you have a better chance of success from a food truck than a restaurant.
Similar Businesses to Consider
Consider some alternative businesses if you don’t think operating a food truck is right for you, such as delivery by food delivery service.
Here are some more examples.
- How to Start a Vending Machine Business: Vending machines are similar to food truck businesses since you can pick and choose locations for businesses. You’ll invest in vending machines and put them in locations where people may be hungry for a snack or two.
- How to Start a Trucking Business: If you like driving around in a truck rather than serving food, you may want to start a trucking business. You’ll focus on transporting goods for clients and constantly be on the road.
- How to Start a Catering Business: Catering businesses bring the restaurant service experience to your location. If you want to serve meals to people for events and parties, consider starting a catering business.
Starting a food truck business isn’t as expensive as starting a restaurant, but that doesn’t make it any less complex.
There is plenty to consider, such as the menu, costs, and permits, while also considering your location.
Even so, starting a food truck business can be one of the most profitable and fulfilling experiences.
If you read this and don’t think a food truck business is for you, that’s fine too.
Consider the alternatives like a catering or vending machine business.
Whatever you decide, plan for it and enjoy the journey.