7 Steps to Starting Your Very Own Food Truck
Once you’ve decided you want to start a food truck business, there are some steps you’ll need to take to get it up and running. Deciding what you want to sell is one of the easier things. However, there is a lot that comes before that.
1. Make a Preliminary Budget
Image via Flickr by 401(K) 2012
Before you do anything else, you’re going to need to know about how much money you need to start. When considering your preliminary budget, make sure you take everything into account. Are you paying employees? Will you even have employees? You’ll need to make sure you have a few months’ worth of payroll on hand. You’ll need to get your truck and cooking equipment, as well as food, cooking utensils, and disposable items such as plates and cups. In the budget you should make sure to include licensing, permits, and insurance. These are required by the city and the state before you can start your business.
Remember, this preliminary budget is so that you understand right away what it is going to cost to get you going. It’s not important that it is completely accurate, just that it gives you a starting point. This will help you in the next few steps.
2. Get a License
You’re going to need to get a license or permit with the city you plan to sell your food in. In fact, some cities will require a variety of permits and licenses. These could include a certificate from the health department, permits for the truck, parking permits and more. Each of these can cost up to a few hundred dollars, so make sure you’ve planned for this.
To know exactly what licensing you need, check with your city. Be prepared, some areas have a limit on how many truck vendors they allow. This means that you may not be allowed to get your business up and going as quickly as you’d like in the city you wish to sell in. If this is the case, you can either put the business on the back burner for a while, or you can try a different city that is close by.
3. Decide on a Niche and Business Plan
Image via Flickr by Edsel Little
Before you can get financing from anyone, you’re going to have to prove that you know what you’re talking about. Because of this, you’ll need to decide on your niche. Selling hotdogs, tacos, and pizzas from a truck is traditional, but it’s not necessarily your best option. Do you have a type of food you cook really well? Is there a food style that is in demand in your area? Consider all of your options. Practically nothing is off-limits for food trucks today. From national cuisines to cupcakes, food truckers sell everything on the streets.
Once you have decided on a niche, you need to create an actual business plan. This is what you will present to potential investors and banks when you start looking for financing. This business plan will include your niche, the licensing you got, your budget, and how you plan to run your business. The better your business plan, the more likely you are to get investors, and therefore money to open shop.
4. Find Financing
Image via Flickr by 401(K) 2012
Unless you are independently wealthy, you’re probably going to need some financing. Starting a business of any kind costs money. In general, starting a food truck business is probably going to cost about $100,000 for the first year. This of course depends on the truck and equipment you choose. Look into small business loans in your area. Banks and credit unions both offer these. Another option that many new business owners are utilizing today is peer-to-peer lending networks. If you have friends or family that are willing to help, or know investors, consider asking them as well.
5. Start Shopping
Once you have the money, you need to get the right tools. You’ll want to start your shopping with the truck. Until you have a truck, you don’t have much. Whether you decide on a used truck or a new one, this is probably your most expensive purchase. Trucks range in price, but you can usually find one for anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000.
After you purchase your truck, you’ll know how much space you have to work with. You can then start buying other equipment. The equipment you’ll need depends on what you’re selling. If you’re selling cupcakes, you’ll need an oven or two. However, if you’re selling flatbread, a griddle is a better option. Make sure you get equipment you need from Russell Concession 🙂 , not just the things that sound cool. In addition to the large equipment, make sure you get the smaller things, like utensils that you’ll use in the truck. You don’t want to be starting your first day and realize you don’t have a spatula.
6. Get Employees
Are you hiring employees? Make sure to start advertising as soon as you can. You need to make sure you have people on board before you plan to open, so that you can train them properly. Remember, if you don’t have employees, you need to be in the truck any time it is open. In this case, if you’re not there, the company doesn’t make any money.
7. Market and Sell
Once you purchase everything and your employees are trained, you’re ready to go. Market your business as much as possible, by word of mouth, flyers, ads, and even a website. The more you market, the more your name gets out there. This is important, especially for food trucks, which are in different places everyday. A website is a good idea, since you can update it with where you’re stationed each day.
Start cooking and selling. At this point, make sure you’re doing your best with your food and treating your employees and customers well. This all gets around, especially if you’re working in a small area.
Starting a food truck is a lot of work. There are many steps that go into planning, however, once you get it started, the work will pay off.