Want to start a food truck business? If yes, here’s the plan. Food trucks are literally moveable kitchens. A truck designed as a kitchen that serves food. From making gourmet food to casual food, a food truck has it all. There are food trucks that only offer desserts, pastries, and ice-creams.
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Food trucks are very popular in the United States and why should it not be? It was invented in the United States. Do you know anything about the chuck wagons? They are kind of “grandfather” to this moveable kitchen facility. This whole system was invented to feed the cattlemen of the United States while they are at work. The early vehicles had all the necessary conditions to cook like a kitchen. The common food items, early food truck/chuck wagons usually served were
- Salted beans
- Salted meats
Previously food trucks were associated with uncleanliness and a poor class concept. After the chuckwagon came pushcarts that served some cooked and inexpensive foods like clams, oysters, fruits or something that reflected a particular group ethnicity. This business in the early days we’re associated with workers and immigrants. But during the 1950s food trucks started selling ice-creams and frozen products aiming Children. After, the rapid evolution of the food that is being sold, by food trucks changed the whole idea of food trucks. From ice-cream trucks to tack trucks they evolved to modern-day multi-cuisine trucks.
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Well, now you know briefly about the origin of this concept, let’s get into “how to start a food truck business?”.
1#. Necessary Steps To Start A Food Truck Business
There are various necessary decision-making processes in order to start a food truck business.
1. Sketch The Plan
Like every other business, you will need a plan. Planning includes all the necessary decision-making making processes. You need to decide about the truck, the food items, the license, permits and obviously finance.
2. Choose The Menu
Starting a food truck business is easy, you need moderate capital and there you go. The most important decision is to choose the menu. Don’t choose the food depending on your taste, instead decide the menu in local preference. Check your area or city and find out about other food trucks and their menus. Don’t decide your menu in a hurry. The menu needs special attention. Once you are done deciding, half of your work is done. You can concentrate on any one kind of cuisine like Italian, Mexican, Chinese, continental, snacks, breakfast items and many more options to choose from.
3. Choosing The Right Food Truck
One of the vitals, choosing the right vehicle. Your commercial vehicle should be around 18 ft long if you will opt for the kitchen setup. Depending on the menu, set up the kitchen. As this is your start-up, it is recommended that you choose an old vehicle for coat cutting obviously. But don’t go for vehicles older than 5 years. Check the insurance, license, pollution papers, etc before you buy. Now, you can customize your truck accordingly. Customization costs around $20000 to $80000.
4. What About Your Finance?
It is the most important part, for any business. You need to spend your whole capital carefully until you acquire some profit. If you are out of finance, you can always opt for loans. If necessary take expert advice on how to manage your finance. You can also do an online course on financial management to boost your management skills.
5. Kitchen Equipment And Raw Materials
There are various kitchen requirements to start a food truck business. Microwaves, juicers, mixers, burners, refrigeration systems, grill machines, toasters, steamers, etc depending on your cuisine. Do not buy used equipment because you don’t want to burn your whole truck due to some faulty kitchen equipment. Stock up some raw materials that you will need daily. For the first month, don’t start with a huge stock of raw materials, check the pattern of customers and your daily needs and then you decide the number of raw materials for the second month. One of the most important kitchen equipment is an exhaust system!
6. Find Suitable Parking
Starting a food truck business is easy, but the decision on your parking is an issue. Would your neighbors let you park your truck in front of their house? Will it be safe to park your truck out on the streets at night? You can park your truck in your own garage or in your house but what if you own an apartment? There are various issues with parking as I have already told you earlier. Don’t worry, the health department has facilities for food trucks. They have safe areas marked for parking food trucks. You can even rent some places for parking, legally!
7. Think About Insuring Your Truck
To start a food truck business, ensuring your truck is very important. You will carry heavily flammable items inside your kitchen. There can be thefts or any kind of accident. You need to be prepared for it. Talk to some insurance guy and ensure your truck with the best insurance providers. You should always make a customized insurance plan. This will help you recover if you end up with accidents.
8. Employees In Your Kitchen
If you are a cook, then you don’t have to invest in a head chef. You can do it yourself but if you aren’t you need to hire one and chefs are costly! If you have opted for gourmet food, trust me it is best you learn cooking. Anyways, you need a minimum of 2 chefs and around 4 helpers. You need delivery boys, at least 4. Depending on your daily customer you need to decide on this part. If you have a huge customer rush you won’t be able to manage with chefs and 4 helpers.
9. A Uniform For All
Your employees should have a specific uniform. To distinguish your truck from other trucks, you need customized uniforms. This whole set-up will help you make a different identity. This will help you advertise your brand. Obviously, you will have your brand printed all over the truck, but a uniformed chef’s and helpers make it more attractive.
10. License For Your Truck
Every business has some common and specific licenses. Most commonly you need a food license, fire license, health license, etc. It is important to legalize your food truck. You can store raw materials for a minimum of two weeks, not more than that. If you are found with, food store above two weeks, you might get your licenses canceled. It is advised to serve fresh food every day. We know it is not possible for you to go to the stores every day. Therefore you stock up non-perishable items for a week and buy your vegetables or fruits regularly. Deal with distributors who provide delivery.
11. Start Networking
To start a food truck business Successfully, you need to connect with people. You can cater for special events like parties, house parties, birthday parties or different promotional events. Keep an eye on food festivals, this will help you widen your connection with customers. Keep flyers ready. Provide flyers to every customer. Different event planners call food trucks for corporate functions. Keep good liaison with event planners to get calls for various events. Join caterers association to know about the ongoing events in your locality.
12. Branding Through Social Media
Social media marketing has reached a different level now. Set up your page and keep posting regularly to connect more with people. Use Facebook promotions and Instagram promotions. You can utilize the paid promotion process. Update your location from time-to-time. A simple tweet about your current location will help your followers know about your whereabouts. Engage your followers on social media through different polls like choosing food for the day or organizing events along with free dishes. Flyers distribution, posters, and hoardings are also important.
Ask your social media followers to review your food and food truck based on taste, cleanliness, quality and employee behavior. Good reviews will help you create a strong customer base.
2#. Things Required For A Food Truck
- Good food will also become poison if you don’t clean your place. A good kitchen attracts more customers. Therefore it is very important to keep your truck clean. Keep at least two bins outside your truck.
- Keep your truck at rest in crowded places like markets, in front of offices, tourist spots, etc. This will help you gain more attraction.
- Design your food truck to attract customers. Use colorful posters, calligraphy, etc. Use colors that are attractive like yellow, red, blue, etc. Try to make it eye soothing. Don’t overdo on the decorations, it might look clumsy.
- Be quality conscious, be polite, interact with customers, keep your customers engaged with various social media activities, etc. You will need mobile phones, calculators, attendance register and a daily book to keep calculations of daily earnings and investments. These are the essential tips before you start a food truck business.
It requires investments for sure, but if you follow these steps carefully and properly you will have an organized and planned food truck business.