How to Increase Your Food Truck Revenue

Take a look at these useful strategies and help your food trailer business grow!  Enjoy the read!

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9 Strategies to Increase Your Food Truck Revenue

Bplans
by: Briana Morgaine

“This article is part of our Food Cart Business Startup Guide—a curated list of articles to help you plan, start, and grow your food cart business!

Here in Portland, Oregon, you can’t swing a stick without hitting half a dozen food trucks serving up a range of delicious options.

The craze for mobile eats has been on the rise. Between 2008 and 2014, industry revenue increased at an annual rate of 12.4 percent. While momentum has slowed slightly, food trucks continue to be a profitable restaurant business model.

However, to be as profitable as possible, you’ll need to strategize. It’s not enough to buy a truck and offer a few of your favorite recipes. Here are 9 solid strategies that will help you bring in more money, attract more customers, and grow your food truck business.

1. Create a solid, memorable concept
Your food truck should have a cohesive design, a clever name, an established brand, and a unique offering.

2. Offer something no other food truck is offering
To make more money as a food truck, you’ll need to find a specific food truck niche that no other cart is occupying.

3. Offer mobile ordering and payment
Beyond being found by third-party food truck locator apps, you might want to consider creating an app specifically for your food truck. The process may sound intimidating, but in reality, it’s relatively simple. Beyond that, making sure your website is optimized for mobile use is an absolute must.

Finally, if you really want to stand out, consider offering mobile payment and mobile ordering options.

4. Change or add to your menu seasonally
To bring in more customers and make more money, consider varying your menu seasonally.

5. Partner with other local businesses
Consider approaching nearby businesses and dropping off menus, or partnering with offices and offering lunchtime specials (potentially with delivery).

6. Cater weddings, parties, and office events
Food truck weddings are especially popular, as they are a unique, less-expensive dining alternative. From a consumer standpoint, food truck weddings are incredibly appealing, as they can cut food costs per person

7. Attend local festivals
By attending local fairs and festivals, you’ll be maximizing your visibility and positioning your food truck where crowds of hungry diners will be congregated.

8. Grow your social media presence
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an industry where social media marketing isn’t recommended. However, the fast-paced nature of the food truck industry makes having an equally responsive, up-to-date social media presence of huge importance.

9. Offer delivery
Expanding beyond the confines of your truck might seem like a big step, but offering delivery is a great way to increase sales.”

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5 Ways To Increase Profitability On Your Food Truck Today

Mobile Cuisine

“Increase Profitability On Your Food Truck Today

Improve your purchasing system
Food costs are one of a food truck’s biggest expenses. If handled well, they will be a key factor in your success. If handled poorly, they can make it impossible for your mobile food business to make any money. Good food costs start with good ordering, which is largely dependent on how useful your inventory is.

The goal of purchasing is to have just what you need. This means when you need it, at the best price you can get it for. Every purchase should be determined by your menu, and your anticipated amount of business. Ordering things you don’t need, especially if they are perishable, is a careless and expensive mistake.

Integrate ingredient usage throughout your menu
An often overlooked step in a food truck’s success is a menu that contains items that come close to 100% utilization of an entire product. This is not something most food truck customers will ever be aware of. But for increased profitability it’s something you need to pay a lot of attention to.

If you serve chicken in one of your entrées, think about buying whole chickens and using the legs and thighs for other dishes and the remainder of the carcass to make stock for soups or sauces. Not only will you not waste a perfectly good product, your sauces will taste a lot better than the truck around the corner that uses store bought stock.

As anyone that has ever worked in a kitchen knows, processing vegetables almost always results in scraps that can be used in something. Using these scraps for stocks, sauces, garnishes or even appetizers, is a lot better than throwing them away.

Know your cost for every item on your menu
A food truck owner needs to know that not all of the items on your menu are created equal in terms of profitability. Unless you know exactly what you’re paying to create each dish, you don’t really know what the money is made. This will help you direct your service staff which items they suggest more often, which items you should raise the prices on, or which items you might consider eliminating from your menu.

Steps to knowing your menu costs:

Update your inventory list with accurate, current prices.
Understand exactly how much of each ingredient costs. This includes everything in a dish (use Edible Portion costs rather than As Purchased costs).

Raise prices when you need to
So far we’ve touched on how to increase your profit by keeping our expenditures in check. More often than not, this is the way to go. Most of your customers won’t hold it against you if you become a more efficient operator, especially if it results fresh, consistent dishes. Unfortunately, in the food service industry, prices must rise.

When your food cost increase, no matter much you sell, you won’t make up the difference in volume. When raising prices on select items that your customers will be able to relate to. This way it’s more clear that you’re passing on some hard costs and not just being greedy.

Offer regular, profitable specials
Including specials regularly on your food truck menu is a good idea for a few reasons. Not only do they keep things interesting for you and your staff but they are a great way to utilize product that might go to waste.

Take the time and effort to cost the specials out, so you’ll know how to price them. Don’t underestimate the importance of making sure your service window staff is familiar with the new dishes.”

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Do you need a new kitchen food trailer?  Contact us!  We design bespoke food trailers and trucks to suit your specific requirements.

Why Do Food Vending Businesses Fail?

Food Truck Food - Kitchen Food Trailers

Here are some things to avoid!  Learn from the mistakes of others and make your food vending business a success!

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Why Do Food Truck Businesses Fail? 

Mobile Cuisine

“Although the mobile food industry has been growing exponentially over the past few years, some food truck businesses fail (food carts too). Owning a restaurant on wheels in a good economy can be a challenge, but owning one in a down economy can be even more difficult.

We have put together the top 10 reasons why food truck or food cart vendors in the mobile food industry have failed (outside of local legislation which in many cases is out of your hands). Take a look at your gourmet food truck or food cart business (yes hot dog carts too) and make sure you avoid these mistakes, to maintain a flourishing business.

Why Food Truck Businesses Fail

1. Constrained by Your Vision.
A savvy food truck or food cart owner knows it’s all about the customer, not his or her personal tastes and opinions. Don’t be self-possessed. Be open to opinions other than your own. Without a vision, a food truck is like a ship without a rudder and is in danger of drifting aimlessly.

2. No Identity.
Few things are as important in the food truck industry as the way your business is perceived. Lack of identity is the opposite of being constrained by your vision. A food truck’s success depends on its ability to establish a brand and stick to it, so develop an identity and focus on perfecting it.

3. A Bad Opening.
“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” was never truer than in the mobile food industry business. There’s a reason actors rehearse before opening night—you should too. A soft opening is a great tactic that can lead to an infinitely more successful grand opening of your new food truck.

4. Hiring & Training.
Just like a bad opening, bad service will kill your business quickly. If your vision isn’t executed properly, the damage to your current and future customers is unavoidable. Most food truck owners lack formalized training, procedural and operational processes. Learn from an experienced owner or hire a consultant for expert advice.

5. No Formal Recipes.
How can your truck or food cart kitchen staff maintain consistency without formal recipes? This step is critical to controlling costs, curtailing waste, and providing effective staff training.

6. Poor Inventory Management.
Outside of the initial capital required to purchase your truck or cart, the cost of food is a mobile bistro’s single biggest expense and, unless the financial control systems are in place, you are vulnerable to a drain on your cash. Reducing inventory means a reduction in food cost, so manage your resources carefully.

7. Undercapitalization.
Unexpected and unforeseen events happen all the time, especially in a food truck business. In many instances, incorrect budgeting is the culprit. Don’t get caught up in the dream of being profitable from Day 1. Make sure you’ve got money left in the bank to help you ride out the difficult days when your truck needs a new generator, or even a new engine or transmission.

8. Poor Ownership.
Don’t be an absentee owner. If you want to own a food truck or cart, expect to work. Otherwise, don’t expect to get paid. But, and this is a big but, if you haven’t put the systems, tools, and people in place that allow you to step away from the day-to-day operations, then you haven’t bought yourself a business; you’ve bought yourself a job with a misleading title.

9. Insufficient Market Analysis.
A thorough examination of locations you plan to sell your fare is vital to know if it is to be successful and, once it is successful, staying on top of business trends will keep it that way. This is another area where an experienced owner, marketer or consultant can help.

10. Lack of a Business Plan.
The last of our top reasons food truck businesses fail relates to the lack of a business plan. The previous nine points MUST be addressed in your business plan, and the plan MUST be right the first time. The business plan is what everything your food truck will do is based on.

Force you to plan ahead.
Think about the competition.
Formulate a marketing strategy.
Define your management structure.
Plan your financing, among other things.
Your food truck business plan is your roadmap to success. Do not proceed without a solid business plan.

The Bottom Line
The old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” is never more critical than in the mobile food industry. Avoid these top 10 mistakes and enjoy the fruits of your labor.”

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RestaurantMBA

“Opening a food truck is much cheaper than opening a restaurant, and therefore a much more tangible goal for those wishing to serve their culinary works to their community. With a comparably low initial investment, people can see their financial freedom just a few years down the road. Once they break even and pay off any loans, as long as their food truck continues to make a profit, they will have gained financial freedom doing what they love.

However, achieving success in the food truck world is much more complex than is often perceived. Just like restaurants, food trucks have a very high rate of failure with 60% going under within three years of opening.

Various factors can contribute to food truck failure, but the main reason is likely oversimplification. People thinking with their hearts decide they can easily reach their goals by opening a food truck and overlook many important details. Dreamers believe simply offering amazing food and acquiring funds to buy a truck and cover overhead will pave the way to success.

Just because starting a food truck is less expensive than many small businesses doesn’t mean opening one is a guaranteed way to achieve financial freedom. Breaking into the food truck world requires extremely hard work, a solid financial plan, and patient, persistent pursuit.

Reasons Food Trucks Fail and How to Prevent Them

To understand more about why food trucks fail, it is best to look specifically at what areas of the business have the potential to weigh it down. The sections below discuss different reasons that food trucks typically fail and all fall under the umbrella of oversimplification. With accurate, realistic, and detailed planning, all of the following mishaps can be avoided.

Lack of Business and Financial Knowledge

A food truck is, above all else, a business. As with any business, a detailed, viable business plan needs to be developed to provide a solid foundation upon which the business can be built. It may be easy to get lost in planning innovative menu items, but food isn’t the only component needing thorough consideration before opening a food truck.

Without a specified layout of costs, operational processes, marketing and branding plans, and research into industry specific issues, any food truck may be bound to fail.

Details covering the necessary licenses, permits, and insurance to cover all food truck specific laws and regulations are sometimes overlooked by people planning to open food trucks. Every state, county, and city has its own laws regarding food trucks and not having the correct licenses and permits can lead to hefty fines.

Non-compliance with ever-changing health department standards can lead to problems. Insurance also necessitates prior planning. Some people hoping to start a food truck underestimate the cost of having insurance covering their business, as well as their physical truck.

High expenses are a common reason food trucks fail. Not only are certain costs sometimes underestimated, some can be completely overlooked. Opening a mobile business can carry many unforeseen expenses like those related to truck and equipment maintenance, fuel, and parking tickets.

Proper investigation into the worst that could possibly happen is necessary when starting a food truck. Solely basing a financial plan on a set growth timeline may not be effective. A large number of food truck owners end up spending more money on their business than they initially expected. With one too many unwanted surprises, a food truck business can fold.”

To continue reading this article, please click the link above

Business Licences and Permits

Permissions

You will need to find out what the requirements are for your specific local municipality, but here is some information from the Western Cape Government as to the business licences and permits required to run a food trailer business in the Western Cape.  Please follow the link to the source of the information.

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“If you’re planning to start a business you’ll probably need a business licence. If your business needs a licence to operate you may not start trading until a licence has been issued.  Trading without a valid licence is a punishable offense.

To operate your business, you’ll need to comply with certain health and safety regulations. Certain businesses require only a business trading licence to operate, and some may need to comply with additional regulations.

A business licence is generally required for businesses that need to comply with health and safety regulations. You’ll have to apply for the licence if you want to start one of the following businesses:

Food provision

If your business sells or supplies meals or perishable food to eat on the premises or to take away, you’ll need a licence to do so.

Health and entertainment facilities 

You need a licence for:

Turkish baths, saunas and health baths,
Massage or infra-red treatments,
Male and female escort agencies,
Three or more slot machines and electronic games,
Three or more snooker or billiard tables,
Nightclubs and bars, where live or loud music is played, and
Adult entertainment premises.

Hawkers 

If you’re a hawker selling food and meals, which you take from place to place or sell from a vehicle, you’ll need a permit.

Where do I apply for a business licence?

Your local municipality handles business licences and you can contact them for details on licensing procedures and the various health and safety regulations required for different kinds of business.

Depending on the type of business, you may need to comply with the following requirements:

  • Zoning
  • Health
  • Safety (particularly fire)

If you comply with all the requirements, you’ll be issued with a licence. If not, you can apply for a 14-day grace period, during which you can make changes to your premises so that they meet the requirements.

For more information please contact your local municipality.

Selling liquor

If you want to sell or manufacture liquor, the law requires you to apply for a liquor licence before you do.”

Towing and Hauling

Food Vending Kitchen Trailers - Mzanzi Meals

 

Here is a useful article from Rideapart – keep safe when towing that trailer!

“Questions About Towing and Hauling

Many people think that as long as you just attach a tow ball hitch to any vehicle that you are all set and ready to haul anything and everything. Add in an assumption that driving with a trailer behind you is in any way easy and you have the recipe for disaster. All cars, SUVs, trucks and even minivans have vastly different tow ratings according to their manufacturers which mean they are not meant to tow anything that weighs more than that weight. Plus, if you own a pick-up truck you will also be dealing with a payload rating which means that weight is the maximum amount pound wise that you can dump into the pick-up bed.

As follows are some simple questions anyone from a novice to an expert might have regarding towing practices, some of the most modern technology that can help make your towing life easier and a few mistakes you definitely want to avoid. Besides, the point is to keep the roads safe with well-educated and fully comfortable drivers behind the wheel.

What does towing capacity mean and where can I find my vehicle’s capacity figure?
When your vehicle is properly equipped with a tow hitch, this is the weight of the trailer you can pull behind your vehicle without causing any undue damage to your transmission, engine, frame or cooling systems. Your vehicle’s tow capacity may depend on which engine it is equipped with and whether or not there if there was a heavy duty tow package purchased originally from the factory. But you can usually find these figures on the auto manufacturer’s website or in the owner’s manual.

What is a payload rating and what is a gross vehicle weight rating?
Simply put, your vehicle’s gross weight rating is how many pounds it weighs when equipped with all available options but empty of any cargo either human or otherwise. Or it tells you how fat it is, to put it crudely. A pick-up truck’s payload rating is how heavy the cargo you place in the pick-up bed before the back end starts to sag perilously close to your rear tires. You can increase your payload rating with aftermarket parts and may be a good idea if you plan to use your vehicle to haul really heavy loads in the cargo hold.

What does Trailer Signal Wiring do?
When you have a tow hitch attached to the back of your pick-up, SUV or car there should be electrical plugs attached that once plugged into the securely attached trailer will be able to show drivers behind you when you are signaling or braking via the lights attached to any legal trailer. Essentially they mimic what your regular tail lights are doing and having this properly set up is very important so be sure to double check they are working before embarking on any journey.

What is Anti-Sway Control for Trailers?
Trailer sway control is a function of the stability control systems in a vehicle and uses a number of electronic sensors to detect if a trailer is yawing (moving side to side behind you) and applies brake pressure on one wheel to bring it back in line.

How does an oil cooler system help me tow heavier loads?
Towing a heavy load is hard on any engine and transmission and often times automakers will offer packages that include oil cooling systems or even transmission fluid cooling systems to help increase towing capacity. The temperature of both of these fluids will naturally be higher when the engine is constantly working hard so if you tow a lot investing in one of these packages or a separate option is definitely a smart move if long term engine and transmission reliability are important to you. And they should be.

Where can I weigh my trailer?
Any retailer that sells trailers or RVs will definitely have its own scale that you can use to ensure you know exactly how heavy the cargo is that you will be towing. Some repair shops and car or truck dealers may also have scales but as always call ahead to ensure they have one, that it’s working and that they will let you use it. Do not try to use your home bathroom scale.

What is Integrated Trailer Brake Control?
This is one of the more advanced trailer systems and it simply means that when you hit the brake pedal in your vehicle it not only controls the brakes of the vehicle but also brakes on the trailer. This enhances control and stability.

What is Hill Descent Control and how does it help a driver maintain control on mountain roads?
This feature will use special gearing and braking to ensure that your vehicle maintains a nice, low and controlled speed on steep downhill inclines which can be especially helpful on wet or muddy surfaces.

What happens when you switch your transmission into either ‘tow’ or ‘haul’ mode?
If your vehicle is equipped with a tow or haul setting this feature will compensate for road steepness and payload changes by reducing gear hunting which improves fuel economy and power delivery. I this setting, engine braking will also help slow the vehicle when descending hills.”

 

For the complete article, follow the link above.

 

 

The World’s Largest Food Truck Rally

Imbuzi Cafe - Food Vending Trailer

Wouldn’t it be great to see something like this happening in SA?  Enjoy the read!

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The World’s Largest Food Truck RallyFood Truckr

“What’s better than a food truck festival that brings a ton of tasty trucks together in one place?

Admittedly, that’s a bit of a trick question! There’s nothing better—except for a food truck festival that brings more tasty trucks together in one place than have ever gathered together before. We’re talking, of course, about the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally presented by Generation Food Truck in Tampa Bay, FL.

This event earns a spot in our Hall of FoodTruckr Heroes Fame by working hard to bring as many food trucks as possible together in a single place. The event took place this past weekend on March 29th and 30th and set a new Guinness World Record with 121 trucks joining forces for a historic food truck parade.

To be included in the official count, trucks had to have a logo displayed on their trucks. That means that when you also count the trucks that didn’t have logos but still served up delicious food, festival attendees could choose from approximately 170 trucks. We don’t know how you could ever choose just one or two to order from!

In addition to the fact that this record-breaking endeavor succeeded in making history, there are a few things we really love about this event:

1. Raises Awareness
The World’s Largest Food Truck Rally isn’t just a way for the participants to claim a Guinness World record—it’s also an incredible opportunity for everyone involved to raise awareness about the food truck industry. From media reports to social posts from the participating trucks, tons of people were talking about this event over the weekend. That’s a lot of positive buzz about food trucks and the growing popularity of this industry, and we think it’s pretty cool that one event was able to make such a big splash.

2. Brings the Community Together
Successful industries have strong communities behind them, and we’re thrilled to see the food truck community growing stronger every day. There are all kinds of food truck festivals that bring a bunch of trucks to a single place, but the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally goes a step further by bringing everyone together to work toward a common goal. At this event, every truck is equally important to contributing to the final count, and it’s only through the power of all the trucks combined that a new record can be set.

3. Reflects Food Truck Culture
FoodTruckrs are an awesome breed—hard-working, innovative people who are committed to quality and know how to have a good time. The World’s Largest Food Truck Rally reflects that culture by serving up a fresh spin on traditional food truck festivals and being a seriously fun way to enjoy some of the best trucks the industry has to offer.

We were so excited to see the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally set their new Guinness World Record, and we can’t wait to see how many trucks they’ll bring together at next year’s event! Big thanks to the incredible team behind this event—and congratulations to all the trucks who participated!”

Keeping it in the Family

A lovely news item about family doing it together……….  We found this article at The Lincoln County News

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Mother-Daughter Duo Opens Food Trailer in Newcastle
July 19, 2017 at 8:52 am
Maia Zewert

A mother and daughter have teamed up to open a food trailer offering a variety of sandwiches and desserts at 928 Route 1 in Newcastle, next to the Sherman Marsh rest area.

Newcastle residents Carol Heaberlin and her daughter, Mindy Jones, co-own Y-Knot, which opened for business Tuesday, July 18. Heaberlin brings years of experience at eateries and delis along the East Coast, including the former Seymour’s Subs and Cash and Carry convenience store in Boothbay Harbor.

The duo had been discussing the idea of starting a business together for a while, when Heaberlin’s son, Nick Heaberlin, discovered the Rotary Club of Westbrook-Gorham had a trailer for sale.

“We thought it was perfect for what we wanted to do and went with it,” Jones said.

After purchasing the trailer in April, Heaberlin, Jones, and their families began an “extensive” renovation project, essentially gutting the trailer to its shell before installing new appliances, Jones said. The exterior of the trailer received a fresh coat of paint.

Heaberlin and Jones then needed to locate a home for the trailer. Heaberlin’s husband, Rick Heaberlin, approached Pauline Steele about her property along Route 1. The lot was most recently home to All the Comforts and First Class Florals, but a fire badly damaged the building in 2013 and it was later demolished. The lot has also been home to an ice cream shop and a nautical shop.

As “one of Newcastle’s kindest residents,” Steele was thrilled to rent the space to the women, Jones said.

The sandwich menu features customer favorites from Heaberlin’s days at Seymour’s Subs that have been renamed to fit the new business. Sandwiches include the Seahorse, made with tuna, sprouts, avocados, and Swiss cheese; the Farmers Knot, which consists of chicken salad, bacon, provolone cheese, and Y-Knot’s red relish; and the Y-Knot Dagwood, an improved version of the sandwich from Seymour’s Subs, Heaberlin said.

Heaberlin enjoys creating new sandwiches and dishes, and the food truck will feature a rotating menu of specials. She’s currently working on a mustard-based, sweet-and-spicy coleslaw she plans to pair with roast beef and barbecue chicken and beef, she said.

Jones primarily handles the customer service side of the business and develops desserts. One of her creations is the Sweet Little Piggy, a sundae that combines vanilla ice cream with maple syrup and bacon bits.

The Big Foot Sundae, another Jones original, includes a brownie, a chocolate chip cookie, hot fudge, crushed Reese’s peanut butter cups, and the customer’s choice of ice cream. The sundae is topped with Y-Knot sauce of Jones’ own invention, whipped cream, and sugar cone crumbles.

Other items on the menu pay homage to family members. The Knotty Lobster, which includes Texas toast, lobster, and Y-Knot’s seafood stuffing, is a recipe from Heaberlin’s father-in-law, while the Ricky Float, consisting of sparkling lemonade and vanilla ice cream, is named for Jones’ son, Rick-Wyatt.”

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To read the rest of the article, please click the link above

Food Trailer Permissions

Permissions

This is an interesting news article from a few years ago.  Just a reminder that you need to make sure you know all the regulations and permissions and have all the necessary permits before you start trading…..

The article was from the South Coast Sun

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Food stall in hot water over trading site – By Earl Baillache
Does the owner of a food stall have permission to operate from Toti police station?

Residents have questioned the legality of a food stall trailer operating from the parking lot of the Amanzimtoti police station.

“The food stand was brought to my attention on Tuesday, 11 March, at which time I enquired with those operating it, who subsequently referred me to the station commander, Colonel Den Mkize,” said ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge.

“I contacted the health inspector, Sandile Masinga both verbally and via email to investigate.” This was followed up with a verbal and written update requests from Cllr Beetge on 17 and 24 March.

“At our latest discussion, Mr Masinga confirmed he had done an inspection, at which time he informed the apparent employee from KwaMakhutha, who operates but does not own the food stand, to inform the owner to lodge an application for a business license with the Business Support Unit. My enquirers with Business Support to confirm their role in the matter turned out unsuccessful, but Mr Masinga did commit to follow up.”

According to Cllr Beetge, as the food stand is being operated from a premises owned by the Department of Public Works, station commander, Col Mkize would have had to give permission for it to operate from the police station. “The question is whether Col Mkize has the authority to recommend or approve such an operation,” said Cllr Beetge.

KZN police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker said the SAPS is not responsible for the issuing of permits to food vendors. “That responsibility lies with the municipality,” he said.

“There is a vendor who sells food outside the premises of the SAPS Amanzimtoti. Members of the station, visitors to court and the community at large who visit the station purchase food from this vendor. The vendor in question operates outside the police premises and has no obligation to the management of the station.”

The Sun sent enquires to eThekwini Municipality regarding the legality of the food stall operating from the police station’s parking lot and whether the owner has a license to sell food, but at the time of printing, no response was forthcoming.”

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Average Salary of a Concession Trailer Owner

Just to get some ideas… But remember this is info from the US so bear in mind the SA market is different.

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The Average Salary of a Person Who Owns a Concession Trailer
by Devra Gartenstein

“It’s nearly impossible to find specific data about the average salary for a person who owns a concession trailer or food truck, because nobody collects information that’s quite so focused on this particular industry. But putting together puzzle pieces about profitability and expenses can provide some useful information about how much you can expect to earn. As with any business, your income will depend upon the internal and external environments in which you operate — how well you run your company and how much opportunity is available in your area.

The Numbers
Revenue is the total amount that your concession trailer or food truck takes in, before subtracting operating expenses. Gross revenue for food trucks varies, from less than $50,000, for about four percent of operators, to more than $200,000, for about 22 percent of operators. If you run your concession trailer as a sideline and focus on smaller events, you’ll probably net in the ballpark of $5,000 to $20,000 during the busy season, after subtracting operating costs. If you operate your concession trailer full time and you vend at large events, you could make closer to $20,000 to $50,000 for the season. Keep in mind that food concession trailers tend to earn most of their income during the summer months at outdoor events and fairs.

Salary vs. Profit
A salary is a regular payment that a business gives to an owner, manager or employee in exchange for work. If you’re running your own business, you may set up a payment schedule and write yourself a check for the same amount each week. But if your company doesn’t make enough to cover the salary you’ve designated, you will still need to figure out a way to cover the difference. This is especially true if your concession business is a sole proprietorship or a partnership — because, for these business structures, the Internal Revenue Service treats the bottom line profit or loss as owner income, regardless of the salary you pay yourself. Similarly, if you’re using one of these business structures and your concession trailer earns more than you pay yourself in salary, the IRS still taxes you on the difference, as well.

Maximizing Concession Trailer Earnings
To earn as much as possible from your concession trailer, develop a strong business model. Price your menu items so that you can earn a healthy margin that’s above the cost of ingredients and outside labor, but don’t make your prices so high that customers will buy their lunches elsewhere. Find the right venues for the food you serve. If you offer artisan meals based on locally sourced ingredients, look for vending opportunities at farmers’ markets. If you offer affordable mainstream comfort food, apply to sell at county fairs. You may be lucky enough to find a busy roadside location for your trailer. If you do, you’ll have the advantage that people will know where to find you, but you may need to commit to being there much of the week, at the risk of sacrificing other promising opportunities. Wherever you vend, develop systems that enable you to lay out the food as quickly as possible. The more people you move through your line, the more food you sell. The more food you sell, the more money you make.”

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To read the full article – visit the link above.

A Unique Business

Imbuzi Cafe - Food Vending Trailer

Here’s a great article by Kirsten Reneau  from The Telegram on why food trucks offer a unique way to do business….

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“Once just a staple for carnivals and fairs, more and more food trucks are driving their way into the fabric of everyday life in West Virginia.

Bruce Manning is the owner and operator of Let’s Taco Bout It, a food truck that has been active in Morgantown for about two years.

“Since 2008, I have wanted a food truck / trailer or cart, but I never had enough funds to pull the trigger. In March of 2016, I had a little savings and thought it’s worth a shot,” he said.

He bought the truck after seeing an ad on Craigslist, and transformed it over a time frame of several months, adding serving windows, a triple sink, a hand-washing sink water system, ran electric, installed equipment and hand-painted the vehicle.

The food truck began showing up around Morgantown in 2016. While the business mainly operates late at night, from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on High Street, Manning and his food truck have also been seen at West Virginia University’s Fall Fest and other events.

However, it hasn’t always been easy. Manning has dealt with engine problems, bad transmissions and must work around employees’ regular job schedules and cold weather, which can make it “pretty frustrating sometimes.”

However, there are also several benefits to having a food truck rather than a regular restaurant, he said.

“I think food trucks have increased in popularity because you can start a restaurant for a fraction of the cost of a brick and mortar,” Manning said.

“It also gives you the freedom to change locations if you’re not making money at your current spot,” he said.

There are certain rules food trucks must follow, depending on the city: In Morgantown, they can only set up in designated parking spots during certain times, or on private property.

“It’s a fun business, but it has its ups and downs and there are many hurdles to jump along the way,” Manning said.

Jason Burnside, a Harrison County resident, said he enjoys the creativity of food trucks.

“I think it’s a great small business opportunity, and if they offer something different, I think everyone should try it,” he said. “I love the idea of being able to catch lunch at a food truck.”

Brian Coleman started his food truck, Heavenly Hoagies, after feeling called by God to bring food to oil and gas workers in 2011.

“I took all my retirement and vacation (money), and pulled a cooker behind a truck and that’s how I started,” he said.

While working, people would watch him, which soon grew into a local following. Soon enough, he was able to obtain a truck, and then a second.

“We got our first sit-down place, and I had to hire and place people, but I still felt like God called me to be out with people,” he said. “I don’t like being inside four walls, so my wife and I continued to do the food truck. One sit-down place became two, which became three.”

However, after dealing with some personal issues in 2014, Coleman decided to close down his sit-down restaurants and refocus on the food truck, as well as catering.

“I feel like I need to be out among people,” he said. “When I’m in the trailer, I can take the order, interact, cook, do everything through a window, rather than being in a kitchen in the back. So we’re a food truck and catering only from this point forward.”

He said that since 2011, he’s seen growth in the industry.

“When I started, I was in Marion, Harrison, Wetzel, Taylor, and Mon Counties. There may have been one or two small trucks in Mon, but there weren’t any in this area,” he said. “Maybe because they say things on TV, and people already are doing it and being successful. There’s a need. They think, ‘We don’t have anything like that here, so maybe we’ll start something.’”

The executive director of West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Dr. John Deskins, said that one reason food trucks are unique is because they transcend typical issues that can come up in retail.

“In certain types of retail, especially food, you hear location, location, location. It’s everything. So a food truck can break that chain,” he said. “It can move to where people are. It can be at the best location as it evolves from season to season or morning to night, and that gives them one pretty cool advantage.”

While he’s not sure how the food truck trend will do in the future, he’s excited to see the business change.

“My mantra for the past few years has been about the importance of supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, and it’s cool to see them trying new things and figuring out what customers like and what works,” he said.

Food trucks have become so popular in the state that there is a festival dedicated to them in Putnam County.”

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Have a great day!

Owners Share Secrets to Starting a Food Truck Business

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It’s always helpful to hear tips and tricks from people who are already in the food truck business.  Here is great article from Roaming Hunger – 61 Owners Share Secrets to Starting a Food Truck Business.  I have only taken snippets from the article and posted below, please follow the link for the full article.

HOW TO PURCHASE THE BEST FOOD TRUCK

Your business starts and ends with the food truck itself. When it’s on the road and working great, you’re making money. When it’s in the shop for repairs or the generator gives out on you, you’re losing money. Consider the wise advice from the owners below on how to set yourself up for success from the get-go.

Ashley from Not As Famous Cookie Company
Get a truck that meets all of your needs. Research equipment and power needs to avoid taking losses.

Ken from Kebab Food Truck
Get the right size food truck. My current truck has a 15′ cargo area. I would never have another one less than 18′ and I’d prefer 20′ or 22′. And I’d find a wider body than my current 80″.

 

Andrew from Em’s Ice Cream
We actually started with ice cream carts. They were much less expensive initially and allowed us to test our concept before making the larger investment into a truck.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE HITTING THE STREETS

Getting your food truck business started is one thing, surviving and growing is a whole other ball game. Whether it’s finding locations or making it in a small community, planning and research before you hit the road can make a huge difference. The owners below give some incredible insights into what to think about and do before starting your business.

From Linkz Express
Do research on food trucks in your state. The whole food truck movement hasn’t been in Georgia very long, so being in the first stages has been difficult.

Sean from It’s Bao Time
It is a common mistake to try and learn the ropes by trial and error. Although you can’t be afraid to make mistakes, and mistakes will definitely happen, it is well worth it to nail down some fundamental processes that will eventually form the way you operate.

Take your time to learn your customers, your own weak points, and learn your strengths as well. There is always time for innovation, but if you rush into serving food, you might alienate initial customers and never get repeat business.

CREATING THE BEST MENU FOR YOUR FOOD TRUCK

The menu is often the most important aspect to a food truck owner starting out in the industry. After all, it is the passion for food that drives them to start a business in the first place. It is also a very personal thing for any chef to share with the world.

As outlined in the advice below, creating a menu is a balancing act between complexity and simplicity, between making amazing food and making food people will eat and share. A food truck is a great way to build a business and feed your fans, but it’s not always the best way to share exotic or hard to make foods.

Dan from Cool Beans
I would have had a focus group answer some questions to help us decide on menu ideas, and also on the truck’s exterior design.

Amber from Engine 1 Pizza
Find a popular food that food trucks don’t normally do.

 

Make sure when serving high-priced or exotic commodities that you offer supplemental items to help balance your food cost. We featured our spin on an egg salad sandwich, and it became one of our biggest sellers.

FUNDING TIPS TO THRIVE IN THE FOOD TRUCK BUSINESS

While food trucks can be a low investment opportunity compared to brick and mortar restaurants, funding can be an issue for anyone who doesn’t plan accordingly. When it comes to starting your food truck business, cash is king.

Richard from Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers Truck
I probably would want more capital to begin with. We started on a shoestring budget and had nothing saved.

UNDERSTANDING PERMITS AND REGULATIONS

The legal side of the food truck business is often out of the owner’s control and can be a great source of stress. Make sure you do the proper research on the city and state level. Although only two trucks that talked to us mentioned permits and regulations outright, we’ve worked with many food trucks that had to figure out how to overcome unfriendly mobile food regulations. Check out our article called “Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Food Truck”, where Mustache Pretzel owner Greg Golden goes into more detail about this.

Jorge from Arepas House
Learn about all the regulations from the county and the fire department in order to get a food truck that’s well equipped with what you need to meet codes.

INVEST IN MARKETING

Most food truck owners believe that if the food is good, the marketing will take care of itself. While this may work sometimes, it’s not something you want to depend on when getting your business off the ground. Learn about and invest in marketing so you can jumpstart your business from the start. Just make sure your menu, staff, and kitchen are ready to handle the customers.

Eric from Not Just Q
I would have spent more money in marketing to get started. We had a slow start, which almost broke us.

Marc from Ninjas with Appetite
I would push social media harder.

HIRE GREAT EMPLOYEES
The people you work with can make all the difference. In the case of succeeding in the food truck industry, finding reliable and experienced employees will be a huge advantage. Take the time to build a team that will be passionate about building your business.

Calvin from Paddy Wagon Sliders
If I could start over. I wouldn’t have hired my close friends to work for me as it was hard to separate friendship and business.

THIS IS A BUSINESS: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Believe it or not some owners are told that starting a food truck business is not very hard. In our experience that is a great mindset if you want to be out of business in less than a year. If you’re serious about it, you’ve got to roll with the punches and keep solving the problems that inevitably come up.

Christine from Toum Food Truck
The food truck industry is not as easy as it looks. It’s very cut throat and you need to constantly roll with the punches. You’ll make a lot of sacrifices just to keep afloat.

Pat from Empanadas Aqui
Don’t stress about getting lunches and events on the calendar, they will find you.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

To start a food truck you have to be a doer. Anyone who overthinks every single decision will get lost in all the meaningless details. As a small business owner, you have to plan, execute, and adjust. And no matter what, you have to believe in what you are doing.

Gilbert Villa from G’s Taco Spot On Wheels
Believe in yourself and your concept. Believe that although there are many food trucks in the area, there is only one you. Which means that the quality of your food, your customer service, and presentation is what separates you from the rest. Understand that your concept is truly up to you. There are no right or wrong ways to what you do.”

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