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.”

How To Survive the Food Truck Business

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Here’s an informative read by Katharine Jacobs for EatOut.co.za on how to survive the food truck business.

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Fad or opportunity: 8 ways to survive in the food truck business

There’s no doubt that food trucks are popular. In the last few years, the number of hip, fitted out food trucks has ballooned from 20-odd to over 65. Our annual roundup is consistently one of the most-read stories on our site – and food truck-related news – like the recent opening of Good and Proper food truck park in Sandton – goes instantly viral. But running a food truck is no picnic – especially in the long winter months. We chatted to several food truckers around the country to find out how they make the business work for them.

1. Find a regular spot
Being in the same place at the same time each week will help you to build up a customer base. Didi from Didi’s Bitchin Burritos in Cape Town says that their daily trading spot at the Salt Circle Arcade in Woodstock has been integral to their business. “Salt Circle keeps our operation continually busy,” says Didi, who finds things slow down when they rely only on events. That said, finding a steady spot can be difficult. “It would be incredible to have a few dedicated spaces in and around the Cape Town CBD area where we could have a few alternating food trucks to serve directly to the public,” says Didi.

Richter and Sam from Wahine, who operate every Friday at Black River Park in Observatory, agree. “Black River Park have been so good to us since the beginning,” says Richter. But, say the couple, local policies are not geared in truckers’ favour: “One can apply for a hawkers license, but the regulations dictate that the vehicle being used must fit into a standard parking bay. Most food trucks are too big to fit into the space”. He’s eager for the city to reevaluate old laws to be more like the American system where they’re granted roaming licenses that enable them to reach more informal trade.

2. Supplement income with private parties
Weddings, music festivals and events can be a lucrative market – but choose carefully. “Some organisers are very fair and charge a 10% fee of total turnover,” explain Richter and Sam. Other events demand that traders pay astronomical fees upfront. “One event is asking approximately R15,000 upfront, plus they are penalising traders heavily if they run out of stock. Yes, granted, there is opportunity to earn good money, but as a lot of us are small business owners, such demands can be a heavy burden on the cash flow of the business. After all, we are there to add value to events,” say the couple. Other food truckers warn against showing up for events like trance parties, where younger crowds are prepared to spend much less on food.

3. Train your staff
Staff salaries can drastically reduce the profitability of the business, so be prepared to remain hands-on. Huseyin Batkin, who ran a Middle Eastern food truck in Cape Town from November 2014 to January 2016, points out that food truck visitors are also after an authentic experience. So being there yourself, or training staff to live the brand, can help. The Wahine team has focused on staff development and found that helping staff learn crucial skills can be very rewarding. One of their first staff members has now gone on to open her own trailer.

4. Find a reliable van
Tacokombi’s Valjean Joubert jokes that their biggest struggle is wondering whether their old cars are going to make it to the venue or break down en route. But it really is important to make your truck as portable as possible. Didi says having a truck that can be set up in almost any car park has increased their options in terms of location drastically.

5. Learn as much as you can
Huseyin Batkin saw his time running a Middle Eastern food truck in Cape Town as a stepping-stone to opening his own restaurant. He’s since opened SHEGO in Green Point. “After serving food for over a year to the public at different events, we got to learn a lot about what people want, and about suppliers and competition. My advice – listen to everyone’s advice but make your own decisions in the end”. Of course, restaurants built with bricks and mortar are not everyone’s ultimate goal. “Would you eat cyanide?” responds Valjean of Tacokombi when asked whether they’d ever consider opening a restaurant.

6. Keep it simple
Huseyin served only three items: chicken, lamb, or falafel wraps with homemade toppings. This helped to keep food costs down, and quality up. Also consider how you can open up your truck to appeal to more people. Can you offer Halaal food? Do you have a vegetarian option? A wheat-free option? A banting option? You can’t be all things to all people, but picking one or two will help expand business.

7. Make friends with your fellow truckers
With allies, or by planning to share a spot so there’s someone to cover each day of the week, you’re more likely to be able to make a spot into a destination. Plus, as Julia Child told us, people who love food are always the best people. “When we meet people that are as passionate about food as we are, it’s always a bonus,” say the Wahine team.

8. Reap the rewards
There are, of course, great positives to running a food truck. Apart from Mondays (Valjean’s favourite day), truckers say they absolutely love working for themselves. “It affords us the free time to be able to grow amazing veg and herbs for our customers on our plot, and chill with our two Korean ginger cat children that we adopted whilst living in South Korea,” say the Wahine team. It also means they can provide for their cat children.”

2018: Goals To Focus On If You Own A Food Truck

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There are many different things people need to focus on if they plan on seeing success, and food truck owners are, of course, no different.

In fact, there are a million different things mobile kitchen owners have to focus on — you know, since they are running their own businesses.

With that said, if food truck owners focus on the five things below in 2018, then they will most definitely achieve an overwhelming amount of success.

First And Foremost, Their Food Trucks

You, of course, need to focus on your food truck. This is your business. Your livelihood. Your baby. You’ve sunk a lot of money into this venture, and not only that … but it is your dream job. So you, more likely than not, know you need to focus on your food truck, but the point of this step is to not get complacent by going through the motions.

If you really want to see some success at your food truck, then you will become a goal-oriented person, and all of these goals (at least many of them) will revolve around your food truck. What are you doing right now to make your food truck business money? Always ask yourself that in 2018.

The Numbers

What do we mean by the numbers? Simple. Your sales. Your inventory. How much money you have in the bank. How much you can afford to pay employees. How much you can afford to pay yourself. How much you can charge for food items. How much you should charge at catering gigs.

The more you know about your numbers, the more you will know about the status of your food truck.

The Happiness Of Their Employees, And Themselves

Food truck owners need to worry about the happiness of their employees … and themselves. This is your dream job, and don’t you think you should do everything in your power to make the people involved in your dream job happy?

While not every employee is going to share the same passions and dreams as you, you can still make your food truck environment fun in hopes of keeping morale up.

And, of course, you need to keep your mind, body and soul happy if you are going to be a food truck owner for the long haul. Take more walks in 2018. Learn how to handle your stress. Don’t just keep everything inside. Figure out solutions to your problems and your food truck’s problems. Give this life everything you’ve got, and try to be the happiest — and most successful — version of yourself.

One Major Goal

You can have as many goals as you would like, but we think you should definitely have one major goal for 2018. If this goal happened, it would, ideally, change your life in a big way. What type of goal would do that for you? What goal is going to take you, your business, your happiness, your success, etc., to the next level?

The cool part is you can form a bunch of smaller goals around this one big goal. Figure out something major you want to achieve. For example, it could be opening up a second food truck, or opening your first food truck if you are an aspiring mobile kitchen owner.

Friends, Family And Their Own Sanity

If you want to be the person you were meant to be, and if you also want to be the happiest version of yourself, then you need to have a balanced life. For example, you can’t simply work your life away, and you also can’t spend all of your time having fun/not making goals come true. You need to find a happy medium, and part of that should deal with you focusing on your relationships and yourself.

We understand how busy food truck owners can be, but even a five-minute phone call to a loved one can benefit you and this loved one. It’s not always easy to keep your sanity in this industry when you are putting in double-digit hours six to seven days a week, but you still need to find time for your friends and family, because that will not only help you keep your own sanity but it will also help you achieve the feat that is having a well-rounded life.

There are plenty of things to focus on, but food truck owners should consider the five things above throughout 2018.

 

Source – FoodTruckr

4 Things to Consider When Building a Food Truck for Your 2018 Business

f you are about to start a food truck business, get ready for a fun-filled wild ride steeped in reward and adventure. According to 2017 statistics, the average fully equipped food truck business in America grossed $300K. If you hope to become a part of this statistic then you need a food truck builder offering custom designs to make you successful in 2018. Follow these tips and you will be putting yourself in an ideal position to be a huge success in 2018 with the reputation of favorite food truck.

Don’t Go Big and Don’t Go Small

You need a food truck platform that fits your business model like a glove. In other words, work with a food truck builder who understands your market, can take your business goals and map them according to a build design, and engineer a truck that will meet your needs to 100% perfection. If you build too big you will be wasting money on unused space with a heavier load. If you go too small you won’t be able to operate at full capacity and it could be your downfall. Avoid a food truck builder who tries to force you to “go big”. Instead, look for one who can make you huge within a truck sized right for your growth.

Find a Food Truck Builder Who is Also a Marketer

Remember, your food truck is the foundation of your business, and before any business foundation can be created one must first engage thorough research to determine its making. This level of research requires a marketing mind, so look for a food truck builder who known how to research and identify trends, predictions, and competitors relevant to YOUR business model, cuisine type, and your operation’s geographic locations. If your truck is built to accommodate your unique business goals within your niche, your chance of being a 2018 powerhouse in the food truck scene will be significantly greater.

Spare no Expense on Branding

When it comes to branding your food truck there are two primary methods: paint and vinyl wrapping. While both methods have their pros and cons, the best food trucks usually opt for vinyl wrapping because it is more durable to wind, rain, and other weather conditions that flake away paint. While paint is cheaper out of pocket, vinyl wrap is regarded as the better investment because a single application typically lasts five times longer than a paint job. Find a company that not only builds mobile kitchens but that also designs and installs custom food truck vinyl wraps with all the marketing considerations in place. Remember, people eat with their eyes before they taste your food. This means food presentation must look perfect AND your truck’s design must be a head-turning thing of beauty that gets them in line to taste your latest fare.

Avoid the What Ifs and Buy New

You may be saving money off the bat from buying a used food truck, but in the long run you will be wasting cash while your profits diminish. Used food trucks are a gamble because you don’t know what their true condition is. Thousands of food trucks have gone out of business because they repair bills ate into their profits and the time they spent in the shop gave leverage to the competition to waltz in and steal customers. Protect your business’s future and your earning potential by investing in a brand new food truck. This way all you need to pay for are routine maintenance and your annual licensing.

Source – TechnoFAQ

The Truth About Overnight Success In The Food Truck Industry

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There are an overwhelming amount of people entering the food truck industry these days, and for the most part, we think that is awesome … as long as every food truck owner knows what they are getting into.

People enter this industry for many different reasons: Some people’s dreams actually consist of being a chef and running a kitchen, some people just want to own a business (and the food truck industry provides a great opportunity for that) and some people simply think they are going to get rich overnight.

We are here to tell you the truth about overnight success in the food truck industry. First things first, we want to drop this gem, and everyone needs to take it to heart: Everyone is different, meaning everyone’s path to success is different. While some things might work well for some, these same things will not work for everyone, meaning there isn’t necessarily this easy formula people can follow to achieve success.

With that in mind, hard work, hustling and passion tend to go a long way … and so does being in the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people.

The Truth About Overnight Success In The Food Truck Industry

The Truth About Overnight Success In The Food Truck Industry

You want the truth? Well, here it is: There is no such thing as overnight success in the food truck industry. Successful owners work nonstop, and they get all of the right pieces in place, and these pieces lead to success.

Now, everyone looks at overnight success differently, and that is a valid point. Some people are considered overnight successes when they blow up right when they enter the game, but is that type of person truly an overnight success?

More likely than not, that person has put in a ton of work, work that wasn’t seen by the masses until he/she was actually successful/popular. For example, some people think an NBA player who tears it up in his rookie year is an overnight success. In reality, this player has likely been playing basketball for years, and therefore has been working on his craft for years. This person has put in extra nights in the gym, has always been the first person to arrive at practice and the last one to leave. This person prepared himself for the big moment, the big stage, and this preparation isn’t always seen, which is why this person would be considered an overnight success to many people. You must remember, this person has been working toward his dreams for a long time.

Heading back to the food truck industry, everyone is different. An owner who sees a massive amount of success shortly after opening up his/her truck might have been in the food business for a long time. This person might have started off bussing tables, and then gradually worked his/her way up from there. These types of things — you know, basically holding every job in a kitchen/restaurant — prepared this person for the big stage, which was opening up a food truck and running the show.

We aren’t trying to discourage anyone here by saying overnight successes don’t exist, because they do. We are just trying to get mobile kitchen owners — aspiring and current — in the right mindset.

You have to put in a lot of work before you can start serving food in the big leagues (in this case, the food truck industry). So many people think the food truck industry is a get-rich-quick scheme. However, the path to success in this industry is brutal, and it is just as tough to sustain that success.

You have to create the business plan, come up with the money for a truck, perfect the perfect food truck concept/menu, hire the right employees, learn the ways of the kitchen, practice your craft of cooking and the list really could go on and on.

On top of all of the preparation, you have to work long hours (we are talking double-digit workdays for six to seven days out of the week here). You don’t just simply open up a truck, sell a couple of meals and then land on the top of success mountain. If it were that easy, then literally everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately, some people find out the hard way.

Being a successful food truck owner takes passion, hard work, skill, a business mind and, in some cases, luck. You have to have the right location, you have to set up the right catering gigs, you have to venture to the right food truck events, etc.

There are plenty of one-hit wonders on this planet, but if you start up a food truck business and also start to thrive, then there is nothing one-hit wonder about you. There is so much that goes into being a food truck owner … so much that is not visible to outsiders.

People who succeed in this industry shortly after opening up shop put a lot of time into the grand opening (or at least came up with the perfect plan for them), they made great business plans, they worked hard in the kitchen (and made great food in the process) and you get the point.

That is the truth about overnight success in the food truck industry, whether you want to believe it or not.

Consistent. Hard. Work.

That is how you succeed in the food truck industry. There is nothing overnight about it, and that is the beauty of this industry, really.

Source – Food Truckr

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