It seems as though everyone is caught up in the food truck craze these days; some people happily hurry over to grab some grub at the truck outside their office, others gather up groups of friends and make the trek to one of the many massive Food Truck Festivals, and a few brave souls make the courageous decision to join the proud fraternity of chefs who choose to make mobile kitchens the canvas on which they paint their culinary masterpieces.
For those who find themselves in the latter category, there are a few things you are going to have to know before you begin your journey. Like all small business, owning a food truck has its upsides and its challenges. Also like all small business, the upsides and challenges that go along with food truck ownership can often times be predictable and even mitigated with a little research.
The best advice anyone thinking of starting a food truck can be given is to research all of the issues that food truck operators have and consider these while orchestrating a very careful and extremely detailed business plan. This business plan should include start up costs, revenue projections, projected expenses, marketing strategies, human resource and staffing philosophies and a list of hurdles that the business will have to overcome in order to achieve the desired success. Remember to research the town or city and state that you are considering operating in as part of this plan; you’ll need to know all of the regulations, permitting processes, expenses and as much as you can about future plans.
Finding a truck
Once a thorough business plan has been written, rewritten and evaluated you are ready to start looking for a truck. Taking into consideration the regulations that exist in the area where you hope to vend, make a list of the things you will need in your truck. Keep in mind your truck’s needs are going to be directly affected by the regulations you will face where you vend as well the equipment demands of your concept. Research available food trucks and/or food truck outfitters in your area and take your time picking one- this is going to be first major decision you make as a business owner!
After purchasing a truck the next logical step is to brand it with your business logo and color scheme. Consult a graphic designer and sign professionals to find out what options best fit your budget before making any movement. Remember, measure twice, cut once!
Back to the truck
In the meantime, comb through the truck top to bottom. A good working philosophy is to assume that everything that ‘works’ can stop working at some point, so it is important to identify everything that may need to be repaired down the road. Be preemptive. Research and locate repair professionals for every piece of equipment on your truck, including the truck itself. Keep these contacts. They will be very important to the success of your business.
Do you want it?
Lastly, the question you need to ask yourself is how badly you really want to be a part the food truck industry. Owning your own business is everything people tell you it is; there are days where being your own boss is the best thing that ever happened to you, and there will be days where you wish you had never started down that road.
Think hard, because if you truly believe in your concept, and you believe deeply enough in your own abilities, then you will choose to push through on the days where it seems like nothing can go right. In the end, if it feels right, then it’s full steam ahead.
Good luck, and we’ll see you on the streets!
Editor’s note: Avi Shemtov is the owner of the Chubby Chickpea food truck (@ChubbyChickPea). This article originally appeared in the Food Truck Festival of New England’s newsletter, which you can read here.