In this first article of a three part series we will look at the key strategies in starting a mobile food business. After talking with a mobile food truck builder, Jack of all Trades by George, I have learned that you may not want to turn just to a food truck owner as a resource. Someone as experienced as George is in this business, he knows what it takes for a food truck to be successful and it is not just a great tasting product!
Food Truck Business is Booming
The first step in running any successful business, is to choose a growth industry that aligns with your interest. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, the food truck industry in the US has grown to over $1.2 billion in annual revenue. And a report by Mountain View-based financial software company Intuit Inc. (with research by Emergent Research) forecasts that mobile restaurants are on track for $2.7 billion in annual revenue by 2017.
You see them at food truck rodeos, state fairs, and even local events around town. Whether you want to stay in a local area or travel around to different states, a mobile food business is a great way to earn a living while many people get a taste of your cuisine.
- Researching the industry
- Finding the right truck/ builder
- Retrieving a license
- Equipment requirements
- Deciding on a commissary
- Hiring your employees
- Marketing your Product
- Maintaining your truck
- Using social media
- Prepare for inspections
- Updating your truck and menu
Researching the Industry
Figuring that you already thought of what your product will be, you need to research other food trucks that may specialize in the same kind of food as you. The key is to stand out, so you want to make sure you have your own niche before you try to compete with other vendors. Also, looking up the best cities for food trucks is important too because, you want to make a profit.
Find out if there is local events in your area of interest; festivals down town, state fairs, and even weddings. Is there a lot of the same food trucks as yours in the same area? Is there many places for you to park your truck for the lunch rush? How hard is it to get your license and permit for your truck in that city, county, or state? These are all important things to know before investing your money and time into your food truck.
Finding the Right Truck/ Builder
Buying a brand new truck is rare, most food truck owners buy a used truck and then customized to fit your needs. This part is very important and also very expensive, which is why you need to find the right builder. The right builder will listen to your idea carefully and know the basics of what you will need to produce it. After sitting down and talking with George, not only is the builder important for the obvious, but also they understand the food truck business and know what it takes to become successful.
For example, George knows that the truck will need to be inspected and it is usually hard to pass the inspections. Therefore, he takes extra precautions to make sure everything is built and installed up to codes and here is an example of what that requires. It is important to find someone like this that looks at every detail and truly cares about their customers so in the long run it will make your life easier. He uses less parts, therefore less parts to repair in the future, someone who thinks about these small details is a good person to invest your time and money into.
Permits and License’s
The main reasoning behind a mobile food business is for the convenience of the consumer. Before you can get started though, you will need a few documents:
- Verified documentation from your local health department
- Certificate of food training completion
- Food vendor permit
- Current drivers license and DMV registration
Take note that these requirements will vary with each state and county so check with your local health department for all the needed requirements.
Now that you have learned how to get your truck started, Part Two will get into how to run your truck.