Gourmet food trucks are a delicious trend that continues to be popular as more and more foodies hit the streets in search of that tasty sushi burrito or mouthwatering lobster roll that they just can’t find in a restaurant. What consumers don’t often realize is that a lot goes into keeping our favorite trucks running and dishing out our beloved menu items. From the very beginning, owners need to figure out what a food truck costs, find financing if necessary, and hook up with a local commissary. And all this before they start selling to the public.
While there are tons of things to remember when it comes to owning a food truck, we’ve narrowed down the list to six tips and things to remember to give yourself a leg up, if you’re curious about what it takes to make it in this business (or interested in starting your own food truck business).
Treat It Like A Real Business
The most important thing to always keep in mind is that owning and operating a food truck is a business and to be truly successful, you have to treat it like a full time job. As with any other business, running a food truck requires your complete focus and attention. To ensure that your truck has the best chances at thriving, be prepared to become a master at Excel spreadsheets, creating expense reports, making business plans, and arranging a solid menu. Running a food truck shouldn’t be treated as a hobby or something to do in your spare time. Devoting yourself to your business is the first and most important step to take in order to succeed in this evolving industry.
Have A Simple, But Intriguing, Menu
The menu is how you directly sell your delicious cuisine to customers and should be an accurate reflection of how good your food is. Having photos of your food is the best way to get customers hungry and interested in what you have to serve. It also provides people with a good idea of what they are about to eat. All trucks can benefit from having photos of their food, but especially those that serve unfamiliar dishes should strongly consider having visual aides. Also be sure to practice cross utilization, which is the idea that every ingredient should be used two or more different ways on the menu, so that kale and salmon salad on your mostly burger and fry-focused truck would have to go.
While we know that gourmet food trucks are actually cleaner than most restaurants, unfortunately they don’t always get the best rap when it comes to cleanliness. It’s best to keep your truck in excellent shape and avoid any doubts when it comes to how sanitary your kitchen is. Stock your truck with extra towels, tire shine, window cleaner, sanitizer tabs, fly papers, and other cleaning supplies that will guarantee success in the area of cleanliness. Another tip? Get all of your staff ServSafe certified no matter where you live. Employees that are well versed on the correct food service practices will only help the cause in assuring customers that your truck is one of the cleanest around.
Permits and Permit Research
It may seem obvious, but when food truck owners were asked what they wish they had known before starting their mobile eateries, an overwhelming majority said they wished they had done more research about permits and regulations. From securing a business license to food and fire inspections, there’s a lot of paperwork and behind the scenes diligence that must be done before you can hit the streets or start working those events. Talk to the right people, do your research, obtain your licenses and permits, and then keep copies of everything on your truck. This will save you valuable time and money in the future.
Equipment and Maintenance
Having the proper equipment and maintaining your truck are vital to being successful and while it may seem like a no brainer, you’d be surprised at how many food truck owners seem to gloss over the importance of this topic. Having an inverter generator is huge and should be a priority to any food truck owner looking to do well and flourish in this industry. The initial cost is higher than a conventional generator, but the benefits out weigh the price offset. Lower fuel consumption, steady and clean power, and significantly less operating noise all contribute to a more professional approach when serving at weddings, high profile events, or simply on the streets of your city. The clean power output of an inverter also helps prolong the life span of your fridge, which is susceptible to damage from choppy power sources and happens to be one of the most expensive pieces of equipment you have. An ansul system is another must-have set of equipment, ensuring that any fire in your truck is effectively put out with a special foam before any major damage is done. However, none of your equipment will matter if you run out of propane while you’re serving customers, so knowing where at least two backup propane fill locations (with one of those being open on Sundays) is extremely important. Besides having the proper equipment in your truck, it is essential to regularly maintain and upkeep everything to guarantee you are a reliable working vendor that won’t miss events due to mechanical failures.
Communication is Key
Interacting and engaging with customers is a must, but what about talking with other food truck owners? By talking with other trucks, you can gain insight that will be beneficial to your own endeavors, learn tips and tricks you might not have previously known, and establish relationships with other people in the industry. Give out samples to fellow food truck entrepreneurs, try their food, and try to gleam as much knowledge as possible when it comes to anything and everything related to food trucks. With customers, be personable, eccentric, and energetic, in a way that people will remember your service and your food in a positive way.
While starting your own food truck – or any business – is certainly not an easy undertaking, it’s an industry full of amazing food and great people. Hopefully these six tips will result in helping make things a little easier when it comes to starting that Mexican Korean American fusion truck of your wildest dreams.