Can I Rent a Food Truck to Start a Business

Posted by Damian Roberti on

Hey, it's Damian from Marketing Food Online. So in this video, I've got some great subscriber questions about renting a food truck. How much does it cost, and what are the things you need to look for if you're in the market to rent a food truck instead of actually buying one? And in most cases, it's actually a better deal financially, because you're not investing as much upfront. And we're going to get into those questions right now.

 Do Food Trucks Make Good Money 

All right, so, as I mentioned back in the introduction, we're going to dive into those three questions from you guys, our subscribers, about renting a food truck, and then how much does it cost to do that? A couple of other questions that we've got are: if you purchase a used food truck, what is the ballpark figure for getting a used food truck if I'm looking for one that's not new? And then lastly, how much does our food truck permit? So I'm looking down at my list of questions from you guys. So we'll dive into the permit question as well. So before we do, as always, welcome to Marketing Food Online. If this is your first video, we've got over 800 free videos for you.

 Are Food Trucks Profitable in 2021

Simply subscribe and start watching. Hit the bell notification, and you'll take a look at all of our new videos every single week. If you're a food entrepreneur like myself for the past 12 years, these videos will definitely help you get started in almost any type of food niche that you're looking for. So let's dive right into it. So the first question was, how much do food trucks cost to rent? So Damian, why would I want to rent a food truck instead of actually buying one?

 Where Food Trucks can Park 

Well, there are a lot of different variables when you start any type of business. I know, especially when we started our food business and we opened our Italian bakery, where we were located, the budget that we had, the financing we had available at the time, all of those things have a tendency to dictate what type of business you're going to get into and how much of a business you're going to start based on the size of your finances and the available credit if that's what you have, or if you're borrowing money from your family. 

 Food Truck Wrap Cost 

So renting a food truck is a great alternative because you're not having to make such a huge investment. On average, if you've got a brand new food truck nowadays, you're looking at at least $80,000 or more depending on the size and, of course, the type of equipment and a couple of other variables, but for the most part, you're looking at at least a minimum of $80,000 to have a well-fitted, well-done truck to get started, and that's on the low end.

 Which is Better a Food truck or Food Trailer

So renting a food truck gives you an opportunity, no pun intended, to get the wheels rolling with your food truck business to at least start testing out your idea. You could rent it for a certain period of time, and if your business doesn't go over very well, then you haven't lost everything that you invested in it. You simply return the truck. You've rented it for six months, eight months, or a year. You gave it a shot and it didn't work. But if it does work, that's going to give you an opportunity to save up money and then even either lease it to own it or rent it to own it. And then from there, again, you're not having to invest so much upfront. Now, it's kind of a tricky thing when you get into renting a food truck, and I'm going to go through a few different things that you really need to look for.


So number one, the age of the truck is super important. The tendency to have trucks that are much, much older may have the tendency to break down, may have a tendency to have mechanical issues, engine problems, and such. So the age of the truck is definitely something you should consider, as well as the number of miles on the truck, the engine, and the overall engine itself.I personally would recommend that before you dive into renting a truck, have the engine looked at by one of your mechanics, by somebody who is on your side or somebody that you know who can take a look at the engine and make sure that everything is completely set and good to go. The next thing you want to think about is the terms.


So what is the duration of the rental period? Is it going to really suit your needs, or is it something that the person who's going to rent it to you is going to have you in for a year at a time when you don't want to be in it that long, or if you want to do six to eight months, if they're flexible enough to do a shorter period of rent, that's something that you want to look at as well.


Then next, you want to see how much the deposit is. In some cases, you will have to put up some type of collateral, even a deposit, when you sign a contract to rent a food truck. So that is something that is either up to you or down to you because you have to look at the budget. How much did you actually have available when you went to sign the rental agreement? And is that something you can put out there upfront?


Because you have to keep in mind that there may be additional things you have to do to the food truck or things you have to take off the food truck.So, every food truck is not exactly all set up and geared towards the type of food product that you may make. Some food trucks may be loaded with deep fryers because they do a lot of fried chicken and fried foods, but you're doing veggie wraps, and you may not necessarily need a fryer. So there's a lot of equipment and things inside the truck itself that the truck may be perfect for what you need it for, but the equipment inside, it's just not going to work.


Now, on to the next step. You want to make sure that you look at the equipment. As I mentioned just now, you want to make sure that the equipment that you have in there is something that's obviously suited for what you need. Are they flexible enough? Hey, can I add this on here? Can I bring on an additional piece of equipment? Can I bring an oven range? Can I bring on something else that I need? Make sure that it's got the right ventilation for your fryers as well, if that's needed or necessary in the city that you're getting your license in. So there are a lot of different parameters and things that you need to think about. Plus, you need to ask how flexible the person who is renting it to you is in regards to customizing it and making it your own. Now, that brings me to the next thing, the wrap, the food truck wrap, which is obviously the outside, the external part of the food truck.


You want to make sure that it is obviously something geared towards your business. Now, if it's already got a wrap on it, and it's like John's Burrito Truck, and you're not selling burritos, you need to check to see if you're able to customize the external part of the truck, at least for the duration of the loan. Can I put my own wrap around the truck itself? So, everything about the rental agreement is hugely variable. There are a lot of variables, but you want to make sure that you find a truck that's good for you, has the owner available to be a little flexible if you have to bring in some equipment or take it out, how long the duration of the actual rental agreement is, and then next up is actually a lease to own. Maybe the person who is actually renting it to you is looking to get rid of it eventually and maybe even sell it.

 What are the most common issues faced by food truck owners

But maybe they can create a lease-to-own contract where at the end of a rental period or leasing agreement, you have the ability to buy it out and pay the remaining amount that's owed for the truck and maybe even purchase it. So, those are also another way, another variable that you want to look at when you start asking the question of how much do food trucks cost to rent. Lots of different variables, but finding a truck and then finding someone who can meet your needs, when you can meet at the medium, that's going to be able to allow you to rent that truck for yourself. Next up, how much are used food trucks if you go to buy them?


So, how much do used food trucks cost?So, this goes back to some of the things I just talked about when you get into a rental agreement. The one thing about buying a used food truck is that you have to make sure that the truck itself is obviously equipped to do what you do. And again, that takes us back to the equipment question. Is it suited for the equipment that you need? Also, when buying a used truck, find out from the owner: why are they selling it? Is it just because they want to get out from underneath the truck, the business itself, or are there a lot of issues, electrical issues, engine problems with the truck itself? You want to go through that truck with a fine-tooth comb because you're going to invest quite a bit of money, even on the low end.


Even if you find a truck that's 20 grand or 25,000, that's still quite a bit of money to buy a used piece of equipment that you're going to operate a business from and try to make a living from, or even create a profit from going to different events. So, you want to make sure that the truck itself, the engine, has no issues. If it does, make sure that you get that fixed or resolved before you actually purchase it. Does it have any electrical or wiring problems? Does the equipment that it has on it, if it's perfect for your needs and it looks good, does it function properly?


Just because you're buying a used truck doesn't mean you're going to come up with a lot of different problems, but you definitely want to make sure, again, you go through it with a fine-tooth comb, and any issues that come up, either you have them reduce the cost, because you're buying a used food truck, or you buy it, and then you make sure that it's either in the contract that they're going to fix it before they release the truck to you. So you want to make sure that it's completely functional. Also, if there are any other issues with permits, licensing, or tags with the truck itself, make sure that those are also taken care of before you get a used truck. Remember, when you get a license and you get a food truck permit that's issued by the city, you want to make sure there are no pending issues or anything outstanding with that as well. That could potentially carry over to the purchase of a used food truck. So, how much does a food truck permit cost?Now, this is a pretty open-ended question. I appreciate John Carroll asking that. Yes, this is actually a pretty open-ended question. And the reason why is that every city has a variation or variance based on the amount of money that they're going to charge. So, for instance, if you're in El Paso, Texas, and then you go to Miami, Florida, the number of those actual permits varies greatly. So I couldn't necessarily give you a dollar amount, but on average, it's anywhere from about 100 to 300 a year, but it's an annual renewal permit that would need to be done for the food truck itself. So, check with the specific city that you're in. Something interesting also about the food truck business and the food truck industry is that when you go to different counties or different cities, a lot of times you'll need to also apply for a permit to actually operate your mobile food business there as well. So, you may end up, if you're going to a multitude of different counties or cities, or you're going all over the country, needing to double check with the actual city or county that you're going to park in and then conduct your business, because they're going to require you to have a permit and/or a license within the city that you're actually operating in. So do keep that in mind. But on average, permits are around $100 to $300 a year. It shouldn't be more than that. If it is, that's kind of a unique situation. You may want to ask the city why it would be that much, but for the most part, that's about how much they cost. But remember, it's an annual thing. So you want to be on top of all of your licenses and permits as well as your business license, which is kind of a separate permit and separate license on its own. So, if that was helpful, do give me a big thumbs up. If you guys have any more questions about food trucks and licensing and permits, let me know down in the comments section and I will get to those questions as soon as I can. I'll see you guys in our next video. Thanks for watching Marketing Food Online. And if you are looking to create your own food truck, start a home-based food business under the Cottage Food Law, start a packaged food business, private label your own food products, sell on Amazon, get your own online store, or sell food online, remember to subscribe and check out these videos for more resources. Take good care of it.