How do I start a small food truck business?

Posted by Damian Roberti on

How do I start a small food truck business?




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 How do I start a small food truck business

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How do I start a small food truck business

Food trucks, which were once thought to be a fleeting fad but are now lined the sidewalks and streets of every corner with reasonably priced and scrumptious meals, have demonstrated that they are here to stay. In recent years, street cuisine has been reimagined by sidewalk chefs, which has sparked a desire for gourmet food trucks, which has contributed to the growth in popularity of the multi-billion dollar food truck industry. IBISWorld, an industry research group based in Los Angeles, projected that the sector will experience growth of 7.5% between the years 2016 and 2021. It does not appear that this growth rate will be slowing down any time in the near future.

To start a business selling food from a truck, however, you need more than just a vehicle and some food in the back of your kitchen. Even before getting into the nitty-gritty of the actual operation, there is a significant amount of planning and preparation that must take place for any new entrepreneurial venture, but food enterprises in especially require this.

In this lesson, we will take a step-by-step approach to guiding you through the process of beginning a food truck business. In addition, Debbie and Derek Kaye, proprietors of the prosperous food truck business Eddie's Pizza Truck & Cart, which operates throughout three states, will provide some words of wisdom.

Before we get into the specifics of how we went about opening a food truck and other types of businesses, let's take a moment to quickly go over some of the early steps that you should do when opening any form of business:

Create a plan for your business: Even though you might be eager to have your food truck up and running as soon as possible, it is in your best interest to develop a business plan first. This will surely be of assistance to you in the long run. If you establish your long-term plan in advance, you will be able to use it as a road map to guide you as you move forward with starting your food truck business. How do I start a small food truck business

Determine the appropriate business structure for your organization: Before you can even begin to consider things like parking, cooking, or vehicles, you'll need to decide how your company will be formally organized under the law. What kind of business entity do you plan to operate under—a partnership or as a sole proprietor? When making this decision, you could find it beneficial to enlist the assistance of a company attorney or an internet legal firm.

After deciding on the appropriate organizational structure for your company, the next step is to register it. Aside from that, you need to register for any applicable local, state, and federal taxes, as well as your business name, if one is required. It is highly likely that the IRS will require you to obtain an employee identification number, sometimes known as an EIN.

How do I start a small food truck business

After you have completed the necessary steps to file your taxes, the first critical step in the process of separating your personal and business finances is to open a bank account specifically for your company. This account will act as your central center for the management and organization of your finances as you get a food truck up and running.

You will be in a strong position to initiate the launch of your firm at this point. The following is a list of the steps involved in starting a food truck:

How do I start a small food truck business

1. Determine a price range, then start looking for a vehicle.

You need to give some thought to the cost first.

How much does it cost to get started operating a food truck? It is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the costs associated with commencing a firm due to the diverse possible restrictions that may be imposed at the outset. To begin, you will need to select the truck that will best serve the needs of your business. It is probably going to require some sort of customization, which may run between $20,000 and $40,000 total. You should also take into consideration costs such as the following:

Food and many components.
Workers' compensation and other benefits
Putting technology to use when you're behind the wheel of your truck
advertising, marketing, and more.

How do I start a small food truck business

The vehicle itself is going to be the most expensive and significant of all of your expenses. Before deciding on a truck, you should give careful consideration to a number of various layout options, keeping in mind the specific demands that your food truck business places on you.

Talking to the proprietors of various different businesses or food trucks can give you an idea of what different floor plans look like and point you in the direction of the one that might be most suitable for your needs. According to what Debbie Kaye said, "You'll want to make sure that you handle this in your planning process and have adequate cash on hand in case something unavoidable occurs." It is essential to keep in mind that items have a far higher propensity to break on a truck than they do on other vehicles.

She continues, "Appliances weren't built to be on wheels, which is why they frequently require repair."

How do I start a small food truck business
In light of this, you should also evaluate your many options for financing your food truck, which may include a variety of loans and corporate credit cards, in order to pay for a significant portion of the initial expenditures that you will incur.

2. Obtain approval from the Board of Health.

After that, you will need to sort through the regulations and guidelines that you are required to follow. Because we are in the food business, there will almost certainly be additional considerations to take into account in this regard.

As a consequence of this, you want to presumably begin by finding out whatever regulations of the Board of Health you are required to follow. It is quite unlikely that this information will come as a shock to you to learn that food inspectors from the health department also evaluate the food sold at food trucks. The vast majority of inspections are performed to at least validate the following:

How do I start a small food truck business

documentation proving that you are the owner of the vehicle, as well as its registration and identity.

a copy of the district's issued identification card for food managers as proof of employment.

The proper temperature is maintained in the storage area where the food is kept.
information about the procurement of food.
There is adherence to the fire and health codes.
3. Acquire the necessary licenses and permits.

After assessing the health criteria for operating a food truck, the next stage in the process of beginning a food truck is to obtain the necessary permits and corporate licenses. Because starting a food truck business requires both the handling of food and the delivery of that food to customers, there is a good chance that there will be a large number of regulations and licensing requirements to investigate and comply with. In addition, the precise licenses and permits that you need will vary depending on the state in which you live as well as the individual municipality in which you live.



How do I start a small food truck business
In point of fact, there are limits placed on the number of simultaneous truck permits that can be issued in a variety of locations, including New York City. You should go to the website of your city if you want to find out exactly what you have to do in order to receive the necessary documents. Be aware that this process may take some time, and that you will most likely be required to pay specific fees as well as give documentation of your liability insurance, tax certification, and authorization from the Health Department.

4. Determine how the food will be prepared and stick to your choice.

After you have determined the technical requirements and selected your truck, it is time to think about the product that you will sell.

How do I start a small food truck business

After all, one of the most important aspects of learning how to start a food truck business is deciding what kind of food you will make and sell, how that process will work, what you will require, and what your menu will look like. When you are considering these concerns and making judgments, bear in mind that a food truck has limited space, which makes it difficult to prepare food inside of it. This is in contrast to operating a restaurant that has a real location.

It is therefore important for you to assess if it would be more beneficial for your firm to prepare food in preparation before departing for the day's work or whether it would be feasible to prepare everything on-site. When establishing your recipes, you should make sure that the food on your menu can be cooked repeatedly in large quantities, always tastes wonderful, is simple to serve, is simple to consume, and can travel well. In addition, you should make sure that the food can be transported well.

5. Mobile food providers should hire employees and obtain badges to identify themselves.

Creating a menu is the first stage in beginning a food truck business. The second step is to think about hiring staff members. It goes without saying that you won't be able to have too many employees in a small place like a food truck, but you might want to think about hiring staff depending on your menu, production method, and prospective customer demand for your goods.

When you first get started, you might be able to work with friends, relatives, or a business partner. However, if your food truck business grows rapidly, it is likely that you will require the assistance of some part-time or full-time staff. In addition, there are additional measures that need to be performed when hiring new employees for food trucks and getting them started on the job.

How do I start a small food truck business
In addition to the various licenses and permits that you, as the owner of the business, are required to get, each of your employees must be in possession of a mobile food vendor badge in order for them to be legally able to operate in your truck and serve food. The sad reality is that obtaining this badge will take about four months.


According to Kaye, one of the requirements of hiring someone is informing them that they cannot begin working for the company for a period of four months. This relatively antiquated manner has been the focus of the efforts of the food truck group, but so far their efforts have not been fruitful. If you are discovered without your badge, you will have to pay a fine of $1,000.



If you believe that your food truck will require personnel at some point, you should immediately hire your first employee so that you can get this process out of the way. According to Kaye, the situation is made even more inconvenient by the fact that a new worker cannot receive their badge for a period of four months after the departure of an employee from the organization. Because of this, it's possible that you won't have enough employees to handle both lunch and evening service.

How do I start a small food truck business

6. Identify a potential spot for parking
One of the benefits (along with the potential drawbacks) of beginning a business in the form of a food truck is the ability to be mobile. Although you can (to some extent) go to where your consumers are, you will also need to discover the optimal places for drawing clients so that you can capitalize on those opportunities. You will need to be aware of the locations where you are permitted to park your vehicle as well as those locations where you are not permitted to park it.

Because the regulations that regulate parking for your food truck, as well as those that govern licenses and permits, will be specific to your city, you will need to examine the legislation specific to your neighborhood in order to determine what your options are.

If you live in a more populous place, such as New York City, then it is highly possible that this procedure will be more difficult for you to complete.

According to Kaye, there is a book that describes the locations where it is permissible and not permissible to park a vehicle. Nevertheless, there is a vulnerability in the system that enables the police to switch vehicles at any moment and from any location they choose. It is quite annoying to deal with.

How do I start a small food truck business

As a result of the severe laws and regulations that are in place on the streets of New York City, the Kayes were formerly vulnerable to fines of up to one thousand dollars each and every month. According to Kaye, the difficulty of finding parking in the city has only increased as a result of the proliferation of high-end food trucks throughout the city.

Keeping this in mind, you will need to give additional attention to researching the regulations (as well as any possible exemptions) that may apply in your particular geographic location.

7. You should get started marketing and selling your food truck right away.

To get people in the area to know that you have a food truck, you will first need to devise and put into action a number of different marketing methods.

To bring in new customers, you might want to consider holding a "grand opening" or enquiring about the possibility of taking part in a local event. You need to consider about local advertising, but you also need to think about having a website and a presence on social media.

In addition, given that you run a mobile business and your location is subject to vary on a daily basis, it is essential that you keep your customers informed regarding your whereabouts. You will need to keep this in mind whether this involves producing a weekly calendar or simply informing your clients on your website or social media accounts. Either way, you will need to keep this in mind.

8. Give some thought to putting in place a point-of-sale system.

Even while you might be able to run your food truck with just a cash drawer and a method that relies on paper orders, you should still give some thought to investing in a point-of-sale system so that you can streamline the process of taking payments and processing orders. With the help of your food truck POS system, you will have the ability to manage orders, accept payments (including credit cards), keep track of inventory, create customer loyalty programs, and much more.

In point of fact, there are a great deal of point-of-sale (POS) systems on the market that have been developed specifically for food trucks.

If you use one of these systems, you will be able to manage everything in an one area, simplify and speed up your company procedures, and ultimately give better service to your customers. This is extremely important for food trucks because they usually see a rush of customers for a few hours each day, which results in lengthy lines of people waiting to buy food from them. If you find yourself in this circumstance, one solution to the challenge of keeping up with the rise in demand for your food truck is to consider introducing a pre-ordering system.

9. Improve the way you organize your daily schedule.

According to Kaye, the majority of people only see food trucks operating during lunchtime, which makes it significantly more difficult to run a food truck business than most people believe.

How do I start a small food truck business

She explains that many people ignore the fact that we have to be there by six in the morning in order to reserve a spot for ourselves. That suggests that we will be in our kitchen to prepare by the time it is 4 a.m. and will then head out to the location. After lunch, we make our way back to the kitchen to clean the truck as well as the dishes. Therefore, each day we put in anything from 12 to 15 hours of work despite only providing service for a few hours.

Because of this, in the same way as the Kayes did, you need to think through what your day-to-day activities will entail, including how you will connect with your team, where you will be every day, and which days will need more time or effort than others. By planning ahead, even if it's just for the first few days of each week, you can maximize the use of both your time and, ideally, your company's resources. How do I start a small food truck business

Along these same lines, you could also want to consider whether or not your plan will only comprise parking around town, or whether or not you will consider taking part in activities in the community, or even beginning catering services.

The inferences drawn

Learning how to start a food truck business will ultimately need a significant investment of time, energy, and capital.

Even if there is more competition, it is still possible to be successful without the huge initial financial investment required to open a restaurant if you can locate a niche market.