So you’ve caught the food truck bug. You have great ideas for menu items, and are picturing the crowds lining up to sample your fare. You and your team will travel around the area disturbing the best your kitchen has to offer, in adorable paper envelopes.
That’s all well and good, but there are practical issues you need to address that are unique to a mobile restaurant. We’ve made a checklist of questions to ask yourself before you dive in:
Do you know your local laws?
Because your restaurant can cross city–and even state–boundaries on a whim, you’ll need to get proper licensing, depending on where you want your “territory” to be. If you’re planning to travel to events around the country, you’ll have an entirely different set of paperwork and regulations to worry about than if you’re targeting the lunch and dinner crowd around your city.
Do you research well beforehand, because you’re bound to run into time consuming obstacles. New York City, as an example, has a cap of how many food truck licenses they’ll give out, meaning you’ll have to compete with fellow entrepreneurs for space on the street. Some communities don’t want food trucks except in designated spaces–often banning public areas like parks, which may be your main target initially. Contact your local government before you plan anything else about your venture to get rid of any surprises!
Do You Have A Plan?
While the idea of traveling around distributing edible goods seems like a fun way to spend your days, you do need a real plan for how you’re going to manage your tiny mobile eatery. Some things to think about:
- Do you have a solid business plan? Have you had a financial professional review it with you?
- Have you trademarked your business name? Have you ensured that it’s original?
- Do you have enough in savings or investments for the initial expensive purchases? Not only will you need to obtain a food truck and have it inspected, but you’ll also need to buy all of your equipment, ingredients, and any marketing collateral you’ll require.
- Where are you going to prepare your food? Keep in mind that you’ll have to use a commercially licensed and inspected kitchen.
- What will you do if the truck breaks down?
- What happens if you sell out too soon? What if you prepare too much?
Even the most enjoyable of ventures needs a solid game plan. Make sure to have your ideas vetted with a business analyst or financial professional. Show your plan to lots of people, especially fellow entrepreneurs–can they poke any holes in it? Encourage people to play devils advocate with you. It’ll save you time and money in the long run.
Are You Prepared To Commit Your Life?
Owning a food truck is extremely time consuming–in most situations, you’re both the head chef and the owner of the restaurant. If you have a family, weigh whether the venture will be worth it in the long run, as it’s likely that you’ll be working 10-12 hours a day, often 6 or even 7 days a week.
Vacations will be almost impossible to come by, and when they do happen (generally because of weather or necessity for staff health and morale), they’ll be too spontaneous to plan much around besides a quick trip somewhere close by.
Owning a food truck can be exhilarating and fun, but it also requires a massive investment of time, money, and effort. While it may be your dream, evaluate whether it’s worth giving up other parts of your life for. If you truly believe that you’re prepared, then we wish you the best of luck!