What foodie hasn’t dreamt of trading in their nine to five toil for the culinary ambitions of setting up shop with an Instagram-worthy food truck?
If you just felt butterflies in your gut, it’s probably your die-hard enthusiasm getting the best of you and not a sign that it’s time for lunch. If thinking and pondering how much it costs to start a food truck is holding you back from your dreams, hesitate no longer. We’ve done the research and put in the sweat equity for you. Since no small business owner should jump into a $1.2 billion industry blind, we put together a handy reference guide, so you know exactly what to expect.
Since food trucks are essentially micro-restaurants on wheels, you might assume that launching a food truck business is going to cost you only a fraction of that of a traditional brick-and-mortar full-service restaurant. To a certain extent, you’re correct. But that doesn’t mean that rolling down Main Street for lunch hour in your new set of shiny wheels is going to be cheap. When starting a food truck, costs are going to vary (just like for any restaurant), but you can expect to pay between $28,000 and $114,000. When all’s said and done, what end of that spectrum you land on will depend on a variety of factors. Below are a few to consider.
The Actual Truck
It’s the most obvious of food truck startup costs. But regardless, the cost of purchasing your actual truck needs to be addressed. Like all vehicles, prices will vary. You’re going to come across the brand spanking new Lamborghini food trucks, as well as your garden variety 1985 jalopies. Depending on whether you go the new or used route, the price of a food truck will run you anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000. Remember, this also doesn’t include the cost of outfitting the truck — such as adding additional stoves, fryers, or refrigerators your specialty food might call for. So if you’re unsure about dropping 200K on a truck, we recommend aiming for the lower end and then outfitting as needed.
Insurance for Said Truck (and business)
You heard correctly, just like for any small (or large) business, you must insure, insure, insure. Expect insurance costs for starting up your food truck to run your business about $300 and up, annually. You’ll want to make sure your food truck is covered for everything from auto accidents to food poisoning. For a more detailed breakdown on insurance, check out How to Insure Your Food Truck.
Fuel to Keep You Rolling
Another recurring cost to bear in mind is that of gas. Like many of your food truck startup costs, the cost of fuel will vary depending on the size of your truck, how much you drive, and where you fill up. Expect to shell out between $250 and $500 monthly to keep your wheels turning and the profits coming.
POS System to Keep Lines Movings (and customers happy)
Fast-moving lines equal content customers, while content customers equate to repeat business. Back in the day, food trucks were cash-only businesses. Obviously, that is no longer the case, and that’s a good thing. As the popularity of mobile payments increases, people are increasingly starting to carry less and less cash on them. With the growing cashless trend, food trucks are recognizing that accepting cards and mobile payments have the potential to grow their profits exponentially. But to do this, you are going to need to invest in a POS system. Though the cost of a cloud-based point of sale system can vary, a reasonably priced system with reliable service is available for around $1,000 or less.
We know that hiring employees might not be the first thing on your mind when you throw open the windows to your brand new truck, but it’s definitely something you need to keep in mind and budget for. Ideally, you want your business to grow and prosper. What that will look like is longer lines, more orders, and increased revenue. All of a sudden, the length of your lunch hour line might double, and you are going to need help (i.e. a paid employee) to help you take orders, roll burritos, and ring up sales. Depending on the size of your truck and the length of your line, you might want to start with more than one employee. Regardless of the size of your staff, however, expect to pay between $20 and $30 per hour for each employee.
By no means are these five food truck start-up costs all you will need to invest in when starting your food truck business. They are, however, a few of the more costly ones and should be taken into consideration when determining how much it will cost to launch your food truck. Have more questions about food trucks or starting a small business? Below is a handy reference guide to keep close by. And as always, have more questions about starting a small business? Leave them in the comments below.