Do you want to open a restaurant or cafe but lack sufficient resources? Consider opening a food truck instead. Entrepreneurs have more flexibility and mobility when it comes to food truck businesses, as compared to running brick-and-mortar eateries. You can save on rent, expand your target market, and travel to various locations.
Ease and convenience are what entice even more entrepreneurs to enter the scene. To date, there are more than 26,000 food truck businesses in the country, and reports indicate that the market continues to grow at a steady annual rate of 7.5%.
Is it still profitable to open your own food truck despite the increasing competition? The answer: yes! Running a food truck business is definitely a profitable venture which has statistically proven to yield an annual revenue of $250,000 to $500,000. As long as you do the necessary preparation, success shouldn’t be out of reach.
Quick Guide How to Start a Food Truck Business
Before deciding on what food and drinks to sell, familiarize yourself first with the process behind opening a food truck business.
Step 1: Find a Suitable Location
Location is extremely crucial to the success of your food truck business. In fact, your entire business model, from your menu down to the cost of operation, would depend heavily on where you choose to set up a shop.
Here are some factors to consider when scouting for a prime location:
Always go for areas with high foot traffic. These include spaces near schools, offices, and transportation hubs, among others. The more people that pass by your shop every day, the higher your chances are of selling your food and drinks.
Bear in mind, however, that it often costs more to set up a shop in prime locations. Make sure your projected business profits far exceed the extra charges, fees, and dues of choosing to operate in a high-value location with high foot traffic.
Target Market Activity
Does your business match the needs of your prospective market? For example, if you’re setting up a food truck near a school, you’d want to sell affordable foods and drinks students can easily buy with their allowance. Meanwhile, those planning to operate near transportation hubs and stations should offer options one can eat while walking or standing up.
Legalities and Guidelines
There are areas where parking a food truck is illegal. The local government won’t allow you to set up a shop in any area where you would disrupt the flow of traffic or block an extremely large portion of the sidewalk.
Pro Tip: A good tip here would be to limit your options to locations with existing food trucks. Setting up a shop in an area with zero competition might seem like a great strategy, but there’s likely a reason why there are no other food trucks in the area.
Step 2: Check the Competition
The next thing you’d want to do is scout the competition. Remember: you’re entering new territory, and most of the people in the area already have a go-to food truck for their snack and lunch options. You need to outperform them. Know what the other nearby food trucks offer and build a menu that overall offers more value.
Step 3: Conceptualize the Main Theme of Your Food Truck
After studying the prospective location, target market, and business competition, you should have a much clearer idea of what type of food truck theme would perform well. Do some more research if you’re still not 100% confident with the feasibility of your idea.
You can start planning your business’ name and branding as well. For example, dessert shops would want to go with a bright, fun aesthetic, while those who sell exotic Mexican cuisine can opt for red, green, and brown color patterns.
Step 4: Create a Detailed Business Plan
Once you’ve decided on a theme, it’s time to create a detailed business plan. This document should include the following sections:
- General business description
- Market analysis findings
- Marketing strategy
- Food and drink product line
- Management strategy
- Projected profits
- Source of funds
Step 5: Secure a Truck
By now, you should have a comprehensive business model that details exactly how your food truck will operate, what the projected profits are, who the target market is, and when to expect a return on investment (ROI). Now, it’s time to get a truck.
If you’re looking to keep the overhead low and know a thing or two about buying trucks, opt to get a used truck. Try looking for fairly new options with low mileage. On the other hand, those who have the extra funds and cannot be bothered with truck maintenance and checkups can go with a brand-new vehicle.
Step 6: Get the Necessary Paperwork
You have a fully functional food truck backed by an efficient business model. All that’s left to do is finalize the paperwork, and you’re ready to go. Some of the documents you’ll need to prepare are the following:
- Health permit
- Mobile food facility permit
- Employee food handler permit
- Food safety certification
- Food truck insurance
- Workers’ compensation
Pro Tip: There are dozens of food truck insurance providers on the market. Going through all of them is sure to be excessively time-consuming and tedious. To avoid all that hassle, opt to get policy recommendations from unbiased third-party insurance experts such as Assured Standard.
Top 9 Profitable Food Truck Ideas
If you’re having trouble identifying the theme you want for your food truck, you might want to start by creating your menu first. Here are some of the best foods and drinks you can sell in a food truck:
Are you proud of your burger recipe? If you are and you’re an entrepreneur planning to open your food truck business, you might want to market your specialty burgers.
Yes, there are already tens of thousands of burger joints in the country. However, Americans love their beef. Everyone is always on the hunt for a bigger, better, and juicier burger, so you definitely won’t run out of customers.
Roadside hotdog sandwiches have been a staple since the mid-90s. They’re easy to eat, inexpensive, filling, and most importantly, delicious.
If you want to succeed in the industry, however, you need to bring something new to the table. With that in mind, add some variety to your menu. Source foreign frankfurters and sausages that no other vendor in the area sells.
Bubble or boba tea has become somewhat of a symbol for the youthful Asian-American community—and for a good reason! They’re cool, refreshing, sweet drinks perfect for any season.
This drink is also pretty easy to make. It usually just consists of milk, fruit juice, and tapioca pearls. If you want to give your customers some variety, you can offer extra toppings such as crystal boba, fruit jelly, and pudding.
If you’re planning to sell sweets and want to keep it simple, you can’t go wrong with ice cream. They’re an all-time American favorite dessert. Customers of all ages have been enjoying these milky sweet treats since the early 90s, so no matter where you set up your shop, you’re bound to have a suitable market.
What makes crepes so cool is they’re extremely versatile. If you want to strictly sell dessert crepes, opt for sweet, delectable filling options such as peanut butter, chocolate spread, fruit slices, and yogurt, among other sweet treats. Meanwhile, those who want to mix in some brunch crepes in their menu can use savory filling options like chicken, beef, eggs, and cheese.
If you have access to authentic Mexican-style tacos, consider sharing them with the world by opening your own food truck. For variety, you can also throw in some chimichanga, empanada, and horchata.
If you have a passion for Italian cuisine and are willing to put in the extra work required to sell foreign dishes, add wood-fired pizza to your menu. A good approach would be to transform your food truck into a mini bistro. Set up a few round tables, parasols, and old-fashioned chairs outside where customers can eat and enjoy their food.
Fruit smoothies are simple, inexpensive to make, and mass-appealing. Try sourcing a wide range of fresh fruits so your customers would have different flavors to choose from.
Statistics show that veganism is quickly gaining popularity. In fact, there are currently more than 9.7 million vegans in the country, and this indicates a 3,000% growth in the past 15 years. Unfortunately, vegans still don’t have too many food options. Reports indicate that there are less than 1,500 vegan restaurants in the U.S.
That’s why every restaurateur should at least consider serving vegan foods. There’s not much competition yet, the market continues to grow, and you’ll be promoting an eco-friendly, cruelty-free way to enjoy food.
The keys to success in the food truck industry are patience and preparation. Take every chance to improve your food and drink menu, identify the best-sellers in your target location, look for the ideal truck to use, and, don’t forgo the necessary paperwork. Too many entrepreneurs delay getting their business registration and commercial insurance policies.
Also, don’t feel bad if you’re still on the fence about what type of food truck to open. The hardest part about this business is deciding what food and drink options to sell. There are so many options, after all.
Explore the different themes available to see which food options are the most cost-efficient to make, mass-appealing, and most importantly, fun to sell. Choose a food theme you’re passionate about.
Which of these food truck business ideas sparked your interest? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!