Starting a food truck can be a fun and profitable business venture, but it’s not without its challenges. Here are the steps you need to take to start your own food truck business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Food Truck Business
1. Choose Your Type of Food Truck Business
The first step in launching a food truck business is to identify the type of food truck business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
Fast food truck: These types of trucks serve up burgers, fries, pizza, and other quick meals that can be eaten on-the-go.
Fine dining truck: These trucks offer a more upscale dining experience, with gourmet cuisine and table service.
Dessert truck: Dessert trucks specialize in sweet treats like ice cream, cupcakes, and pies.
Learn more about the types of food truck businesses.
2. Name Your Food Truck Business
Give your food truck business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your food truck business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your food truck business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so customers know what to expect when they visit your truck.
3. Determine Your Food Truck Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a food truck business including:
- Catering: You can take your food truck on the road to cater private events, parties, and weddings.
- Food truck festivals: You can park your truck at various food truck festivals around town.
- Fixed location: You can find a permanent location for your food truck business, such as outside a popular bar or near a busy office building.
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the menu items you offer.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your food truck business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your food truck business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common food truck business structures.
5. Write a Food Truck Business Plan
All food truck business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
Read our article about how to write a food truck business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your food truck business.
For example, all food truck businesses need to obtain a business license, as well as a food service license from the state or local health department. Depending on your location, you may also need to obtain a permit to operate your food truck on city streets.
Contact your state and local government offices to learn about the permits and licenses you need for your food truck business.
You must also register your food truck business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
Read our article about obtaining the proper food truck business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your food truck business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your food truck business, you may consider taking advantage of those funds. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your food truck business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a food truck business to help you determine if funding is needed.
Read our article about how to fund your food truck business.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your food truck business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in a point of sale (POS) system, which will make it easier to take and track orders, as well as process payments. Some food truck businesses also use GPS tracking systems to help with navigation and scheduling.
9. Market Your Food Truck Business to Potential Customers
Before you start selling your menu items, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your menu items and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the food truck industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Food truck businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
Print Advertising: You can promote your food truck business in local publications like newspapers, magazines and flyers.
Online Advertising: You can also promote your food truck business online through directories, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and other similar platforms.
Event Marketing: You can host or participate in food truck festivals, fairs and other events to generate buzz.
Read our article about how to market your food truck business for more tips.
10. Get New Customers & Grow Your Business
When you promote your menu items, you’ll start to get interest from potential customers.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these customers. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your food truck business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your food truck business to learn more.
Starting a Food Truck Business FAQs
Food truck businesses offer a lot of advantages and benefits. For starters, they’re relatively easy and quick to set up. And, they usually require less capital than other types of businesses.
Another big advantage is that food trucks are highly flexible and mobile. This means you can take your business where the customers are, which is great for generating revenue.
To start a successful food truck business, you need a few things. First, you need a great menu with items that are in high demand. Second, you need the right technology and software to run your business efficiently. And third, you need an effective marketing strategy to attract new customers.
Here are a few tips for starting a food truck business:
1. Develop a great menu with items that are in high demand.
2. Get the right technology and software to run your business efficiently.
3. Create an effective marketing strategy to attract customers.
4. Train your staff properly so they can provide excellent customer service.
A simple checklist to use when starting a food truck business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Food Truck Firm: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Food Truck Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Food Truck Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Food Truck Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Food Truck Business to Potential Customers: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the menu items they truly need.
- Get Customers & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your menu items.
Starting a food truck business can be a daunting task, but following these simple steps will help you get started on the right foot. Make sure to choose the type of food truck business that best suits your interests, skills, and experience; develop a great menu with items that are in high demand; and market your food truck to attract the right customers.