Starting a food truck business: Part two – scaling back to move forward
Television shows like “The Great Food Truck Race” and movies like ”Chef,” Jon Favreau’s cinematic take on the food truck business, encourage potential food truck owners to drive their business toward success. In part one of our three-part series, 24/7 Restaurant Parts served up the financial reality of starting a food truck. But never fear! If a premium food truck set-up is outside your financial means, it’s still possible to make progress toward your ultimate goal. In part two of our series we offer ideas for scaling back your full-blown idea in order to start sooner.
Proof of concept
Your brisket/grilled pizza/innovative sandwich is not just good, it is hands down the best version of the item. It should not be kept from a hungry public. So says your mom, anyway. Before asking mom to co-sign a big loan so you can start your food truck business, consider selling at a farmers market or festival. Not only will start-up costs be significantly lower, you’ll also have feedback on what’s a crowd favorite and what, no matter what your mom says, is a flop. Check with your local health department to determine what rules apply to food sellers at farmers markets and festivals and get cookin’.
Buddy, can you spare a food truck?
Get friendly with the food truck community and talk to some of the owners about occasionally renting their trucks. Food trucks have to take advantage of weather and best days of the week so owners don’t get many days off during the high season. This could work to your advantage. It’s possible to cobble together a not-insignificant amount of time using someone else’s food truck and resources (such as the commercial kitchen mentioned in part one of this series) to sell your food.
My other food truck is a cart
Even if you’re not selling hot dogs, a food cart could be all you need to get started. This works best for foods that retain their quality in a warming compartment. If your food truck concept requires cooking on the spot, maybe a trailer is your solution. If smoked or grilled meats are part of your concept, you may never need to move beyond a trailer concept. Before investing in either a cart or trailer, make sure your vehicle (owned, borrowed or rented) has adequate space or towing power.
Starting from scratch
While you might not be able to create and sell your own food concept, running a food truck for a restaurant is an excellent way to learn the business. In many ways it’s a perfect solution for the food truck entrepreneur. You acquire practical experience on somebody else’s dime and you get paid! Speak to restaurant owners who already have a food truck as part of their business or polish off your can-do attitude and propose the addition of a food truck to an owner.
There’s more than one path to food truck success and 24/7 Restaurant Parts wants to make the journey smoother for you. In the final installment of this series, we’ll offer best practices on food truck marketing.
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