What Should You Know About Opening A Food Truck?

12 November 2015
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If you've spent years as a chef or baker dreaming of kissing the rat race goodbye and going into business for yourself, you may see the rise of food truck culture as your opportunity of a lifetime. Indeed, the cost of purchasing and outfitting a food truck that can generate hundreds of dollars in profit each lunch hour can be as low as $70,000 to $80,000, while opening a physical storefront could cost $100,000 to $300,000 with no notable increase in your profit margin. However, starting a business can come with a number of potential considerations and complications, and jumping into this venture without doing your due diligence could be a costly mistake. Read on to learn more about what you'll need to consider before launching your business.

What equipment will you need for your first food truck?

Most food trucks can be outfitted for a relatively low cost, particularly when compared to a storefront restaurant, with the capacity to feed the same amount of clientele daily. However, it's important to keep in mind your specific needs when designing the interior of your food truck and purchasing fixtures and appliances. Unlike a restaurant, a food truck leaves little room for error when it comes to ideal space utilization.

For example, if you're serving primarily fresh fruits or vegetables that you'll procure the same day they're sold, you won't need to devote a large area of your truck's interior to refrigeration -- but you may need an extra-large sink and grey water recycling system to help ensure you are able to efficiently wash and chop everything you're planning to serve. If your food truck will focus on serving barbecued ribs or other meat-based products, you'll likely need some heavy-duty refrigeration units to help keep your meat a consistently low temperature and avoid any potential food-borne illness. 

If you're new to the food truck industry, it may be worth your while to talk to other food truck owners and even tour their rigs to get some ideas on making the most of your space. FOr more information about commercial refrigeration services, consider contacting companies like Pro-Staff Mechanical Inc. You'll also want to investigate restaurant closings in your area to see if you can purchase any industrial kitchen equipment at a low cost during the business's liquidation.  

How can you help finance a food truck?

Unless you've been saving or investing wisely for decades, it's unlikely you have the entire amount required to purchase and outfit a food truck in cash. Fortunately, food trucks are now mainstream enough to potentially qualify for financing through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which provides government backing for viable businesses, helping business owners obtain low rates and favorable credit terms. You'll likely be able to improve your odds of being approved for a loan if you're a minority-owned business or have plans to serve an under-served area with affordable hot meals. By investigating the available loans and grants before going to a bank for a quote, you'll ensure that you leave no stone unturned in your quest for affordable financing. 

What else should you investigate before launching your business? 

With the amount of money you'll need to invest in fresh food supplies on a weekly basis, there's no room for error when it comes to proper refrigeration and food storage. Before you make your first bulk food purchase, you'll want to have the name and number of an emergency refrigeration company on standby. If you suffer a sudden power outage or refrigerator malfunction, you could be facing the loss of hundreds of dollars worth of product if you're not able to transfer your food to a working refrigerator quickly. These mobile refrigeration services can provide you with temporary backup refrigeration, allowing you to avoid spoilage and continue business as usual while having you refrigerator repaired.