Your turf as a food truck owner is more than just a parking space; it is part of the key to your success in the food truck business. Some locations are just better than others even if you compare it to a few spaces down or up a main street where other food trucks are parked. Thus, it is not unlikely that you will find yourself rushing to book a specific “lucky space” or trying to make sure that you are in ahead of the others in a free-for all, first-come, first pick basis. Continue reading
Every successful food truck has an organized commissary so if you plan on staying in the food truck business for a while, you should think ahead about setting up a commissary to help you stay organized, clean, and ready for anything including food or ingredient shortages, price fluctuations on raw materials, and an area where you can create new dishes to offer on your menu.
Understanding the Need for a Commissary
A commissary is the place where you can stock up on your ingredients so you do not have to keep making trips to the market or ordering from your suppliers. Some food ingredients can be stocked up without affecting the freshness of your food like seasoning, oil, baking ingredients, and packaging, among others. If you can order in bulk, you get a chance to lower your costs by asking for the wholesale discount. The commissary is not where you cook the food you will sell daily but you can create new dishes and use the area to store the perishables on your food truck every night.
Depending on your location, you may even be required to have a commissary if you are not allowed to cook from your food truck by some city ordinance. If this is the case with you, will cannot use your personal home kitchen as a commissary but you will be required to find a place that is licensed for commercial use.
Thus, before you make plans about a commissary, find out what the local laws require. This will save you a lot of time and grievance not to mention unnecessary expenses.
Some of the common rules on running a commissary:
- Commissaries are subject to sanitation inspection and must have local certification renewed every year.
- It is possible to rent shared space with other food truck owners to save on rental and local government fees.
- Some cities do not allow the food to be cooked in the commissary stating that they have to be served fresh from the food truck. This usually applies to meals that have to be served hot or contain fresh ingredients like salad greens.
The benefits of having a commissary are multiple. For instance, you get storage space. You also have a place to park your food truck when it is not in use. It also makes it convenient for disposing of trash and cleaning your kitchen equipment. Finally, you can use the commissary as your business address which will make it convenient for anyone to contact you.
Jump on the bandwagon, why not? The food truck business is one of the top high-flying start-up businesses in the United States and other parts of the developed world. Its rise to fame and fortune has been astonishing especially considering food trucks used to be common only in construction sites and country roads.
Today however, there are food trucks on sale on eBay! In fact, there are hundreds of food truck of varying themes and custom designs on sale for less than US$30,000. Just like any other industry, there are food truck ideas that fail and situations that food truck owners are just unable to handle. Here are the most reasons why a food truck business will flop:
Maintenance is High
A food truck that relies on the lunch crowd alone is going to struggle to make ends meet. That is, unless its lunch hour extends from 11 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon with long line circling buildings and non-stop selling every weekday. If not, the problems of maintaining staff, fuel and energy consumption, taxes, licenses, and the cost in perishables could be too much for a business. Get an accountant to help you with your costs and menu so you know exactly how much you need to make in a day, week, and month.
It’s really important that your food is not just delicious, fresh, and priced right; it should also be sold in the right place to a specific market. Fusion food, for instance, is a hard sell because not many people enjoy experimenting on their food. Ethnic food also has to be adjusted a little to suit the customers you are planning to attract. The bottom line is your food has to be great; the packaging should be attractive, and the choices should be not too extensive but not limited either to just a few.
Poor Staff and Service
Grumpy people behind the counter are just not going to work. People who perspire a lot are also a little off-putting so a business owner needs to be very particular about appearances and attitude in order to build loyalties.
The beauty of the food truck is that you can change location easily so always be on the lookout for a new place to set up shop. Also be on top of events, festivals, and weekend markets so you can sign up early.
Finally, keep in mind that last year there were about 100 new food truck businesses that were launched in the L.A. area. Of these new businesses, 35 failed. On the other hand, those that succeed continue on to open new trucks in new locations and in different cities. The amount of press food truck businesses are getting is also helping create that aura of anticipation and eagerness among consumers to find the next sumptuous food truck offer.
With the trend in the food industry turning enthusiastically for food truck offers, it would seem like a win-win situation to invest in this kind of business. However, not all food trucks are successful and according to food experts and critics there are a few top reasons for failure:
Wrong Menu Selection
Being a copycat is going to doom a food truck within the first year of operation unless it tastes infinitely better than the food it is trying to copy. Another error would be trying to have too much on the menu or having a menu that isn’t cohesive. For example, you shouldn’t mix Mexican with Chinese unless your focus is fusion food.
Your menu should match your location and your location should be one where foot traffic is heavy. One of the challenges of having a food truck is that local laws and ordinances tend to give food trucks a specific location to operate. This means everyone is in or around the same area and competition is fierce. It also means that there is major jostling for prime spots among food truck owners or if the food trucks are allowed to move, being in the right spot at the right time becomes something akin to a race.
No Business Plan
Enthusiasm and drive is great but without a business plan, the chances of owning a successful food truck business dwindle considerably. A business plan is like your guide; it’s not just a feasibility study. It will be your road map as you go through the first 2 years in operations and you will be constantly updating it as you pick up speed with your food truck business.
The State of the Economy
Although you can’t always blame the government for a poor economy, it is much harder to succeed when people aren’t spending money except on essentials. This is another strong reason for creating a business plan, the right menu, and finding the location with the best revenue potential. Food is an essential need and if you can price your products so it is within the meal budget of a family man or working mom, then you have a better chance of attracting new customers every day.