The Demise of the Food Truck Business: How To Prevent This From Happening To You

Image Source:

The food truck industry is bright and wonderful. At least, that’s what it looks like with the food truck reality shows, numerous food trucks and food festivals around the country and the world, and the stories, oh the stories of success, glory, and owning a cash cow.

Yet, the number of used food trucks being sold or dumped is also increasing. Their stories are not being told with as much vigor and enthusiasm perhaps so as to not jinx the skyrocketing trend food truckers have been enjoying for the past 2 years.

How To Avoid Losing Your Food Truck Business

According to, you can open a food truck with as little as $40,000 or spend as much as $250,000. Regardless of the actual amount, it still costs thousands to start a food truck and most food truck owners are small businesses run by regular folks who want to augment their income or start a business.

To avoid losing not just your food truck but also your savings, here are some valuable tips to consider:

  • Use social media with care. Never disrespect feedback from customers no matter how cruel it is. Learn to listen and consider each point raised by your customers. At the same time, get to know your customers especially those who take time to send in feedback. There are certain words you must never be caught using whether in your business or social media accounts like “hate” and “stupid” to describe your customers or competition – not even as a joke. You must also stay away from discussing about divisive issues like politics, race, or gender. On the other hand, you can and should not be afraid to engage respectfully with others about your spiritual beliefs and personal convictions as it can open opportunities for your customers to get to know you.
  • Make sure to follow all health, sanitary, and safety regulations. Treat each day as inspection day.
  • If you need help with accounting, taxes, and inventory control, get a professional to help you set it up or buy software to help you keep track of the paperwork.
  • Try to find a location that isn’t already congested with other food trucks especially if there are similar menus
  • Expand your business to offer catering and special events and observe working hours that customers can rely on
  • Never compromise on food quality, taste, and service

Finally, avoid burning out by getting good people, a trustworthy partner, and regular time out to enjoy a personal life.

What You Need To Know About Operating a Food Truck for 2016

Image Source:

Image Source:

With 2016 looming, the prospects of being part of the food truck industry for the new year is promising, very promising. Imagine being able to start and own your own business in a time when the economy is not really doing so well – on a local, national, and even global scale. Being captain of your financial ship is an enticing treat since it will allow you to enjoy greater control over your income and maybe even allow you to do earn more from just one income source.

To operate a food truck in 2016, there are several tips you should be aware of.

Tip #1 Operating a food truck is harder than it sounds.

There is the romantic notion of running a food truck but if you don’t know the realities of this business, you will be terribly challenged and disappointed. Operating a food truck is hard work. It’s manual labor, physically draining, mentally challenging, and you have to be pleasant all the time or you won’t get return customers. You assume the role of purchaser, cook, dishwasher, Jack of all trades, delivery boy, general manager, server, driver, repair person, and maintenance guy.

Be ready to assume all roles. Do not be picky and grumble about doing stuff you find demeaning. Find satisfaction in the ordinary jobs and you will do alright.

Tip# 2 Be flexible about location.

While location is important, more important is being in special events where you are sure the crowds will be like music festivals, country fairs, and flea markets. There will be late nights and early mornings but as long as you schedule the events with rest days in between, you will love the business and the income it will bring in.

Tip# 3 Listen to your customers and competitors.

You may think you have the best menu in the world but if no one agrees with you, then your food truck is doomed. You need to listen to the comments and actively solicit feedback. You don’t have to follow everyone but give each serious consideration. It also pays to know who your market is so you know who to listen to and who to shrug off.

Tip# 4 Prepare for lean months.

The food truck business is seasonal so have a back-up plan for the lean months. For instance, you could have a mini version of your food truck to put inside malls or covered events during the cold months or you could have a second business whose peak time is the lean months of the food truck. For example, if you have a special meat sauce, why not pack them for selling online? You will have to invest a little more to get this other project going but once it kicks off, you could have a winner that will compliment your food truck operations.

Finally, don’t forget to use social media to market your business. If you don’t know how to do it, get someone with experience to help you out.


Building a Sustainable Food Truck Business

Image Source:

Image Source:

A sustainable food truck is the key strategy today with so many available choices in the market. The industry has ballooned to massive number of food trucks in all corners of the country and globe so much so that customers are now becoming pickier about which food truck to buy from. Add to this mix is the fact that customers are also becoming more blasé about hyped-up marketing having been exposed to so much in the past months. Thus, food trucks are no longer an attraction or something to support and buy from because “it looks cute and unique.” Food trucks have to deliver to goods: in flavor, quality, and sanitation.

Here are a few tips on how to stay sustainable in the food truck industry.

Continue reading »

How to Protect Your Food Truck Turf: Or Should You Do This At All?

Image Source:

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 »

Food trucks that opened brick-and-mortar Counterparts

The idea of going into the food industry is to make money, be your own boss, and enjoy doing something you love. The food truck is a great way to start because it does not require the capital of a full-blown operations. However, the ultimate dream to be financially stable or prosperous has a greater chance of being realized if a food truck owner can transition to a brick and mortar restaurant which will allow the entrepreneur to sell more food to a larger market at regular working hours.

A few hardworking food truck owners have been successful in doing this. Take a look at their inspiring stories.

Image Source:

Josh Saltzman and Trent Allen started their food truck business, PORC, in 2011. They bought a UPS van and converted it into a food truck selling pulled pork and coleslaw. After almost getting into an accident on the food truck, they decided to turn their business into a brick and mortar establishment. Their products were selling well but they were not happy with doing everything. There are around 19 food trucks in the DC area that have also followed suit like Far East Taco Grille, Popped! Republic, Curbside Cupcakes, and SOL Mexican Grill. The road to moving into a permanent spot is easier because you have already established a history as a business success. Banks are more willing to sit down and discuss a business loan with an established business person. You can show your assets, Twitter followers, and even give them a taste of your food to seal the loan!

According to Kristi Whitfield of Curbside Cupcakes who opened her brick and mortar restaurant last October after running a successful food truck for more than 4 years, “If it weren’t for the food truck, none of this would be in existence.”

Quick Tips on How to Know When You Are Ready for the Big Time

Moving from food truck to permanent location is a huge step and sounds like the perfect ending unless you want to start franchising. It is important to know when this can happen so you don’t waste a golden opportunity with lenders and investors.

  • Build your market and reputation. Investors look at your online reputation as well as your standing in the community you serve.
  • Don’t change your menu frequently because it will take you longer to build your name and reputation
  • Start introducing yourself as an enterprising individual with big dreams to your customers. You never know who among them would be willing to invest in your business.
  • Save, save, save if you do not want to apply for a business loan.

Food Truck Safety Tips: Propane and Other Safety Hazards

Image Source: philadelphia.cbslocal.comv

Last year a Philadelphia food truck exploded killing a mother and her daughter who were working the food truck and injuring a handful of other customers and passers-by.  It was a shocking incident especially since it was caught on video. Officials are saying that the sudden spike in food trucks took many cities by surprise so much so that there appears to be a lack in planning especially with regards to safety.

According to IBISWorld, food trucks have grown by an average of 8.4% in the past 5 years. It is expected that by 2017, the food truck industry would be raking in sales of US$2.7 billion in the United States alone.

Safety Protocol for Food Trucks

In order to stay well within the safety zone as a food business, food truck owners have to follow minimum safety protocols. They are:

Prevention of Food Contamination and Sanitation

Salmonella poisoning is serious and can cause young children and seniors to end up in the hospital with severe infections. It is more common during the summer months when the food trucks are out with a vengeance. It is caused by food contamination and poor food handling. For example, if you touch raw eggs and then touch the plates that will be used to put cooked food, you are cross contaminating your plates. If you find a roach in your truck and kill it or handle pets before cooking, you could contaminate the food. Unfortunately, contaminated food does not look contaminated.

To avoid this kind of problem:

  • Wear gloves
  • Assign only one person to handle raw ingredients
  • Change gloves everyday

Other sanitation problems are falling hair, dirty hands and nails, and servers that do not bathe and shampoo daily. You should also clean your truck before you open and after you close for the day.

The Danger of Propane Tanks

The explosion in Philadelphia was caused by a propane tank leak. Usually, you will hear a hissing sound if there is a leak but it does not always happen. If you smell something like rotten eggs, check your tank. You can do a spot check by applying some bubbly soap to the tank’s main valve. If there are bubbles, you can be sure there is a leak. Shut down immediately and call your supplier. Also, to make sure your tank isn’t leaking, have a supplier who is licensed and has a good reputation. Do not accept tanks that are badly maintained and buy an electronic leak detector. You should also have good ventilation.

Safety measures should be one of your primary concerns because your food truck can affect the lives of others and expose them to danger and risk to life and limb which insurance cannot always correct.

Choosing Your Food Truck: Should You Buy Used or New?

Image Source:

The biggest expense when setting up a food truck business is buying the food truck. And although the growth rate for new food trucks in the past 5 years is around 12.4% or over 4,000 food trucks now operating around the country, there are used food trucks being sold in the market. The question to answer then is whether to invest in a new truck or buy a used truck.

There are some people who believe in the superstition that buying second-hand or used items especially if it is connected to failure will mean trouble. If you think along these lines, you should buy a new food truck although it will cost you more and still give you a 50/50 chance of success or failure.

Other Factors That Should Be Considered

Superstition aside, there are other factors that must be considered when buying a truck. The first questions you should answer are:

  • How much storage do you need? How much cooking will you be doing?
  • Do you want gas or diesel?
  • Where do you plan to sell because there may be parking restrictions on size and length of truck?
  • Would you rather buy a food truck ready-to-use or buy a truck and customize it?
  • Are you willing to consider leasing a food truck?

A ready-to-use food truck will mean that you have to make do with the lay-out and plan around it whereas a customized truck can be outfitted to suit your business plan.  In addition, to order a custom-made food truck would take time to finish and this will delay the opening of your business. You are also taking a chance that the person you order the custom built food truck from is spot on with your instructions.

One way to decide on the truck to buy is to scout around at existing food trucks that are selling foods similar to what you have in mind. Many food truck owners are happy to discuss their business if you approach them properly and you could solicit excellent tips on buying your own truck.

Keep in mind that food trucks do not necessarily have to be trucks. You have other options like buying a minivan, cart on wheels, or a minibus. The idea is to tie down the food truck design to your business concept so it is attractive and a crowd-pleaser.

The Everyday Perils of Running a Food Truck

Image Source:

Image Source:

Not with the intention of giving you any tempting ideas to break the law but recently a food truck in Denver was caught selling more than just food. If you ordered a “6 pack,” don’t expect to get 6 cans of your favorite beer because this was the code used to order meth or methamphetamine a.k.a. crystal or ice.  News such as these give customers reason to distrust food trucks which makes it another peril to face when thinking of opening your own food truck business. Continue reading »

The Don’ts For A Successful Food Truck Business

Image Source:

Most entrepreneurs already have an idea of what would help a food truck business succeed. It would need great food, attractive prices, and friendly faces. As for the potential landmines in operating a food truck business, the debate rages on. In fact, a common warning mentioned whenever the idea of launching a food truck business enters a conversation is, “It’s one of the hardest small businesses you could possibly think of getting into.” Continue reading »