It seems that food trucks are everywhere you look these days. They're parked at playgrounds, set up at factories, and situated under downtown trees for the office lunch crowd. Their popularity is skyrocketing, and many budding entrepreneurs like you are thinking hard about starting one.
The potential is legitimate, but there are some caveats–as is always the case. It's important to note that food trucks differ from restaurants only in their mobility. It still takes a good work ethic and sound strategy for success to make it work. And all the laws and regulations that apply to the storefront bistro will still apply to the street-side eatery. Food preparation is dangerous work. There are very hot items, sharp utensils, and powerful machines that can inflict serious injuries.
So whether your restaurant is on a foundation or on six wheels, your employees will need proper training and a State Food Safety food handler's license, and you'll need a solid business plan that can keep you on the road. Oversights in this area can sicken customers and injure workers, getting your truck impounded in a big hurry.
With that said, there are some other distinct advantages that food trucks hold over stationary restaurants, and they make the business a good opportunity for the right person.
Location, Location, Location? Not Anymore
It's conventional wisdom that where a business or home is located is the most important thing. For budding restaurateurs, it can be maddening to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of one site versus two or three others. Which is most visible? Which will draw the most customers, cost less, or be cheaper to maintain?
Food trucks have ended that struggle. Entrepreneurs who choose to go that route have a much simpler process: they choose a reliable vehicle, get it set up, and then decide where to park it at meal times. If a particular site doesn't do well, they can go somewhere else next time–a level of responsiveness that is impossible with restaurants.
One of the best things about getting involved in something trendy is that the national conversation sort of picks you up and carries you with it. Consumers turn on the TV and see reality shows and news stories about food trucks, and when they realize what's so great about them, they seek you out. You've essentially gotten free commercial time just through your involvement in a particular industry.
And the truck helps market you too. Even though your base of operations is at point A and you sell at points B, C, and D, you also drive past thousands of potential customers at countless other points. If your truck is properly designed, they'll take an interest in you and recognize you when you set up. In other words, the business is its own mobile billboard.
The most important thing your food truck can be is adaptive. You may make a fortune with summertime frozen yogurt, but sales will disappear as the temperature drops. If you can retrofit from fro-yo to hot cider or other wintertime delicacies, you'll keep the revenue coming in no matter the season.
It doesn't even have to be seasonal changes that you address. A restaurant would require a lot of work to try to implement air frying technology, but the smaller equipment in a food truck can more easily and affordably be switched out. The trend emerges, you make the change, you publicize it, and the customers pour in. Pretty simple, and definitely simpler than in a permanent restaurant location.
Food trucks are the hot item right now. Customers love a break from the routine and the opportunity to eat outdoors. The business can be very lucrative, but like any other enterprise, you need to have a good understanding of what it will entail. Only then can your cargo include a full cash register.