Food Truck Basics

Owning and operating a food truck is becoming more popular and profitable, not just at the traditional locations, like construction sites and industrial parks, but all around cities and towns. A food truck offers different types of cuisine, ranging from breakfast and lunch items to snacks and specific cuisine like tacos or lobster rolls. You may sell your items at office complexes, college campuses, outside popular tourist attractions, or in downtown areas like Los Angeles, New York City, and Tampa. If owning and operating a food truck interests you, here are some things to know first.

Purchasing Your Food Truck

The first step to having a food truck is buying the truck. If you are on a tight budget, you might want to start with a smaller food cart and gradually work up to owning and operating a truck. A brand new food truck could be between $40,000 and $100,000 with the combined costs of starting it, while a food cart may be around $2,000 or so. Your budget, potential financing and what capital you are starting with makes a big difference in what you can purchase. When it comes time to buy a truck, make sure you shop around and consider what foods you intend to sell your customers, as this determines the type and size of truck you need.

Obtaining Proper Licensing

The next step with a food truck business is getting proper licensing. You cannot operate your truck or park it in various locations without first having legal permission to do so. For licensing, you might first need to be approved by the health department, consider parking restrictions, and get a permit for your truck and business. Having business insurance for your food truck is likely also a requirement prior to getting your license. For example, if you sell hotdogs from a mobile food truck, be sure to have hot dog vendor insurance. The specific requirements of a food truck vary by location.

Vehicle Costs to Consider

Aside from buying the truck, you also have other vehicle costs, such as insurance and maintenance. When obtaining your license, you need to pay fees for your license, permit and registration, pay monthly or annually for insurance, pay for repairs and maintenance, and of course start-up costs like getting the right equipment if it does not already come with it, and stocking your food truck. Some locations where you park your truck may also charge you to park your truck in those locations.

Parking the Truck

You have some options when it comes time to parking your food truck, as mentioned previously. Your city ordinates possible locations in the area. The type of food you sell from your truck can help determine good locations for parking the truck. For example, if you live in an area where Mexican food is popular and you sell tacos, parking in business parks and construction sites during lunch can give you many opportunities for profit and business.

Marketing and Advertising

Finally, you need to handle the marketing and advertising of your food truck business. While most of your business will come from local customers, much of it is word-of-mouth and traditional advertising through social media, online advertising and local advertising.

After considering all of the aspects of purchasing and owning your food truck — including the business risks of food trucks — you also need to protect it. One of the most important insurance policies to have is a commercial auto insurance policy to protect theft, vandalism, or accidents while operating your truck.