There's no doubt about it: the food truck industry is booming, and it looks as though it will continue to be a great business opportunity to jump into for the foreseeable future. It's a great alternative to a traditional restaurant as you have mobility and can find new customers anywhere and everywhere. So if you're thinking of getting in on this exciting trend, you want to be sure you do it right so your business will not only thrive but last. And that starts with getting the right truck. Here are three key features to consider before making the purchase so you have no regrets down the road.
Type of Engine
The type of engine you settle on can impact on your daily and yearly expenses, ultimately affecting your profits. You'll need to choose between a diesel and a gasoline engine.
It's important to think about where you'll spend most of your time and whether or not you plan to travel. Will you choose 1-2 spots around the city to serve your food? Perhaps Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you'll work at the business park on Main Street, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at the local mall. Or will you hit the highway each week, traveling to neighboring cities and states, selling your food at different events and universities?
Diesel-engine trucks might cost a little more upfront than those with a regular gas engine, but they tend to be more advantageous than their gas-powered counterparts for four reasons: diesel gas is cheaper, the engines are about 25%-30% more fuel efficient than gas engines, they last longer, and they're more reliable, making them a great choice for the local food-truck owner or long-distance traveler.
New vs. Used Truck
If you're looking for a basic truck to customize yourself, you can certainly purchase a brand new set of wheels to start your food truck venture, but it may not be worth it. Remember, you've got other start-up costs to think about like food, equipment and supplies, permits, insurance, employee costs, gas, and routine maintenance. Considering you can get a used truck for as low as $25,000, this is generally the recommended way to go.
On the high end, entrepreneurs can expect to invest up to $200,000 when purchasing a truck that's fully equipped to start serving food. But considering that opening up a brick-and-mortar restaurant can be done within the $100,000-$300,000 mark, $200,000 seems like a steep price to pay for a mobile business. $60,000 is a reasonable investment for a decent used truck that has most of what you need to get your business rolling.
Most food trucks range in size from 14-34 feet, and narrowing down your choice will depend on several factors.
First, do you plan to work solo or have a team? If you plan to hire staff, think about getting a truck that has ample room for all to move around.
Second, what are the laws in your area? Some cities, like Washington, D.C., have restrictions on the length of food trucks, limiting them to a maximum of 18.5 feet. To find out what's required—and not allowed—in your area, start with your local health department.
Third, where will you run your business? Will it be along the curbside on a city street where a shorter truck is your only option? Or will you serve food at a local business park where space is ample and a large truck is easily supported? These are things to consider before choosing your truck.
Last, what's on the menu? If you only plan to sell pre-made sandwiches, you don't necessarily need a huge truck with a full kitchen—just a refrigerator to keep the sandwiches cold. But maybe you dream of owning something more like a gourmet food truck, where owners prepare varied menu items like burgers, subs, pizzas, crepes, cupcakes, and anything else you can imagine. If so, you'll need a larger truck with lots of cooking area and space to hold the appropriate equipment.
For more information, contact a company like Arrow Truck Sales.