How to open a food truck

The food truck business is growing at high speed and is becoming more and more popular. One of the reasons being its flexibility, because it's not tied down to one place. If you consider being the lucky owner of a food truck business but don't know where to start, we are here to help you through this journey.

Researching the Food Truck Scene

1. Getting to know the business of food trucks

1.1 Being aware of the pros and cons

Everything in life has its positive and negative sides. But food trucks are a unique type of business. So, you need to know all its good and bad aspects. This helps you understand exactly what you are dealing with and the problems that might occur.

Advantages of a food truck

  • Mobility: As already mentioned, a food truck is not locked up in one place. It can move from one place to another. This leads to expanding the customer base and the target group and increases the potential of successfully marketing your business.
  • Flexibility: A food truck enables you to bring fresh food to special events and festivals. A food truck is also very flexible in adjusting and changing the menu and food offerings.
  • Tax deductions: Restaurant owners have to pay many taxes that fall away when having a food truck.

Challenges of owning a food truck business

  • Competition: Especially now that the food truck market is booming, the competition becomes bigger and harder to keep up with. You need to come up with a good concept that makes you stand out from your competitors.
  • Long hours: Be aware that a food truck can require many hours of work, especially at events and festivals. If you’re not present, your competitors will get the upper hand.
  • Zoning restrictions: A food truck cannot be placed anywhere. So, you always be informed about the zoning restrictions and laws and stay up to date. Inform yourself where you can park the truck and how long it can stay there.

Getting to know food truck business

1.2 Researching the industry

Before you even start investing in your truck, make sure you know exactly what you are dealing with in this industry and who you are competing with. You have to stand out against the existing market after all. So, do your research and get yourself informed about:

  • Existing food truck businesses and business ideas
  • The city demographics
  • Zoning restrictions and places where you can park the truck
  • Times and locations that are busy and a good spot to attract customers.

Another important aspect is knowing if your city or area has a demand for food trucks or if there are already many of them lurking around. If there’s already a big offer, you might consider moving the truck to a different area or even city.

Putting your Ideas on Paper

2. Working on the details of your food truck

Defining foor truck concept

2.1 Defining a concept

When it comes to choosing the right concept, see what your future customers are interested in and looking for in a food truck. At the same time, bring your imagination, ideas, and dreams into life and combine your interests with theirs to create a unique and outstanding food truck business concept. Your concept defines the style of food you want to serve and how you want to serve and pack it. Associated with this, you will also choose a design for your food truck that harmonizes with your food concept. Eventually, you will decide on a name and logo that properly represents and matches your business. The name and logo should also be in accord with the design and food and should have the following characteristics:

  • Be unique and easy to remember
  • Represent your business and grabs people’s attention
  • Express your intentions without being too specific

Do not neglect this point or give it less credits than it deserves. A well-thought-out concept, an appealing logo, and a good design that harmonizes with everything else have a huge impact on your customers. Many people go by looks and esthetics and a good logo and name will anchor deeply in their memories. And if your food is accordingly good and well-served, there stands nothing on your way to success.

Business plan for food truck

2.2 Writing a business plan

There is no business without a plan. Every successful entrepreneur spends a lot of time writing it and breaking down all the aspects of his business into paper. So, once you decided on a concept and completed the image of your food truck, start writing your business plan. It will help you work out all the details of the business before investing all the money into it. A business plan also helps lure potential investors and business partners, so give it much time and work it out as clearly and thoughtfully as possible. Your business plan should include the following chapters:

  • Summary: A person who reads your business plan will read the summary first and then decide if it is worth it to read the full plan. So, in this section sum up your business identity, ideas, concept, and goals .
  • Company description: Describe in detail why you decided to open a food truck, what it will look like, what you will serve, the places you will park it in, and what makes your food truck different from all other trucks.
  • Market analysis: Evaluate who your competitors are. Also, this point includes a demographic analysis, who your customers will be, and what they are looking for. You should also draw a picture of what the success statistics will look like depending on the competitors and where the truck will be located.
  • Organization and management: In this chapter, work out a business organizational system. Describe how many employees the business will have and decide on the internal structure of the workers.
  • Service and products: Give a detailed insight into your menu and options for seasonal or other menu alterations.
  • Marketing and sales strategy: This chapter aims to set up a marketing and advertisement plan to get customer’s attention. This might include starting a website, Social Media networking, or handing out flyers at the beginning.
  • Funding strategy: Only a few people have enough money to start up a business on their own. Mostly, you will have to think about how to finance the project. You may think about taking out a credit or looking for investors or business partners. You can also think about crowdfunding.
  • Financial projection: This chapter should estimate the costs of opening the truck. It should also make a forecast for income and outcomes and plan the future.
  • Appendix: Here you can add any additional information and aspects.

Be aware that the business plan is not static, but it is very dynamic. The foundation of it should stay the same but you can always adjust and change chapters like service and products and market analysis. Always adapt your plan to the requirements and needs of your customers and their feedback.

Learn how to write a gastronomy business plan
Financing and Requirements

3. Getting the paperwork done for the food truck

3.1 Securing funding

By now you should have already worked this out in your business plan. Now it’s time to get the money you need and start investing. When it comes to financing your project, there are many different options to choose from:

  • Sponsorship
  • Business or personal investors
  • Crowdfunding
  • Small Business Administration microloans
  • Business credit card
  • Equipment loans and financing programs


3.2 Getting licenses and permits

Every business needs to be legally signed up. Only like this you can lead your business and secure your rights at the same time. The needed licenses and permits differ from country to country and even from town to town. So, inform yourself about all the applications and forms you need to fill in.

The licenses will be a business license, an employer identification number, and a food service license, just like a restaurant. Additionally, for your truck, you will need a mobile food facility and a zoning and parking permit.

Food Truck Startup Costs

4. Going shopping for the food truck

Buying a food truck

4.1 Buying a food truck

Most of your budget will aim to buy the food truck, which is the foundation of your business. Therefore, you should select one that is resistible and serves your business well. When choosing the right vehicle, there are some aspects that you should consider:

  • Will you lease or own the truck?
  • Will you choose a new or used one?
  • Who is a reputable food truck dealer?
  • What customizations will you need for your truck according to your concept and design?

Do not forget about purchasing insurance for the vehicle. Also, you will need to sign up for the vehicle as part of your business so that it can be parked on the streets.

Purchasing food truck equipment

4.2 Purchasing food truck equipment

Now, after having your food truck, the next step is to renovate it and furnish the space as you please. Also, you need to buy all the essential products and gadgets you need for work. Such items might be:

everything your food truck needs
Get your food truck ready for business! Browse our wide assortment of commercial supplies and equipment. 
Explore Professional Equipment 
Payment System & Marketing

5. Opening steps for the food truck

5.1 Choosing a POS system

Before getting the business officially started, think about a good payment system, because not every customer will pay in cash. Choosing to only accept cash payments will limit your customer base. So, you will need a mobile point of sale (POS) system for them to be able to pay with a credit card. However, this system may require internet.

Another good system is a toast POS system. It enables customers to order and pay for their food online by phone and send the order to you. You can immediately start preparing the food until the customer reaches your spot. This saves time for you and the customer and is also an environmentally friendly option to take up orders. However, it also requires internet access.


5.2 Marketing the business

Now it's time to market the business and spread out the word. This is most notably important for a food truck business, as it is permanently moving around. For a start, create a website and a social media presence. You may also offer a tracking option for the vehicle so that people can see where the food truck is.

Other marketing strategies might be to show your brand’s logo as big and eye-catching as possible. Also, be present at events and festivals. You may even sell merchandise with the business’s logo and name on it.

See how you can promote your business
To Sum Up

6. Summary – how to open a food truck

Steps to open a food truck

In summary, the following steps are important for opening a food truck:

  • Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages that a food truck offers.
  • Look at the competition and do as much research as possible on the subject.
  • Create a concept and write a business plan.
  • Don't forget to get all the important licenses.
  • Then you can buy the right food truck and everything that fits your theme.

These steps will help you keep track of everything.

Frequently Asked Questions

7. FAQ - How to open a food truck

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