Street food festivals are still in vogue, and food trucks are among the real winners in the catering business outside of these events. Do you also want to ride this wave and open your own food truck? Before you can get started, some preparatory work is necessary – Think a eye catching food truck name, create a business plan, obtain approvals, calculate costs, and much more. We have put together the most important requirements for you so that you can drive your food truck on the road to success.
Opening a food truck: Requirements for your start
The idea of opening your own food truck is tempting. The rolling restaurants offer restaurateurs maximum flexibility: simply drive to where the customers are, open the food truck, and sell the street food directly. But in advance, as a prospective operator, there are a few requirements that you need to clarify – both of a personal and business nature. In this section, we explain what you should pay attention to if you want to start your own business with a food truck.
Are you a Food Trucker?
Do you have a passion for cooking, grilling, and catering in general? Then you already have one of the most important requirements for a food trucker. If you want to open a food truck, you have to burn for it – just like your grill.
Have you completed an apprenticeship in gastronomy? All the better! Then you are very familiar with the processes and pitfalls of the catering business. If this is not the case, try to do as much and as much research as possible beforehand in order to acquire the necessary know-how, especially in the fields of business start-up, entrepreneurship, marketing, and mobile catering. Proper planning is the first step to starting a successful food truck.
Ultimately, you must honestly answer one question for yourself: Am I made for self-employment? Finally, be your own boss! There is a lot of freedom, but also far-reaching obligations when you become self-employed. In addition, working hours are a factor that should not be neglected, especially in gastronomy. They work when others are enjoying their free time, both in the evenings and on weekends. This can get tricky in the context of your own family life. That’s why it’s just as important that your partner or family supports you in your project – maybe even actively on board your food truck.
Business Idea: Opening a food truck with Creativity and a Concept
Most successful ventures start with a good idea. Be creative and play with your business idea. Then, when it comes to developing it into a sophisticated business concept, you need to plan ahead. What you should consider when developing a concept for your food truck is explained below.
Street food: What’s on the menu of your food truck?/Food Truck Ideas
You probably already gave some thought to the choice of food when you had the idea of opening a food truck. Have you also thought about whether and how you can prepare these in a kitchen with very limited space and equipment? Some foods are only suitable to a limited extent for preparation in a food truck.
Without complete professional kitchen equipment, the motto is more street food than fine dining. As in many other areas, the following also applies here: quality before quantity. Less is more – especially if you are just starting out with your food truck. As you gain experience, you can become more adventurous and dare to offer a wider range of products.
To make your choice easier, here are a few tips for the food you’ll be serving in your food truck. First of all, your food has to be appealing – after all, it has to attract guests. If you offer special dishes, that’s great. If not, research your target audience and what they might like about your food truck.
Take things by Steps
First, decide on your general orientation. If you want to offer Asian dishes, base your concept on dishes from this region. If you want to offer food with a French flair, design your menu along these lines. Important: Offer vegan or at least vegetarian dishes, because these have long been part of the standard repertoire of every catering.
Be realistic about how many different dishes you can serve at one time. Unlike a traditional restaurant, you’ll be working with a smaller kitchen and fewer staff – if you have any staff at all. if any, fewer staff. In addition to the limited spatial possibilities, also consider the time frame. You won’t have your food truck open 24/7 in the same place. For example, if you only serve your customers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., it is unrealistic to prepare 15 different dishes at this time.
In addition, your food should be easy to prepare and prepare. Even if you don’t serve fast food in the traditional sense, you need to be able to get your meals ready quickly. Your guests have nowhere to sit and sip a glass of wine while they wait for their food. Your goal is to keep the line at the food truck as short as possible so you don’t lose customers.
The following examples of typical street food truck ideas can make your decision easier:
Food Truck Ideas
- French fries
- Hot dog
- Cakes, tarts, muffins, or waffles (for those with a sweet tooth)
Which dishes should be on the menu? A well-thought-out and appealing selection of dishes is part of every food truck.
USP: What makes your food truck unique?
If you want to start a food truck, try to fill a gap and not get involved in an already crowded market. If there are already five trucks in your area that sell homemade pizza, for example, it’s not a good idea to do the same. Think about what makes your food truck special and unique. The USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of your food truck is what differentiates it from all other food trucks and also restaurants in the local market.
The USP is a set of unique value propositions that clearly set you apart from the crowd. It should be durable, target group-oriented, economical and achievable in terms of price, time and quality. “The far and away cheapest homemade organic burgers with the best ingredients from regional, ecological agriculture,” may be unique and target group-oriented. However, it sounds like an untenable promise because it cannot be achieved in terms of price and economy or is simply a lie. This means that your USP must not be a mere advertising promise that attracts customers but does not bind them because you cannot keep it.
Formulating your USP requires creativity and analytical thinking on your part. In addition to special dishes that are not available anywhere else, which in themselves represent a unique selling point, various outstanding properties come into question. See the list below for some examples to inspire you:
- 100% homemade
- Freshly prepared and served
- Only products from the region
- Pulled pork from our own smoker
- Homemade Burger Buns
- Vegetables/fruit from own cultivation
- Venison from local hunters
- Organic products / ecological/sustainable ingredients
- Vegetarian/vegan / plant-based
- Fairtrade products
- Without artificial aromas, flavor enhancers, and additives
- Fast service
- And much more
Marketing and Advertising: what to do to Attract Customers
Do you think it’s premature to think about advertising if the food truck isn’t there yet? Not at all. Famed automobile entrepreneur Henry Ford is often quoted as saying, “If you’re going to put a dollar in your business, you must have another ready to make it known.” By defining your unique selling proposition, you have already taken the first step toward marketing. Unique selling propositions and value propositions to customers are the basis of every marketing strategy. In the best case, they run like a red thread from the products to the design of your food truck.
This isn’t exactly a food truck, but even an ice cream truck needs its unique selling points – homemade, 100% natural, sugar-free, and “baby-friendly” ice cream.
Business plan: Put the food truck on the road
Now that you have developed your idea into a concept, the next step is a business plan for your food truck. This not only gives you a better overview and security but also serves to convince potential financiers, credit institutions, or public funding programs of your company. In this section, we show you what you need to know about the structure and content of a business plan.
The pitch: a short summary of the idea and concept
The first part contains the pitch, i.e. a kind of presentation with which you try to get financing. In the pitch you briefly summarize what makes your food truck so special. Take the opportunity to convince the reader of your business idea and outline how you intend to make it a success.
You also present your business concept in the pitch . Why should people visit your food truck and not another? Present your company and your products or dishes in detail.
Founder or founding team in profile
This is about introducing yourself and, if applicable, your team. Who are you? What life and professional experience do you have? Why do you think you can be successful with a food truck? Make your motivation and strengths clear. If you have a team opening your food truck, be specific about who will do what.
Market Assessment, Location Analysis and Competitive Situation
As mentioned at the beginning, the street food scene is still an up-and-coming industry. It is important to seize this opportunity! Take a close look at what the market has to offer. Is there a demand for a food truck in the area ? This requires an exact location analysis, whereby you as a food trucker have a clear advantage over those who open a restaurant: you can adapt your location flexibly to a large extent.
What is the local competitive situation like? Is there a competitor who could challenge you for the best locations? Under no circumstances should you ignore the target group. After all, it is your customers who will determine the success of your food truck.
The right location plays a crucial role in the success of your food truck – just like the competitive situation and the customers.
As unpleasant as it is, an entrepreneur must always consider the possibility of failure. But don’t worry: unlike opening a café, you run a lower risk as a food truck operator. In general, the average amount you have to invest in a new food truck is less than what you can spend on your own restaurant.
Look at your company from the outside perspective in a SWOT analysis. Record your personal strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats in the business plan. It is important that you think realistically about what you will do if your concept does not work out. The famous Plan B was supposed to have several alternatives. The worst-case scenario is that you have to go out of business again. In such a case, if you find a buyer, you can still resell your food truck and incur a manageable loss.
At the end of your business plan, it’s about money. The financial planning for your food truck should include a reasonable estimate for the first three years on four different aspects:
- Capital requirements: How much money do you need in the beginning for the start-up and acquisition costs?
- Financing (if applicable): Is your equity sufficient or do you need outside capital?
- Liquidity: After deducting your liabilities, how much money will you be left with each month?
- Profitability: What turnover and profit do you expect?
This is part of starting a food truck: Developing a business idea and concept and working out a business plan.
What equipment and furnishings do I need?
Even if you buy a used food truck that is perfectly equipped for your planned food offer, there are still costs for customization. At the very least, you want your company’s name on the food truck. Likewise, you will want to change the design accordingly so that your truck is recognizable.
Once your setup is ready, it still needs to be set up. The furnishings and equipment depend on the gastronomic orientation. Let’s say you plan to serve burgers and fries. Here is a non-exhaustive list of equipment (preferably stainless steel):
- Grill grate or griddle
- Propane plant
- Power connection with switch or fuse box
- Extractor hood
- Glass splash guard
- Worktop and counter
- Hand wash basin, sink combination with fittings
- Water tank (or better connection to the water pipe and sewage system)
- Kitchen utensils (e.g. grill tongs, bowls, etc.)
- Cutlery and crockery
- Shelves for storage
- Secured cash drawer for cash
- Mobile payment solutions
Similar to the restaurant business, you do not need to prove any professional qualifications to open a food truck. However, some experience in the catering sector does not hurt. On the contrary: “Housekeeping”, calculation, preparation, hygiene measures, and efficient work – especially in a confined space – have to be learned or need practice.