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Boy, have times changed. Now, popular chefs, successful restaurateurs, and quirky foodies are all getting in on the act. Some of the most successful owners report hour work weeks. If these goals and working style draw your attention, consider this ten-step plan for food truck success.
Cities have various requirements, including health department certificates, truck permits, and parking restrictions. Every city has its own policies, so contact your local government to get the facts.
Be prepared for obstacles. New York City, for example, puts a cap on the number of truck permits that they will issue. Why are they so expensive? Health departments have the same rules for food trucks as they do for restaurants, so your vehicle will need expensive specialty equipment.
If, on the other hand, you can prepare food in advance in your home or commercial kitchen, then you can just keep your wares warm in a cart or smaller truck. Picture the hot dog vendors who keep their dogs warm in their sidewalk carts.
Because this will be the largest expense in your new business, you need to get it right. The key to success in this new and improved business sector is finding your own niche and becoming the top expert. For example, some food truck vendors find success in combining costumes and quirky language to enhance their image.
Get Financing After you know what you need to spend, create a finance plan. You may find an owner-financing option for your truck, or you may need to go to other places for capital to finance your small business.
You can take out a loan from a bank or credit unionutilize peer-to-peer lending networks like Lending Club or Prosperor borrow from friends and family.
If this is your first time writing a business plantake a look at the U. Talk with an agent, and describe exactly what purpose the truck will serve. You should only have to pay for standard car insurancebut your agent will need to take your special circumstances into consideration when designing your policy to account for other risks and liabilities.
For instance, will your neighborhood association let you park it in front of your home? If you have off-street parking, will it be safe overnight? In addition, some health departments require that vendors park only in approved facilities with refrigeration and electricity.
Many vendors also generate brisk business by catering special events and corporate functions. Event planners will pay you to be on their property during an event so the attendees will have access to good food and a high-profile brand name. If you already have connections in the municipal and business world, then you have a head start.
Cultivate those contacts and ask them for contracts. Join local associations and organizations that cater to business owners in your community, like the Chamber of Commerce.
Use your networking skills to meet the people who can pass along your name as a recommended caterer. You can keep followers informed of your location through your Twitter feed, or use smaller niche networks to attract new customers.
Other tools give you an opportunity to interact with your fans and supporters by allowing them to vote on new menu items, choose the color of your truck before you repaint, or pick your next weekly special. You can sell t-shirts and promotional items online and in person.
The bigger your brand and the more unique your idea is, the more willing your customers will be when it comes to advertising for you by wearing a cool sweatshirt or cap.
Final Word The food truck business has changed incredibly over the past few years, becoming one of the hottest new businesses. If it sounds like your dream job, check with your city officials to see what options you have.
And if you want to test your food idea on the public, tell us about it in the comments below. You just might get the kind of feedback that will spark the idea that launches you to the top of the industry!
Do you have dreams of starting your own food truck business? What are some of the biggest challenges that you envision facing?The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.
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