How to Test Your Restaurant Idea with a Food Truck Business
A food truck is a huge vehicle that comes with equipment to cook and sell food. You can either sell frozen/pre-packaged food or have a kitchen on-board, to prepare food right from the scratch. Food truck business is one of the most promising start-up businesses that is not only convenient operate but is also extremely economical. Yes. If you want to start a highly profitable business with low capital, a food truck business can work very well for you. Nowadays, most of the popular chefs, budding entrepreneurs, and successful restaurateurs are getting ahead with this business because of the innumerable prospects it comes with. A food truck is indeed a perfect option if you want to break free from the traditional office or the storefront route businesses.
However, although the business seems easy and fun, in reality, it involves a lot of hard work. Some successful owners of popular food trucks have reported of working more than 60 hours per week. The rewards of it, however, can be exceptionally great. With this unconventional and quirky business plan, you get a lot of media attention and end up having a large social media fan following who love you for what you are doing. So if you want to provide a decent meal to the hungry, by following a unique and out-of-the-box business plan, a food truck business can be the best thing to do. You can always use this business to test your restaurant business concept and take it to the next level.
In this article, we will explore 1) the reasons why you should try a food truck, 2) process of setting up a food truck effectively, 3) what type of food truck should you go for? 4) what should be your food truck design and menu, and 5) a concluding note.
REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD TRY A FOOD TRUCK BUSINESS
Getting started with a food truck business gives you an opportunity to garner lots of experience in the restaurant business industry. On top of that, it also gives you a much-needed exposure that comes really handy when you start a bigger business in the long run. In case you’re still wondering why you should ‘actually’ try a food truck, here are a couple of reasons, that’ll convince you for sure.
Lesser risks: Well, this is one of the most important reasons why you should go for a food truck. A food truck business involves way lesser risks than a conventional restaurant business. The costs involved in getting started with a restaurant will vary depending on the type of concept you develop. Starting a high-end restaurant involves a lot of capital and recurring investments. However, on starting a food truck, in the same style (only with a smaller menu), your costs can be remarkably low. By starting small, you get to learn the same lessons in your truck as you would have done in your posh dining establishment. Moreover, if by any chance your establishment fails, you would have a considerably smaller investment to lose.
Helps you understand your customers better: By creating a food truck menu, you can reach out to your target market better. You will be able to understand what kinds of food will work with your targeted customers and what kind of stuff won’t work. It’ll give you a chance to experiment, and you’ll soon be able to try different menu options without having to revamp your entire food truck kitchen. Once you start selling good food at a relatively economical price, it will effectively build a great relationship with your customers. If they like your food, they’ll recommend it elsewhere, thereby bucking up your popularity like never before.
Helps you to understand your local system better: Unless you have a professional attorney who has an extensive experience in opening and handling a restaurant, it can take a huge time and effort to check and analyze your local legal systems. Checking out for the restaurant permits can even more daunting and hassling. However, with a food truck and a right attorney, this job can be quite easy and less hassling. Here, you will get to know the individuals who hold office and the health department. Once you start building a rapport with them, it’ll eventually help you with your restaurant in the long run.
Builds your brand: Building a promising and successful brand for your restaurant can take a lot of time. In some cases, it takes years to build a reputation in the restaurant industry. Also, if you somehow take the wrong path, it may take you a longer period to re-brand your business if you have a brick & mortar restaurant. This hassle can be avoided in a small food truck business. In this business, not only do you get to build a brand easily, but you also get to make modifications to your brand by finding a new location to park. If you manage to provide good food, your customers help you to establish your brand by recommending your truck to one and all.
Lets your business run smoothly: Getting started with a food truck can help your business run smoothly in the long run. While operating the truck, you will have to learn every job within it. This will give you an opportunity to improve your operational systems and will eventually help you to run your restaurant business smoothly.
Flexible location: Finding the right location for a restaurant is one of the most necessary ingredients to operate your food business successfully. However, finding a proper and viable location can often turn out to be hassling task. In order to avoid this hassle, the food truck can be a great option. A food truck gives you ample flexibility and lets you understand where your customers are coming from and how you will be able to bring a storefront to your neighborhood. At the same time, you will be able to get in touch with your customers, know them, understand their food tastes and build your own credibility.
PROCESS OF SETTING UP A FOOD TRUCK EFFECTIVELY
Nothing is simple in the restaurant business. So, even when you set up a small food truck, a lot of hard work goes into it. In case you’re getting started for the first time, here’s a list of 10 guidelines that’ll help you in the job.
1. Research and find a proper niche
Gone are the days when shoddy food trucks would simply serve tacos and cold sandwiches. The food trucks of the current age serve the best gourmet cuisine, international delicacies, health foods, exclusive desserts and everything else that you’d find in a restaurant. The key to being successful in this new and improved business line is by simply finding your own niche and becoming an expert in it. Do a little research to find out about the stuff that is already available in your area. Right after that, come up with your own, unique creation. Add the x-factor to your food truck with unconventional yet incredibly delectable food served in quirky designed plates and cups.
2. Register your food & parking licenses
After finding a proper niche and location for your food truck, you will have to get it licensed right away. Every city has different requirements, including certificates from the health department, truck permits and also several parking restrictions. As different cities come with different policies, it is always better to consult your local government to get the right facts. Once you figure out the proper way to get your required licenses and permits, it’ll be a smoother sail.
3. Arrange a food truck or cart
If you have a pretty tight budget, a food cart can be the best way to get started. These carts are usually available at $2,000-$3,000. However, if you have more money to spare, go for a good food truck. Before settling your stuff on a cart or a truck, plan out exactly how you need to run your business. If you’re looking out to sell pizza, burgers, hot dogs or similar other hot food that can be prepared on-site, you’ll need a relatively larger truck. However, if you’re planning to prepare the food from home/commercial kitchen in advance; a smaller truck will do. In either case, you have to plan out the kind of truck you need and finally choose the best one.
4. Prepare a proper business plan
Just like any other business, in the restaurant business too, you’ll have to dedicate proper time and research for a business plan. Within the business plan you will have to assess the research costs of the permits, the cleaning equipments, ingredients and other relative costs. You will now have to figure out how much of stuff you need to sell each month for a decent profit and how much capital would you need to start your business.
5. Get capital to start your business
After you’ve decided what you need and what you have to spend, create a proper finance plan. You can always find an owner-financing option or visit other places to get capital for your small business. Again, you can also take a credit union loan or utilize several peer-to-peer lending networks that let you lend money from your family or peers. Before getting started with your business, figure out how much you’ll need for the down payment and how much you’ll during the loan.
6. Get your insurance
As your business is going to be on wheels, there are some major insurance costs involved in the process. So, in order to run your truck smoothly, you’ve got to talk to an agent about it and describe the purpose it’ll serve. Your agent will specifically take several aspects of your business in consideration while they design your policy to account for several risks and liabilities.
7. Find a parking space
Food trucks are huge, and if you’re planning to operate a full-sized vehicle, you’ll have to check and analyze certain parking issues. You have to check whether your neighborhood association will let you do the parking in front of their homes or if you’re planning off-street parking, you have to ensure whether it’ll be safe overnight. Also, while renting a parking space make sure that it is safe and legal.
8. Get connected with customers
A food truck business isn’t merely about setting up a truck during busy lunch hours. It is about coming up with new and innovative food, and building a great relationship with customers. If your food is good enough, your customers will recommend you to one and all, and you’ll soon end up having a high-end brand name. Therefore, try to be as courteous as possible with your customers and make the process of networking a part of your job. The right networking skills can help you to meet people who will eventually recommend you to others, thereby backing up your popularity.
9. Use social media to popularize your business
Nowadays, nothing can be a better option than social media to popularize your business. Some of the most successful truck owners are professionals who make proper use of the social media platform to connect with prospective customers and bring out the buzz. So, keep your followers informed about your location via Twitter and also use a couple of small niche networks to bring in new customers. You can also interact with your fans on social media by creating a poll on the favorite menu or the favorite truck design. This will not only improve your business but will also foster healthy relationships with your customers.
10. Grow and expand you business
Right after building your brand, you have to concentrate on expanding and merchandising it. For instance, you can always sell promotional goodies, online, or physically. On top of that, being located in a flexible location, expanding your business shouldn’t be much of a hassle.
WHAT TYPE OF FOOD TRUCK SHOULD YOU GO FOR?
While getting started with a mobile food business, there are several kinds of trucks to choose from. Some of them are listed below:
- Food Kiosk – Go for a food kiosk if you’re planning to prepare and sell snacks like popcorn, muffins, pancakes, hot dogs, burgers or sandwiches. The ideal location for a kiosk will be near sports or cultural hubs.
- Food trucks – These trucks come with a kitchen, where foods are freshly prepared for guests and customers. Although the choice of foods in these trucks varies, your specialty can be a specific kind of food.
- Gourmet Trucks – Larger than the conventional food trucks, the gourmet trucks usually come with a relatively larger menu spread.
- Bustaurant – As evident from the name, a bustaurant is a bus turned into a restaurant. Here, the front of the bus is designed as a kitchen and the second part is designed like a serving room, where guests are served.
- Food Carts – These carts are relatively smaller in size, and they sell pre-prepared foods like boiled buttered corn, donuts, quick snacks and desserts.
WHAT SHOULD BE YOUR FOOD TRUCK DESIGN & MENU?
Your food truck should come with an innovative appearance, solid structure, an exterior that can be easily maintained, and most importantly, a kitchen that has all the equipment to provide excellent food. All in all, your food truck should come with an appearance and structure that’ll easily grab the attention of all passers-by.
While coming up with the truck, try to be as creative as possible. Don’t follow any specific any specific rule or restrictions, and make your truck unique, beautiful and practical. For instance, the opened door of the truck can be an innovative menu board where you can explain your menu in details. At the same time, you can use the cab of your truck to receive the orders and payments.
The performance of the mobile food facilities requires more attention, particularly because they are in confined space. You have to be extra sure of the hygiene and ensure that your truck interiors are spick and span, and perfectly well adjusted for kitchen operations. It would work best if the interiors of your kitchen and your kitchen furniture are made of stainless steel. This can prevent it from catching fire. So, although this is a relatively expensive investment, it can turn out to be extremely handy in the long run.
Menu ideas for your food truck
Your food truck will automatically turn out to be popular if it comes with a wide range of scrumptious, delectable and innovative menu. The menu will define your business, so always try to unleash your creativity while designing it. In any case, it is highly recommended to keep the food simple and quick. Try to add a creative touch, in the regular, simple menu. While complex food items take a lot of time to prepare, easy and simple food will sell quickly and will also be available at affordable prices.
You can add any and every kind of grilled items, sandwiches, burgers, salads and fries for the main meal. Again, you can also compile a couple of items and come up with an awesome meal box. For the dessert, try ice cream, fruit salads, puddings or anything of the similar sort.
It is highly recommended to change your menu from time to time. For instance, your summer and winter menu should be entirely different from each other. You can also come up with a special item once in a month or fortnight. This will keep your joint popular and crowded.
ON A CONCLUDING NOTE
All in all, opting for a food truck can be a great way to test your restaurant business. This will give you an opportunity to explore and experiment with different kinds of food, and, it’ll also buck up your overall popularity. So if you’re looking out for a small startup business that’ll generate a lot of profits and give you ample chance of experimentation; a food truck business can be the best bid.
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