Correction, don't start a food truck, YET! I'm not suggesting that those interested in this industry don't open their own; I'm rather suggesting that they take the right steps before opening a food truck.
It has become apparent that too many people are starting food trucks... Insure My Food Truck benefits from assisting new food trucks, but we want to be sure you STAY open. We see many food trucks fail. It is now normal for us to see about 25% of our clients go out of business within their first year of operation. Does this mean their food was terrible? Not necessarily. Does it mean they were not good business people? Not really. It means they did not have the right combination of what it takes to be a successful food truck operator. Here is a short list of why some food trucks fail:
- They got sucked in! It's tempting to jump into the "sexy" world of food trucks, but it doesn't take long to figure out how tough this business is. Ask owners how many hours they put in, what their average day is like and problems they face daily before you drop a dime into starting a food truck. Getting some likes on Facebook showing off your test plates while watching The Great Food Truck Race is way different than hosing down your truck after 16 grinding hours of labor.
- They listened to other people! I know, your Mom says you make a mean meatball sandwich, but that doesn't mean you should open a food truck. You need to thoroughly test the market before deciding that your food has what it takes to compete with the amazing food options out there. Test outside of friends and family. Some of the best advice you can get is that your food is some of the worst. Those that give you honest feedback will only help you improve.
- They did not plan enough! Some of the most successful clients we have took months if not years to develop a business plan, a network and a menu. If you don't have at least three months of jobs lined up, don't launch! If your concept is not appealing to the masses you are limiting your earning potential. If you don't know COGs and throughputs inside out, your pockets will be inside out.
- They did not have (or maintain) passion! Some business gurus will say that passion is nice but not necessary. I feel that for this industry it is necessary. If you are not passionate about your job, your employees will notice, your customers will know it and your food will show it. It doesn't take long for the window to shutter if your passion dissolves.
- They did not change! This industry moves fast... Did you see that? It just changed when you blinked! If you are not changing to your customer's wants and needs as well as changing to keep up with your competition, you will have no competition (meaning you will be out of business). Change is necessary for most business, but especially food trucks.
I know, you're probably thinking that this is easy to say from the comfort of my desk, but guess what I do at my desk all day long? I talk to food truck owners! That is exactly what you need to do if you are thinking about opening one. Don't let glitz, glamour, mothers or brothers cloud you judgment. Volunteer to work a week with a food truck peer if you have no on board experience. Do everything from prep, grill, take orders and clean. If at the end of the week you say "Give me more" instead of "Damn I'm sore" then start a food truck. Otherwise, don't start a food truck! Your back and bank account can thank me later. Many of our clients are very happy and successful. They go on to own multiple trucks and/or open restaurants. You can too, just be sure that you are ready.