So you want to start a food truck... Great! Food trucks provide amazing opportunities for expansion, restaurant ownership and a way to get your name and signature dishes in front the public. They still remain one of the fastest and least expensive ways to start a food service business. However, before you drop thousands of your hard earned dollars or take out a loan to start your food truck, consider taking a temporary job or volunteering to shadow a current food truck operator before you make the jump. Here are four reasons your should test drive the business before investing:
1. The food truck business is hard. Sure, you already assume that going in, but do you know just how hard?? After shadowing an owner from dusk 'til dawn, you may have second thoughts about the industry. Day in and day out this is probably going to be the most demanding job you will ever have. If you thrive in this type of fast paced environment you should be fine, but we see so many food trucks fail not because they weren't making money, but because they couldn't take the grind.
2. You may not be a manager. You could be the best chef in town, but if you can't manage staff and an intense schedule, you won't survive the food truck business. You need to have a balance of great food and a great attitude. You need to be respected and respectful of staff at the same time. You need to be able to juggle paperwork and a menu at the same time. Your personality will be tested quickly, so best to try to test some of these skills working on a truck before owning one.
3. You can feel out the market. Working on a truck before deciding to start one will give you a sense of the competition and menus. Many areas have become saturated with food trucks. There might be room for more, but only if you serve the right food. After working on a truck you may realize that being the tenth burger truck in your city might not be a good idea.
4. It will inevitably save you money. You won't make much money taking a short term job or volunteering on a truck to learn, but the skills you will acquire will no doubt save you thousands of dollars in mistakes that you learn to avoid.
Many new ventures that we insure have some experience onboard a food truck. They seem to be the operators that last. It's admirable to jump straight into the business, but it's more admirable and lucrative to stay in business. You wouldn't buy a new car without a test drive so why would you buy into a business without a test drive?