Food trucks are a fun and trendy way to get your restaurant on wheels and serve whatever you want!
Not only does this allow you to go where your customers are, but you can also save money from the costs of a stationary restaurant.
But there’s a lot to learn when starting, like where to buy a food truck.
This is a guide on how to buy a food truck, and how to tell if it’s the right investment for you.
Is buying a food truck a good investment?
Buying a food truck is one of the most exciting business ventures many can take on.
Not only are you able to change how people interact with food, but you get the chance to travel your city instead of being stuck in the back of a restaurant.
Food trucks have a high failure rate in most cities because of the work that goes into them: but food truck owners generally make between $24,000 to $153,000 off of them per year- after paying employees and covering overhead costs.
This is a huge gap in money, but it’s worth the risk if you know what you’re doing, and follow these tips how to start a food truck business.
When you’re ready to purchase food truck goods and deal with all of the red tape that comes with this business: it’s one of the most thrilling to have.
It may not be one of the easiest businesses to start from home, but it can be one of the most rewarding.
Trend on the Rise
Food trucks have a 60% failure rate within the first year: but if you can make it past this and become a staple in your area, you can stand to make a lot of money. This industry grows between 3% to 7% every year and has plenty of room for new trucks. People need to eat, so if you are successful this is obviously a future proof job.
Where are food trucks most successful?
From city to city, the destinations where food trucks see the most business generally stay the same.
In the early morning to afternoon, the best place for your food truck is in business districts near large office buildings.
This lets you hit the lunch rush and gives you a chance to grab as many hungry workers as possible.
In the evening, it’s a better idea to be near bars and nightclubs, especially close to the weekend.
Every city is different, though! Some companies even get permission from apartment complexes to park within their parking lots, which then allows them to gather as many of the renters as possible.
Try a few locations to find the best one for your company.
Trend on the Rise
Over a third of Americans say they’d move for work, so why not move for your food truck? Regardless of location within the city, the top cities for food trucks are Portland, Denver, and Orlando, each with a large market for these trucks.
What is the most profitable food truck?
The earliest food trucks were taco trucks: but there are now countless different options for any foodie who’s starting their own truck.
The most profitable foods right now are burgers, Indian street food, pizza, and niche items.
Niche items can be things like a funnel cake truck, a build-your-own mac-n-cheese bar, or one of these other outside-the-box food truck ideas.
These unique trucks allow customers to have a one-of-a-kind experience and enjoy something that will brighten any weekday, making you some serious money.
Tactic for Success
One major way you can help ensure your food truck is easy to find is to put a lot of work into social media. Create an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even Tik Tok for your food truck: and post regularly to show your current location.
What work goes into maintaining a food truck?
Maintaining a food truck is a lot of work and can take up almost every minute that you’re not actively running your truck.
From deep cleans to commissary space: this is everything you should keep in mind.
Costs and Maintenance Needed for a Food Truck
- Maintain Levels of Fluids – Your truck will need oil, gas, windshield wiper fluid, and other basic things all vehicles need to run.
- Tire Rotation – Your tires will need to be rotated every six thousand miles.
- Health Inspections – Once a year, an inspector will stop in unannounced to check your food truck’s compliance with laws and regulations.
- Weekly Deep Cleaning – You should keep your truck clean all the time, but a weekly deep clean ensures you cover anything missed in rushes.
- Insurance and Legal Fees – You have to pay the same fees as a regular restaurant: plus more based on a vehicle’s insurance and parking.
- Commissary Space – In many states, you can’t park your truck at your home at night; you need a commissary place where customers can’t get to it.
Once you get into the swing of running your food truck, you’ll find ways to save money or garages that will give you discounts as a business.
Although this is a lot to take on in the beginning, it gets easier and more affordable as you make connections.
Tactic for Success
To keep on top of maintenance, set a clear schedule, with reminders on a shared work calendar for everyone who works on the truck. This will help you keep track of when specific updates, deep cleaning, and maintenance items need to be completed.
Where can you buy a food truck?
Buying a food truck is one of the most exciting parts of starting your business!
Not only does the shape and style of the truck determine how people will view your business, but it also decides how much room you have to work with.
Unfortunately, going to a car dealership isn’t the best option since the few that have food trucks will overprice them like wild. Instead, these are your best options.
Best Places to Buy a Food Truck
- Craigslist Vehicles – This is the best way to find someone local and possibly even get a few tips on the area’s food truck industry. Although this probably won’t be a business you can start with 10k, it’s still important to find the best deal you can.
- Facebook Marketplace – This allows you to connect with sellers both locally and nationally and find the right food truck for yourself. Although these trucks go quickly, it’s a great place to find a vehicle.
- UsedFoodTrucks.com Website – This national catalog of trucks allows you to view countless trucks and sort by cost, mileage, age, and distance to find your perfect fit.
- UsedVending.com Website – Another reselling site, Used Vending connects you with sellers of everything from concession trailers to food trucks and even buses you can outfit into a food truck yourself.
Make sure that before you pay for the truck, you get it inspected by a garage that knows about these types of vehicles.
They’ll let you know if it needs any work done or if it’s going to make it much further than the parking lot you’re picking it up in.
What to Avoid When Buying Your Truck
Buying a food truck is a fun and exciting purchase: but it’s vital that you avoid making some rookie mistakes that could lead to the end of your business before it begins. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
Don’t Go Just for Style
You may have a specific truck type in mind, but when you’re shopping around, it’s a good idea to be flexible and pick one that works for more than just aesthetics.
This means finding a style that looks good but can also give you enough room to work and create awesome food.
Don’t Buy Everything Brand New
You may want to buy everything brand new and shiny for your company, but this is expensive and probably not a good financial choice for a new business. Don’t be afraid to go for used items.
Don’t Use Anything Unchecked
When buying anything for your truck: check to make sure it’s in good working order before you install it.
You may just want to get the new fridge into your truck so you can use it already: but avoiding checking it first means you could accidentally install a fridge that doesn’t even work: so you then have to uninstall it.
Don’t Buy Something That Needs Too Much Work
Although most people have seen Chef and feel inspired by the food truck life because of it: the amount of work he put into the truck in that movie shouldn’t be what you put yourself through.
If a truck needs extensive work, and you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to handle all of it financially or physically: don’t get this truck.
Remember Energy Efficiency Matters
Most kitchen appliances in restaurants take a huge draw of power that’s just not manageable for the generator and batteries you’ll have on your truck.
When shopping for kitchen supplies, keep your power use in mind.
Avoiding these mistakes will save you a lot of money and stress down the road. If you want your company to succeed, you have to make careful decisions at every turn.
Whether you already own a restaurant and want to expand, or you’re starting a new business from scratch: food trucks are a great way to make a lot of money.
Take the time to do this right, and you’ll make back your investment in no time!
Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.