Here at Concession Nation, we have always enjoyed helping to design and build out food trucks for customers in a variety of industries for many uses. As you may have guessed, we deal a lot with entrepreneurs who are just getting started. The food truck industry trend is continuing to increase, and we created a checklist for those wanting to join in.
Owning and operating a mobile food business is very similar to running any business – just more fun (in our opinion, of course). Therefore, getting started should include a lot of the same information gathering. The more knowledge you have, the better you can be prepared for creating success.
Imagination of what a business needs and the reality are typically two very different pictures. A wise entrepreneur always uses this phase of starting a business to gather as much information as possible to create a profitable roadmap for the business. The following is very important to focus on during the “Discovery Phase” of starting a business.
Keeping Legal – what are the requirements to operate a food truck in the areas you are planning to predominately be at: city, county, state – licenses, permits, insurances and inspections?
Ideal Customers – who are the people (besides the entire world) that are most likely to purchase your type of food in the areas you considering to service?
Other Food Services – are there other food trucks, concession trailers, food stands and restaurants in your area that would target the same ideal customer? If so, take time to discover the food they’re serving and how they’re attracting their customers. What can you learn from them and how will you be different to stand out from them?
Streams of Income – how are all the ways you can/will make money with your food truck? Will you be catering private events, are there festivals/fairs in your area where you can park and serve or are there locations around town that are potentially lucrative for serving large crowds for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Do you need any special permitting for serving in these areas?
Now that you’ve gathered all the pertinent information in the ‘Discovery Phase” it’s time to put the information together in a “Strategic Plan” for how YOUR business will succeed. This your starting place to creating your success roadmap.
Your roadmap is called, “a business plan”. We recommend finding either a business plan template online or to work with a business coach to create a formal business plan. Items to add in your business plan include answering the following questions: Do you have the name of your new business? What is your food concept? How do you differ from the competitors you found in the “Discovery Phase”? Why is there plenty of room in the marketplace for your food truck among all the existing competitors? How will you run your business? Are you hiring staff? What are your processes and procedures? How will you attract customers to your food truck? What is your marketing plan? Will it include social media, SMS list building, and ads? How will people know your business is open? Lastly, how will you be funding the business’ startup costs and operations the first three to six months?
Your Food Truck
Time to get creative! The most significant asset of your business is, of course, the vehicle itself. Depending on your concept, the food truck price can vary. Weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a used vehicle or a new one and then how much to customize it. Customizations include the interior kitchen equipment and exterior features, design, lights and more. Don’t forget the food truck will need a variety of insurance and permits (go back to your notes from the “Discovery Phase” to know what you need specifically).
Spread the Word Everywhere – “We Are Open!”
Online, print and word of mouth. You do not want to be the industries ‘best kept secret’. You want EVERYONE to know about your food truck, your food, your location and opportunities to hire you for catering. Start your website, your social media accounts and creating your marketing message before you open your business. While you’re open and serving, post and announce your location, photos of your food and your team serving.
We are excited for your new entrepreneurial endeavors and we know if you do your due diligence before starting, that success will be in your future.
Concession Nation is a food truck industry leader and uses their blog to share insight on the concession trailer and food truck industry and customer success stories. Their trucks been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, the Food Network, and the Cooking Channel.