Most aspiring food truck vendors imagine creating a truck that will feed and entertain their local community. Some vendors are lured by the joy of cooking, others are simply looking to get rich.
Here’s the problem; just because you have experience working the line of a restaurant or have an awesome recipe for cupcakes, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to take the heat on those days when your cooking staff calls in sick or the truck breaks down.
Despite the fact that starting a food truck business can be a tough road to travel, there appears to be no stopping some. So if you are one of the unstoppable here are 10 reasons that might make you want to reconsider.
Not A Get Rich Scheme
People think that if they open a food truck, they will immediately begin drawing a paycheck. But unless you are actually doing the cooking, managing the accounting, working the service window, don’t expect a check at the beginning. Sure over time, your truck may take in a lot of money, but if you want to run the business from back in the office you’ll be spending most of that money on your labor costs.
Do you enjoy your weekends, holidays and attending family birthday parties? Do you eagerly anticipate your two week vacations? Sorry to break it to you but chances are you will be working in your food truck during those times. Operating a food truck means you will be at work while your customers have all the fun.
Not everyone who succeeds starts out with experience. If you’ve never opened or operated your own restaurant or food truck, you may want to consider hiring a food truck consultant. With a good consultant by your side, you can avoid making costly mistakes that can deflate your dream faster than driving your truck through a spike filled pot hole. Ask other some of the truck owners in your area for recommendations, join your local food truck organization or search the internet.
Best Concept Ever
No one in my area makes Native American fry breads. You purchase your truck and you’re off and running. Business is great. Then, a few months in and you read the headlines of your local newspaper food section, “New Food Truck With Best Fry Breads I’ve Had Opening Soon.” Then you realize the article isn’t about your truck.
Trends Can Fade
What may be delicious to you may not be something your customers will pay to eat. You may think that your fry breads are awesome and may have some loyal customers, but in the long run, most people look for variety, familiarity and predictability even if the food is great.
You load enough supplies to feed 40 and 100 people show up, or worse, the reverse. A snow storm or downpour hits your area and suddenly your customers decide to stay inside. Are you ready for having a mob of hungry people all show up on that day you sent the staff home early? What about truck malfunctions, traffic jams you weren’t expecting and staff no shows?
If you’ve never worked in a food truck or a restaurant kitchen it may be hard to understand how volatile it can be. Whether it’s the fighting between staff members, others that are missing in action or the health inspector that just knocked on your service window when you have a line with 10 people in it…as a food truck owner, you need to be able to handle every situation. Oh yeah, and don’t forget that food service workers tend to be a transient group. Just when you think you have them trained to an acceptable level *poof* they’re gone.
But Can You Trust Them?
Be assured, there is a good chance that someone on your staff is going to steal from your mobile food business. Once stealing begins it can become epidemic and over time, can have devastating financial consequences.
For a mobile food business, a profit and loss statement is a powerful tool because the key to controlling profits is knowing when you have a financial problem. Many food truck owners have made the mistake of handing over their accounting to a friend, family member or try to do it themselves.
Dealing With The Man
Between varying regulations, government imposed fees and costs you cannot control; you can only guess what your profits will be. Laws governing minimum wage, overtime, benefits, health and safety, licensing and operations and, of course, taxes make each city you operate in your new silent partner.
For those of you who still feel that venturing into the mobile food industry is the right move…just remember that even if your rolling bistro turns out to be one of the successful, you will still have to run it. Make sure that this is what you really want to do and love to do. Running a food truck takes time, passion and energy, however if done right, it might just be one of the best decisions you make in your life.