Can Food Trucks Help Rescue the US Economy?
Now that the national political discussion has moved away from the country’s debt ceiling, both the President and members of the Congress and Senate have shifted their focus to the continuing unemployment situation.
Still hovering at a dismal 9.2 percent unemployment rate (a number that does not include those who have exceeded their unemployment benefits and have dropped off the rolls entirely) our country is trudging along in a recession which began in 2008.
There have been numerous discussions by the politicos as well as the media talking heads about which sectors can help to stimulate our economy. As many of us already know, there is one industry that has been recession proof during this tough time. The mobile food industry has been steadily taking a foot hold as one of the major industries that has been able to flourish, and there is no indication that this trend will change.
Only now, 3 years into its rebirth, more people across the country have begun to understand about the gourmet food trucks in their area and have made them a part of their dining out itinerary. For many individuals, they look at the mobile food industry as only the food truck and food cart owners, but the industry which has been growing at a rapid pace, is much more than these culinary geniuses.
Food Truck Owners
Through our own research, we have watched the industry grow leaps and bounds since 2008 when Chef Roy Choi began the revolution with his Kogi BBQ Truck. As our readers know, we provide a weekly article which focuses on the new food trucks that have opened their service doors during that given week. Since we began these articles, we have seen no less than six trucks starting up every week from areas around the US.
Los Angeles, NYC and San Francisco are areas that are still growing, but more surprising to some, are that communities such as Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Dallas and even Rapid Falls, South Dakota are seeing food trucks pop up on a continual basis.
Many of these food truck businesses tend to start up small. With the ability to expand their brand recognition by serving delectable food, some truck owners within 6 months of hitting the streets, begin to look at expanding, not only the number of individuals they employ, but also in the number of trucks in their fleet. Some of the more successful truck owners are even able to open up brick and mortar locations based on the sales their food trucks have created.
Truck Manufacturing: Many of the countries truck manufactures are lagging in joining in on this growing sector. Once these companies catch on, they too should be able to produce more chassis for the builders to use as a base for more food trucks. More chassis production will require more employees, as well as more resources and more suppliers to provide them with the raw materials that are put together to create these rolling food truck platforms.
Food Truck Kitchen Builders
The number one issue we have heard from numerous food truck builders is that they cannot keep up with the demand of food truck orders they receive. The problem, as we mentioned, was their ability to acquire the chassis that they use to build the food trucks they sell.
This situation can be looked at as a domino effect if approached correctly. Should the truck manufactures provide the truck builders with more chassis, the builders in turn, would be able to produce more food trucks for the consistent growth of calls they receive from individuals looking to start up their new mobile food business. To do this, many of the builders would need to hire more employees, and in some cases, begin to look at expanding their facilities, which could help quickly turn around a number of the empty manufacturing complexes that litter the country.
The other sector that could be touched by a growing food truck building community could be construction. If a builder is looking to expand their market share, they may look at areas outside of their current location to open a truck building facility. If there is not a building that meets their criteria for a new warehouse, they may need to look at building one new. This process will lead to the use of architects as well as contractors to complete the construction.
Permits, fees and inspection requirements can change from town to town as many food truck operators know. The problem is, it takes time to learn what each municipality requires, and in the mobile food industry, time does equate to money. The longer it takes an owner to put together all of the proper paperwork for each city they wish to operate in, means the longer it will take them to actually begin operating.
Having come from the construction industry myself, I can attest to the benefits that permit expeditors provide. These individuals have long time relationships with many of the municipalities permitting groups. They know the processes, and keep up on all of the changes that happen so that they can streamline the process for their clients.
As the mobile food industry continues to grow in almost every region of the country, permit expedition companies will also be growing based on their ability to help speed up the arduous process of getting all of the proper paperwork in order to allow a food truck to open sooner than later.
Food Truck Consultants
The number of these professionals will be growing with the industry. Some will be former food truck operators, or some will come with a strong background from the brick and mortar restaurant industry. Consultants will be able to provide a number of valuable services that are absolutely needed. Not everyone with aspirations to open a food truck or cart will have all of the knowledge in various areas such as:
- Culinary Experience: These individuals will be able to assist those who do not have the professional background to set up a proper menu, or how to prepare the meals in which they wish to serve from their trucks.
- Small Business Operation: Knowing how to cook is a key to a food truck business, however, if you do not have the knowledge on how to operate a small business, you are on a quick trip to failure.
- Branding/Marketing: So you have a plain white truck, with a great menu to sell from it, how do you brand your truck so that anyone walking past knows what you are selling?
- Mechanical Experts: You’ve scoured through Craigslist and found what you think is the perfect vehicle to start your mobile business with. These professionals will be able to inspect the truck for you to let you know if the frame is damaged, or if all of the equipment is or is not up to your local health department code. Taking the time to hire one of these professionals may save you a lot of headaches down the road.
There are many additional industries that could expand if they latch onto the growth of food trucks that we didn’t even include. If the government were to make it easier for small business owners to retain small business loans to begin expanding their working capital, the mobile food industry could be the employment sector which could spark a whole group of new jobs as well as more revenue that government services could be funded with.
With every passing week, we are continually amazed by the rapid growth of the mobile food industry, with this growth will come a number of new employment opportunities. These new positions may just be in a sector that our politicians have over looked, and why we felt that we needed to bring it into the discussion. It is our belief that this growth can be part of the assistance our struggling economy needs.
What do you think?