Are you in the market to purchase a food truck? Are you looking to buy a pre-existing food truck or have one built for you? If you are looking to have a food truck built for you then you are going to have to find a builder from the list of food truck manufacturers that continues to grow as quickly as the industry.
Before Speaking With Food Truck Manufacturers:
Once you have found food truck manufacturers you think you would like to work with, there are a few things you should do so you don’t walk in blind to your meeting.
- Find their business rating from the Better Business Bureau. Legitimate food truck manufacturers with at least two years as a registered business will have a BBB rating. This rating will let you see how their previous customers have felt about their work. If they’ve have been reported for fraud or other issues it will be listed.
- Speak with existing food truck owners. Ask around your market and find out who the current food truck owners had build their trucks. They may even be able to refer you to food truck manufacturer in your area that you were unaware of.
- Learn your local food truck requirements. This will give you enough information about food truck requirements to understand if a builder is feeding you a line just to get your business.
- Find out who conducts local food truck inspections. Once you know who will eventually approve or disapprove your food truck business, you can ask them if they’ve ever dealt with the food truck builder you want to use. This could give you additional insight in the truck builder’s experience in your area. You may even find out that the inspector doesn’t have anything good to say about the company which again lead you to a builder who understands what the inspectors are looking for.
Questions To Ask Food Truck Manufacturers:
- How long have you been building food trucks specifically? This should be the first question you ask your food truck manufacturers. While a builder may have been in business for decades, many builders have only been building food trucks for a short period of time. You need to find food truck manufactures that have a track record for building food trucks.
- How many food trucks have you built? While it’s easy to say we’ve build food trucks for years, how many have they actually built? The gourmet food truck industry is still new and the longer a builder has fabricated food trucks, the better it is for the consumer since they will have learned from previous mistakes from other trucks (not yours).
- How many food trucks have you built to meet my area food truck requirements? There are a lot of food truck manufactures that have built food trucks for years. That’s great, but have they built one in your area? Every municipality is different, and you don’t want to spend money on truck that won’t met the requirements for your area. You also don’t want to prolong the build out because the builder has to research your area to find out what is and what is not allowed in your particular market.
- Have you built a food truck with a similar concept as mine? If you plan on having a generic food truck kitchen layout, this question really doesn’t apply. For those of you that will need a special layout for the concept you are planning, you are better off hiring a food truck builder who is familiar with the type of equipment and kitchen layout that works best with your concept.
- Will you install my used kitchen equipment? Not everyone can afford to install brand new equipment in their food truck. If you are one of these people, or have a bunch of great used restaurant equipment you want to use, you need to find out if the builder will install it and warrenty this work.
- What type of warranty do you offer and what does it cover? You need to find food truck manufacturers that will provide a warranty for the work they do on your food truck, no matter hold old the chassis of the truck is. You do not want to get stuck with a food truck that doesn’t operate or a builder who isn’t confident enough with their work to back it up in writing.
- How long will it take for you to build my food truck? Find out how long it will take, and get it in writing. You don’t want to start hiring staff and purchasing all of your equipment, food and paper goods only to find out you have to wait for your truck because the food truck manufactures missed your deadline.
- Do you deliver the truck to me? If so, how do you transport it? If the food truck manufacturers not in your area, you will need to find out how they plan to get it to you. Will they drive it themselves or will they hire some to either drive the truck or load it onto a transport vehicle to deliver your shiny new food truck. If they don’t deliver and they are on the opposite side of the country, you will have to make arrangements to get your truck back home. This can cost upwards of of $5,000 to transport a truck from the West to East coast.
- Do you offer in-house financing? As the industry grows more food truck manufacturers are working with lenders to get the food trucks they build financed. Not only is this good for you to work with a builder who has a relationship with lenders, but it’s good for them because they can help vendors get started. If not, find out which lenders their customers worked with. While some food truck manufacturers do have lender relationships, many do not. If yours doesn’t, you need to find one that can lead you in the right direction to get a loan with good rates.
- Can I contact your previous customers? This may be the most important question you ask food truck manufacturers. If they are unwilling to share their list of previous customers, there is a good chance they are hiding something.
Contacting Previous Customers
Once you have gotten a list of the food truck manufacturers previous customers you need to ask:
- Was the truck ready on time? If not, how long did it take to get it after the original delivery date? Nothing will stop your business from opening faster than not having a truck to open with. Once you start planning for your initial launch or grand opening, you do not want to start off by losing the faith of your market by making promises to open and then failing to deliver. Even if it’s not your fault, the customers don’t care.
- Ask about the condition their food truck was when they picked it up. Did they find numerous flaws that needed to be corrected? If the food truck manufactures previous clients had to point out errors to them, there may be something wrong with their fabrication or knowledge of your local food truck requirements. This should be a red flag if you find out the builder is pushing out vehicles without a viable quality assurance program in place.
- Did you need any services from your builder after the sale? Nobody is perfect and issues will arise even if you have a truck built from the ground up. You need a food truck builder that can service your truck if you run into any problems. If something in your kitchen breaks or if you can’t get your truck to start, you need to find a builder who will help up get your business back on the road. Even if they are located across the country, food truck manufacturers should have contact with partner suppliers in your area who can get your truck fixed.