According to data we’ve collected from talking and working with mobile food vendors, many food trucks spend anywhere from 1 to 2 percent of sales annually to repair and maintain their trucks and equipment. Because of that, today we’ll give one tip to help save the life of their food truck as keep their food truck kitchen repair costs to a minimum.

How To Lower Your Food Truck Kitchen Repair Costs

Considering that the annual sales volumes for most food trucks range from less than $250,000 to more than $1 million a year, we’re talking about thousands of dollars in annual repair costs.

Naturally, the varying sizes, styles, age and locations of these food trucks account for much of these differences. (Larger trucks can fit more equipment and thus need heftier generators, cooling systems, etc. Also, as a truck ages, the need to repair or maintain it increases.) Even so, after factoring in all the variables, the fact is that some food trucks manage to control these expenditures much better than others do.

As veterans of the mobile food industry, we’ve found the reason for these kinds of cost differences among food trucks is most often the same reason there are differences in the quality of their food and service: the management and systems they have in place.

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Be A Proactive Food Truck Owner

Effective food truck management requires a vendor to be proactive rather than a reactive. Proactive vendors anticipate events. They don’t wait for issues to pop up; they’ve implemented systems to avoid them. When it comes to maintenance and repair issues, these food truck owners never wait for something to break, but rely on their systems to keep their kitchen equipment and truck in good working order. These systems include the establishment of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to ensure consistency, reliability, and lower repair and maintenance costs. Let’s take a look at one way you can preserve the condition of your truck and equipment.

Most food truck kitchen equipment failures are the result of incorrect or infrequent cleaning. For example, some vendors who have spent all day slinging food get back to their commissary and realize they still need to clean their truck. In an attempt to get the job done faster they will often use hoses or even pressure washers to clean up the kitchen.

If you can take one piece of advice to lower your food truck kitchen repair costs we would ask that it be this:

Keep the hoses out of your food truck kitchen!

I’ve seen truck owners use a garden hose to spray down everything from ovens to floors. If you weren’t aware, water is one of the most corrosive substances in your truck. While you may have invested in equipment that has stainless steel exteriors, burners, wiring compartments, and the undersides of equipment don’t have the same protection. The over spray from a hose tends to penetrate areas that were never intended for exposure to water.

If more food trucks cleaned their equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you or your local equipment technician probably wouldn’t have as much work. Rather than spraying water, use scrub brushes and de-greasers on external surfaces, a manufacturer-approved oven cleaner for ovens, and wire brushes on burners.

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The Bottom Line

The moral to this story is: The best way to minimize your food truck kitchen repair costs, and prolong the life of your kitchen equipment and truck is to develop some simple equipment cleaning instructions (or in other words: “a system”) to make sure you and your staff properly clean your mobile food business on a regular basis.

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