Why Do Food Truck Businesses Fail?

Although the mobile food industry has been growing exponentially over the past few years, some food truck businesses fail (food carts too). Owning a restaurant on wheels in a good economy can be a challenge, but owning one in a down economy can be even more difficult.

We have put together the top 10 reasons why food truck or food cart vendors in the mobile food industry have failed (outside of local legislation which in many cases is out of your hands). Take a look at your gourmet food truck or food cart business (yes hot dog carts too) and make sure you avoid these mistakes, to maintain a flourishing business.

Why Food Truck Businesses Fail

1. Constrained by Your Vision.

A savvy food truck or food cart owner knows it’s all about the customer, not his or her personal tastes and opinions. Don’t be self-possessed. Be open to opinions other than your own. Without a vision, a food truck is like a ship without a rudder and is in danger of drifting aimlessly.

RELATED: Is Owning A Food Truck Right For You?

2. No Identity.

Few things are as important in the food truck industry as the way your business is perceived. Lack of identity is the opposite of being constrained by your vision. A food truck’s success depends on its ability to establish a brand and stick to it, so develop an identity and focus on perfecting it.

3. A Bad Opening.

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” was never truer than in the mobile food industry business. There’s a reason actors rehearse before opening night—you should too. A soft opening is a great tactic that can lead to an infinitely more successful grand opening of your new food truck.

RELATED: Soft Opening: A Great Way To Have A Fantastic Grand Opening

4. Hiring & Training.

Just like a bad opening, bad service will kill your business quickly. If your vision isn’t executed properly, the damage to your current and future customers is unavoidable. Most food truck owners lack formalized training, procedural and operational processes. Learn from an experienced owner or hire a consultant for expert advice.

5. No Formal Recipes.

How can your truck or food cart kitchen staff maintain consistency without formal recipes? This step is critical to controlling costs, curtailing waste, and providing effective staff training.

6. Poor Inventory Management.

Outside of the initial capital required to purchase your truck or cart, the cost of food is a mobile bistro’s single biggest expense and, unless the financial control systems are in place, you are vulnerable to a drain on your cash. Reducing inventory means a reduction in food cost, so manage your resources carefully.

RELATED: Selecting An Inventory Accounting System For Your Truck

7. Undercapitalization.

Unexpected and unforeseen events happen all the time, especially in a food truck business. In many instances, incorrect budgeting is the culprit. Don’t get caught up in the dream of being profitable from Day 1. Make sure you’ve got money left in the bank to help you ride out the difficult days when your truck needs a new generator, or even a new engine or transmission.

8. Poor Ownership.

Don’t be an absentee owner. If you want to own a food truck or cart, expect to work. Otherwise, don’t expect to get paid. But, and this is a big but, if you haven’t put the systems, tools, and people in place that allow you to step away from the day-to-day operations, then you haven’t bought yourself a business; you’ve bought yourself a job with a misleading title.

9. Insufficient Market Analysis.

A thorough examination of locations you plan to sell your fare is vital to know if it is to be successful and, once it is successful, staying on top of business trends will keep it that way. This is another area where an experienced owner, marketer or consultant can help.

RELATED: Food Truck Business Plans: Market Analysis Section

10. Lack of a Business Plan.

The last of our top reasons food truck businesses fail relates to the lack of a business plan. The previous nine points MUST be addressed in your business plan, and the plan MUST be right the first time. The business plan is what everything your food truck will do is based on.

  • Force you to plan ahead.
  • Think about the competition.
  • Formulate a marketing strategy.
  • Define your management structure.
  • Plan your financing, among other things.

Your food truck business plan is your roadmap to success. Do not proceed without a solid business plan.

RELATED: Writing A Food Truck Business Plan

The Bottom Line

The old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” is never more critical than in the mobile food industry. Avoid these top 10 mistakes and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

If you have any additional reasons food truck businesses fail and would like to share with our readers, feel free to add them to the comments section below or social media. Facebook | Twitter

2017-07-21T09:07:07+00:00 By |Business, Features|

About the Author:

Richard is an architect by degree (Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan) who began his career in real estate development and architectural planning. In September of 2010 he created Mobile Cuisine Magazine to fill an information void he found when he began researching how to start a mobile hotdog cart in Chicago. Richard found that there was no central repository of mobile street food information anywhere on the internet, and with that, the idea for MCM was born.

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