Food truck owners consistently attempt to present their mobile food businesses as different from other businesses in the food service industry. And they should since differentiation is how you make your food truck stand out from the crowd. But when it comes to food truck legal mistakes, you probably have more in common with fellow mobile food vendors than you think.
There are certain matters that are fairly straightforward and do not require the services of an attorney who may charge at least $200 per hour. But there are many legal mistakes a food truck owner can make. For the purpose of this article we’ve narrowed them down to the top five most common.
5 Common Food Truck Legal Mistakes
Doing it yourself
There are plenty of websites where a business owner can download free legal documents, that doesn’t mean you should use them. Unless you have a legal background, will you know if the documents are word correctly or that it contains everything it should? Most legal documents are difficult to understand for anyone not accustomed to reading legalese.
Not getting it in writing
While it may seem ok to make verbal agreements or deals made on a handshake, but it’s going to be tough to prove the terms of an agreement in court. Always get agreements in writing. If there is ever a dispute, both parties will have a written document to refer to.
Not following your employment agreement
Food truck owners can avoid legal issues with employees by simply having an employment agreement in place. Vendors can get into trouble by changing the rules on the fly when it comes to employee pay, hours, conditions of employment and withholding taxes. Not only can this cause a lot of legal trouble but it can damage your reputation as an employer.
Not having a buy-sell agreement
If your food truck is set-up as a partnership or there are multiple owners a buy-sell agreement covers what will happen if one of them dies. No matter what the reason (death, disability, illness, divorce or just wanting to exit the business) you need a buy-sell agreement in place. The key is to set this agreement when everyone is healthy and happy. It’s much harder to reach agreement on an exit strategy when things turn for the worst and filled with emotion.
Keeping your lawyer in the dark
The last of our food truck legal mistakes is avoiding your lawyer. Vendors should meet with their attorneys at least once a year. This meeting will provide them with a clear picture of your mobile food business. Are you expanding, entering a new market, or having issues with your food truck employees? You need to know if all legal angles are covered when changes occur. So, take your lawyer to lunch at least once a year to talk about your business.
The Bottom Line
While you certainly don’t need an attorney for every step of running your mobile food business, avoiding these common food truck legal mistakes can save you from a lot of headaches.