Your Guide to Starting a Food Truck Business

Have you read our general guide to starting your business [link to general guide]? Then it’s time to learn everything you need to know about opening a food truck business. In this guide, you’ll find info on the licences you’ll need, rules and regulations to be aware of, and how to choose your venue location and employees.

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Pros and Cons of Running a Food Truck Business

 
Pros
  • Ability to be your own boss and have more control over your career
  • If successful, financial reward will be superior to working for somebody else
  • Smaller scale business means less financial risk than a restaurant or café
  • Lower start-up and operating costs than café and restaurants
  • Hospitality entrepreneurs with goal of establishing a café or restaurant can use food truck concept to ‘test’ business venture
  • Can be a complimentary addition to existing hospitality businesses, to increase revenue or promote business in a different location
  • Open and peak hours are more likely to be during normal business hours and daytime weekends, in contrast to restaurants or bars
  • Ability to utilise a range of different skills that you may not get as a regular employee
  • Ability to meet lots of new people and go directly to your customer, wherever they may be
  • Less equipment required means it will be easier to remove if your business venture fails
  • Freedom of having no lease means it will be easier to close if the business fails
Cons
  • Running a food truck business is not a job and ‘business hours’ don’t exist: it requires a significant investment of personal time and planning
  • Food trucks can still fail – meaning a drain on financial resources and time lost
  • Food trucks are a relatively new concept which may make it more difficult to secure a loan, particularly if business owner has no prior business history
  • Subject to state regulations
  • Food trucks can put existing hospitality venues in the area off-side
  • Buying the right food truck and finding an appropriate commercial kitchen to be fitted can be time intensive and expensive
  • Subject to seasonal variances, meaning cash flow can be a notable stress point for food truck owners
  • You will need a range of different capabilities beyond hospitality to be a successful owner of a food truck, including business and finance management skills
  • Employee tenure can be lower than other industries; meaning higher time investment required to find and train staff
  • Open and peak hours are more likely to be daytime weekends and evenings, meaning less time to spend with friends and family
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Which Food Truck Licences Do I Need?

Food business licensing ensures your food truck can produce safe food before it is supplied or prepared for the local community.

 

 

Licensing requirements vary depending on the size of the type of food being served, and the venue and state or territory where you’re establishing the business.

 

 

Most will require food safety certifications and proof of proper insurance. Guidelines for each state can be viewed here:

 

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Owning a Food Truck: The Rules and Regulations

 

These vary state by state, but examples include:

  • Ensuring residential amenity isn’t disadvantaged by the operation of the food truck
  • Stipulating that owners are responsible and must clear litter
  • Preparing food and drink within safety guidelines
  • Ensuring vehicles are not located with 100 linear metres of an existing food business or areas zoned residential

 

 

Many states also require a Food Safety Supervisor on site.

Before you start trading, a local council representative will need to inspect the food premises to ensure it meets requirements within the relevant state Act. Council officers will monitor the operation to ensure permits and guidelines are consistently met.

 

 

 

You must also understand and comply with Fair Work laws, national employment standards and work, health and safety law.

 

How to Find Your Perfect Food Truck:
Choosing Your Location

 

The great thing about a food truck versus a conventional restaurant is that if the location isn’t working for you, you can pack up, head out and find a new place. Finding the right location is still really important; it can mean the difference between busy night and a dead one.

 


These are some of the key questions to ask yourself when choosing the best food truck location:

 

Are you operating at night or during the day?

Day or night, this will be key to finding the right location. What works in the daylight hours may not work at night. Your job is to go where hungry people are. During the day, this may be outside of work places and at parks. At night, you will need to look for the hungry bar patrons looking for a bite to eat.

Who is your target customer?

Considering the type of food you have on offer, you will have to figure out who your target market is. If you are selling healthy salads and wraps, the health-conscious joggers and mums at the park might be for you.

Ice-cream and gelato might be best served to beach-goers. Gourmet food trucks will find foodies at food truck festivals and markets.

Where will your customers be on any given weekend?

It’s a great idea to do the research weeks in advance and figure out where your customers are going to be. Plan your locations out and create a location schedule. Is there a music festival or event where you will be able to find regular and new customers?

How to Choose the Right Staff for Your Food Truck

 

 

Food trucks often begin as a family affair – employing family and friends is common in this business. Once your food truck starts to turn a profit, many owners find it necessary to begin employing staff to keep up with growth.

These are some of the best tips to employ staff and keep your food truck business a success:

 

Find staff you can trust

Whether they be friends, family or new employees, you don’t want to leave your business in incompetent hands. Finding trustworthy staff doesn’t have to be difficult. Be sure to look at their past experience and check their references. You may also want employees who are able to get around easily – that is, who have a licence and their own car. That way you know they’ll be able to make it to any location.

Training makes all the difference

You don’t want to throw your new employees in the deep end. It’s imperative to train them up over a few weeks before you set them out on their own. Offer them plenty of support during training and make sure they feel confident before having them takeover a shift.

Staff must be confident under pressure

Food trucks can get very busy very quickly, so whoever you hire must be able to cope under pressure. Look for staff who have worked in high pressure environments and have plenty of experience in hospitality.

Hire enthusiastic and passionate staff

Foodies make the best food truck employees. They are passionate about good food, and will work hard to share your excellent food with the rest of the world!

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