So you’re almost done with Austin culinary arts school and you’re looking to get into the food truck business. You want to live by your own schedule, create amazing dishes and serve them directly to diners from your mobile kitchen. You know what you want, but do you have any idea what’s next? Follow these tips on how to start your own food truck:
Make a business plan
These step-by-step documents are not just for people starting a brick-and-mortar business. Creating a plan can help you identify possible issues that may arise as well as figure out a timeline to follow. If you do not have the know-how to sit down and create a proper business plan, that’s OK – treat it like a to-do list. Add which tasks need to be done and in what order. Give each item a deadline and include who you will need to work with to complete the item. This is not a concrete list of everything that will happen – think of it more as a helpful set of guidelines. If you want to create your business plan like a professional, you can easily find templates on the Internet to assist you in the process.
Calculate starting costs
How much will it be to renovate an old postal truck and turn it into a fully functioning kitchen? Should you buy a used food truck instead? How much will it cost to pay a graphic designer to create a label? What about advertising? What do electricity and gas cost? What licenses will you need to legally own and operate your food truck? Talk with other people who own their own trucks to learn about their process. You’ll also need to know how much you are willing to use out-of-pocket or from a savings account. Consider seeking out financial backers to assist you in starting your food truck. Offer a percentage of sales to potential investors and show them your business plan so that they know you are prepared to follow through with your mobile restaurant plans.
Research the laws
Every city has a different set of laws regarding food trucks. They cover things like zoning (where you can and cannot park and operate a food truck), what licenses you must have to operate, where you should place garbage and even what lighting and signage the truck can have. Austin’s rules can be found on the government website. Read through these rules and familiarize yourself with them so that you can follow the proper etiquette and procedures to start your truck. Also, if you plan on taking your mobile restaurant to other cities, you must look into the rules there as well, because they might not be the same. Purchase any licenses that you will need to get started.
What will you serve?
What foods do you enjoy cooking? Is there a certain cuisine or region that you want to represent? Maybe you love Peruvian dishes and want to make your food truck menu entirely from Peru. Do you enjoy making pastries? Try a bakery truck. You will want to have a unique angle on whatever it is that you offer. Research the area you will be serving to see what people like to eat and what other food trucks are already offering. You don’t want to be one of several trucks with the same influences. Once you choose a culinary theme, narrow down what foods you want to serve. Think about what is cost-effective and will allow you to make high quality food quickly and in a small space. The more menu items you offer, the more room you’ll need to store ingredients and cook. Consider offering several main dishes to see how they do before moving to other options.
Source your ingredients
Once you have decided on a menu, you will need to locate places to get the necessary ingredients in bulk. Do you need to take a daily trip to a local market for meats and produce? Will you require seafood to be shipped in from coastal areas? Are the spices you need easily available? Establish the most cost-effective and best-quality places to purchase ingredients. Make your menu items with the ingredients to see what tastes best.