Mobile food trucks are becoming an increasingly common sight on Australian streets. Here are three things you need to consider before starting your own.
Food trucks have a distinct advantage for consumers in that they’re convenient and serve anything from breakfast to lunch and even dinner, with snacks to fill in the gaps.
There’s also a great advantage for enterprising restaurateurs – food trucks, unlike restaurants, can move and take you where the customers are. However, putting a food truck business together comes with its own problems – there are down times, bad weather, long hours and slow seasons to consider.
But, if you’re committed to pursuing the dream of serving meals on wheels, then these are things you’ll already have thought about. So let’s take a look at the things that you might have overlooked.
1. Is it permitted?
The first thing you’ll need to do is check whether you can operate in your area. Some towns and cities have an outright ban on food trucks, while others like to limit the numbers that are operating at any one time. If the laws in your area are strict, then you might want to think again, as it could seriously impact on your business.
You’ll also need to check exactly where you can legally trade. While you might be fortunate enough to get your hands on a permit, you don’t want to lose it again by trading in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It’s essential that you research this information before you go anywhere near buying a truck. In addition, you’ll need to research what – if any – qualifications you need to act as an onboard chef, what standards of hygiene you need to adhere to and what sort of liability insurance you’ll need.
2. The cost of the business
Liability insurance will be largely determined by the nature of the business and the equipment you keep on the truck – and it’s one of the financial factors you need to devote some time to. If you’ve found out that the trading laws suit your needs, the next thing you’re going to need is financing.
While trucks are relatively inexpensive, fitting them out with the right work surfaces, flooring, cooking equipment and coffee machines is a fairly major expense. Again, it’s a good idea to try and stack up the costs and get together a business plan, detailing how you intend to achieve the financial goals you need to set yourself. There’s little point looking for a bank loan without a good, solid business plan.
3. Plan your finances
Anyone considering financing your truck will want to see projections for potential profit and loss. There are now several easy to use accounting software such as QuickBooks, some of which are specifically designed with entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in mind.
The beauty of the new generation of bookkeeping software for small is that you don’t have to have an accountancy background in order to use it. Everything you need to navigate the rocky roads of accounting are included in the software, laid out in an easy-to-read format.
By using it you can input your initial costs, from the necessary permits and food licenses to kitchen equipment and the cost of the truck itself – and balance those against the money you expect to make.
This will require that you decide what kind of food you’re going to produce, how much you’re going to charge for it and how much you’re going to be paying your suppliers.