What’s the Cost of a Food Truck: The Price of Working Off the Grid
The food truck revolution has changed the dining experience. You no longer have to go to a nice, sit down restaurant to experience quality cuisine. Entrepreneurs and cooks from all walks of life are looking at the cost of a food truck as a possible investment or career opportunity.
Are you one of these people?
If you’re daydreaming of ditching the office, and taking to the open road with your hot-grill-goodies, you need to be aware of the real operating costs of a food truck.
In this article, we’ll outline the cost of a food truck, as well as provide direct tips and advice on making your wheels turn a profit!
Food Truck Landscape
To put some numbers behind this money-making trend, here are some food truck statistics:
- Food trucks are growing faster than commercial restaurants at 5.4% compared to 4.3%
- The starting, upfront cost of food truck businesses is roughly $100,00, with the potential to earn $250,000+ a year
- In 2017, the food truck industry created an estimated $2.7 billion in revenue, which was a 400% increase over just five years
Sounds enticing right?
With proper planning and the right tools, you can enjoy the freedom of the road, while cashing in on this lucrative industry.
What’s more, according to IBISWorld, the top five most popular food truck cuisines are:
- American (burgers, sandwiches, etc.)
- Central/South American
- Mixed Ethnicity
- Greek Mediterranean
But, before you get rolling down the road in your own food truck business, there are some things you should consider regarding the cost of a food truck.
Upfront Cost of a Food Truck
A lot of people look at this booming industry and wonder, ‘is a food truck a good investment for me?’
To answer this, the first thing you need to consider is the upfront cost of a food truck, like how much money you’ll spend to get the truck itself, gas and maintenance costs, food prices and more.
Cost of renting a food truck vs. buying a food truck:
This will be your most significant upfront cost.
You can outright buy a food truck for around $40,000 – $80,000.
This price will depend on the quality and whether you are buying new or used.
For a very high-end vehicle, the cost of a food truck can be much more.
Renting a food truck is a more affordable alternative for many business owners.
Depending on the length of the lease, you could pay as little as $2,000 – $3,000 a month.
Getting your permit to operate as a food truck business legally is also very costly.
In California, for example, a food truck permit can cost upwards of $50,000.
This price varies from state-to-state. In some cases, the cost of a food truck permit will be higher than the truck itself!
Once you have the truck and permit, you can finally begin shopping for the food ingredients you need to fill your menu with tasty and enticing food options.
The costs here will depend on the depth of your menu and type of cuisine you offer.
A good food truck POS will help you negotiate your inventory and ingredients better to reduce waste and maximize your profits.
Food Truck Point of Sale
After your upfront costs, one of the first things you’ll want to buy for your food truck is a point of sale system.
You need this equipment to handle all types of payments, including credit cards, mobile wallet apps and, of course, cash.
And, you need to be able to accept these payments from anywhere.
Compared to the truck and permit, mobile pos is exceptionally affordable.
Plus, the best food truck POS solutions have a lot of useful features that make operating your food truck business much easier.
Below, we’ll outline a few point of sale features important for food trucks to consider.
One of the hardest challenges of defining the cost of a food truck is your food costs.
You want to minimize how much food you’re wasting and having to throw out because this hurts your overall revenue.
With inventory management, or the ingredient management tool of eHopper, you can better predict when your food truck will run out of raw materials and what time is appropriate to order new ingredients.
This will help optimize your business always to have the inventory on hand that you really need.
Otherwise, it is difficult to ensure that you’ll have all of your menu items available to customers.
You want to present your most loyal employees with opportunities to save money.
Today’s consumers no longer have to settle for the businesses in their immediate area.
They can choose almost any company in the world.
This means you need to create a competitive edge by offering an excellent experience.
Having a loyalty program that rewards long-term, loyal shoppers with savings opportunities helps establish this superior customer experience and keep your company above its competitors.
Customer experience is one of the newest competitive differentiators.
It exceeds even the price and quality of goods.
A POS system like eHopper can help you calculate your taxes and prepare for these costs ahead of time.
Sales Data Analytics
There’s a lot of cooks and investors wondering, ‘is a food truck a good investment?’
The overarching answer, based on industry data, is YES!
However, the success of a food truck really depends on how successful an owner is at recognizing key insights and trends in their own data.
Sales data can help a food truck understand what locations in its neighborhood route are the most profitable.
Or, what items on the menu are the most popular.
These types of data-born insights are so helpful for a budding food truck.
They can help a new food truck quickly establish a competitive edge in a very competitive industry.
The eHopper Difference
eHopper is an excellent example of a food truck poos system that is perfect for anyone considering the cost of a food truck.
With eHopper’s food truck point of sale, you can:
- Offer online ordering for customers to place a food order online and pick up their order in person
- Track sales based on employee, location, time or other data dimensions
- Use SEO features to ensure your food truck business is the first on local search results
- Leverage rich order management techniques to properly upsell customers based on past data
- Manage inventory to ensure you have enough ingredients to meet demands, without wasting too much
Food trucks are an exciting restaurant-type business because they don’t have a lot of the typical rules of traditional eateries.
They operate their own hours, staff a minimal amount of employees and keep a more concise menu.
But, the actual difference is a food truck’s ability to change its location and meet customers’ needs all over a large geographical area.
Food trucks need to rely on their ability to recognize and capitalize on their good days and minimize the slow ones.
The ability to identify the best locations to start a food truck, while simultaneously avoiding the ones that don’t offer great profits, is the key to running a successful food truck.
With the right food truck point of sale system, like eHopper, you can use your own business data to not only run a more successful business but also find avenues to enhance your existing strategies and grow your food business over time.
Ready to get your food truck rolling? Test drive eHopper today – risk free for 30 days!
After starting a food truck business, you will also need to hire employees. How much does a food truck worker make?
Thank you for your question. According to ZipRecruiter research, the average salary of a food truck employee in the United States is $35,043 a year. Learn more here: https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Food-Truck-Salary
Very helpful information for those people who want to start a food truck. I am wondering if you can park anywhere with a food truck?
Unfortunately, you can’t park anywhere. Different cities have their own restrictions. You can ask your county clerk for the list of places where you can and can’t park. Also you should contact your local motor vehicle department to learn about lesser-known parking restrictions.
I see that it is very expensive to start a food truck business… Do food trucks make good money?
Very important question! According to FoodTruckEmpire.com survey, over 85% of full-time food trucks generate over $100,000 in annual gross revenue. You can learn more here: https://foodtruckempire.com/news/survey-income/