A Guide to Starting a Food Truck Business - businessnewsdaily.com (2023)

Food lovers with an entrepreneurial itch may not be able to afford starting a brick-and-mortar restaurant, but they may be able to start a food truck business.

A food truck is a large vehicle with a kitchen to make and serve food. They are popping up across the United States and are becoming increasingly popular. Many entrepreneurs opt for a food truck because purchasing a restaurant location is very expensive, while food trucks are much more affordable.

Before you forge ahead, here’s what you need to know about the startup costs, funding options, how to find a food truck and more. Related Content: 10 Things to Do Before Opening a Food Truck.

Food truck startup costs

Many factors go into determining startup costs for a food truck business. There are also one-time costs and costs that can vary by location.

One-time startup costs consist of expenses like purchasing your food truck, a register or point-of-sale (POS) system, a truck wrap, website design, office supplies, advertising and PR, and any professional, legal, or consulting fees. While this list is not comprehensive, it gives potential food truck owners an idea of some of the upfront expenses.

“While we purchased the food truck itself for just $15,000, we didn’t realize that we’d spent more than double that to have it modified to fit the local fire and health regulations, which vary quite significantly depending on the municipality,” said Rachel Angulo, owner of La Cocinita food truck.

(Video) Food Truck Business: How To Start - All Secrets

Then there are the recurring costs such as payroll, equipment rental, credit card processing and, of course, fuel. Every new food truck business also has to obtain the proper licenses and permits, which vary depending on location.

While the cost of starting a food truck business varies greatly depending on your specific situation, costs can range from $28,000 to $114,000 to get the business off the ground..

According to Food Truck Empire, these are some additional startup costs you can expect when launching a food truck business, including:

  • Insurance: $2,000 to $4,000 per year
  • Initial product inventory: $1,000 to $2,000
  • Payment processing: $200 to $1,000
  • Commissary fees: $400 to $1,200
  • Permits and licenses: $100 to $500

A Guide to Starting a Food Truck Business - businessnewsdaily.com (1)Key takeaway: While the cost of starting a food truck business varies greatly, costs can range from $28,000 to $114,000 to get the business off the ground.

Food truck funding options

Acquiring funding may be the biggest challenge you’ll face when starting a food truck business.

Your first goal should be to put together a solid business plan. You should also have good personal and business credit, as this will increase your chances of receiving a business loan.

(Video) HOW TO Start A Vegan BUSINESS (Tips For First Time Entrepreneurs) | LIVEKINDLY

There are other, more creative ways, too, to get funding for your new food truck business.

Here are some ways to start your business with minimal funding:

  • Talk with someone who already owns a food truck and negotiate a lease or rental agreement.
  • Start with a low-cost, used cart or trailer.
  • Start selling at a farmer’s market, fair booth or pop-up.
  • Talk to successful restaurant owners about running a food truck for the owner’s business.
  • If your truck idea includes providing a public service or benefit to the community, look to obtain sponsors.
  • You may qualify for a loan advance if you already have a payment processor.

Create a food truck business plan

Every food truck owner should create and maintain a business plan. In fact, it should be the first concrete step you take when you decide you want to start a food truck business. This document is important to attract investors, gain funding and get your business up and running.

According to WebstaurantStore, your business plan should include the following elements:

  1. An executive summary. An executive summary is an introduction to your business; it should provide an overview of your business plan. The executive summary should be concise, as the nitty-gritty details will be discussed in other sections of the plan.
  1. Company description. This section should describe who you are and what defines you as a company. Describe what niche you are filling and why your customers will choose you over the competition.
  1. Market analysis. In this section, you explain who your target customers are, what their needs are, where they are located and how you will attract them to your business. Additionally, this section should explain how your business will impact the existing market, and it should demonstrate your knowledge of the existing local food market.
  1. Organization and management. Next, you want to detail how your business is organized as a legal business entity (e.g., sole proprietor, LLC, partnership). List the owners of the company and their percentage of ownership. You also want to list key players, such as your management team, as well as their experience, salary and prior employment.
  1. Service or product line. For a food truck business, your primary product is the food you serve. In this section, describe your menu and how you plan to attract new customers. Additionally, consider how your business will evolve and address new market needs.
  1. Marketing and sales. In this section, you want to expound on your marketing strategies. Explain how you plan to spread the word about your business, identify all marketing platforms (such as social media, a website, paid advertisements, etc.) you plan to use, and how you will gain an edge over your competition. This section must also include your sales strategy, such as menu prices, minimum sales requirements to stay in business and seasonal trends that may affect sales.
  1. Funding request. This section is required for food truck entrepreneurs seeking investment funds or other types of outside funding. Specify how much money you are asking for and describe, in fine detail, how every dollar will be spent to grow the business.
  1. Financial projections. While it can be difficult detailing financial projections, especially for new businesses without a financial history, calculate how much money your business will make over the next three to five years.
  1. Appendix. Not every business plan requires an appendix, but it is a good place to include additional information that you feel is important to convey to lenders or investors. This can include anything from letters of reference to produce photos.

How to find food trucks for sale

Angulo found her truck on Craigslist back in 2011, and while that is still a great place to search, there are many new resources out there, including:

Local online classifieds: This is a good option; used trucks are cheaper, and if they are local, you can easily inspect them.

(Video) 25 Great Jobs for People Who Love to Travel #jobsthatpayyoutotravel #how #make

National online classifieds: This will open a lot more inventory, but get as many details and pertinent information about the truck from the seller as possible since you most likely won’t see it in person before pickup.

New custom trucks: While this is the most expensive option, it is the best way to ensure that your truck is up to code and standards and that it can be customized to your specifications.

Leasing and franchising: You may be able to find a local truck to lease, or from a national truck leasing company. Yet another option is to franchise a truck from an established company. However, among the drawbacks to consider are that you do not have control over the product, marketing or menu.

Here are some places to hunt for your perfect food truck:

Mobile POS options

Most food truck customers are used to paying with cash, but credit cards and mobile payments are popular. [Read related story: Best POS Systems]

Editor’s note: Looking for a POS system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

(Video) S2 EP11 - The ABCs of Starting a Business #WealthDemystified

“We’ve always used Square and have been very happy with both their credit card processing and their POS service,” said Angulo.

Below are a few options for processing sales, listed from the lowest-priced option to the most advanced.

Cash box and cash-only sales

  • Advantages: Low-priced. You can purchase a lockable box for under $20
  • Disadvantages: Doesn’t track sales or food inventory. You cannot process card payments
  • Ongoing costs: None

Cash box + mobile card processor

  • Advantages: Low-priced. Mobile processors can simply charge swipe fees, but you’ll need Wi-Fi access and/or a good data plan to connect to the processing service
  • Disadvantages: Most mobile processors include a simple inventory system and limited additional features
  • Ongoing costs: Credit and debit card processing fees and mobile data fees

Cash box + POS system + mobile processing

  • Advantages: Mobile credit and debit card processing, plus sales and inventory tracking
  • Disadvantages: An additional monthly service fee and hardware costs
  • Ongoing costs: Monthly POS service fee, card processing, mobile data service and possible hardware fees

Related Content: Guide on How to Accept Credit Cards

The advantages of a food truck business

  • Business ownership: Numerous tax advantages come with business ownership, and while it is difficult to own and run a business, at least there is a little bit of relief on the tax front.
  • Freedom: Choosing menu items, the vendors you want to purchase from, your employees and the events at which you want to vend are just some of the freedoms you enjoy as a food truck business owner. You also have full control of your social media, marketing and schedule.
  • Mobility: Being able to bring your business to different locations based on demand during different periods of the day, days of the week, etc., is a huge advantage, said Angulo.

The challenges of a food truck business

  • Time: Long hours are the norm with a food truck business. With shopping, prep, marketing, event booking, cleaning, truck maintenance, accounting and tax obligations, etc., running such a business is more than a full-time job.
  • Competition and market: Carefully research your market to increase the chance of success – you will most certainly have competition with other food trucks.
  • Ordinances and zoning: Every area is different in terms of where you can park your food truck and how long you can park there. Make sure you know the rules in each location where you plan on operating to prevent tickets and fines.

Food truck permits and regulations

It is important to research the different areas you are considering for your business location, and consider the necessary permits and regulations there.

Here are a few main things to look out for:

  • Food safety: You’ll need to comply with local food safety requirements, just like any other restaurant in the area. Contact the local health department to find out more information, such as if you need to prepare all your food in a professional kitchen or if you can use your own facilities. [Related Article: Small Business Guide to POS: Point of Sale Systems and Software]
  • Seller’s permit: Some states require food truck owners to apply for a seller’s permit, which allows you to purchase food and equipment at wholesale prices without incurring sales tax.
  • Zoning and parking: There may be restrictions on where you can park your truck; make sure you research that before setting up shop. There could be commercial versus noncommercial zoning restrictions, parking time limits or distance restrictions from other establishments. Your city and local motor vehicle department can help you.
  • Vehicle license: Because your business operates from a vehicle, every driver must be properly licensed and trained to operate the vehicle. Depending on your state and the size of your vehicle, you may have to obtain a commercial driver’s license to legally operate the food truck.
  • Fire certificates: If you’re using equipment on the truck to cook food, you will likely need to undergo a fire department inspection. The requirements for a fire certificate vary state by state.
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN): If you plan on hiring employees, you will need to apply for an employer identification number, which is a federal tax ID issued by the IRS to identify a business entity. An EIN also enables you to open a business bank account and start establishing a business credit history.
  • Business permits and licenses: As with any business, you’ll need certain licenses to operate your food truck, including a DBA and a state sales tax permit, which is low-priced and easy to obtain. To form your business, check your home state’s requirements. For an easy option, try an online service like Legal Zoom. To help you decide which legal structure is best for your business, read our guide on How to Choose the Best Legal Structure for Your Business.

Additional resources

Learn more about starting a food truck business on the following websites:

(Video) Small Business 101: Episode 8 - Starting A Website For Your Business

Additional reporting by Jennifer Post, Pamela Stevens and Saige Driver.


What are 3 disadvantages of a food truck business? ›

What Are The Cons of Opening a Food Truck?
  • You'll Work in a Small Space. ...
  • You Must Abide by Local Zoning Laws. ...
  • You'll Need to Be Prepared to Pay for Future Repairs. ...
  • There's Considerable Competition in this Industry.
26 Apr 2019

How profitable is a food truck business? ›

Based on industry data, a well-run food truck can pull in $23,000 to over $100,000 per year. That range is influenced by everything from location, marketing strategy, menu offerings, and more.

What is the cheapest investment to start a food truck? ›

You can expect to spend anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000 on a new, made-to-order truck, according to Restaurant MBA, and they take months to build. Used trucks generally cost between $40,000 and $80,000, and you should be able to start using them almost immediately.

What are five reasons that food trucks fail? ›

5 Reasons Food Trucks Fail and How to Avoid Mistakes
  • Cutting Corners on Equipment. The biggest leap from idea to fruition is purchasing your first food truck. ...
  • Not Knowing Their Audience. ...
  • Not Knowing Themselves. ...
  • Not Marketing Their Business. ...
  • Choosing Quality Over Quantity.
10 Dec 2020

What is the main reason food trucks fail? ›

Most food trucks fail because they don't get the cost of operation under control. Some owners enter the industry expecting food, labor, and the vehicle to be their initial costs. However, other expenses can slowly add up, especially if you do not have an established budget.

What sells good in a food truck? ›

Top 20 Food Truck Menus
  • Barbecue.
  • Amped-up Hamburgers.
  • Reinvented Hot dogs.
  • Coffee Trucks.
  • Smoothie / Healthy Drink Trucks.
  • “Grown-up” grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Beef Sliders (Variation on hamburgers.)
  • Cupcakes and desserts.
27 Nov 2019

What are some of the most profitable food truck items? ›

Tip: If you want to save even more, consider making food that doesn't require a lot of fuel or cold storage.
  • Coffee Truck. ...
  • Churro Truck. ...
  • Grilled Cheese Truck. ...
  • Classic Chip Truck. ...
  • Ice Cream Truck. ...
  • Raw Cookie Dough Truck. ...
  • Poutine Truck. ...
  • Mexican Street Food Truck.
4 Jul 2022

How many items should a food truck offer? ›

A good rule of thumb is that most food trucks can handle five to 12 different menu items at any given time. The fewer the better to keep your quality top notch. Second, you want to make sure your menu is easy to prepare.

What are the most common issues faced by food truck businesses? ›

The Top 5 Challenges Food Truck Owners Face
  • Permits and Regulations.
  • Location, Location, Location.
  • Inventory and Menus.
  • Wearing Many Hats.
  • An Inefficient Kitchen.
28 Oct 2019

Is it worth owning a food truck? ›

If you're looking for a money-making business idea, a food truck is a great one. Successful food trucks can bring in more than $500,000 per year, with startup costs around $40,000. Starting a food truck generally takes three to 12 months and requires these nine steps: Research local food trucks and laws.

How much investment is needed for a food truck? ›

What is the cost of opening a Food Truck in India? An average food truck can cost anywhere between INR 8-10 lakhs in India. On the upper end of the spectrum, a fully equipped food truck can even cost up to 20 lakhs.

What are fixed expenses for a food truck? ›

Fixed expenses are those you'll pay every month, such as: Vehicle payments, unless you've purchased your vehicle outright. Vehicle rental. Commercial kitchen rental.

What is a startup expense for a food truck? ›

Tallying up all these estimates to figure out how much it cost to start a food truck, you can expect to spend between $75,000 - $250,000 to get it off the ground. Keep in mind, this does not include universal restaurant startup costs such as labor, food, kitchen tools, or equipment.

How much electricity does a food truck use? ›

A lot of food trucks could operate at 6500 W to power our onboard equipment. Still understanding that heating equipment (like tabletop fryers) eat a lot of power and that you may want to expand your menu offerings later, investing in a 10,000 W generator early on can safe a lot of money and hassle in the long run.

What are 3 trends in the food truck industry? ›

Trends Shaping The Food Truck Industry
  • Increased Demand for Environmentally Friendly Food. ...
  • Increased Vegan Options and Meat-Plant Blends. ...
  • More Event Partnerships and Promotions. ...
  • More Commercial Restaurants Experimenting with Food Trucks. ...
  • Increased Technology and Social Media. ...
  • More Peanut Butter Alternatives.
1 Oct 2022

What is the future of food trucks? ›

The food truck industry continues to grow, with an estimated annual growth rate of 7.5% from 2015 to 2020. For first-time restaurant owners, food trucks offer the opportunity to experiment, be creative, and potentially see great returns.

What are the disadvantages of running a food truck? ›

  • 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.

Why are people quitting food industry? ›

Wages are the main factor behind why restaurant employees quit their jobs, with 34.6% citing wages as a reason for leaving a job, or a reason for why they are planning to.

What is the most profitable food to sell? ›

Profitable Food Business Ideas
  • Honey production – 30% average profit margin.
  • Coffee shop – 25% average profit margin.
  • Popcorn business – 22% average profit margin.
  • Custom cakes – 19% average profit margin.
  • Chicken poultry -17% average profit margin.
  • Pizza – 15% average profit margin.
  • Fruit juice – 14% average profit margin.

What percentage of food truck businesses fail? ›

And while this approach may keep a business afloat in the short term, your truck might end up like the 60 percent that fail within the first three years of business. In order to stand out and really make an impression on people, your concept needs to have a specific “voice.”

Where are food trucks most successful? ›

🌮 Food Truck Statistics 🌮
  • Portland, Oregon, is America's best city for food trucks, while Virginia Beach, Virginia, is the worst. ...
  • The top 15 cities have an average of nine food trucks per 100,000 residents. ...
  • Los Angeles has the most food trucks (715), while Virginia Beach has the fewest (28).
17 Aug 2022

What makes a good food truck menu? ›

10 Tips for Creating Your Food Truck Menu Board
  • Highlight Your Best Dishes. ...
  • Don't Be Afraid to Experiment a Little. ...
  • Offer Only Key Items on Your Menu. ...
  • Make Your Food Truck Board Easy to Update. ...
  • Choose the Right Colors and Visuals. ...
  • Proofread Your Menu. ...
  • Avoid Fancy Fonts and Calligraphy. ...
  • Highlight Special Dishes on the Board.

How do I get more customers to my food truck? ›

How to Market a Food Truck: 10 Food Truck Marketing Ideas
  1. Attend festivals and events. ...
  2. Go all-in on social media. ...
  3. Explore location-based food truck advertising. ...
  4. Come up with unique branding. ...
  5. Do food delivery and catering. ...
  6. Look for partnership opportunities in the neighborhood. ...
  7. Offer discounts and promotions.
28 May 2021

How large should a food truck menu be? ›

Getting that dream off the ground requires a one-of-a-kind menu. It serves as the central component of your restaurant on wheels, setting the tone and taste for your culinary identity. While it's tempting to flex your creativity with a lengthy menu, most food truck owners only serve 6 to 12 items.

What are 3 advantages of a food truck business? ›

Here are notable benefits why you should consider starting a food truck business compared to running a regular restaurant.
  • Low Starting Capital. ...
  • Food Truck Mobility. ...
  • Overhead costs. ...
  • It's a Great Way to Get Into the Food Industry. ...
  • Food Trucks Attract More Customers. ...
  • Tap Into Multiple Streams of Income.
16 Sept 2021

What is the best food truck franchise? ›

Here is the best 10 Food Truck franchise businesses in USA
  • Kona Ice. Founded in: 2007. Franchising since: 2008. ...
  • Toppers pizza. Founded in: 1991. Franchising since: 2000. ...
  • Captain D's Seafood. Founded in: 1969. ...
  • Cafe2U. Founded in: 2000. ...
  • Gigi's Cupcakes. Founded in: 2007. ...
  • Dairy Queen. Founded in: 1940. ...
  • Johnny Rockets. Founded in: 1986.

Can you write off a food truck on taxes? ›

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permits you to claim the standard mileage rate or deduct the actual food truck tax-related expenses. The standard mileage rate is a specified amount of money you can deduct for each business mile you drive.

What are 4 common fixed expenses? ›

Examples of Fixed Expenses

Mortgage or rent payments. Loan payments, such as auto loans or student loans. Insurance premiums, such as for car insurance and homeowners insurance. Property taxes.

What are 5 fixed expenses? ›

Examples of fixed expenses
  • Rent or mortgage payments.
  • Car payments.
  • Other loan payments.
  • Insurance premiums.
  • Property taxes.
  • Phone and utility bills.
  • Child care costs.
  • Tuition fees.
6 Apr 2022

What types of cuisine are the most popular in the food truck industry? ›

1 item. Sandwiches / rolls came in second in eight states. American food was found to be the most searched-for cuisine, followed by Mexican / Latin food. Ohio's No.

Is a food truck a good side business? ›

The best thing about the food service industry is that it will always be a viable way to make money. After all, no amount of technological disruption can eliminate the need to eat. Operating a food truck is a great way to get into the business without the expense of running a full-fledged restaurant.

How much does a generator for a food truck cost? ›

A food truck generator typically costs somewhere between $500-$3,000, though some can be priced outside of this range based on which model you buy. Among various factors, a commercial generator's cost depends on what type of generator it is, how much power it produces, and any additional features it may include.

Is gas or electric better for food truck? ›

While they may take a lot of power, electricity excels at maintaining a specific temperature, so consider electric for appliances like ovens that hold one temperature for a long period of time. Gas is a cheap and plentiful source of power. It is very heat efficient, so you can heat up your food faster using less gas.

How many solar panels do I need for a food truck? ›

Thus, to run your food truck, you will need a 5000-watt solar generator or 25 250-watt solar panels.

What are 3 of the most common issues faced by food truck businesses? ›

The Top 5 Challenges Food Truck Owners Face
  • Permits and Regulations.
  • Location, Location, Location.
  • Inventory and Menus.
  • Wearing Many Hats.
  • An Inefficient Kitchen.
28 Oct 2019

What are the risks of a food truck business? ›

In addition to coming up with a menu, finding the right locations, and creating a process to fulfil orders quickly in a small space, there are also risks like auto accidents, food poisoning, equipment damage, and injuries to workers.

What are 3 negative consequences of the fast food industry? ›

Such risks include obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and various cardiovascular conditions. This is because most fast food is high in sugar, salt, saturated fat, trans fats, processed ingredients, and calories.

What are the disadvantages of trucks? ›

Cons of owning a pickup truck
  • The fuel efficiency doesn't compare to passenger cars. Pickup trucks are larger and heavier than cars and also have bigger engines. ...
  • They're big. Trucks are big – after all, you'll have all that interior AND bed space. ...
  • You have fewer options when it comes to models.
5 Apr 2019

What are the most successful types of food trucks? ›

They bustle around inside a tricked-out truck for hours on end, serving delicious treats to their customers.
Tip: If you want to save even more, consider making food that doesn't require a lot of fuel or cold storage.
  • Pizza Truck. ...
  • Chili Truck. ...
  • Burger Truck. ...
  • Fried Shrimp Truck. ...
  • Poke Bowl & Sushi Truck. ...
  • Funnel Cake Truck.
4 Jul 2022

What is the best business structure for a food truck? ›

The most common entity choice for food trucks is the limited liability company (LLC). An LLC involves fewer start-up costs than a corporation and also keeps the business owner's personal assets separate from the debts and liabilities of the business.

What are the three major concerns in the food industry? ›

Such factors have plagued the industry with a series of obstacles.
Food and Beverage Industry Trends You Can Expect in 2021 and Beyond
  • An Optimized Supply Chain. ...
  • Use of Modern Technologies. ...
  • Transparency and Sustainability. ...
  • Waste Reduction. ...
  • Increase in Demand for Plant-Based Foods.

What fast food does to your body? ›

Why is fast food bad for you?
  • Raise your blood pressure. Many fast food items are packed with sodium, which acts as a preservative and enhances taste. ...
  • Leave you bloated. ...
  • Drive up your cholesterol. ...
  • Contribute to digestive problems. ...
  • Lead to weight gain. ...
  • Drain your energy. ...
  • Affect your mood.
28 Jan 2021

What is the number one problem that the truck industry faces? ›

Driver Shortage

For six years in a row, drivers' shortages ranked at the top of the concerns.

What are two problems you might have with trucks? ›

The 10 Most Common Truck Breakdowns (and How to Catch Them Early)
  • Tire Blowouts. One of the most common semi-truck breakdowns is caused by tire blowouts. ...
  • Brakes. Brake issues are another huge contributor to truck breakdowns. ...
  • Oil Leaks. ...
  • Electrical Issues. ...
  • Overheating. ...
  • Engine Problems. ...
  • Broken Clutch. ...
  • Suspension.


1. How Can I Start a Business With No Experience?
(Paul Nguyen)
2. S2 EP10 - Small Business Ideas for Beginners in 2021 #WealthDemystified
(David Adefeso)
3. The single biggest reason why start-ups succeed | Bill Gross
4. 10 Profitable Business Ideas!
5. What Would Be A Lucrative Business To Start?
(Allan Cooper)
6. [Business Daily] Ep.698 - Global Business News / Back to the past: car restoration _ Full Episode
(Arirang TV)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Greg Kuvalis

Last Updated: 06/30/2023

Views: 6340

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg Kuvalis

Birthday: 1996-12-20

Address: 53157 Trantow Inlet, Townemouth, FL 92564-0267

Phone: +68218650356656

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Knitting, Amateur radio, Skiing, Running, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Greg Kuvalis, I am a witty, spotless, beautiful, charming, delightful, thankful, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.