3 Essential Parts of Your Food Truck Business PlanPosted by Jessica Oman
From ramen to rosti, food truck owners are serving up almost every delectable street food item you can think of, all over the continent. It’s trendy to get into this business right now – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. As a food truck owner you also have to be a keen business thinker; that’s the only way to make sure people line up for your goodies every day. It’s about much more than just the food.
The first thing to recognize is that a food truck is not operated the same as a restaurant. You will have fewer staff, because you’re not providing table service. Instead of rent, you’ll have the lease of a commissary kitchen and fees for the locations where you set up shop.
Operating a food truck can be a really fun and exciting experience, and a solid business plan will help you make sure it’s also profitable. Here are three things you’ll want to include in any food truck business plan:
1) An Overview of Operations
You’re working in a tight, portable space. You can’t hold as much inventory as a restaurant, so you have to control it carefully. Perishables have to be refrigerated all day, especially when the weather’s warm; and that will limit how much food you can sell at a given location each day without sending a runner to the commissary to pick up more food.
So think carefully about the logistics of that operation. When your extra ingredients are a few miles away, who’s going to go and pick them up? Is your menu designed so you can easily replace an ingredient for an hour or two while you’re waiting for new stock? Also consider whether your cooks can – or should – also be operating the cash register. You might need two staff to make transactions go faster, but you also have to make sure there’s room for everyone in the truck.
Write up a brief operational plan into your food truck business plan so potential lenders or investors can visualize a typical day in your business.
2) Competitive Advantage over other Food Trucks and Restaurants
If your food truck sells tacos and you set up outside a Mexican restaurant, you’re going to have some stiff competition – not to mention a grumpy restaurant owner on your hands. Because your location changes, your competitive advantage can also change from day to day. You want people to seek you out. So how can you help your ideal customers see how you’re different from the many other options they have? How will you turn them into raving fans who are willing to walk some distance to reach you? If your food truck is in a pod, what will make customers choose your pierogies over your neighbour’s Vietnamese subs?
Highlight your competitive advantage clearly in your food truck business plan – and refer to it whenever you’re doing any advertising or marketing. Help customers remember why you’re different and awesome.
3) Summary of Regulations
The rules for operating a food truck – from sanitation to food storage, and more – will be different from a restaurant. They’ll also vary depending on where you operate. Make sure you create a checklist of these regulatory requirements and put it in your business plan. That way, people who read it will understand some of the risks and requirements of your operation, and you’ll have a handy guide to refer to when you’re setting up your business.
Many people are attracted to the food truck business because of the lower overhead and capital costs. However, just because your food truck is inexpensive to operate doesn’t mean it will be successful. A business plan that analyzes your competition and includes a clear marketing plan will put you in a good position to stay in business for the long term – because (I believe) the food truck “trend” is here to stay.
Have you written a business plan for your food truck? What was the most challenging part for you? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: Wikipedia