If you’re thinking of starting up a food truck business, you’re entering a thriving industry. Not only are there over 4,000 food trucks in the United States, but people are flocking to food trucks for everything from tacos to ice cream and even breakfast sandwiches.

The food truck business is the happy medium between going out to a restaurant and getting fast food.

And owning a food truck business has proven more profitable than many would-be owners assume. The average food truck brings in $295,000 annually, with annual revenues rising 7.9% between 2011 and 2016.

We're going to explain everything it takes to get into the food truck business, from food truck equipment to writing a business plan for a food truck and costs and profits.

Food Truck Equipment: Items Every Food Truck Needs to Operate

Starting your business is going to require a lot of equipment. Many people assume that this is a fast and easy business to get started in, but it’s not. Upfront costs can be substantial, especially when you need to purchase a new food truck.

You’ll need to make a hard choice: picking new versus used equipment.

There are benefits to each (we discuss this topic in detail in the link below), and it goes well beyond cost alone. Newer equipment will come with a warranty and less potential to break, but there are a few recommendations we make to choose which used items to buy.

There is a lot that you’ll need to get a food truck business started, and a very short list of items may include:

But this is just the beginning. The items and equipment you need depend on what type of food truck you choose.

Supplies will also be needed, and this includes everything from paper cups to point of sale machines and food trays.

Signage may also be needed, so make sure that you have a general understanding of the equipment you’ll need to start a mobile food truck business.

Read our entire article on food truck equipment to know what you need to start a food truck business.

How to Make a Food Truck Business Plan

Food trucks are often very costly, and the best food truck business is one that starts with a very strong business plan. A business plan will help with more than just financing the business. When you write a business plan, you’re learning a lot about the business.

When written and researched properly, a plan will outline the total costs of the food truck business, down to the initial inventory you need to start selling food.

Researching and understanding the depth of a business plan will allow you to know what you’ll need to do for:

  • Business operations

  • Market analysis

  • Marketing and sales

  • Management and ownership

  • Financials

  • Funding

  • Growth and development

You’ll also need to write the executive summary and a clear description of your food truck business. Both of these elements will help you define your business and what it does.

Business plans are very in-depth and are going to be required if you seek funding.

You’ll also want to include other information, such as your food menu, design concepts, documentation and even licensing information to help you get started.

I encourage you to read the entire article on writing a business plan for a food truck business.

Read our entire article on how to make a food truck business plan.

Food Truck Costs and Profit

If you’re going to start a food truck business, you’re going to want to know the costs of starting up your business. Costs and profit are two very different things. A truck may bring in $20,000 per month, but that doesn’t mean that a non-managing owner will make much more than $4,000 per month.

Hiring a staff is expensive, but if you’re willing to manage the operation on your own, your profits can be $10,000 - $12,000 or more a month.

Just keep in mind that total costs also include:

  • Incorporation

  • Franchise tax fees

  • Filing fees

  • Attorney fees

  • Insurance costs

  • Commissary costs

  • Licenses and permit costs

  • Equipment

  • Truck costs

  • Wages

  • Advertising

  • Truck washes

  • Accounting

  • Taxes

You’ll also need to determine your normal inventory costs per month. Workers can be paid $10 - $30 an hour, depending on their responsibility, so this will all eat into your total profits as a food truck operator.

There are expenses that will also be recurring monthly, such as keeping the telephone and Internet hooked up. Web hosting is another expense. Determining costs and profits is an eye-opening experience, and it helps you better understand how $295,000 in revenue can easily turn into $50,000 in profit or $120,000 in profit, depending on how much time you want to spend operating the truck.

Read our in-depth article on food truck costs and profits.

 

Food trucks offer an exciting, profitable way to start your own business. While the startup costs are high, food trucks offer a way to break away from the corporate world, fill a void in the highly profitable food industry and be your own boss.

 

Learn more on how to manage a food truck business: