How To Start A Food Truck Business: The Complete Guide

how to start a food truck business

Learning how to start a food truck business can be a rewarding endeavor for any entrepreneur. If you’ve never started a business, though, the process can seem incredibly overwhelming. We’re here to help.

In this article, we discuss how to prepare, plan, and put in the work so that the process of starting a food truck business isn’t so daunting.

Table Of Contents

How To Start A Food Truck Business: Prepare

how to start a food truck business

1) Get To Know The Industry

The first step in starting any new business is to get to know the industry in which that business will operate.

When learning how to start a food truck business, that might entail any number of activities, including:

  • Reading articles online
  • Talking to other food truck operators
  • Visiting a Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce in your area
  • Working as an employee in a food truck for a while

Regardless of how you choose to get to know the industry, be sure to ask plenty of questions along the way so you have the knowledge necessary to be successful.

2) Select A Food Concept

Most mobile eateries rely on one or two food concepts to drive business. Deciding what would be popular in your area is an important part of learning how to start a food truck business.

Effective food concepts include:

  • Hamburgers
  • Hot beverages
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Tacos
  • Noodles
  • Fish sandwiches
  • Pretzels
  • Smoothies
  • Cupcakes
  • Lemonade

Really, though, the sky’s the limit on what your food truck can offer. If you want to offer crepes, chicken and waffles, or charcuterie and there are enough customers to keep your business afloat, go for it!

3) Decide On A Vehicle

One of the most complicated steps of starting a food truck business is outfitting the vehicle itself. Unless you buy a pre-built food truck, it may take some months to get all the necessary systems installed and running efficiently.

If you are sure you want to operate a mobile eatery, pick a vehicle and get started building it out right away.

As you’re shopping, keep in mind that a “food truck” doesn’t always have to be a truck. Depending on the food concept you choose, you could use a station wagon or even a travel trailer.

4) Research Health Codes

Before you get too deep into the planning process of starting a food truck business, take the time to research the health codes in your area.

Health codes for the foodservice industry are extensive and can differ from state to state and city to city, so it’s essential to comply with all regulations — especially if you’re planning on moving your truck from one town to another.

Not only will you have to deal with the rules and regulations for handling, cooking, storing, and transporting food and drink, but you’ll also have to contend with health and safety inspections and the expense of installing food-grade equipment.

Learning about the health codes that apply to the food truck industry can help you decide whether to move forward or switch your entrepreneurial efforts to something else.

How To Start A Food Truck Business: Plan

food truck business

5) Create A Name For Your Food Truck Business

Start brainstorming the name for your mobile eatery early on in the planning stages so you have plenty of time to come up with something catchy and unique.

It’s important to begin considering the name of your business as soon as possible because it can be difficult to come up with a moniker that is easy to understand, isn’t already being used, and that you feel is a good fit.

In addition, once you start filling out forms, you’ll need to include the business name on the paperwork. If you decide to change things up after the fact, it can be time-consuming and expensive to redo everything you’ve already done.

6) Find Locations

Finding the right locations for your food truck is crucial to the business’s overall success.

Look for spots with plenty of foot traffic (e.g., a beach or a business district), that are easy to get a vehicle into, and provide good visibility for the eye-catching vehicle you choose.

If you find a location that seems like a perfect fit, take the time to research the local ordinances that might apply so you don’t fall on the wrong side of the law when you park and set up shop.

7) Complete All Necessary Paperwork

Starting a business comes with a lot of paperwork, and food truck businesses are no different.

Before the rubber meets the road (pun intended), it’s a good idea to complete the necessary documents, including:

If you have all of your paperwork completed and accessible before you “open your doors” for business, you’ll be prepared should one government agency or another come calling.

8) Open A Business Bank Account

Regardless of the business structure you choose, it’s a good idea to keep your work money separate from your personal money by opening a business bank account.

You can open a checking or savings account, but the former is often easier to manage and access (via check or debit card) when it comes time to make purchases.

Opening a separate checking account also simplifies the recordkeeping and payroll processes that are such a big part of running a business.

If you have questions about how best to structure or handle your business bank accounts, talk to an accountant or tax professional before making any big moves.

How To Start A Food Truck Business: Put In The Work

mulled wine-spiked cider-hot whiskey food truck

9) Outfit The Vehicle

If you’re fully committed to continuing with the process of starting a food truck business, you may have to spend a bit of your own money to outfit the vehicle you’re going to use.

This can get expensive very quickly, so be sure to do plenty of research about what you’re going to need, who’s going to do the work, and how much it’s all going to cost.

10) Design A Menu

There’s limited space in a food truck and you can’t offer everything, so it’s vital to design a menu that highlights the food concept you chose earlier in the process.

It doesn’t matter if your menus are printed on paper or written on a chalkboard, the information needs to be attractive, informative, and easy to read and understand.

11) Advertise Your Food Truck Business

Advertising is the heart and soul of every business, but you don’t have to wait until opening day to start generating buzz.

Kick off your marketing efforts by:

  • Creating a presence on social media
  • Contacting the media to let them know where your food truck will be next
  • Giving away free samples to businesses nearby
  • Promoting your upcoming opening day by posting flyers in the area

There are literally hundreds of ways to advertise on the cheap. Use your imagination and get creative.

12) Hire Employees

You may start out running the food truck on your own. But, at some point, you may need to hire employees so you can stay open longer or so you can outfit a second vehicle.

For more information on incorporating employees into your mobile eatery workflow, check out these articles from the Inch blog:

Stay Organized With Inch

Stay Organized With Inch

There’s a lot to do when learning how to start a food truck business — not to mention everything to keep track of once the business gets going.

Staying organized can be a challenge, but it’s an essential part of any business. Don’t leave your organization up to chance. Get help from the Inch app.

Inch is a suite of task and workforce management tools that can simplify every aspect of the way your food truck business operates.

With Inch, you (and your team) can perform a wide variety of tasks from any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop running any operating system, including:

  • Working from a shared task list
  • Getting clarity on work that needs to be done
  • Receiving voice-assisted reminder notifications
  • Clocking in and out of tasks at different locations
  • Tracking time-on-task and total time worked
  • Accessing task checklists
  • Communicating with your team

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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