Food trucks are all the rage. Their convenience, mobility, and unique offerings just can't be beaten — and chances are you're here because you've considered starting a food truck business of your own.
No matter if you're still in the idea phase or you've already got a bustling truck, the following 10 food truck tips will help ensure you thrive.
To get people interested in your food truck business, you need to differentiate yourself. If you sell the same food items as everyone else, you’ll get lost in the lineup. You want to create items that are different from what everyone else is selling.
That’s not to say that if everyone is selling hot dogs, you should sell hamburgers. You can also sell hot dogs, but find a different angle. Maybe create a meal around them or add unusual toppings and flavors besides the usual. Be creative.
2. Build Excitement
If you want to run a successful food truck business, you need to build excitement around your truck.
Some food trucks change their whole menu every day, but if you’re just starting out, that can be a daunting task. One easy way to still cash in on the excitement without all the work is to create one new item in very limited production for just that day or week — when it’s gone, it’s gone.
This can create FOMO (fear of missing out) with your food truck business and help build excitement around your brand.
3. Know Your Customers
If you want to knock the socks off your customers and create an experience like no other, work on remembering everyone’s name. It may take some time, but when you can say, “Hey Tony, good to see you, brother! What did you think of our dish last week?" you can bet Tony will be telling his friends about you. This kind of attention shows you care about your customers, and it will set you apart from other food trucks.
Most food trucks try to move as many people through their line as possible, which means they lose that personal and individual touch. Stand out from the other successful food trucks by cultivating real, human relationships with your customers.
4. Mind Your Manners
It should go without saying, but you (as well as your employees) need to be respectful and show your appreciation by thanking everyone who orders. When a customer pays, thank them. When you hand the customer their food, thank them for their business and say you hope they enjoy it.
Manners go a long way. It takes just as much of an effort to have poor manners as it does to have good ones, so choose the latter if you want to be successful.
5. Remember You’re Running a Business
Running a successful food truck business doesn’t need to be difficult, but you need to run it like a small business, not just a truck handing out food. While the product you are selling is delicious, don’t forget the business side of things.
From being mindful of wasting ingredients and creating profitable portion sizes to ensuring employee guidelines are being met, there is a lot to consider when creating a business plan for your food truck. Most business procedures that happen at a standard retail location apply to your food truck business as well, and prioritizing these tasks will set you up for long-term success.
6. Cater to Your Demographic
Doing market research for the area you plan to sell in is crucial, as well as getting to know who your competitors are and what they are selling. If your market loves American food such as burgers, fries, cheesesteaks, and fried chicken, going outside the box with some Vietnamese food might hurt sales.
Yet, if you do research and find people are looking for Vietnamese food but there are no successful food trucks selling it, you may have a great business idea (remember #1 above — be different).
7. Get All Your Paperwork in Order
As with most businesses, you will need a business license to operate your food truck. Talk with your state and city to find out what their food truck regulations are so you can get your food truck business off the ground.
A parking permit for the location where you want to set up shop
Get all of your ducks in a row now and find out what needs to be completed so you can be on your way to becoming one of the most successful food trucks in the city.
8. Find the Right Truck
One of the biggest expenses you’ll face is going to be the food truck itself. It's often recommended to find a used food truck to help cut costs while you get started, and then you can add others once your concept proves to be successful.
A used food truck can run around $40,000, depending on what your needs are. If you want a new one that you can fully customize, you’re looking at around $100,000+.
9. Use Social Media
We live in a digital age — if you are trying to figure out how to run a successful food truck business, including social media will always be a good idea. Some platforms and automation tools you should consider are Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Hootsuite to reach your audience
Create business pages for each platform so you can get the word out about your business, promote what you’re selling, and say where you'll be. This also allows your customers to rate and review your food truck business, which can help entice others to try your food.
It’s also a good idea to post high-quality images of your truck, all the people in line waiting to place their orders, and some of the fantastic food you make.
10. Think Outside the Box
Successful food truck businesses have a general location they go to frequently to sell their food. That being said, if you want to kick things up a notch, consider what you can do outside your normal “business hours.” For instance, you can cater to businesses, weddings, or other social events.
If your truck is usually stationary and serving food during lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., consider catering at a business or other area later in the afternoon — or even serving dinner for companies that are having special events.
Not afraid to work on the weekends? Look to cater to various local events on a Saturday or Sunday. If you want to be one of the more successful food truck businesses in your area and become a staple of your city, you need to start thinking outside the box.
How Do I Make My Food Truck Successful?
You can make your food truck successful by putting in the legwork both before you open up shop as well as while you run your business. By doing the proper market research, creating a unique experience for your customers, and being willing to adapt to an ever-changing environment, you can create a food truck that brings back repeat customers and personifies the appetite of the city.
What Is the Most Profitable Food to Make on a Food Truck?
Some of the most profitable food to make on a food truck includes BBQ, burgers, pizza, and tacos. However, what's most popular in your city will be highly dependent on its demographic and where exactly you choose to set up shop. So make sure to do your market research first so you are selling things your potential customers actually want.
Now that you know how to run a successful food truck business, do you have everything set up correctly? Incfile has an extremely useful breakdown of the right entity for your food truck that you can utilize to ensure you’re on your way to becoming one of the most successful food trucks around. Once you've selected an entity, Incfile can get you up and running.
Matt Weik is the Founder/Owner of Weik Fitness, LLC and is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. He’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. His work has been featured in over 85 fitness magazines and over 1,500 websites. You can contact Matt via www.weikfitness.com or on his social channels found on his website.