Aspiring restaurant owners and chefs are sometimes so focused on a brick and mortar restaurant that they forget that there may be other and better options to achieve their dreams.
Opening your own restaurant requires significant capital, which makes it out of reach for many entrepreneurs. A food truck, on the other hand, may be just the right balance of risk and reward.
There are several advantages to owning and operating your own food truck instead of a more traditional restaurant. From a business standpoint, we believe it makes a lot of sense.
Significantly Lower Upfront Investment
By the time you consider expenses like rent, location improvement costs, insurance, permits and licenses, and marketing, opening a new brick and mortar restaurant will often start between $450,000 and $525,000. Many budding entrepreneurs simply do not have access to that kind of capital right up front.
In comparison, a food truck for sale can cost more in the range of $80,000, but there are some significantly cheaper options as well. Even the most high-end trucks will generally “top out” at less than $200,000, which is still under half of the typical startup capital investment for a restaurant.
Overhead is Much, Much Lower
You generally have just a few employees when you own a food truck. Most will have only a handful that will rotate shifts on a regular basis, but you could run a successful business with just one or two people as well. There is no need to pay wait staff or cleaning crews. Most of the time, you’ll operate your own food truck along with a family member so there is no employee expense. You also do not need to deal with some of the more traditional expenses that most restaurants face, such as: heating and cooling, electricity, premises liability insurance, and water bills.
While you certainly will have ongoing costs, they may be more controlled and predictable once you have established your customer base.
You Serve a Real Need: Mobile Food
The world is not slowing down anytime soon. Food trucks offer a way for people on the go to still eat great food. They can stop at your truck, grab a quick bite, and be on their way to their next destination within just a few minutes.
From a business perspective, being able to cater to this fast-moving crowd is crucial. Food-spending habits have shifted to eating out more, and fast-paced millennials are expected to keep that trend going. There is also a trend toward fast-casual food chains for millennials, which allows them to eat healthier than most fast-food restaurants, but quickly. Food truck owners can cater this audience in a way that many brick and mortar restaurants cannot; you are right on the cusp of eating trends.
You Have More Control
As a business owner or a head chef, you want to know that your workers are carrying out their tasks appropriately. You want to know that every customer is getting great food every time and their experience is nothing short of excellent.
In a traditional restaurant, it is much harder to ensure that everything runs smoothly because of the disconnection between you and the customer. If you are onsite, you will be split between working front and back of house. You may not know whether your greeter is enthusiastic or if your rolls are being served warm for every client.
When you own your own food truck, you are often the primary point person between you and your customer. You see every customer’s face, and you watch everything as it cooks. You are the eyes, ears, and brains of the entire operation.
You Can Make Your Investment Back Quickly
Food trucks can offer a slightly higher price point compared to fast foods. They often provide healthier foods and have more variety, and they can be more convenient. Food trucks fill a void between fast food and sit-down restaurants, which can make them hugely successful. They can also provide gourmet foods and other dishes you would normally get at a restaurant. Food trucks are uniquely flexible in that regard.
With lower startup costs and overhead, food truck business owners can make back their investment fairly quickly in many situations. In a 2013 review of revenue from food trucks by Priceonomics, for example, they estimated that a successful food truck could bring in over $500,000 per year. You can often find a food truck for sale for far less than $200,000, and those savvy business owners can make their investment back in just a few months. For example, successful coffee food trucks can sell $1,500 on a “bad” day versus around $7,000 on a “good” day.
It Provides an Outlet for Creativity
Food trucks can be creative in ways that traditional restaurants cannot. For example, food truck owners can change up their menu more often. They can try different pricing or marketing strategies. They can also move the entire business at a moment’s notice. Food trailers and trucks offer a great way to try out new designs, foods, and so much more.
Food trucks owners can also experiment with foods now with a goal of someday opening a traditional restaurant. At that point, you will have the advantage of knowing which foods your customers like best and having both a brick and mortar business with a mobile one, too.
With all of these benefits over a regular restaurant, it is easy to see why so many entrepreneurs are considering a food truck business.
Concession Nation is a food truck industry leader and uses their blog to share insight on the concession trailer and food truck industry and customer success stories. They’ve been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, the Food Network, and the Cooking Channel.
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