How to Open a Food Truck

Excel financial model

Food Truck Business Plan | Financial Model | Pro Forma | Startup Budget

    5-Year Financial Model

    40+ Charts & Metrics

    DCF & Multiple Valuation

    Free Email Support


How to Open a Food Truck

Opening a food truck is an exciting prospect. You get to run your own business, create a menu that you love and serve people every day. There are many things you need to consider before opening up shop though, including how much it costs, what type of truck you want and what licenses and permits you will need. Let's start from the beginning:

Benefits of Opening a Food Truck

There are several benefits to opening a food truck, including:

  • Flexible schedule: You can work when you want, where you want. The only thing that’s constant is your location (the truck). This makes the business an ideal option for those who have kids or other family obligations that take priority over working around the clock.
  • Low overhead: Unlike a brick and mortar place of business, food trucks are mobile and therefore don't require much in terms of upfront investment. Many cities even have designated spaces where food trucks can park legally so they don't need to worry about finding space on the street or in front of businesses all day.
  • Low start up costs: Since there isn't much equipment involved with running a food truck besides some basic kitchen supplies (pots/pans etc.) everything else—from building materials for your cart itself down to signage—can be acquired fairly cheaply at local hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowe's by shopping off-season when prices tend drop significantly as inventory clears out faster than usual demand increases during warmer months."

Excel financial model

Food Truck Business Plan | Financial Model | Pro Forma | Startup Budget

  • 5-Year Excel Financial Projection
  • 40+ Charts & Metrics
  • DCF & Multiple Valuation
  • Free Email Support

How to Start a Food Truck Checklist

  • Choose a business structure
  • Determine your food truck business costs
  • Name your business and register it with the state and federal government
  • Open financial accounts for your food truck business
  • Purchase equipment for your food truck business, including:
  • A vehicle to convert into a food truck (if you choose not to purchase one)
  • A kitchen setup, including a stovetop and refrigerator (or refrigerated prep table) if you will be selling hot foods from your mobile kitchen unit/food truck, as well as any necessary safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits; if you plan to sell only cold items from the back of an existing rig, then this step is unnecessary
  • Market Your Food Truck Business

Create a menu for your food truck business. This includes the items you plan to sell, as well as any specials or daily deals you might offer.  Develop brand guidelines for your food truck business including: Logo design Color scheme Fonts


Create a Food Truck Business Plan

A business plan is a written document that outlines your goals, strategies and reasons for starting your food truck. It will help you raise funds and attract investors and partners, while keeping you on track throughout the year.

A business plan should include:

  • The mission statement (Why are you doing this? Why do people need to buy from you?)
  • Marketing strategy (How are you going to get customers?)
  • Marketing research (Who is your target audience?)
  • Financial projections (What does success look like?)

The goal of a good business plan is not only to create something that looks good but also serves as a blueprint for how things will unfold in the future.


Choose a Business Structure

You'll also need to decide what business structure you want. There are five main types of business structures:

  • Sole Proprietorship (Unincorporated)
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • LLC (limited liability company)
  • S-Corp (Subchapter S corporation) or C-Corp (Subchapter C corporation).

The first four structures are unincorporated, which means that they don’t have to file any legal paperwork with the state. Sole proprietorships, partnerships and LLCs are all considered “pass-through” businesses because their income passes through to the owners for tax purposes.


Determine Your Food Truck Business Costs

Now that you've done all the steps above, it's time to determine your food truck business costs. The first step is to create a food truck financial model. This will help you determine how much money you will have to pay for things like taxes, insurance and permits.

Here are some examples:

  • Food Truck Startup Costs - $50k-$100k (Minimum)
  • Food Truck Monthly Expenses - $2k-$5k (Average)

How do you fund your startup costs?

Once you've decided to open a food truck, one of the first things you'll want to do is figure out how much money it's going to take. The cost of starting a food truck business varies widely depending on the type of vehicle and what kind of services are needed for operation; however, most owners report that startup costs are about $30,000 for the initial buildout and another $10-15 thousand for equipment and other expenses. If this sounds like a lot of money—and it probably does—then don't worry: You can get started with as little as $500.

Startup capital will come from multiple sources: personal loans from friends or family members; bank loans; business credit cards; or any combination thereof. Each option has its benefits (and drawbacks). It's up to you which method makes sense for your situation and needs.


Name Your Business

  • The name of your business needs to be memorable and easy to spell.
  • Make sure you don't infringe on another business, or else the government may come down on you. And if they do, they'll probably give you a fine (or worse).
  • You also want to avoid names that are already trademarked by other companies for some reason or another. This could be an issue if someone is already selling something under that name, like "Big Mac," which is owned by McDonald's Corporation.


Register Your Business and Open Financial Accounts

When opening a food truck, you'll be required to do a few things that aren't always necessary for other types of businesses. You'll need to register your business with the state and open an account at a bank or credit union. Your business will also need its own tax ID number, which is called an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can apply for one through the IRS website by clicking here.

Once you've received your EIN number, it's time to set up some payroll systems so that you can start paying yourself and any employees who work for you!


Purchase Equipment For Your Food Truck Business

The next step in opening a food truck business is buying the equipment you’ll need to run it. Here's a general list of what you'll want to buy:

  • A commercial-grade deep fryer or portable hot dog griller
  • An ice machine and/or freezer unit
  • A stainless steel table top to be used as your prep station and work surface (this can also be used as a serving table)

When purchasing these items, keep in mind that you'll have to pay for shipping and installation costs as well. It's important to do research on each item before making the purchase; this way, you can find out how much each one costs and get the best deal possible. For example, if there are two different brands of deep fryers that both have similar features but one costs more than double its competitor, then obviously go with the cheaper option!


Market Your Food Truck Business

Once you've got your food truck up and running, it's time to start selling. There are several ways that you can do this:

  • Social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are great tools for getting the word out about what your business has to offer. You can also use these sites for customer service purposes—for example, if a customer complains about something on social media, respond quickly with a solution (or at least an apology). It's also helpful to monitor comments on various platforms so that you can address any customer problems quickly before they become larger issues. This will help keep customers loyal while building brand loyalty in general!
  • Word-of-mouth promotion is perhaps one of the most effective ways of getting people into your restaurant or truck because it relies entirely on recommendations from others who have already tried out your food service provider firsthand! So make sure all customers leave happy with their experience so they'll want recommend others come try as well :)


Examples of Food Truck Businesses to Start

Here are some examples of food truck businesses that you can start:

  • Food Truck Business Ideas for Beginners
  • Examples of Food Truck Businesses to Start
  • Food Truck Niche Ideas to Start a New Food Truck Business



Opening your own food truck business is an exciting venture that can be rewarding and lucrative for you. With the right amount of research, planning, budgeting and perseverance, you will be on your way to success in no time!


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