Food is big business. A big part of the urban scene in many places is food trucks or some sort of mobile food retailer. Food trucks are not only good business but big business. If you’ve ever considered the idea of running a food truck business then you find yourself in the right place. Read on to find out the requirements and things to look out for if you intend to run a food truck business.
Choosing your location
This may seem like putting the cart before the horse but the first thing you really need to be clear about is where you are going to sell your food. This isn’t just about the location but also the times. The reason you want to put these 2 things front and centre is because they will inform every other decision you will have to make including the menu, permits, the truck requirements, food safety and marketing. You may choose to play it a few different ways. You can either have the truck situated in a specific spot or have it in different spots at different times to capitalise on the movement of people and different times. The latter may have an impact on your licencing.
Now that you know where and who you need to consider what you will sell to those people. You may take a multipronged approach and this may work for you. However, in the fast-food business, it is generally wiser to start with a narrow menu and gradually expand your offer. Your menu will also have a big effect on what you will do. For example how much cooking can happen beforehand, refrigeration, heating and so on. Many food trucks are started on the idea of selling a unique item and that is encouraged.
In Zimbabwe, the law on matters such as food trucks rests with the local authority. So in this regard, it is hard to cover all the requirements across all local authorities in the nation. You will have to do your research and approach your local authority about what requirements they have for a food truck. The requirements may include food safety, fire safety, health and safety check, business licence and more.
I always have to reiterate that when dealing with food safety training is important. You are dealing with items that people will ingest and the results of consuming food that is not safe may be disastrous. Food safety training is of the utmost importance for all staff that are going to handle food in your business.
Once you’ve figured out your menu and have an understanding of food safety as well as the requirements of your local authority you can go about the business of finding a suitable food truck. The industry is so well established there are businesses that custom make food trailers with all the fittings one would need. So whether you need a gas cooker, a warmer, refrigeration or anything else you can find a truck that will accommodate all these things while keeping to standards required.
Watch out for unexpected costs
If you navigate all of the things we have looked at so far you would think you’re ready to go but this is not always the case. Food trucks have high upfront costs in equipment but they also have a plethora of hidden and unexpected costs. As such you need to stay on top of things. Fully kitting out a food truck may prove very expensive. Also, be aware of maintaining costs on an ongoing basis. It’s easy to lose sight of these but they impact the business heavily.
Time is of the essence
Another thing that many food truck business owners usually find themself ill-prepared for is the time. It’s easy to think of a food truck or any food business as just making and serving food. As someone who went into the pop-up fast food business, I can tell you this is certainly not the case. Administration, food preparation and networking are three things that will surprisingly take up a lot of your time, way more than cooking.
Finally, you need to think deeply about your marketing. Marketing is often looked at as an exercise in broadcasting your business but in reality, marketing is all about how your business relates to the world around it. While you might initially want to position yourself as the next big thing you should perhaps spend more time getting to know your customers. Yes, the aforementioned networking time. Have fun and find ways to connect with your customers that others just cannot touch.