6 Keys to Starting a Successful Food Truck

    The main advantage is flexibility. 

    Couple interacting with each other at food truck van.
    Adobe Stock
    Operators must first build a strong brand, and then consider the ideal customer.

    The past few years were difficult for restaurant owners, forcing many to close or change strategy abruptly in the midst of a global pandemic. For those who don’t want to open a full-service restaurant, either because it’s daunting, too expensive, or just not what they’re interested in, opening up a food truck may seem like a great alternative.

    However, opening a food truck often requires just as much planning, prepping, and marketing as a full-service restaurant would.  The main advantage food trucks hold over full-service restaurants is their flexibility. They can operate at lower costs with greater freedom because they are not beholden to a storefront.

    In recent years, food trucks have grown in popularity by 8%, so it’s no surprise that more and more people plan to open them in the new year. Are you thinking about starting a new business and using the new year to get your food truck up and running? Use this quick guide to help you start a booming food truck business in 2022.

    1. A Strong Brand

    If you’re inspired to start a new business, it’s probably because you have a great idea or concept floating around your mind. During the first stages of development, you need to take your idea and turn it into a fully-fledged brand.

    Having a strong brand increases recognition. Think of big businesses like Apple and Nike that can be recognized by their logo alone. Recognizable branding is essential, especially in the world of food trucks. Creating a visual branding strategy requires the help of a graphic designer (or design tool), knowledge about your audience, and ideas.

    You should fall in love with your food truck. Create a name and brand that sparks joy and that reflects your personality. To help build your brand from the ground up, start with market and audience research.

    You’ll want to look at your competition and see what they’re doing in terms of brand. Then consider your ideal customer. Do you want to target the younger generations or the older ones? Are you looking to pop up at festivals or business events? Answering these types of questions will give your brand structure and make the creation process that much easier.


    2. A Business Plan

    After you’ve come up with your name and branding strategy, you need a business plan. While your business plan is technically one document, you should also have a folder (either digitally or physically) where you keep all of your business documentation. That includes financial requests, licenses, permits, and generally brainstorming ideas for your business.

    Your business plan serves as a straightforward document that educates potential investors about your food truck. It should include several sections, such as:

    • An Executive Summary
    • Company Description
    • Market Analysis
    • Organization and Management
    • A Sample Menu
    • Budget
    • Marketing Strategy
    • Request for Funding
    • Hiring Plan
    • Financial Projections
    • A List of High-Volume Locations


    The business plan should go into great detail within each section, with actionable items that prove to potential investors that you’re prepared for the responsibility of owning a successful food truck. You should be able to prove to investors that you have not only done your research, but you know how to implement it.


    3. Funding

    Now that you have a business plan written out, it’s time to approach potential investors. You can fund a food truck by using investors, small business loans, and savings. If you have enough money saved up, you won’t have to deal with pitching your business for funding. If you don’t, you’ll need to put together a presentation for potential investors or lenders showcasing your food truck and why they should invest.

    Many food truck owners use multiple forms of financing in order to get their business off the ground. Potential funding options include:

    • Small Business Loans
    • Equipment or Truck Financing
    • Business Line of Credit
    • Business Credit Cards
    • SBA Loans
    • Investments
    • Crowdfunding
    • Savings


    4. Food and Equipment

    Of course, to start a food truck business, you’ll need a truck. You’ll need to make a few decisions regarding the type of truck you want, including:

    • What’s your budget?
    • Do you want to lease or own?
    • Would you prefer a new or used vehicle?
    • Are you planning on outfitting it yourself or purchasing from a reputable food truck dealer?


    It’s possible to outfit your own food truck, but it can get expensive fast. Purchasing a food truck that’s already updated with the base equipment you’ll need may make your job easier in the long run. However, you should always do the research to find the cheapest and most reliable options in your area.

    Once you have your food truck, you’ll need to purchase kitchen equipment (most equipment is available for rent or purchase). You’ll also need to find a reputable source for supplies and food distribution. The source you choose should provide you with food that is high quality and within your budget. Try cooking with a sample size order before signing a contract with anyone to ensure that the distributor fits your needs (and offers good quality food).


    5. Licenses and Permits

    Before you get ahead of yourself, you’ll need a few licenses and permits in order to operate your food truck. Permits and licenses vary from state to state, so check with your local jurisdiction to see what their requirements are. General licenses and permits required include:

    • Business License
    • Employer Identification Number
    • Food Service License
    • Employee Health Permit
    • Mobile Food Facility Permit
    • Zoning and Parking Permit


    Without these licenses and permits, you won’t be able to operate your food truck legally, which will really put a damper on your business. On top of that, most places require an application for vending, and if you don’t have all your licenses and permits in place, you won’t be able to park your vehicle at their festival or market.


    6. Delicious Food Options and a Stunning Menu

    While working on other facets of your business, you should also work on designing your menu. A well-designed menu encapsulates the spirit of your brand.

    While branding and menu design plays a huge role in making a good first impression on your customers, having delicious food will keep them coming back. Not only that but your food and branding go hand-in-hand and should match in tone. If you’re planning on selling sandwiches, you might opt for a fun and colorful design strategy throughout your branding (including your menus). If you’re going for an upscale vibe, you might opt for toned-down colors and a simpler design.


    Get Started on Your Dream in 2022

    Now that you know how to open a food truck business in 2022, it’s time to get started on your dreams. It’s important to remember that opening a business is a huge task, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and take your time. The most successful businesses have passion and drive behind them, so don’t be afraid to get personal with your brand and business.


    Megan Prevost is a marketing content writer for MustHaveMenus. Her work has appeared in App Institute, Bar Business, Modern Restaurant Management, Small Business Currents, PMQ, FSR, The Daily Fandom, and FanSided