Nowadays they are more and more popular and really classy: food trucks are yesterday's souped-up snack bar. Do you want to fulfill your dream of owning your own food truck? Then we have a guide for you!
If you offer soups in your food truck that your guests can take away, then in addition to large bowls, there are also smaller cups for those who are hungry. These are often provided with a plastic coating, but that doesn't have to be the case: With our to-go cups, we have a really sustainable alternative made of 100% cellulose on offer. With the sample pack you can test the cups with different lids and let them convince you.
Step 1: Permits and licenses for food trucks
There are many things to think about about this. For example, with which legal form you want to operate your food truck. There are different options, eg as a sole proprietorship. But you can also choose a GbR as the company form.
For the foundation you need:
- Criminal record certificate
- Tax clearance certificate
- Membership in the food and hospitality trade association
In order to be able to sell your food on the street without any worries, there are some permits and licenses that you should take care of beforehand. You have to be clear about whether you want to stay at one location with your food truck or whether you want to tour Germany. Because then you need an itinerant trade card, which you can get from the regulatory office. You'll also need the usual permits required for all food and hospitality business startups:
- Restaurant training certificate, which you acquire through a course at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce
- Health certificate and hygiene instruction (by the health department)
- Liquor license if alcoholic beverages are also to play a role in your car.
- Food hygiene training and training according to § 43 of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG)
- commercial insurance
But for a food truck, you will need other permits that you do not necessarily need in the catering trade:
- You must submit an application for outdoor dining
- Depending on where you want to park your car, you may also need a permit to park in public places, which you can apply for at the road construction department.
- Approval under the Immissions Act, which is also issued by the regulatory office
- And depending on the federal state, you may need a contract with a gastro rental kitchen to prepare your food.
2nd step: The business model
From all the bureaucracy, move on to working out a business model. Here you think about how you want to raise the whole thing. A good business model is the be-all and end-all of a successful food truck.
In the end, many factors come together that will be decisive for you. Location of your food truck: The environment surrounding you and your food truck should influence various decisions you make. Is there a lot of competition nearby or not? Are there walk-in customers, or do people have to come by or stop by car. Is there seating next door? Do people tend to come here for a quick snack or for a longer break (rather strolling around town or in a busy environment?) Are there restaurants nearby or no other places to eat in the area? At what time of the day could people be hungry in that location (e.g. in the case of clubs/pubs nearby, night might be a suitable time period).
These are all questions that can influence your offer. If there are already five food trucks in town that offer burgers, you might be able to score with another culinary specialty. Depending on whether you have a fixed location or want to move around freely with your food truck, possible locations for you could be flea markets, concerts, music festivals, food truck festivals or seasonal festivals such as summer festivals or winter markets. You could also ask at school events or charity events and offer the food there. Or maybe even at events like big birthdays, weddings, etc., so you can do catering with your food truck.
One advantage of the food truck is that there are no geographical limits. In summer, for example, you can stand in a popular park. Of course, you always have to agree on the locations with the regulatory office/building authority. The stand fees can also vary greatly and you have to weigh up whether the costs per location are worthwhile for you.
It is worthwhile to carry out a market analysis for the location. This gives you an overview of what kind of food trucks already exist, which do not yet exist and where they are located.
Step 3: The design of your food truck
Once you've found a suitable location, it's time to start designing your food truck. It doesn't hurt to be creative with your food truck. This way you are conspicuous and tend to stand out from the crowd. Overall, your design concept should be coherent and coordinated. This allows customers to see from a distance what is waiting for them and this attracts potential customers.
Since you only have limited space, it makes sense to make the exterior of the truck colorful. You need the interior space for cooking and you need to make this space as practical and organized as possible. All in all, all doors are open to you when it comes to design, you should just make sure that you have a common thread in the concept and that it matches your dishes. A creative and concise name can definitely stick in your head and motivate you to visit again.
Remember that customers can follow almost every move you make and see exactly how you prepare the food. Here it can be nicer if you rearrange food etc. that is actually wrapped in plastic in stainless steel cans so that it looks nicer for the guests. Make sure your cooking area always looks clean, sometimes less is more when it comes to interior design. Sometimes you can decorate better with a few herbs than a lot of colorful frills.
Step 4: Food truck dishes
When it comes to dishes, less is sometimes more. Since you only have limited space and only limited time to prepare your orders, the preparation is all the more important. It is also helpful to have dishes that you can prepare well in advance and thus avoid a long line forming at your food truck. Simple dishes cooked right can be so good and so easy. Or you establish foreign specialties.
Feel free to test them out with friends first. If you are unsure whether your dishes will be successful: There are also pop-up restaurants or fully equipped food trucks that you can rent for a short time. You can try it there.
When it comes to food, you should think beyond the cost (purchase price), how and where you can store it, how it can be cooled in the truck and what cooking equipment you need for it.
If you offer your food on the go, the orders can sometimes be larger, so that two hands are not enough. With our #IAMPLASTICFREE shopping bags, you can offer your guests a bio-based and biodegradable alternative to take your delicious food with them sustainably and with a clear conscience.
Step 5: Cost of a food truck
In order to keep an overview of your finances, a business and financial plan is an advantage. You can also use it to calculate the prices so that you can sell profitably. First, the crucial things should be clarified, which in turn are related to your location. Do you have access to water and electricity? If not, you have to equip your car accordingly. The equipment includes fixed costs that you will have to pay every month/ more often and one-off procurement costs.
First and foremost, one-off procurement costs include the food truck itself. In addition, the kitchen equipment. A sensible investment is a cash register system with cashless payment. It's becoming more and more common these days that people don't carry cash with them, so you're doing yourself a favor by offering customers the option of cashless payment. Recurring costs are groceries, site rentals, marketing budget, and accounting costs. But also utensils such as cutlery and crockery. To do the environment a favor here, try switching to eco-friendly materials.
One option is the #IAMPLASTICFREE Products. Both the drinking straws and the bags are suitable for your food truck if someone wants to take something to go. These are products that consist of biogenic waste and are biodegradable! You prove that food trucks don't always have to be a burden on the environment.
For example, you could use social media to draw attention to the fact that customers are welcome to bring their own containers to serve them your delicacies. This saves you packaging waste and money.
Step 6: Food truck advertising
Advertising via social media is becoming more and more important these days. Therefore, you should rely on well-established social media accounts. If you have a fixed location, it would make sense if people can find your food truck using Google Maps, as this is becoming more and more popular. Especially at the beginning you can also invite your customers to advertise you, for example by posting their food on Instagram and Co. and linking you. It is best to write your account name clearly visible on the car so that you can be found quickly.
Advertising in general is super important for you, especially in the beginning. If you are near a busy street, it might help to draw attention to you with a sign (Food truck "XY" in 200 meters on the right).
As you can see, there are many things to look out for in a food truck. Nevertheless, the purchase is worthwhile and the operation can give you great pleasure.