Not too long ago, food trucks were widely considered to be ugly buses that sold unhealthy and even dirty food. However, times have changed, and so have opinions regarding food trucks. All over the country, even the best restaurants and chefs are finding the food truck business model more attractive. There are plenty of receptive clients, and there are few of the hassles that come with owning a restaurant.
If you’re running a restaurant and want more freedom, or if you’re thinking about getting into the food services industry without spending a great deal of money, it’s time to start looking more closely at a food truck. It’s a restaurant and an adventure all in one!
Just like any business, though, you need to start with a concrete plan. Without a business plan, food truck success might be out of reach. You need to know what your competitors are doing and what they aren’t doing. You need to find out everything you can before you put your key in the ignition.
What is a Food Truck Business Plan?
If preparing a business plan is something that you don’t know anything about, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. A lot of new business owner jump into their businesses without looking before they leap. They aren’t aware that there are certain formalities that need to precede opening a business. They have an idea, but they don’t think about preparing a plan until they are asked to do so when they are applying for a loan.
If you don’t want to be caught off guard, you’ll need to prepare well ahead of time by preparing a food trucks business plan that will satisfy all your planning and presentation needs. However, of you have no idea how to write a business plan for a food truck at all then you might want to use this plan as a guide to a more successful career, or you might want to use it as a useful goal-setting and monitoring tool. Either way, you can be assured that one of our plans will make your next steps clearer.
It’s important to be realistic when you are making your food truck plans, but, at the same time, you should be dreaming big. Your plans should include an outline of possible future expansion—including the possibility of a successful food truck or even restaurant franchise. Do everything in your power to make these dreams come true by making sure you understand all the steps that go into becoming a successful businessman.
The thriving food industry and the business in the United States sees plenty of new entrants every single day, but not all ideas are well researched to execute a smart business plan. We can find many food truck business plan examples, and other such ideas and samples online like mobile farmers market business plan.
The issue, however, is, not every business plan sample can provide proper guidance and success. On the contrary, the below-listed sample business plan will provide detailed format and also guidance.
Step One: Detailed Market Analysis
The first step to be completed to add in the sample business template is analyzing the market. This includes detailed research of competitors in the industry along with target market (customers). The purpose is to identify the situation based on aims, ideas and objectives.
To begin with the first step of this sample business plan, conduct a detailed market research observing the market situation and predicting the prospects of success of your business in this industry.
First, study industry and market trends and must find out that how much food truck industry makes each year and the expected growth. If the figure is good, then it means you have a good chance at succeeding. Once completed, add all the findings into your eatery marketing plan.
Some other factors to be researched, completed, and include into the template are:
- How much competitive rivalry is there in the industry?
- How much negotiating power do suppliers and buyers have?
- How many other substitutes are available in the industry for the potential buyers?
- Study customer trends to identify target market and the driving factors for them to dine at food business?
- Check the types of cuisines customers prefer in mobile eateries.
- How much are the mobile customers usually willing to pay?
- Are your projected prices attractive for potential buyers?
The research must be thorough and completed before moving forward. This is the only way you can turn your ideas into reality.
In short, your market research must be detailed and completed before the actual launch.
Mention Statistics about the Industry
Check all the important statistics about the market and industry. Once completed, add that into the template. The completed stats must include the year-over-year revenue and overall growth of the business along with its percentage of increase or decrease. The completed business template must also include close ideas about
- Number of mobilefood trucks currently operational in the country
- Average revenue of each truck
- Average expense of maintaining a food truck.
Also, the sales generated by the business area wise must also be added, which will give you clear ideas about the right parking spot for the business as well as about the areas with more target market.
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Defining Marketing Budget for the Business
Marketing is important for the promotion of business, that’s why we have added it into template. Specify a budget for the whole year for carrying out marketing activities. For example, allocate $8,000 as your annual marketing budget for next one year. Once the year is completed successfully, gradually increase it as business grow and expand.
Defining Key Customers
In this sample business plan for food truck, we pinpoint main target audience.
Identifythe target audience based on:
- Spending capacity
These statistics can be obtained from the research completed in the above section.
Here is an example why this information is critical – if selling fast food, targeting young to middle aged people is the right option. Here, the prices will define if the potential buyers actually have the buying power.
Explain the Current Business Situation
In this part of the sample template, define in detail the current business situation to have correct ideas about your standing in the market. This part will include your current financial situation, the finances required, and the ways to find the potential investors. Other than that, the type of vehicle required and the number of staff members needed initially. In addition, add all the things that you feel are appropriate and can help in business growth and function.
It is important for every business to define vision statement in the business plan that must show long term indefinite goals. One example of such clear vision statement is, “to provide the best possible taste at a reasonable price”.
Include the mission statement in the food truck business template that must contain specific short-term goals, for example, “Building a brand that provides high quality and hygienic eatables to the clients in areas where they lack access to quality cafeterias”.
Also include goals relating company and growth – it all depends on what’s motivated you to enter this business.
Setting Up the Corporate Market Goals
Next step to be completed is the addition of definite sales and corporate goals into the business template. Set as many goals as possible based on your ideas. Some of the potential goals and ideas for the industry are:
- Compete with all the leading food truck brands and businesses in the mobile food industry.
- Sell the business franchise after five years of operations.
- Make at least 70% sales of food and drinks per day initially.
- Have at least 10% quarterly increase in sales.
- Make 100% sales of food and drinks per day after initial six operational months.
- Add four more food trucks within four years of the opening day.
Defining the Products
Add all food items and food services ideas in the sample business template. Food trucks are not usually ideal for selling very high-end exclusive foods. Therefore, the menu that contains foods that are pocket-friendly for the targeted people is always good.
Among the best practices for food business is to offer a variety of foods that can be prepared quickly and costs less. Think about ideas like snacks, proper meals, desserts, drinks and juices, whatever makes it a good food deal for customers. It is mostly beneficial to act as a one stop place for all food enthusiasts. Decide the menu –which is critical part of food business –to list all ideas in the business template.
Carry Out Your SWOT Analysis
Another imperative thing to add in sample food business plan is SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis gives 100% clear idea of strongest area and where is business lagging behind. It includes following four things.
- Strengths – Mention biggest strengths to stay in business. Like special training, mobile business model, unique menu, highly competent staff, exceptional customer service, etc. Look into all strengths and ideas that make for a successful mobile food business.
- Weaknesses – Weaknesses indicate the shortcomings, which competitor can take advantage of. For example focusing too much on customer service but not enough on the food. Without taste or excellent food quality, winning customers and increasing sales is not possible.
- Opportunities – Identify the external opportunities that you can avail for generating more sales. For example, selling at more than one location in a single day as you own a mobile business, such as in office areas during lunch hours. Think about such ideas. This is the advantage of having a food business on a truck – make use of your mobile business.
- Threats –Aware of the external threats that can affect your food business negatively. For example, a sudden change in the state policies or too much traffic. While on road, you can’t sell any food.
Try to think of the reasons that have driven you to prepare your food truck empire business plan. This means considering your potential customers and competitors.
Step Two: Acquiring a License
This is the second step to be completed. An extensive and completed food truck business plan templateno matter a sample must also include the license information. License is mandatory for mobile food business. Licenses along with permits are mandatory by the local authorities in the United States.
Terms and conditions can vary from one place to another, even from one city to another no matter if in the same state. You can easily find out all that information related to local permits online. You can also contact the local council for guidance about the requirements related to mobile food business.
Listed are some common requirements for mobile food truck business that needs to be completed before a launch:
- Business license – This one is the first and the most obvious one, so start off with it. For that, most people have to pay a yearly fee or in some states, a specific percentage of the sales for operating business in the locality.
- Truck license – Being a mobile food truck business, a license of the truck is required as well. Also ensure that the driver holds a commercial driving license.
- Permit from Health Department – Another important permit required to include in the mobile food truck plan is the permit from Health Department. There will be an inspection which will include the truck and the kitchen to ensure that the business is maintaining all the standards while preparing food. The permit will be issued after the process is completed.
- Food Handler’s License –A must for businesses that sell foods and edible items. The charges vary according to different states. Health inspectors may pay a sudden visit to you anytime to ensure that everything related to food is clean and sanitized. Once the process is completed, the license will be issued.
- Music License – If you fancy the idea of playing music in the food truck then a music license is required as well. With this license, all the copyrighted music can be played.
- Fire Certificate – A fire certificate will ensure that all the regulations are being followed and the truck has a proper system for suppressing fire.
- Alcohol license – Just like music license, the business also need alcohol license if you intend to sell alcohol and other alcoholic beverages. However, it greatly depends on the location of your business whether they give this kind of permits to mobile food business there or not.
This should be enough to help you with licensing, but always keep some room for flexibility in your business template for food truck because all the above listed requirements can be changed anytime. Join a mobile food truck association in your local area to stay updated.
Simply put, this is one of the first steps to be completed when launching a mobile food truck business.
To fulfill your food truck business plan, you’ll need to apply for and be granted a license. Each city has its own rules and regulations for these, so it’s important to be attentive to detail. Submit an application with the local authorities, making sure to include all the required documentation. Stay optimistic. If you encounter difficulties, they’ll only be temporary. Everything is in your hands.
Step Three: Buying and Designing Your Mobile Truck
Next step to be completed is buying a truck. There is a wide range of vehicles that people use for this business, depending upon their food, market, strategy, and a lot of other things. These different kinds of vehicles differ in cost as well for obvious reasons.
Therefore, before adding the word “truck” to your sample food truck plan template, you must know all the different kinds of vehicles, which will help you in finding the specific one you are looking for.
- Trucks –Food trucks are the best vehicle option for selling fast foods, salads, pizzas, nachos or any other quick meal. These types of mobile trucks are spacious, which make cooking easy. And they differ in size so that you can buy according to your requirement.
- Mobile Carts – If you don’t have a very high budget for the truck in the beginning then you can go for a mobile food cart as well. Food cart makes a good and yet cheaper substitute to food trucks but, obviously with much lesser benefits and options than a food truck.
- Mobile Trailers– If you are planning to open a mobile bakery or a mobile eatery selling foods that get instantly ready then a trailer would be an ideal choice for you.
Look for a Reliable Manufacturer
Strategic/Operational Business Plan
There are generally two different kinds of mobile food trucks that you will find on the market. First one is a customized food truck and second is the readymade one. Businesses that have some special requirements usually go for custom made food trucks because they are specifically designed to fit the needs of the clients. Readymade trucks, instead, have everything completed in them and you just have to buy them for getting started.
However, some manufacturers also make some amendments and adjustments to the readymade mobile trucks on customer’s request. The decision of your selection between readymade and customized one majorly depends upon your mobile eatery business plan. So, tailor your plan template wisely. Whatever type you choose for the business, just make sure the manufacturer is renowned with a very strong brand value.
Some Important Factors
This is not all – there are more to look into before getting live. These factors determine the exact kind of truck best suited for the needs.
Menu Length –The length of the menu or list of foods can tell you a lot about your requirement. If you are planning to have a lengthy menu or a lot of foods, you will need larger cooking area and hence a big sized vehicle and vice versa.
- Staff Members – Similarly, just as in the case of the menu, you will need to choose a truck according to the number of people working in your truck as well. If the number is high then obviously choose a big food truck, if it’s low, then a small vehicle would also do.
- Number of Customers to be Served – This is also a very important factor to consider when choosing a truck. To serve a larger group of people at a time, a small truck won’t be able to house them.
Check Facilities of the Truck
If the vehicle selected doesn’t have plumbing system, cabinets for storing tools or foods, desk for keeping cash register & desktop and many other such amenities, then don’t buy the truck.
Prepare for some hefty costs here. Purchasing a truck is expensive and so is fitting it out. Just like a restaurant, you’ll need to meet minimum health and safety standards. You’ll need to do some research on truck manufacturers and what you’ll need to have a fully functioning mobile kitchen.
The third step is selecting the truck that works bet for long term business requirements. You might get baffled at first with all the options available, but with above tips, you can pick the best one for the food truck business.
Step Four: Finding the Right Niche
Next step to be completed in the sample business plan template is the niche. To stand out and ahead of the competitors in the industry, the business must have some unique selling point for creating your niche in the market. Think of multiple innovative strategies and add it into the business template that will help achieve a competitive marketing edge while increasing sales.
There can be multiple ways you can create your niche within a market. For instance, if you are planning to sell tacos in the area where they are not usually available that easily, then it is going to highlight you in the eyes of the customers and will create a niche and marketing edge for you. Setting your price low in comparison to competitors is also a good way of increasing sales and gaining a strategic competitive edge.
Another good way of being unique than others is to sell multiple cuisines in your mobile eatery. People love to stop by at such places where they sell a variety of foods. And above all, in addition to all these strategies, make sure to never compromise on quality and taste because that will keep you in the game in the long run.
Strategies for Retaining Customers
All the successful businesses have one thing in common – they are all customer oriented. The more customer oriented you are, the higher will be your customer retention rate, which ultimately gains you your competitive marketing edge. When a person goes out for eating, what impresses him the most is the personal experience that they get at that place. Any eatery can come up with good foods, but not all can provide a great overall customer experience.
Therefore, make concrete business strategies for enhancing your customers’ experience and write them down in the sample of your business plan food truck. For instance:
- Making sure that foods maintain its quality and taste.
- Having multiple foods for customers to choose from.
- Being flexible enough to cater special requests by customers.
- Ensuring to get customers’ feedback and being open to suggestions.
- Making use of the social media and other tools for increasing the business’s reach.
- Ensuring CRM for easily managing the database of clients.
- Considering customers’ opinions before making any major decisions or changings.
Gaining Competitive Edge by Offering Incentives to Customers
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Next, include some incentives in sample template of the business marketing strategy that will encourage the potential buyers to come to you of all other available options. Bonuses and discounted deals are a great marketing strategy of doing that.
You should keep marketing discounts on your foods and offer some special bonuses for the clients that visit you multiple times. Make sure that the business incentives are better than any other competitor around. Not only will this marketing strategy increase the sales from regular customers but will also attract a lot of new customers as well.
Also include loyalty cards in your marketing plan for your very loyal customers for rewarding them. Not only will this bring them back to you over and over again but you will also get a good word of mouth within their circle, which will bring more customers to you.
For sustaining in the food industry, just having a competitive edge and offering incentives isn’t enough. You must also think beyond that and offer after sales services to your customers as well. You can do that by taking customers’ feedback on everything, from food to ambiance to prices to quality. This way, you will be able to make all the necessary changes for meeting your customers’ needs.
You must provide multiple communication channels to your customers that include telephone, email, Facebook page and other social media podiums for encouraging your customers to contact you and file their complaints in case their experience didn’t go that well for your food truck.
A mobile kitchen or food cart business plan depends on a viable business idea, and this means finding a niche that is either unfilled or has room for further entrants. This doesn’t need to be fancy. A lot of successful food trucks are built on very simple ideas. Whether it’s burgers, pizza or cupcakes, you need to be sure that your food truck can stand out from the rest. Start paying attention to the other trucks in your neighborhood. What kinds of foods are doing the best? What’s missing?
Step Five: Finding the Source of Funding
Your mobile food truck business template would not be completed without adding the source of funding. Generally, when people start off, they mostly lack adequate funds to meet their projected budget. And running a food truck business involves huge costs.
Send your food truck proposal to someone to partner up with you and share the capital and hence profits. Other option is to borrow funds or find an investor.
Most people don’t have much experience with finding sources of funds and often have no ideas how to achieve this. The major issue is how to convince the sponsor that the project he/she is funding is worthy enough to be funded by him.
However, before the contract is completed, be very clear about what are you going to offer the investor in return for his money.
According to this part of our free food truck business plan sample and template, you will have to plan financial projections more specifically. Specify your cost, income, losses and profit projections for a month or quarter. Generate projections for one year and develop projections. Based on the completed first year projections, estimate for the next financial years as well.
It goes without saying that your food truck empire business plan will require some financing. Start-up capital will make starting your business possible, and many new food truck owners don’t have enough capital of their own to cover the extensive costs associated with starting a mobile eatery. You might have to find a partner, or perhaps you’ll need to borrow money from friends or relatives. If none of those are options, you’ll need to apply for a loan from a financial institution, and they’ll require a complete business plan.
Step Six: Getting an Insurance
One of the most important steps to be completed before moving ahead is getting insurance. Always include insurance and its cost in the business plan template no matter if it is only a sample. You can either do some research about local laws or seek any insurance agent to learn about insurance needed in your operational area.
It is not a necessary requirement to insure everything in the beginning. Wait for some policies until business starts thriving. Things like workers’ compensation can wait. But, get the truck insured from the very first day.
Generally, you will need insurance in three categories:
- Vehicle insurance.
- Business insurance.
- Workers’ insurance.
However, for starters, it’s totally fine to go with only vehicle insurance.
Your mobile business will need vehicle insurance to be completed. Talk to insurance agents about what kind of coverage is appropriate. Remember, the cost of insuring a food truck will be considerably more than insuring a family car.
Step Seven: Finding a Profitable/Appropriate Parking Spot
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Another step to be completed in your sample plan for your mobile eatery’s before moving forward. The success of your food truck business greatly depends on the location you choose for it. For deciding the appropriate location, you will have to do a little analysis of other food trucks’ locations. Before deciding a location, make sure the detailed research is completed about the place and you have ideas about moving your truck around in the neighborhood.
Also, avoid a street that has a heavy traffic flow or very low traffic. Choose something in between. Make sure the area isn’t remote. You must also be careful about not being a disturbance for passersby and commuters, but your truck must be within their visibility reach. Lastly, ensure that the place you have chosen is safe for leaving the truck overnight and doesn’t have any notable incidents of robbery.
You can’t make a dollar until you’ve got a place for your truck. Not all neighborhoods will be happy see a food truck, so be sure to pick your location carefully. You’ll also need to park the truck somewhere overnight. If you don’t have a garage or a driveway, this will be an added cost. You’ve also got to be sure that the valuable equipment in the truck is secure from thieves.
Step Eight: Growing Network and Getting Connected
Growing your network and spreading the word about your new food business in market is highly imperative and a proper strategy for that must be included in your business plan template.
Before finalizing marketing strategy, a detailed research must be completed about the audience and market in mobile food industry.
- Interact with the local establishments like unions and service organizations and inform them about your business. Also, offer them catering service for their events.
- Connect with the right people that can be advantageous for your food business like event coordinators, tour guides, hotel personnel, etc.
- Talk to local companies’ management and offer to cater their events for an added advantage.
- Attend all the local events for selling your food there, like a farmers market, arts festivals, and carnivals. That will greatly help in boosting your business.
- Be very easygoing and friendly with your prospective customers and never try to be too insistent.
- Show your involvement in the local community’s activities for building connections on a personal level.
- Distribute your promotional business flyers and paper menus to the passersby. The more you advertise the more advantage will you have over competitors.
Increase your chances of success by looking at less conventional ways of drumming up business. Your mobile food truck business plan should cover selling food on the street, but it should also explore catering corporate and special events. Expanding your horizons like this can make all the difference.
Step Nine: Advertising
The marketing budget for any company also contains advertising expense. You can alter the budget depending on the number of means you are going to use for advertising the business. But, we must tell you, being new in the industry, every company will have to promote the business aggressively on all the possible platforms before official launch. This is a pretty good way of creating hype among the masses about your business or company.
Once the food business or company have reached a steady level or completed certain goals, decrease the intensity of advertising but do not skip it as it is imperative for increasing brand awareness and recognition. Here are a few ways you can advertise your food truck business or company:
- Printed Ad
Works for every company, this marketing method includes giving ads in local newspapers and magazines, putting flyers at all the busy public places like shopping malls and community centers.
- TV/Radio Ads
For this type of marketing campaign, you can get your interview featured on local TV channel or can go live on radio for announcing your food truck’s grand launch.
Invest on placing business signage and banners in multiple places with arrows on them that indicate your food truck’s location.
- Social Media
This is the platform that will benefit your company name the most in the modern world, without needing you to invest a hefty amount or any amount at all. Get super active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and regularly keep posting about your food truck business.
The right ads should play a part in your business plans for food trucks. This will help people get to know about you, your products and your special offers. Social media is a great way to communicate with potential or existing customers.
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Step Ten: Grow, Expand and Develop the Business
After reaching a certain success point in your food business, you may want to expand it. The business expansion will require another food truck which you can place in some other area. By that time, you will be well aware of each and everything in the food business and would be able to plan everything wisely on the basis of your experience and expertise.
But, expansion means, you won’t have enough time to oversee everything on your own, and so, you will have to hire other people for managing your food business. As a successful company, keep these four things in mind.
- Always hire people that are right for the job and are professionally trained. You might think that this isn’t that big of a deal, but trust us, it really is. A good management team can take your business sky high.
- Always document all of your procedures. This may sound boring, but it is standard for every successful company. And if you come up with something completely new, document its procedure as well for maintaining the consistency.
- Provide incentive reimbursements to the people leading each of your food trucks. For instance, offer them a certain percentage of the revenue generated by that truck, after subtracting all the major costs from it.
- Lastly, develop a strong metrics system for keeping a close watch on the truck’s activities and assessing the generated profits.
When your business plans for food trucks is completed, you might want to think about expanding your brand. This might mean more trucks in the same area or trucks in different neighborhoods. More trucks might mean more income. Think big and take risks and the possible rewards grow exponentially. Finally, if you are having any difficulties, look for a completed business plan for food truck sample. Whenever possible, lean on the expertise of those who have prepared business plans before. You can find plenty of completed samples online or you can work on your own sample first as described above before working on a final version.
Completed samples are always good to understand the business. Try to find and explore the data rich completed samples easily available online. These completed samples will also help you in understanding the data. The complete and professional your business plan, the more likely it will be that your business will succeed according to plan. Dream big, but plan for success.
Illustrative business plan samples
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