How to Start a Food Truck Business

Written by Dave Lavinsky

How to Start a Food Truck



How to Start a Food Truck Business

If you’re looking to start a food truck business, you’ve come to the right place. Since we’re going to show you exactly how to do it.

We’ll start with key food truck industry fundamentals like how big the market is, what the key segments are, and how revenues and profits are generated.

Then we’ll discuss keys to not only starting a food truck business, but succeeding in it!

Before we continue, here’s where you can access your food truck business plan template since having a plan will be key to your success.

How Big is the Food Truck Industry?

There are approximately 4,042 food truck businesses in the US, and $856.7 million in revenue has been generated by the food truck industry in 2015. Over the past 5 years, its annual growth rate has reached a remarkable 9.3%.


What are the Key Segments of the Food Truck Industry?

Food trucks product offerings are generally segmented by the cuisines and types of food it serves. The main segments for the industry are American, Latin, Asian and Desserts

What External Factors Affect the Food Truck Industry?

A number of factors affect the performance of the food truck industry. These drivers include:

  • Consumer spending: An increase in consumer spending means that consumers are more inclined to eat outside – restaurants, fast food chains, and even food trucks.
  • Consumer Confidence Index: A low consumer confidence index would increase the consumer’s discretionary spending, shying them away from spending money on things that are not immediately needed which may include a bite at food trucks.
  • Healthy eating index: A high healthy eating index indicates a low preference of consumers to buy fast food and affects the revenue of the food truck businesses.
  • Urban population: An increase of the urban population where a food truck is located, indicates an increase of potential customers.
  • Agricultural price index: When there is an increase of prices of ingredients, operating costs increase and profit decreases.


What are the Key Customer Segments in the Food Truck Industry?

The key customer segment for food truck operators are those aged 15 to 44, followed by those 25 and under.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your business plan, download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template and complete your plan and financial model in hours.

What are the Key Costs in the Food Truck Industry?

Wages-Reprsenting over 1/3, Employee wages and benefits is a significant part of the cost of a food truck business.

Purchases-The second largest cost in the food truck industry is purchases of raw materials and ingredients from suppliers, usually wholesalers.

Other-Other costs include liability, fuel, truck insurance, repairs, and licensing fees. These costs vary on the city where the food truck is situated since there are different regulatory laws and ordinances for the food truck industry in different cities.

What are the keys to launching a new food truck?

1. Have a business plan

Study all the aspects of the food truck business carefully before venturing into the industry. This includes your business description, location, target market, competitors, operations, and costs. Business planning will give you a clearer perspective on the feasibility and profitability of running a food truck in your area.

2. Make a menu

Observe the existing food trucks in your area and the kind of meals that they serve. Offer food that are not in their menu, and take note of what the customers love and innovate!

3. Consider the seasons

Remember that there are four seasons in a year. Make sure that the food you offer are not limited to one season. Prepare meals that complement the different weather conditions in your location to keep your truck going the entire year. Having your food truck open for business whole year-round increases your popularity and customers.

4. Choose strategic locations

Find places near business establishments, offices, schools or public places with high population of your target market. This will make you accessible to your potential customers and easily recognizable. You can also choose to park next to other food trucks that match your menu without necessarily competing with them.

5. Have an expert on board

If you’re not a chef or you do not have any expertise in cooking and preparing meals, hire someone you trust who can take over the kitchen while you take over the business. Your chef will help you create or improve the recipes of the meals you want to serve in your food truck.

6. Get your business known

Tell your friends about your upcoming food truck business and ask them to spread the word. Distribute flyers around the area where you plan to park. Announce your launch date consistently and make the people look forward to it. Do not underestimate the power of traditional marketing.

7. Establish your online presence

Make use of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter where you can interact with your customers and keep them updated on promos, discounts, and anything new with your food truck. This also allows them to easily follow, like, and share your business with their friends. You can also take feedback or criticisms from your customers through these platforms and use them to improve your service and meals.

8. Know the law

Regulatory laws and ordinances for the food truck industry vary in cities. Get to know and abide by them to avoid hassle, unnecessary charges, and even early termination of your business!

What are the typical startup costs for a new food truck?

The startup cost for a new food truck could range from $50,000 to $200,000.

One-time start-up costs include the following:

  • Purchase or lease of food truck
  • Permits and license
  • Professional, legal, and consulting fees
  • Initial food purchases
  • Kitchen supplies and equipment
  • Advertising costs

Recurring start-up costs include the following:

  • Insurance
  • Commercial rent
  • Salaries
  • Truck and equipment maintenance


How much do food truck operators make?

The average food truck operator makes $25,000 per month, on the low end to $60,000 on the high end.

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your business plan, download Growthink’s Ultimate Food Truck Business Plan Template and complete your business plan and financial model in hours.

Top Five Marketing Tips and Tricks for Food Truck Owners

Food Truck Social Media Strategies

Foodtruck Strategies for Social Media infographic

Food trucks across America

parked black food truck with a woman

Burger and Beer Joint at Bayfront Park

people in queue at a burger and beer joint in bayfront park

Wilma’s at Lenexa City Center

food trucks at Lenexa City Center

Small food trucks in front of the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City

food trucks queue in Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City

Food trucks at the Crown Plaza hotel parking lot next to LAX

Helpful Videos

The Food Truck Business – Tips to Start Your Own Business

How Much Do Food Truck Owners Earn? More than you think!

Food Truck Laws & Regulations

Food Truck Commissaries


Additional resources in the food truck market

For additional information on the food truck market, consider these industry resources:


How to Finish Your Food Truck Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Food Truck Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Click here to finish your business plan today.


OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Click here to see how Growthink’s professional business plan consulting services can create your business plan for you.

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates