Launching a mobile food business – be it a mobile food truck, van, trailer or marquee – can be a hugely rewarding, yet highly challenging process that comes with its own unique set of considerations.

And with such a vast amount of information to take in, it can understandably become a bit overwhelming.

But don’t be dissuaded! We’ve put together our top 5 considerations to help you get started on your journey to opening your own food truck.

  1. Starting out

The first thing to understand about running a mobile food truck business is that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and initially some pretty long hours.

On the plus side it has many advantages, such as setting your own business direction, managing your own time, and the attraction of lower overheads than a restaurant.

So (as dull as it might sound) before you race off doing fun stuff like planning a menu and designing marketing materials, there are several ‘business-ey’ items you’ll want to consider first, such as:

  • Qualifications and training

When operating in the food industry, there are certain requirements you must meet with regards to training. This means all staff members (including yourself) operating within the business need to complete basic training in food handling and food safety prior to commencing work.

There are several options for such training, including accredited training courses (available both online and through local training providers in your home state), instruction manuals, and in-house training.

As the business owner it is your responsibility to ensure your staff are adequately trained, and the development of a training plan and induction program which includes food handling and safety information is considered good practice, though not a legal requirement.

Be sure to check the requirements for your specific area of operation, as they may vary from state to state.

  • Deciding what t sell

Deciding what type of food you’re going to sell is more than likely going to be the easy part, in fact, it’s probably the idea that sparked your interest in mobile catering in the first place.

However, just because you want to sell something, doesn’t necessarily mean people want to buy it. Again, it’s about researching your local area, making connections within the foodie community, and offering a style of cuisine that fills a gap in the market.

So before you make your decision, have a think about the following points:

  • What are you good at cooking?
  • What do you like to cook?
  • What types of food are most popular in your area?
  • What ingredients are easy to buy from suppliers? Are they in season year-round?
  • What is the most cost-effective food for you to sell?
  • How much similar competition will you have?
  • What type of food can you prepare on site and/or heat up easily?
  • Is the food easy for customers to hold and eat whilst standing?
  • When will you be open for business? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all?
  • Will the menu be large or small? (A larger menu may require more space than is viable for a mobile catering business.)

It’s also important to remember that running a mobile food business is not the same as running a restaurant. Now that might seem obvious but consider this example: you could be an amazing Vietnamese cook with years of kitchen experience, but if your traditional restaurant style doesn’t translate into street food you may need to tweak or add a modern twist to the menu that will spark customer interest.

  • Branding and marketing

Choosing a brand name and aesthetic for your food truck, van, marquee or trailer (along with developing the menu) is where you get to really have fun. You might want to go for something that relates directly to your product, or you might want to throw your customers a curveball with something funny or quirky.

When it comes to brand name development, there are typically seven different categories that are used as a starting point. These are:

  • Descriptive: describes the product or service (eg: Burger King)
  • Evocative: evokes suggestion and metaphor without reference to the product (eg: Virgin)
  • Invented: fabricated or completely made up (eg: Esky)
  • Acronym: shortened version of the company name (eg: KFC)
  • Founder: derived from the name of the company founders (eg: Ben & Jerry’s)
  • Geographical: relates to the location of the company (eg: Goulburn Valley Fruit)
  • Lexical: often clever, relying on word-play for memorability (eg: Dunkin’ Donuts)

Remember, whatever name you choose will form the core of your overall brand, from which you will develop your marketing materials (website, social media profiles etc.) and the overall aesthetic or theme of your food truck – including cups, plates, napkins and such – so it’s in your best interests to take the time to plan and even come up with a few options before making a final decision.

  • Finding suppliers

Sourcing local produce is always a great way to keep costs low and procure fresh produce. Do some research into what types of foods are available in order to work out what’s best for your menu.

In order to kit out your truck for the takeaway market, you’ll also need to stock up on napkins, disposable plates and cutlery, as well chef’s knives, aprons, food preparation machines, ovens and grills for your truck.

To find a range of in truck supplies, visit nisbets.com.au to find out more.

Image credit: The Balance SB