1. Get a Mentor! Shadow another Food Truck.
Find another truck owner in your area and ask them everything you can. Everything! Make them your mentor and suck all of the information of of them you can. Get on their truck. Work with them for a day. See what it really is like. Not only will you learn a ton from this process you will also have the opportunity to ask questions. Ask them about the things they wish they had known going into the business.
2. Know what menu items are needed in your area! Don't oversaturate the same items.
Find your uniqueness in your food truck menu. Make sure you know what others in your area are selling so you aren’t competing for the same customers. You will also want to decide if you want to be a niche food truck (say only a gourmet grilled cheese truck) or if you want to be a truck that has many different options. Both are fair game, but have a business plan to back you up and stick to knowing how to draw in your targeted audience to your truck.
3. Get Knowledgeable about Permits, Licenses, etc. in your City.
A lot of Food Truck owners say they wish they would have known they needed back-end permits, licenses, certifications and insurance to operate. It can be a super confusing task and you must fully understand all the mobile vending laws in the city you are operating from. This is where your Mentor will come in handy! In California alone you will need a CA Seller’s Permit, a Local Health Department Permit, and a city business/peddler’s license. Your truck will need to be certified through the Housing & Community Development Department and you will need a Food Safety Handler’s certification.
4. Anticipate that it will cost 30% more than expected.
Expect it to cost you a lot more than you think to run your food truck. Remember to factor in Liability insurance costs, fuel costs, and food costs. Keep in mind that you will not have as many places to store your food like other restaurants so the costs of constantly buying food can add up over time. Knowing this beforehand can help ease your mind as you begin your new business.
5. Start Building an Audience – Even Before you Launch
Get on Social Media before you have your truck up and running. That way you can build an audience on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram before you even hit the road. When your food truck is ready to make its debut you will then have an audience to invite to your truck to taste your amazing food. Think about building an email list too in order to mass email them as your food truck launch date approaches.