There are many steps involved in launching a food truck business, but one of the most important is selecting a commercial vehicle that fits your needs and goals. If you're looking to enter the hot mobile restaurant market, here are five tips for buying the right vehicle for you.
Start With Your Menu
The features your commercial vehicle must have needs to be based on the types of foods you want to serve and the way you plan to prepare them. An ice cream truck will needs lots of cold storage, for example, while a taco truck needs grill space to make the food fresh. Drawing up your menu first will make it easier to sift through all the different types of commercial trucks available to find the one that best fits your needs as well as decide what type of customizations that may be required.
Research Vehicle Codes and Restrictions
Because of the risk of people being sickened with food-borne illness, chances are very good your city and state has vehicle codes and restrictions in place for food trucks. In the city of Medford, for instance, trucks can't be larger than 170 square feet and they can't be any bigger than 128 square feet if they want to operate in the downtown area.
Those codes may also apply to people operating the truck. For example, Rochester, New York, requires someone to have training and exchanging propane tanks on site at all times for any truck that uses the gas. It's essential you research what those codes are and make sure the truck you choose and your staff adheres to them.
Opt for Trucks Powered by Gas
You can find many commercial trucks that operate on diesel fuel. However, these may not be the best type to use for your mobile food business. The primary issue is diesel fuel can emit an off-putting smell that may overpower the scent of your food and scare away potential customers. While diesel tends to have better fuel economy than regular gas, you may end up spending the money you save on higher maintenance costs, since diesel trucks have more components than gas-powered ones.
If you can find one, spend a little extra on a hybrid truck that uses a combination of gas and electricity. You'll get much better mileage, plus you'll emit less pollution, making your business a little more environmentally friendly.
Decide What You Can Do Yourself
There are commercial trucks out there that will have everything you need for your mobile food business, requiring very little aftermarket customization. The trouble is the cost of these vehicles may be beyond your budget, especially if you're just starting out or bootstrapping it with money you saved for this purpose. If you have experience customizing vehicles, knows someone who does, or just aren't afraid to do the work, you can save yourself a lot of money by purchasing the minimum features you need in the vehicle and building on the rest yourself.
Like anything in life, though, this is a balancing act. Be realistic about what you're capable of doing. A botched customization job can end up costing you more money down the road than simply buying the upgrade upfront.
Shop for Financing First
You'll get a better idea of how much you can afford to spend on the truck if you shop around for financing first. This is particularly important if you have troubled credit, as you may not be approved for as much as you need or you'll be charged a higher interest rate for the money. Getting preapproved for a loan can ensure you know exactly where you stand and can make the best financial decisions when it comes to the truck.
For more information about buying a commercial vehicle for a food truck business, contact a local commercial truck dealer.