Starting a food truck business is a big decision. You’ll need to put in a lot of time and money before you can even begin serving customers.
But don’t let that discourage you. Food trucks are a great way to start a business, especially if you have culinary training and experience. With the right resources and knowledge, it can be an incredibly lucrative restaurant business.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything from the costs of starting your own food truck business to what you need to do before opening your doors for the first time.
Table of Contents
How Much Does a Food Truck Cost to Start?
A food truck is a great way to start your own business. It’s affordable and can be a lot of fun. Food trucks are popping up all over the place, but if you’re thinking about starting one of your own, it’s essential to know what it costs.
The cost of starting a food truck varies greatly depending on how much you already have and how much you plan to invest. If you don’t already own a food truck, the highest cost will be purchasing the truck itself.
So let’s take a look at some of the costs associated with starting a food truck business:
The Vehicle. This is usually the most considerable expense when starting a food truck. The average cost of a new vehicle is $50,000 to $175,000. According to Forbes Magazine, you can expect around $50,000 for an older used car. But keep in mind that maintenance costs will be higher due to wear and tear. If you buy used, ensure it has been well-maintained and has no significant problems. Another option would be leasing rather than buying – this way, you get a brand new vehicle with low mileage without having to worry about maintenance costs!
Fuel Cost. You’ll also need to factor in fuel costs. Most trucks get roughly 5 miles per gallon (mpg), which means they can go 1,000 miles on 200 gallons of gas — so multiply how many miles you drive each week by how much each gallon costs and add that amount onto your monthly overhead.
Operating costs. Operating costs include gas, insurance, permits, licenses, and maintenance (such as oil changes). These can vary widely depending on where you live — especially if you’re looking at an existing vehicle that requires little to no customization. In some cases, these costs might be included in your vehicle purchase price; otherwise, they’ll be separate expenses that need to be budgeted for in advance.
Permits and licenses. These vary widely depending on where you live but can be anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars for each license required by local authorities (such as those for operating a commercial business).
Insurance. Food trucks are commercial vehicles requiring additional insurance coverage beyond what an average car would need. The cost will vary depending on how much time you spend on the road and what kind of vehicle you drive — but expect to pay between $500-$1,000 in premiums each year.
Type of Cuisine. Prices vary depending on what kind of cuisine you serve up. Asian fusion and Mediterranean-style fare tend to be more expensive than classic American dishes like burgers and fries because they require more ingredients (and thus more labor), as well as serving utensils like chopsticks or forks for customers who request them.
The Food Truck
A food truck is a small business on wheels. It’s like a tiny restaurant that can travel to different locations and serve food to customers. You’ll need to invest in equipment, supplies, and other business expenses before you can start making money from your food truck.
The average price of a food truck is around $50,000, so if you’re looking to start small and don’t have a lot of money to invest upfront, this may not be a suitable business model for you.
However, there are ways to get started with less money than if you want to keep your initial investment low.
Here are some other things that can help reduce your startup costs:
Look for used trucks. Food trucks are not always easy to find, but depending on how long ago they were purchased, it could be worth checking out Craigslist or other online listings for used vehicles. You can usually find good deals if you look hard enough!
Buy from someone who has only used their truck part-time. This option may not be as likely since most people who buy food trucks do so because they want to make money with them full-time, but it never hurts to ask! You might be able to negotiate with someone who bought their truck, intending to use it regularly but didn’t.
A food truck also has several components that can be added to it:
A truck camper. This removable living area provides additional space while keeping costs down by eliminating the need for separate housing accommodations. It also makes it easier for staff members to live on-site during busy times or when working long hours away from home.
Refrigeration unit. Refrigeration units keep refrigerated foods cold while traveling or serving.
How Much Does a Food Truck Cost to Buy?
The cost of a food truck is dependent on several factors, including the size and brand of the vehicle. According to Forbes Magazine, a fully-loaded food truck can cost from $50,000 to $175,000, while a smaller used truck may cost around $50,000.
While this seems like a lot of money, it’s important to remember that most food trucks are used for more than just selling your favorite meals on the go. They’re also great for catering events or weddings, which can bring in extra revenue and help offset the costs associated with running a business like this one.
When it comes to buying a food truck, there are several different options. You can buy one used or new from an established manufacturer who offers some assistance with financing and maintenance plans.
Alternatively, you can buy a custom-built truck outright or hire a builder to design and build one for you. The price tag for these options ranges from about $10K for used models to $100K for custom-built trucks with luxury features like granite countertops and built-in refrigeration systems.
The size of the food truck also will affect its price tag. Smaller trucks are less expensive than larger ones because they require less equipment and fewer parts. However, larger trucks tend to be more popular with customers because they have more space for cooking equipment and storage areas for ingredients and supplies.
Another factor affecting a food truck’s price tag is its brand name. Some companies sell their vehicles at a higher price than others due to their reputation in the industry or popularity among customers.
For instance, if you choose an established brand like Ford or Chevrolet over another company like Honda or Toyota, your costs will be higher because these brands are more recognizable by consumers and therefore demand higher prices from dealerships due to their popularity among buyers who want to purchase from well-known brands when purchasing new vehicles for personal use or business purposes.
Some vendors want their trucks to look unique and stand out from the crowd. They might choose a custom design for their exterior, interior, or logo design. They could also add special features like a wood-fired pizza oven or refrigerated storage compartments for fresh ingredients. Those kinds of upgrades will drive up the cost considerably.
How Much Does a Food Truck Cost to Rent
Renting a food truck can be a great way to try out the industry without investing in purchasing one. If you’re not sure whether you’ll enjoy owning a food truck, renting one for a few months is an easy way to see if it’s something that’s right for you.
The cost of renting a food truck depends on your business’s size, brand, and location. It would help if you also considered whether you need to buy or rent equipment for your business, as this can increase your expenses.
The monthly rental fee is the most significant expense when renting a food truck. It varies depending on where you live, but expect to pay between $1000 – $3000 per month for a basic unit. If you want something more admirable or significant, be prepared to pay more.
Some companies offer discounts for long-term leases or monthly payments over six months instead of one year.
In addition to paying for the rental, you will also have to pay for gas and maintenance costs associated with operating a mobile restaurant. This can be very expensive if you’re not careful!
How Much Does a Food Truck Cost to Build?
The cost of building a food truck depends on what kind of food truck you want to develop. If you make a truck from scratch, it will cost anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000. The cost will be lower if you already have a vehicle that can be converted into a food truck.
Building a food truck can be as simple as purchasing an existing vehicle and adding on a kitchen in the back or as complex as building one from scratch.
The most common way to make your truck is by purchasing an old bus, RV, or school bus and converting it into a food truck. The cost of this varies depending on the size of your vehicle and how much work needs to be done to make it suitable for serving food.
The other option is to find someone who already builds food trucks and have them design one specifically for your business concept. This could end up costing more than making one yourself because there will be no haggling over a price if they’re not using their materials, but they may have better ideas about what works best for your business model than you do
If you already have the supplies needed to build your mobile kitchen or are looking for something new and fun to do as a family project, producing your food truck might be for you!
However, if you don’t have any experience in construction or mechanical work, then building your food truck could be difficult and very time-consuming!
Pros and Cons Chart of Buying, Renting, and Building
|PROS||You own the business, so you can make all of your own decisions. When you buy a used truck, you’ll be spending less money than if you built one or rented one. You don’t pay rent.||It may be less expensive than buying a food truck if you don’t want to make a large investment. It allows you to save some money in case something goes wrong with your business.||If you build your own truck, you can customize it however you like, whether that means adding coolers or designing it so it’s easier to operate.|
|CONS||If you rent or buy a pre-made truck, there may be less flexibility in terms of what kind of equipment they come with and how they look. You must have enough money to purchase the food truck, which can be expensive. You must be able to afford insurance, licensing fees, and other equipment costs.||If you rent or buy a pre-made truck, there may be less flexibility in terms of what kind of equipment they come with and how they look. You do not own the vehicle or its contents; therefore, anything that happens with the vehicle could affect your business negatively.||Building your own takes time – lots of time if it’s not something you’re familiar with doing. More expensive upfront costs (parts, equipment, insurance, permits), which means larger investments are required.|
Food Truck Equipment and Decor
The first step in starting a food truck business is acquiring the necessary equipment. The essential piece of equipment is the truck itself. You’ll also need necessities like refrigeration units and sinks.
You’ll also need some dining area for customers to eat at if they aren’t eating their meal while standing outside the truck. This could be as simple as having tables and chairs set up outside your vehicle or as elaborate as creating a full-scale restaurant inside your food truck that customers can sit in a while waiting for their order.
The first thing you’ll need is some equipment for your truck — including stoves, refrigerators, and sinks — as well as decorations and other miscellaneous items.
Food trucks come with a variety of equipment and decor options. Retailers like Target and Walmart offer everything from tables to sinks in their online stores. Several online retailers specialize in food truck equipment if you’re looking for something more customized or unique.
You’ll also need some essential hand tools for cleaning and maintenance work. And don’t forget about customer service — training yourself and your employees on how to deal with customers will be essential to running your business successfully.
Decor for your food truck is an integral part of your business. It can give you an edge over other competitors and help set your brand apart from others. You may also consider investing in equipment such as a freezer or stove if you plan to serve frozen desserts or hot meals. This can increase your upfront costs but will save you money by allowing you to prepare more items in advance.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Expert Designer
The design of your food truck is essential to how well it will sell. If you do not have any experience designing a truck, it is a good idea to hire an expert designer who can create an eye-catching design that will get people excited about your business.
The average cost for hiring an experienced designer is about $3,000 for initial sketches and $5,000 for final designs. If you are opening more than one location in the future, then it may be worth investing in custom graphics that can be used at all locations.
There are many options available if you’re looking for a professional design for your food truck. You can hire a designer from a company specializing in this field or use a freelancer on sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
The cost of hiring a professional designer varies depending on the complexity and how long it takes them to create it. Most design companies charge between $300 and $1,000 per design, but some companies may offer lower rates if they offer discounts.
How Much Does It Cost to Do It Yourself
If you have the time and energy to do it yourself, you’ve got the most cost-effective way to start your food truck business. However, if you don’t have the time or money, it’s probably better to hire a professional.
The DIY process is not as simple as it sounds because there are many components to consider when starting a food truck business. You’ll need to do market research so that you know what types of foods people want to be served at their events.
Once you know what they want, you’ll need to find a location for your truck and design it according to your needs. You’ll also need to purchase all of the equipment necessary for running a successful business, such as refrigeration units and sinks, among other things.
Starting from scratch, without any equipment or supplies, can be pretty expensive. You’ll need everything from a truck to cook into tables and chairs for your customers. On top of that, you’ll also need permits, licenses, and insurance for your business.
The good news is that once you have this up and running, it’s not too difficult to keep costs down with regular maintenance and upkeep. A little elbow grease goes a long way to keep everything working smoothly!
Commercial Kitchen Space & Food Truck Parking
Food Truck Kitchen Space
Food truck kitchens are a great alternative to the standard restaurant kitchen. Food trucks can be used for catering, events, and more.
The food truck kitchen is a fully functional commercial kitchen built into a food truck’s back. It has everything you need to prepare your food and serve it to customers who have come to your vehicle for lunch or dinner. The kitchen can include:
- An oven, stovetop, and grill for cooking food
- A refrigerator for storing cooked and raw ingredients before service begins
- A sink with running water so you can wash dishes after preparing each meal
- A commercial refrigerator/freezer to store pre-made meals such as burritos or other fast food items that don’t require heating up before serving them to customers
Food truck kitchens are popping up all over the country. The advantages of using a mobile kitchen instead of a brick-and-mortar location are numerous, but there are also some disadvantages that you should consider before making the jump.
The most significant advantage is that it’s easier to find a place to park than an affordable commercial kitchen space with the proper zoning and permits.
You can park your food truck in front of your customers’ office buildings, shopping malls, or even on residential streets without worrying about getting shut down by the local government.
Parking in public areas lets you reach new customers who might not be willing to drive across town for lunch. In addition, it may be easier for your customers to find you at a busy event than it would be for them if they were searching for your restaurant in an unfamiliar neighborhood or suburb.
Food Truck Parking
You will need to find a safe and legal place for your food truck. If you are going to be parked on city property, you will need permission from the local government agency that manages these areas. In some cases, they may have specific rules or regulations governing food trucks, so checking before you start selling your products is essential.
If you want to park in an alleyway or private lot, then make sure you get permission from the owner before setting up shop!
If you’re looking to park your food truck in a commercial space, you’ll need to find a location zoned for commercial use. An excellent place to start is the zoning department of your local city hall or town hall. You can also check with nearby businesses and ask them if they will permit you to park on their property.
If your business requires a lot of space, it’s best to lease a commercial building rather than parking in a public area.
Most importantly, your truck needs a home at night. So getting safe and accessible parking is key. This can range depending on where your food truck business is located, but a realistic range is $250 to $1,000 a month, depending on the location.
How Much Does a Food Truck Cost to License?
Food truck owners often face challenges when it comes to licensing their vehicles. The process varies by state and municipality and can be complicated and time-consuming.
Some cities require food trucks to get a special permit to operate on public streets.
Others have strict rules about where they can park and how long they can stay in one place. And some states require a separate license for each vehicle you operate.
How much does it cost? Licensing fees vary widely from one state or city to another.
How long does it take? The length of time varies depending on the steps required to complete the process and how quickly you move through each phase of licensing your food truck. It can take anywhere from a few days to several months before you’re ready to hit the road with your freshly minted license!
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Food Truck: The Total
The cost of starting a food truck varies, depending on the equipment and supplies you need. Since there are so many variables, it isn’t easy to pinpoint precisely how much it costs for a new food truck owner to get started.
Factors that affect the cost include your location and the type of equipment you need. For example, suppose you’re planning on operating in a large metropolitan area with lots of competition in your target market.
In that case, you’ll need more money than someone who intends to start up in a small town with fewer restaurants.
The type of truck also has an impact on startup costs. For example, if you’re purchasing a used truck that requires repairs or maintenance work before it’s operational, then this will add more money to your startup expenses.
There are ways to lower the cost of starting a food truck business without compromising quality or safety standards. One way is by contacting local food trucks for advice and sharing information about resources available in your area.
Tallying up all these estimates to figure out how much it costs to start a food truck, you can expect to spend between $50,000 – $250,000 to get it off the ground. Remember that this does not include universal restaurant startup costs such as labor, food, kitchen tools, or equipment.