Top Food Truck Tips: Making a Lucrative Living on Four Wheels
Fast, friendly, unique and growing in numbers, the food truck business is exploding in Australia. Sydney and Melbourne alone boast 150 food trucks. Food trucks have also hit the streets in Darwin, Victoria and other cities all over the nation. Chances are that if you have not seen one in your town yet, you soon will. Councils are embracing the movement.
Last year, as Darwin issued 16 permits, Then Lord Mayor Katrina Fong Lim explained to NT News “Street food enterprises are growing in popularity and demand.” Lim added, “Council wants our community to enjoy the beautiful places and spaces the city has to offer.”
Paperwork and Permits
If starting your own food truck business appeals to you, be aware that cities and states have their own regulations. Victoria provides a website, Streetrader, designed for the food and drink industry to help entrepreneurs get started. Different governments will require different permits and varying safety standards, and may or may not mandate the presence of a food safety supervisor. You should turn to your local governments for advice on compliance. The Australian Mobile Food Vendors Group can also help you navigate the guidelines.
Be Aware of Health and Safety
Food trucks and restaurants may have an uneasy rivalry, but they do share the same concerns for the health and safety of their customers. Temperature control is vital. Food must stay above or below certain temperatures to inhibit bacteria growth. Even in a properly cooled refrigerator, food stored haphazardly or without proper organisation can spoil faster and easier. Equipment under performance or failure can stop your operation cold.
To address this issue, you should continually do spot checks, clean the condenser coils, and ensure there is proper ventilation. If you suspect problems, call a professional to examine your equipment as soon as possible. The health of your customers and your reputation depend on it.
Think About Layout and Equipment
Putting together a food truck requires planning. The smaller space means that you have to design a truck where you, your equipment, and the food can flow efficiently. More importantly, the layout needs to take into account the placement of cooking and refrigeration equipment with an eye for safety. This includes a proper wiring job performed by a professional before you start installing equipment.
- Know the rules. Check with your local authorities about fire codes and other standards. They may have specific directions for the installation of items such as propane tanks, if necessary. You also need to secure any cooking and refrigeration equipment, especially fryers, so they won't move around.
- Consult an expert. When looking for refrigeration equipment, consult a commercial refrigeration specialist. Take the time to read blogs and research testimonials. Client feedback, reviews and experiences of satisfaction can help you make an informed choice.
- Consider the details. Choose your menu before deciding what cooking equipment to purchase. You will need things like a fryer, commercial oven and range, regardless, of the menu. However, certain food choices could determine if you needed a panini press, for instance. Remember that your space is limited. You should determine if it makes more sense to buy less expensive used equipment or new items complete with warranties.
Food truck numbers are exploding throughout the country, but plenty of niches remain open, providing endless opportunities. Before you start purchasing equipment and planning out your menu, check with your local officials on laws, regulations, and permits. Dedicate yourself to providing the highest possible quality, but also the safest possible food to your customers by following industry standards.
Finally, have a plan for setup that matches your needs and your menu. Once you develop your strategy and start moving ahead, you'll soon be joining a vast and growing community of entrepreneurs finding profit and fun running food trucks.