U.S. Food Truck Operations
To obtain information on the costs, requirements, best practices, potential partners, and activations of food trucks in the U.S. for the purposes of exploring market entry and brand strategy.
Preliminary research found information on initial and ongoing costs and staffing needs for a food truck. Further research will be necessary for the remaining aspects of running a food truck.
- Initial costs for a food truck range from $30,000 for a used truck to upwards of $100,000 for a new truck.
- The average initial cost for a food truck is between $70,000 and $80,000, but this would likely be for a gently used truck.
- Typically, the cost of a new truck is "not often worth the extra premium" and startup costs are going to vary based on the type of food the truck will offer.
- Food Truck Empire offers the following initial cost estimates, but warns the actual costs will be based on where the truck is located, what type of truck is purchased, and the type of food offered:
- The truck, wrap, and equipment: $25,000 — $100,000
- Initial product inventory: $1,000 — $2,000
- Permits and licenses: $100 — $500 (varies significantly based on location)
- Website: $0 — $5,000 (varies significantly depending on features)
- Facebook/Twitter — Free
- Register/POS: $200 — $1,000 (based on system chosen)
- Uniforms/shirts: $0 — $1,000
- Paper products: $200 — $300
- Cookware: $1,000 — $2,000
- Misc. expenses: $500 — $2,000
- Fire extinguisher: $100 — $300
- Total: $28,100 — $114,100
KNOWN ONGOING COSTS
- Food Truck Empire offers the following ongoing costs for a food truck, but notes that the actual costs will vary based on needs, location, and type of truck/food:
UNKNOWN ONGOING COSTS
- Food Truck Empire states that the following costs are too variable to estimate without knowing food costs, frequency of operation, number of employees, and minimum wage:
- Most food trucks can hold between two and seven employees; however, 59% of food trucks only have 2-3 employees in the truck at any one time.
- Another 27% have 4-6 employees in the truck at any one time.
- The number of employees will differ based on service needs. For instance, if a food truck only heats and serves food, there will need to be employees at the restaurant who prepare the food and employees in the truck to heat and serve the food. If the truck prepares, cooks, and serves the food, staffing needs may be higher in the truck.
- Positions that will need to be filled in a food truck are service window attendants, managers, chefs/cooks, kitchen workers, and a driver (some areas require a separate driver for food trucks).
Proposed next steps:
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As the initial research was able to identify startup and on-going costs and staffing needs, we recommend continued research into 1. permitting and regulations for food trucks and 2. kitchen requirements for a food truck (please specify locations. Otherwise, we will provide details for three U.S. cities). We will also provide 6-7 logistical insights of running a food truck to include how WiFi and power is provided to a food truck and how to transport a food truck over long distances.
Additionally, we will identify 3-4 additional potential partners for food truck logistics. We will provide the name, website, overview, capabilities, and price (if available) for each vendor. We will exclude Roaming Hunger, Cruising Kitchens, The Marketing Arm, Concession Nation, Armenco, WYSS, Apex Specialty Vehicles, or ATX Food Truck Builder.
Finally, we will provide 2-3 case studies of successful food truck activations or pop-ups from well-known brands in the U.S. to include the brand, a description of the activation, and results.