Food trucks are becoming a popular option for entrepreneurs to get into the food service industry. Although food trucks may require less startup capital than opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, they have their own challenges.
Here are some things to look out for before going into the food truck business:
Watch the Tare Weight
The tare weight is the maximum weight of the truck for travelling purposes. This weight includes the actual weight of the truck, plus that of the fitout of the mobile kitchen and all its equipment, the staff travelling onboard and the food and supplies that will be carried while the truck is on the road.
Commercial kitchen equipment is heavy. Some people fit out their food trucks to the maximum tare weight, forgetting to include the additional weight of staff, food and supplies. Overloading a food truck can cause problems, from frequent flat tyres to breakdowns ̶ if you can get the vehicle running at all. In most cases when this happens, the truck has to be refitted or a separate trailer needs to be hooked up to carry the extra load. Some owners just start stripping back the equipment they have installed and make compromises to their service. All in all, an expensive exercise if it is not done properly in the first place.
Everything to be transported on a food truck must be securely stored, fastened or bolted to prevent accidents and damage during transit. For example, deep fryers with oil should be properly covered with lids that have safety latches; pots and pans should be stored in a way that they don't shake or rattle. As a rule: if it is movable, it will go flying inside a food truck. So secure everything in place.
Use Engineered Solutions
Due to limited space, typical fitout solutions are not always applicable inside food trucks. This can be particularly important when it comes to the canopy as the working area is relatively low, as well as narrow. Having custom-engineered solutions for equipment, along with the essential safety provisions, can make a commercial food truck kitchen run efficiently and safely. Canopies, electrical and fuel provisions as well as other safety equipment can all benefit from a bespoke fitout to suit their own specific requirements.
In order to operate you must obtain a Certificate of Registration. Other approval processes for temporary and mobile food businesses may exist such as street trading, licensing systems or event approvals. These requirements may vary between local governments and should be considered by relevant stakeholders.
Consider Getting a Separate Food Production Facility
Since space inside food trucks is limited, you can't store a lot of supplies inside. Prep areas are also limited, making food preparation a challenge. By having a separate food production facility where you can store and process food in advance, you can make better use of the space inside the truck. This makes production a bit more manageable, and also lessens production time when you operate the food truck.
Take Note of Equipment Warranties
Some commercial kitchen equipment manufacturers void warranties for their products if they are used on food trucks. This is true for some refrigeration equipment suppliers. So before you buy any commercial equipment for your food truck, verify its warranty coverage, so that you can set up an appropriate maintenance plan and schedule for your equipment.
Keep It Simple
Make your food truck kitchen operation simple by making use of the latest design technologies and mapping out your workflow. Doing so can help you identify areas where you could encounter problems. It can also help you become more efficient with your operation.
Food trucks can give aspiring entrepreneurs a more affordable entry to the food service industry. But before you go out and get a food truck, practise due diligence and plan properly to avoid wasting time and money.