Once you know how to start your food truck business, let’s look at how to operate one. You’ve done the bulk of the work, like filling out the paperwork, getting your licenses and truck, and developing your menu. So what do you do now? 

Ensuring that your food truck business has a suitable revenue can be challenging. Competitors can cut your bottom line simply by operating alongside you, and the whims of your customers can be difficult to predict. 

Below, we’ve listed some vital points for you to consider when operating a food truck business. These are:

  • Keep the quality
  • Managing your location
  • Use a reliable card reader
  • Keep an eye on what sells
  • Trial new things
  • Manage your costs
  • Simplify your finances

Bear in mind that these are only suggestions and may not be effective for every business.

Keep the quality

The biggest selling point of your food truck business is likely to be the quality of your food. 

When margins are tight, it can be tempting to use cheaper ingredients to improve profitability. If you do switch to lower quality ingredients, your customers will notice. They may complain that the food doesn’t right, or stop ordering from you completely.

If your food tastes great, then people will want to come back time and again. Depending on the location(s) you operate in, knowledge of your business can quickly spread by word of mouth. 

Quality doesn’t just apply to food, but also the packaging you use. If you sell quality food in a card box and paper bag, then switching to plastic and polystyrene can make your business seem less sustainable. In a 2016 UK survey, 74% bought food products that were environmentally friendly

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t switch products if you find a cheaper alternative. As long as the quality is similar, you should be fine. 

Managing your location

Being in the right location can make or break your food truck business. The next section is split into categories to help find the right places for you to set up shop. Remember, these are guidelines not rules, so feel free to experiment with what works for your business.

Build a circuit 

One of the perks of operating out of a truck is that you can move around. Spending each night in the same spot can get stale, so stay ahead of the game. Instead of driving to the same town or village night after night, build a circuit.

Each night, visit a different place on the circuit and advertise when you’ll be there. Rotating locations can make your food seem exclusive, and get people excited about being able to order from you. 

To help customers know when you’re going to be near them, you should keep to the same days for each stop. For instance, 

  • Town A – Monday and Tuesday
  • Town B – Wednesday and Thursday
  • Town C – Friday and Saturday

Know the hot spots

If you’re running a kebab van, your most profitable places might be outside a nightclub. On the other hand, if you sell tacos, it might be better to spend your days in front of an office block. As a mobile business, finding the right area plays a massive part in how much money you’ll make.

There’s nothing wrong with experimenting with where you’re located, until you’ve settled in a regular area.

Stick to the same place

Once you have settled on your circuit, stick to specific places at each stop. For example, parking in front of the clocktower of Town A, and on the high street of Town B. If you keep changing your locations, your customers can have difficulty finding you, and some may give up completely.

By going to the same locations at regular times, you’ll establish your presence and should attract regular customers. If you see the same faces repeatedly, making an effort to remember their name can show your appreciation and lead to more repeated sales.

Use a reliable card reader

The last thing you need when you’re in the middle of service is for your card reader to drop out. If it does happen, a profitable day can quickly become a loss. Since you’re frequently on the move, the chances of losing connection get more likely.

By using a reliable card reader (especially one with a built-in 3G connection), you can drastically reduce the chances of sudden drop-outs.  

Keep an eye on what sells

Every food-based business will have at least one more popular item than everything else on the menu. Depending on the time of year, it might vary between a couple of meals. 

By knowing what your popular items are, you can get an insight into what your customers want. While you shouldn’t change your best sellers, you can look into expanding your offerings to similar cuisines or dishes. 

Trial new things

On the other hand, if something isn’t selling well then don’t be afraid to update your menu. If you’re running a pizza van, try getting some new, limited-time toppings. This can help keep your menu feeling new, and spark fresh interest in customers who may have gotten used to your standard selection.

While it can be good to trial new things, you should be careful not to overstretch yourself. If offering new options damages the quality of service you’re currently providing, then it might be better to stick with what’s currently successful for you. 

Manage your costs

While running your food truck business, you’re may encounter various costs, and you need to manage these effectively to improve your profit margins. Some questions that you can consider are:

  • When ordering your ingredients, is it cheaper to pick them up or get them delivered? 
  • Are you able to get a discount for repeat and bulk ordering?
  • Do you need a licence to operate in certain places?

Frequently checking your overheads are as low as possible (without compromising quality) can help you save money, and improve your long-term profitability. 

Simplify your finances

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Start your three-month free trial today. 

Find out more here.

Related Resources

Read more