The coronavirus pandemic has stunted businesses across industries, but it’s also created pockets of demand due to changes in consumer demand and behavior. For one, the pandemic has led people to become more focused on their personal health. Secondly, the lockdowns and quarantines have made takeout and food delivery even more popular.
If you’re the kind of person who looks for pockets of demand and opportunity in times of crisis and responds to people’s needs as they come, starting a healthy food truck business could be your next break.
Food trucks are nothing new, but there is only a handful that features healthy offerings and meal plans that support different diets.
Create a Business Plan
Like with any business, a well-thought-out plan is essential. Before embarking on a business, it’s wise to have a good grasp of who your target market is, which locations you will cater to, and what your niche will be. Healthy food can be a broad category, especially for a small food truck, so you should create a menu that you’ll be able to sustain. However, try not to narrow your niche too much, as you wouldn’t want to alienate other potential customers.
For instance, instead of a full vegetarian menu, try plant-based sandwiches or burgers instead. Successful food trucks tend to focus on a specialty or offer a few dishes at a time so that they can focus on the quality of their food. The best place to start is to research what’s trendy in your area or identify a product that has low supply but high demand.
It’s also good to scope out your target location for insights into their eating behaviors. If you’re planning to sell your food in a business district, for example, plan your menu around healthy breakfasts and lunches. You can also join food fairs or farmers’ markets to take advantage of the foot traffic.
Once you’ve laid down your business plan, the next step is to explore funding options. For this, you have two main options. You may either save up for capital and use that to start your business or obtain a business loan. But there are other options worth considering, like negotiating a lease agreement with other food truck businesses. You can also get in touch with restaurant owners and see if you can run a food truck for their business.
You must prepare for all the costs involved with starting up. These would typically include permits and licenses, insurance, payment processing, your initial product inventory, as well as commissary fees. Since you’re just starting, it’s best to start lean. Instead of buying a new truck, opt for a low-cost, used truck or trailer. You can also rummage through warehouse sales and restaurant auctions to get second-hand, industrial-grade kitchen equipment.
Build Your Food Truck
Once you’ve bought your pre-loved truck, it’s time to customize it according to your brand. Whether it’s a big truck or a simple pickup fitted with a truck shell, there are plenty of ways to make your own. You can opt for decals, signs, and lights for a more festive look.
You’d also need cooking, food preparation, warming, serving, and sanitization equipment. When buying cooking equipment, make sure to get those that are durable and made of stainless steel. For takeout serving materials, opt for eco-friendly options like paper straws, bamboo spoons and forks, and paper plates.
On top of these, you’d also need gadgets like a POS system and cash box. For a mobile food business, an iPad-based POS app would be the most suitable as it’s portable and allows you to manage your inventory and sales in real time.
Advertise your Business
At the startup phase of your business, it would be wise to market your business aggressively. But you don’t need to break the bank to get the word out. You can use social media, word-of-mouth referrals, and flyers, or you can partner with local radio stations and food fair organizers. Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook will be your best tools as they let you engage with customers in real time and encourage conversations to spread awareness.
Moreover, put in the effort to collect customer reviews and testimonials. Much like word-of-mouth referrals, ratings and reviews significantly influence other customers to buy from you. To get positive reviews, focus on perfecting your menu and providing exceptional customer service.
Starting a mobile food business during a pandemic can be both profitable and challenging, which is why you must think your business plan through. But with so many people looking for easy but healthy meals, your business might catch on quickly.