Given the immense popularity of food trucks, why are so many destined for the proverbial morgue?
Here are 7 top food truck killers and some tips for avoiding them, so you won’t have to bury your business.
1. A Steep learning curve — The entire business model presents a logistical challenge every day, says Tracy Sims, co-owner with her husband Gary Sims, of Taco Azul. The biggest challenges have been timing, finding a parking spot, making sure there’s enough product onboard — so they don’t run out of food too early in the day — and keeping track of all the events that draw the crowds.
2. Ill-conceived marketing strategy — Buying a truck is easy; ensuring profitability isn’t. Valuable lessons abound in food truck failures. Ask a seasoned food-truck entrepreneur (in a non-competing market niche) to shoot a few holes in your business plan.
3. ‘Lone Ranger’ approach — Whether you’re corralling outlaws in the Old West or customers in New Jersey, a go-it-alone approach is not advisable. Food truck operators benefit from membership in associations and political activism, as the regulatory environment can be less than friendly in many metropolitan markets.
4. Poor quality control — Lapses in food safety and quality can quickly put the kibosh on your business. Those brightly painted trucks provide a highly visible target for health inspectors. Last year, 26 out of 35 food-truck operators in Calgary, Alberta, failed when it came to crucial health violations.
6. Too many proteins on the menu — Consider offering more sauces and starches and fewer proteins, which prove more profitable for many operators.
7. Outdated concept — Food trends may not change as quickly as hemlines, but change they do. Miniature desserts, such as bite-sized macaroons, swept the restaurant industry in 2012. What will be the hottest dishes for food truck patrons in 2013? Stay abreast of the trends by perusing food-industry websites and foodie magazines.