How to Set Up a Food Truck Catering Business

woman taking food from a food tray

Over the past 5 years, the catering business has seen steady growth. Most companies hosting events such as holiday parties, investors’ celebrations, product launches, etc. have become their major customers. Unfortunately, the year 2020 has been a challenge due to the lockdowns and social distancing measures enforced by the government. 

But this year, the food catering industry is back on track, with a rebound plan. Some food entrepreneurs are now on the move again to start a food catering business to follow the track of these successful mobile caterers

The venture only needs a little investment, has low operation costs, and can be set up in unlimited market locations. If you are one of the many people who want to start a profitable front, here are the steps on how to set up a food truck catering business.

Carry Out a Market Research for Your Food Truck Scene

The first step to set up a catering business is to carry out market research for your niche. This is to make sure that your idea will stand out and sustain itself in the long run. 

Start by doing market research about food catering in your city. Find out what are the existing concepts relevant to the business that are available in your locality. Then, find out the demographics of your potential customers. 

The key is to determine that there is a demand or need for food catering in the area you are targeting. You may also need to research spaces where your food truck can park and sell. Determine which of these spaces are most visible to customer traffic to plot a tentative location for your food truck.

Choose a Concept for Your Catering Business

The second step is to choose a solid concept. This can enhance the marketability of your food offerings. Try focusing on menu ideas you are interested in or passionate about. It may be an all-day breakfast, brunch foods, comfort foods, finger foods, savory sandwiches, seafood specials, etc. 

It is important that your food offering is versatile to all types of customers. They should be flexible enough as dairy-free, gluten-free, low carb, or vegan. After choosing your concept, estimate how you will price the items and packages. 

Afterward, you can select the name and logo for your food truck business. It should be attention-grabbing, descriptive, memorable, and unique. A well-thought concept, name, and logo can make a major impact on your potential customers. 

These catchy taglines and slogan ideas might help as well!

Create a Food Truck Catering Business Plan

After establishing the concept of your food business, it is time to start with your business plan. A business plan is an outline of how you will achieve your business goals. It is the document you will present to potential funding investors to prove the financial worth of your business. 

The sections of a food truck business plan must include:

  • Company Description, which includes your business name, manpower needed, target customers, target locations, and payment terms. 
  • Executive Summary to establish your food truck identity. It lays out your food offering, goals, and visions. It also differentiates your food truck business from the rest.
  • Financial Goals, which include how much capital you need, where you will source your funding, how you will pay them, and how you project your business to earn and grow. 

Get Funding for Your Mobile Catering Business

The next step is to get funding. Even if you haven’t saved an ample amount of money to start the business, you may need some kind of financing assistance

There are several ways to obtain funding for your business. They can come from the following sources:

  • Business Credit Card
  • Community Sponsors
  • Crowdfunding 
  • Equipment Loans 
  • Financing Programs
  • Personal Investors (such as family and friends)
  • Rollover of Business Startup (ROBS) from a retirement account
  • Small Business Administration Microloans

You may also choose to apply for a commercial truck financing to buy your food truck. 

Or skip the loans and visit UsedVending to get better deals. We have the largest selection of used mobile food trucks and kitchens. It’s easy to find a unit that just fits your budget!

Get Licenses and Permits

The basic licenses and permits needed for a food truck catering business vary from state to state. So, it is important to check with the local government unit in your area about the required paperwork. Among the basic requirements for a food truck business are:

  • Business License to operate your business. A food truck needs to get a business license for every state where it operates. 
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN), a unique business ownership code for tax reporting with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This can be obtained for free online and does not expire.
  • Food Handler Permit complies with a state’s food safety policy. Every food truck staff needs to pass this certification for proper food handling and preparation. 
  • Fire Certificate issued by the local fire department to prevent the risk of fire and promote sanitation.
  • Health Permit from the local health department serving as an assurance that the food you are serving is cooked and prepared safely.
  • Seller’s Permit is the sales tax permit that allows your food truck to sell goods and services. For local government control, it summarizes the collection, payment, and reporting of sales taxes.
  • Vehicle License is the updated registration certificate of the food truck itself. It should always be available and handy at the time of operations. Your food truck driver also needs to secure a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
  • Zoning and Parking Permit from the local motor vehicle department. Zoning and parking restrictions apply to commercial and non-commercial properties. They also vary from state to state. 

For more information about the types of licenses you need when starting a food truck, read this article.

Purchase the Food Truck, Equipment, and Supplies

The final step is purchasing the trailer or the food truck itself. Finding the right truck for your mobile business can be very challenging. 

This guide can help you decide whether you should buy a new or used truck. 

Typically, most food truck operators spend around $70,000 to $250,000 to buy and customize a food truck. The price of a new food truck ranges from $100,000 to $175,000, while the price of a used food truck ranges from $50,000 to $100,000. A pro-tip when buying a food truck for your catering business is to consider a reputable dealer nearby. This gives you the convenience of less travel cost and time during maintenance and repairs. 

On the other hand, when it comes to supplies and equipment, it would generally depend on your overall concept and menu. 

The following articles may help you:

Do you need help setting up your food truck venture? Give us a call at (601) 749-8424!