Legal jargon can be tedious and frustrating, but knowing the regulations that apply to your business is crucial to operating in a safe and legal manner. Many requirements and policies differ between states so ensure you keep up-to-date with all the relevant laws applying to your business and location.
Restaurateurs shouldn’t assume regulations for an in-restaurant business are the same for a mobile food business. Be sure to check up on this in order to be compliant with all laws and standards.
When it comes to a food truck business, it’s not as simple as buying a truck and selling food. Legal requirements to operate a food truck are quite strict, and you will firstly need to complete basic food and safety training to comply with the Food Standards Code. Get a copy of the code and become familiar with the policies relating to your business.
In order to legally operate a food truck business, you must register it and apply to your local council for your licences. Licence requirements differ state-to-state.
Talk to your local council to find out what you may need, or simply check on the Australian Business Licence and Information Service website, which covers each state and territory.
Generally, on your licence application you’ll need to include:
There will be a fee for the licence, and it must be renewed annually.
Depending on the vehicle you use, the food you serve, and the local laws and regulations where you operate, different forms of insurance may be legally required.
The basics to consider are:
Where can food trucks go? It’s important to ensure you are serving customers in a place where you are allowed to operate. If you’re not permitted to be at a certain location, you could end up with a large fine or risk losing your licence.
It’s imperative that you research your local area and make savvy decisions when choosing where to set up your food truck. The perfect spot for your business will bring in more sales and have you selling out of stock rather than wasting your valuable time and produce.
Understanding your local market is key to your financial strategy. You can look into:
You possibly already have an idea of what type of food you want to serve to your customers. You’ll still need to do some research to identify if there’s a gap in the market for what you’re offering, and whether it’s a style of cuisine people within your community will appreciate and gravitate towards.
What you dish up will need to be delicious, authentic and unique, while also being cost appropriate and efficient to serve. Even if you’ve been in the restaurant business for a while, there will likely be a learning curve; preparing and serving food from the back of a truck isn’t the same as preparing food in a fully-stocked professional kitchen. You’ll also have to move at an even faster pace, because your customers won’t want to wait, and there won’t be time for executing the finer details.
In creating your food truck menu, it will be important to consider:
It’s important to remember that mobile food trucks need to be able to quickly take payments on-the-go, so customers aren’t waiting long. Your customers will also want a fast, secure and trusted option — no customer wants to get to the front of the queue, only to be directed to the nearest ATM to take out cash. A reliable, mobile EFTPOS machine is a key tool to ensure you’re able to serve a customer quickly, then move onto the next without delay.
When choosing an EFTPOS terminal provider, it’s especially important for food truck business owners to prioritise connectivity. You never know where business might take you — you might take your food truck to a music festival, or attend a market in a regional area. If your EFTPOS terminal can’t connect to the internet, you can’t sell any food.
With Zeller Terminal, your customers can tap, dip or swipe their payment method of choice, so you’re able to move on to the next. And Zeller Terminal connects to the internet via Wi-Fi and SIM card, so no matter where you park your food truck, you’re able to accept card payments.
While a food truck is cheaper to run than a brick-and-mortar restaurant, your vehicle will be a significant outlay to purchase and fit-out. If you’re buying a new, custom-built food truck, expect to pay upwards of $100,000 depending on the inclusions.
Cheaper second-hand options exist on the market, but be aware that the cost of kitchen equipment and remodels of the vehicle can stack up quickly. Having a realistic budget planned in advance is essential preparation for handling initial costs.
Here are some of the things to take into consideration when budgeting for your new food truck business:
Are you wondering how to make a business plan for a food truck? Putting together a strategic business plan will be your road map to success. This is especially relevant when financing a food truck with investors or obtaining a loan from the bank.
Food truck work is not limited to the hours of operation of the business. There’s also food prep, commute times, administration and banking, booking events and the maintenance of your vehicle and tools to take into account. Being mentally prepared for everything running a food truck entails, and keeping focused on your goals, is essential.
Start by conducting some essential market research before putting together your plan. You can visit local food trucks and connect with foodies in the area to find out what cuisines are popular and what other options people might want. Creating a list of expenses, such as vehicle insurance, cost of licences, equipment and anything else you may require, will help give you a realistic picture of your budget.
Opening and operating a successful food truck can definitely be a challenge, but after considering the points above you are in a strong position to get started on the right foot. For more information on writing a business plan for your new food truck business, read our other articles: How to Write a Business Plan and Your Business Plan Blueprint for Success.