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The dream of your own business: to be your own boss, drive the food truck through Germany, open the door and sell the lovingly prepared dishes to the guests. Sounds great! However, setting up and running a food truck is not as easy as it initially seems. Therefore: What you should consider as a food truck founder.

Facts and figures for food truck founders

For a long time there were no figures on the popularity and use of food trucks. The results of the study "Food trucks in Germany - market survey 2017" by Craftplaces give for the first time deeper insights into the market of food trucks, which have a significant share in the success of mobile gastronomy. The study shows that more than three quarters of German food truck companies work with a single food truck or food trailer. The remaining 20 percent have two or three food trucks. Less than four percent have more than three vehicles in use.

Since food trucks are becoming increasingly popular at major events and festivals, they now have a large number of orders, which is why over 40 percent of those surveyed recorded sales of up to 50,000 euros. It is also noteworthy that almost four percent of food trucks generate more than half a million euros in sales per year. Above all, the high investment costs at the beginning of the food truck founding mean that almost 40 percent of those questioned in the study do not make a profit.

The high investment costs at the beginning of your own food truck include:

  • Conversion / purchase of the catering vehicle,
  • Equipment of the vehicle,
  • electronic equipment,
  • Money for the office and prep kitchen.

The market study also shows that flexible workers in particular work in the street food industry. After all, 30 percent of those surveyed obtain 75 percent of their employees from marginal or part-time employees. Full-time staff is the exception, especially in small companies with a truck, because the majority of founders work in the food truck themselves.

Where is the entrepreneurial tour of food trucks going? In response to this open question, more than 43 percent of those questioned indicated that they were planning another food truck. 14 percent would like changes in the form of their own shop or a stationary snack bar. Only 13 percent of the participants do not want any changes and are therefore very satisfied with their business.

Preliminary considerations for the establishment of a food truck

To be successful in the food truck market, you first need to know which foods you want to sell. Should healthy fast food, pizza, burgers or burritos be sold? Since the design of the trolley is often based on the food on offer, you have to be clear about what you are offering very early on.

It is also essential to know exactly the region in which your dishes are served.

The following points need to be clarified:

  • Popularity of regional dishes,
  • Size and range of mobile catering,
  • Gaps in the mobile catering market,
  • Size of the region,
  • Price level in the surrounding area,
  • Number and specification of competitors.

Business plan for food trucks

It is always a good idea to write a business plan. On the one hand, it gives you a detailed insight into the future activity and its profitability. On the other hand, it serves as an instrument for later financing rounds.

Your business plan should answer the following questions:

  • What is the core of the business model, i.e. how should the income be generated?
  • What problem does it solve for the market?
  • How are the market opportunities to be assessed?
  • What are the essential steps to achieve the goals?
  • How does the offer differ from that of the competition?
  • How can you describe the customer base?
  • How can money be made with the business idea?
  • How are marketing and PR implemented?
  • Which person (s), which founding team are available?
  • What profits and losses can be expected in the first three years after formation?
  • What are the company's strengths and weaknesses?
  • What opportunities and risks does the market hold?
  • What capital requirement results from the planning and how can financing take place?

(Source: Gründerberater.de)

Anyone who wants to set up their own business with a food truck cannot avoid the issue of financing. Actually, you should deal with it while creating a business plan. These include in detail the sales and profit planning, corporate financing and the income-surplus-calculation (EÜR).

Get feedback and test, test, test

Unfortunately, you can never say with certainty whether your own business will be a success. However, it is definitely an advantage to test food in advance and get feedback. During this time, you must not forget to make your testers aware of the future food truck in order to build up your customer base right away. The aim is to test, refine and promote.

Here is recommended:

  • Feedback from friends and relatives: A rented location is particularly suitable for this, where you invite as many guests as possible to a rehearsal dinner, including feedback in the form of a conversation and / or questionnaire.
  • Public event: For your first public appearance, nothing is better than renting a food trolley at a street food festival. On the one hand, you can find out here whether your food is going down with the target group and whether you have chosen the right value for money. You will also gain helpful experience working and cooking in a confined space.
  • Tip: You can test your gastro concept via the start-up Laden Ein. Laden Ein is a Cologne restaurant where potential gastro founders can test their food on the market every two weeks. Not only does the menu change every two weeks, but also the kitchen, the staff and the food concept. Laden Ein is therefore also ideal for trying out yourself or your food concept directly on the market.

Administrative procedures

When setting up a company, dealing with the authorities is indispensable and is usually the most unpleasant part of self-employment.

The following checklist gives you an overview of which to-do's are waiting for you as a food truck founder at which office or position:

  • Trade license for restaurants and food trucks (trade office),
  • Tax clearance certificate (tax office),
  • Police clearance certificate (Federal Office of Justice),
  • Restaurant instruction certificate (IHK),
  • Health certificate & hygiene instruction (health department),
  • Food hygiene training and training in accordance with Section 43 Infection Act (IfSG) (health department),
  • Approval under the Immissions Act (Ordnungsamt),
  • Liquor license (trade office),
  • Commercial insurance (private insurance companies),
  • Registration with the professional association (professional association for food and hospitality),
  • necessary commercial insurance (private insurer),
  • Application for outdoor entertainment (public order office).

Purchase of the food truck

As with any business start-up, the first step in the food truck business is to invest capital. The largest one-time item falls on the purchase of the food truck. The price range is very large here. Used trucks are already available for less than 10,000 euros, but you shouldn't be blinded by this price. Because the renovation work is really significant: custom-made products, painting, power generator, design and inventory can easily cost between 30,000 euros and 60,000 euros. New food trucks with their own design are available for around 120,000 euros.

The question arises here: used or new cars? Try out different trucks and different inventory during the test phase. In the best case, you will then know exactly what you can and want to work with.

The food truck equipment

When setting up and equipping your food truck, the trade regulations must be observed in any case, because some things must be legally complied with here too. The following points are required in any case:

  • non-slip floor,
  • Stainless steel counter,
  • Rear wall shelf,
  • Gas cabinet for liquid gas system with outside door,
  • Hand water sink combination with tap,
  • Glass splash protection in front of the devices,
  • Refrigerator or combination refrigerator (approx. 140 liters),
  • Stainless steel extractor hood with washable grease filter, rain hood and roof opening,
  • Electricity for electrical appliances,
  • Water tanks for fresh and waste water,
  • Storage space for groceries, work clothes,
  • Cash register or cash register solutions.

Source: imbisskult.de

It doesn't matter whether you opt for a truck with a finished interior or design your truck according to your own wishes. The most important thing is to plan your budget wisely. You don't have to decide immediately about the additional equipment, you can add it later within budget. And note: Since a food truck usually also moves from one place to the next, a car with more payload and a gross vehicle weight of more than 3.5 tonnes may not be driven without a driver's license (C1). Not everyone has this license.

Design and brand

The appearance of your food truck is the alpha and omega of customer acquisition. This includes color, fonts, signs, lighting and images. The exterior design of the truck is best reflected in the interior of the truck. Because it should not be forgotten that the overall perception of the customer also falls on the inner workings of the car. Waiting customers do not like to look at empty, boring walls in the truck. Here you can help with suitable stickers. Keeping your food truck clean, tidy and hygienic, inside and out, should go without saying.
In order for your food truck to manifest itself in the memory of your customers, it makes sense to bring the style of the truck to your business cards, website and social media channels. In many cases it makes sense to have your own logo designed to stand out from the other food trucks.

Marketing basics

As briefly described above, the most important thing is to make your own food truck known. An entry in a food truck app is particularly suitable. This will make potential customers aware of your business when they are near your point of sale. It is just as important to set up your own Facebook page and fill it with content on a regular basis. Food can be posted here and future dates can be shared with fans. Instagram also makes sense in many cases: Customers like to post their food and link it to your profile. Regular postings from your truck at various events and pictures of the food you offer are also well received by the Instagram community.


This post shows: There are a few things to consider if you want to start your own business with a food truck. As with every start-up, the first steps often cost a bit of effort, as many aspects must be taken into account and administrative procedures are necessary, especially at the beginning. For your own dream, however, it pays to accept these initial difficulties and master them as best as possible. Because as soon as you open the hatch of your own truck for the first time and sell a lot of burgers and co., The effort has already been worth it and you can continue working on your rolling success story.

The author Kristin Köck is Content Marketing Manager at the start-up ready2order.