Saving Money on Your Food Truck: 7 Pointers
Owning a food truck may be the ultimate way to break into entrepreneurial life. Your restaurant doubles as a rolling billboard, making marketing less cumbersome. Also, you don’t have to worry about your landlord raising your rent, cutting your profit margins.
This path to business ownership still requires a considerable upfront capital investment, though. Furthermore, you need funds for needed repairs to keep your ride in good working order. How can you keep more cash in your wallet? Here are seven pointers for saving money on your food truck.
1. Streamline Your Menu
A food truck isn’t designed to host a diner-sized menu, complete with breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings. Stocking sufficient variety to serve so many needs invariably leads to spoilage when you don’t sell enough of some products before they go bad. Furthermore, you’re tasked with telling a salivating public you can’t prepare the dish they wanted because of a supply shortage — disappointed customers often look elsewhere.
It’s best to stick to one style of cuisine and keep your menu to 10 items or less. Get strategic when listing them, putting your priciest meals near the top and using boxes and graphics to highlight specials. Quality inevitably wins out over quantity in the end and you’ll become a culinary master at those items you choose to serve.
2. Evaluate Your Kitchen Supplies
Take a look around your food truck’s kitchen. Are there larger pieces you don’t need? For example, there’s no need for a countertop wood-fired oven if you don’t regularly serve pizza. Such devices have impressive resale values — why not put them on the auction block and keep the cash? You’ll also decrease your vehicle weight, saving gas.
Furthermore, look for devices that save money by saving you time. For example, a specialty avocado slicer may seem like an extravagance — but it can be a must-have if you deliver tasty tacos to a hungry public. Using a regular knife to make guacamole takes too long and can lead to cuts. That means tossing out contaminated products and spending more time and supplies cleaning up the mess.
3. Consider Your Financing Options
Unless you paid cash for your food truck, you must grapple with a monthly truck payment. These fees can seem overwhelming when you’re first starting and have yet to turn a profit. However, have you explored all your options? For example, Ford is one of the most popular food truck brands with refinancing rates as low as 2.49%.
When might you want to refinance? Ask yourself the following questions before heading to the lender:
- Do I know my current loan cost? You need to know your current monthly payment and APR to see if you can save money.
- Do I have the correct insurance? You may have to increase coverage, which can add to your monthly expenses.
- Do I currently have any extras? For example, did you purchase an extended warranty that may explain your higher monthly payment?
- Is my truck in good working condition? There’s little point in refinancing if you need to replace your vehicle soon.
4. Consider Alternative Fuels
Perhaps the most significant opportunity to save money on your food truck comes at trade-in time. Alternative fuel vehicles may cost more upfront, but they’ll save you a small fortune in gasoline over the lifetime of your business.
Even if you stick with a gas-powered model, you can still use alternative fuels for some purposes. A rooftop solar panel won’t supply all your energy needs, but it can run some of your appliances and decrease your dependence on fossil fuels.
5. Negotiate With Your Suppliers
Food costs vary widely from year to year and season to season. Factors such as supply chain issues and unpredictable weather patterns affecting crops play roles.
Therefore, contact your suppliers often and renegotiate your prices based on current market conditions. Aim to serve seasonal fare that offers superior nutritional value but costs less to keep fresh. Your customers will appreciate your attention to this detail while you save money.
Finally, see if you can form alliances with local farmers who typically stock market stands on Fridays and Saturdays. You might get a better deal from a local mom-and-pop grower than you would a larger supplier. It’s still good to have a backup if your usual provider has a poor yield.
6. Keep on Top of Inventory
Food spoilage can cost you a small fortune. You can’t prevent every instance — it’s impossible to predict what customers will order. However, you can track inventory over time and stock only what you need to decrease waste.
Doing so is also a kindness to the planet. Shipping fresh produce creates considerable emissions and the organic matter left to rot in landfills contributes to methane production.
7. Utilize Technology
Trust in technology to save you cash. Have you noticed some of your usual locations offer slim pickings of late? Why not switch to an online ordering system, so you only deliver to those neighborhoods when there’s a demand?
Furthermore, the right POS system can save you time by ensuring order accuracy. Handwritten orders are subject to error, which can mean tossing a full meal and making another. A simple “Does everything look alright on the screen?” saves you considerable hassle — and spares you some grumbles.
Reducing the Costs of Owning a Food Truck
A food truck can offer a fast track to entrepreneurial life. However, it doesn’t come without expense.
How can you conserve more cash? Consider the seven above pointers for saving money on your food truck.
Author Bio: Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about food, fitness and more. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates of his work.
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