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7 Steps to build your gourmet food truck.

| May 23rd, 2013 | No Comments »

1.  A Concept

Any business can trace its beginnings back to an idea.  A well thought out and creative business plan is a crucial component of any successful business.  With Food Trucks, this is no different.  The first step of any successful food truck is an innovative and uniquely creative food truck concept.  With the hundreds of food trucks now in operation a unique and easily recognizable food truck is vital in ensuring a successful operation.  Brand recognition can be achieved through the use of a creative vinyl wrap, social media, web based advertising and old fashioned word of mouth.

2. A Menu

While most people would consider creating a menu to be of lesser importance at this stage, creating a menu or a basic list of food items you intend to sell will allow a food truck manufacturer to compile a list of equipment for you to review.  Once you have a list of the equipment that you will need, it will then be possible for a food truck manufacturer to create a layout based on the equipment you selected.

3.  A Layout

The next step in the process is creating a layout for your food truck.  An experienced food truck manufacturer can advise you on health department regulations and requirements while designing the layout of your truck.  Your food truck should be laid out in such a way to maximize your workflow.  During busy events lines can build up quickly, so a fast and efficient workflow is necessary to keep up with demand and increase your revenues.  Depending on the manufacturer you choose to go with, a layout should be given free of charge along with a quotation.  Some food truck manufacturers require a deposit before providing a layout and comprehensive quote.  We advise against this as build out costs can vary greatly depending on options and additions.

4.  Blueprints and Health Department Approval

This process can be the most challenging of any food truck build out.  Every county in the United States has its own set of health codes and regulations.  While building a food truck it is important to keep the codes and regulations of the county you intend to operate inside of in mind.  Your food truck manufacturer should advise you as to which regulations and codes will affect your layout.  After a basic layout is agreed upon a full set of blueprints can be drafted complete with equipment specifications.  Legion Manufacturing and most other food truck manufacturers work with a number of different health departments across the U.S and can provide you with a health department approved food truck.  The blueprint approval process can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks depending on the complexity of the project and the availability of the inspector.  Once a set of blueprints has been approved by your respective health department, your food truck manufacturer can then commence the major construction of your food truck.

5.  The Build-out

After your blueprints have been approved, your food truck manufacturer can then commence major construction on your food truck.   While the health department reviews your blueprints things like electrical wiring, the cut outs for the skylights, service windows and the generator compartment can all be completed.  Once the health department reviews and approves your blueprints items such as your service counters, and equipment can fabricated and installed.  All food trucks should incorporate such items as stainless steel walls behinds your NSF cooking equipment, an NSF approved hood with an ansul fire suppression system, diamond plate aluminum floors (sealed to the walls and service counters for easy cleaning) and a triple utensil sink with a separate and divided hand washing sink.  These are just some of the requirements that strict health departments, such as Los Angeles County, require for health department approval.  There are many people in the food truck industry that regard the Los Angeles County Health Department as the strictest in the nation.  Their strict guidelines for approving a food truck can increase build-out costs, as there are more regulations and codes to comply with.  Many food truck manufacturers will  “spec” their food trucks to L.A County guidelines to assure that it will pass inspection in any county.

A traditional build-out can take anywhere from 12 to 15 weeks from start to finish depending on your food truck manufacturers availability and capacity.  Like most projects that involve government agencies, lengthy approval processes and complicated build-outs, extra time should be taken into consideration as unexpected issues and setbacks are bound to occur.

6. Approval

After your food truck is completed, you and your food truck manufacturer should inspect your food truck to ensure the proper operation of all equipment and components.  Health department inspectors are thorough and a reinspection can set your food trucks approval back a few weeks.  Inspectors will look for such things as proper operation of all refrigerators and freezers, proper operation of the water heater, sealed and siliconed edges, NSF approved equipment, and that the build-out was done according to the blueprints the inspector approved.  Once the inspector verifies that everything is in proper order the food truck can then be approved and issued a health department permit that must be renewed every year.

7.  Street Vending and Booking Events

Once your new food truck is approved you can then start selling food.  Many food truck owners will find routes or locations that are favorable to the style of food they are offering to maximize their profits.  Food truck meets can also be a good way of getting acquainted with the industry, other food truck owners and to get food truck fans familiar with your food truck .  There are also food truck organizations such as Roaming Hunger and The Food Truck Association that organize large gourmet food truck events and help food truck fans all over the U.S locate their favorite food truck on any given day.  There are a number of tools and strategies that can be used to help increase your sales and increase the popularity of your food truck.  Social and Digital Media can be extremely helpful in getting the word out about new products, items and locations of your food truck.  Any successful food truck will require hard work and diligence on the owners behalf, but If done correctly a single food truck can become a very profitable venture.

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