Are you a student looking for a summer job? A chef looking to break into the market with a new signature style? No matter what your motivations are, running a food truck or vending cart can be a great way to enjoy the fresh air and a friendly chat as you serve anything from drinks and snacks to hot food. But how can you get a food truck business started?
Sniff out a location
You can start by walking around downtown on a busy weekend or during an event to see where a snack or beverage vendor might be the most useful amongst busy foot traffic. You can also scope out the competition to see what is already being offered and where.
Just a few convenient spots to investigate are near the ferry berth, bus stops near major attractions, or even on the edge of Beacon Hill Park. If you’re selling something as simple as ice-cold water and peanuts or chips, look for places where people might be thirsty without an easy option for relief nearby. If you are planning on selling something more unique, consider posting up next to other food trucks which offer different kinds of food to maximize your foot traffic.
Keep in mind that the city of Victoria doesn’t allow vendors to post up on government property, so you’ll need to work with private property owners. Don’t let this discourage you, however. This can present an opportunity for the property owner to make a small side income in rental fees as well.
Starting on a shoestring budget
If you’re not looking to cook much, then vending carts that don’t require food preparation may be the easiest way to get your feet wet. You can look for used vending carts or even build your own, so long as it meets all health and safety requirements.
If you are interested in a DIY food truck business, people have created them from used ambulances, old moving vans, old airport shuttles, and even old campers. Also pay attention to restaurants going out of business, commercial auctions, deals on Craigslist or Facebook, or even ReStore by Habitat for Humanity.
There’s quite a bit you can salvage in terms of materials and equipment for your build. Although some things you may want to buy new and potentially under warranty to protect your investment.
Since most vending machines and food trucks require electricity to operate, make sure your location provides easy access. If you do have enough funds to hire electrical engineering services to install a solar system, this not only opens up more location options, but will likely appeal to your customers and set you apart from the competition.
For those seeking finance options, be prepared to put together a business plan along with sales estimates as part of your application. Even if you are just asking for a little startup cash from friends and family, having an itemized list of startup expenses will provide a crucial level of transparency for anyone willing to help you out.
Remember to include consumables and supplies in your initial startup budget. It will take some time before your cash flow enables you to be self-sufficient. Setting up an account with a restaurant supply company can also save you money on items specific to the foodservice industry. And discount memberships can help with janitorial and cleaning supplies and general merchandise.
Licensing and permits
The approval process will be more extensive for those preparing food as opposed to vendors, but there is a comprehensive guide available to help you with every aspect of your business.
For your food truck business, give yourself at least a month to complete all required steps, including courses with certifications such as food handling safety, as well as to wait for government paperwork to be processed and completed. Being your own boss while helping visitors to Victoria can be a satisfying way to earn some extra summer cash.