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May 12, 2015 Staff

What to Look for in a Florida Food Truck Manufacturer

Unless you happen by-chance to ALSO cut steel for a living and/or work in an auto-building shop, chances are you won’t be manufacturing a food truck yourself. For the majority of people, it’s more cost effective to work with an expert (like us) that understands the many different elements of building a truck from the plumbing to electrical or mechanical aspects. This blog post will help you find the the builder that’s right for you.  (If you are interested in finding out what it takes to build a food truck, check out this post that explains the Reader’s Digest version of the process.)

Although finding a builder can be pretty easy, finding the RIGHT one presents another challenge. Many of our own customers come from well-outside of Florida and plan to operate across the United States or even outside the country because they haven’t found their ideal builder nearby. Not all manufacturers are cut from the same cloth, and you need to find one that will not only make the truck YOU want, but one that will last for years to come. In this article we outline our basics for identifying a quality builder.

Local Convenience?

Looking for a manufacturer nearby is usually where people begin their search. There are advantages to working with someone local because you can more easily visit their facilities. Sometimes this can work out, but often there aren’t a lot of options when getting a food truck built in most metros. And investing $30,000+ with a manufacturer to build your business, just because they’re located nearby is not ideal. You should be selecting your builder based on the individual that will do the best job and want to build a vehicle that fits your needs.

By looking outside your immediate metro this greatly widens your range of choices, which you should take advantage of. We recommend finding the manufacturer that fits your exact needs. This is not always the one located closest to you.

bl3Beware Cheap Builders

Being cost-effective is always a great advertising point, and there are PLENTY of builders and other businesses that actual offer GOOD prices compared to their competitors while giving an equal, if not better, quality in product and services. That said, this isn’t always the case. And if you find yourself comparing two manufacturer’s both offering what seems to be the very same kinds of Truck build, installation, services and help, and one of them is notably cheaper… well, it’s time to start asking WHY.

It’s quite possible that a business like this is using cheaper, weaker materials, if not cutting certain production corners; not making it dangerous or unsound, but not making it as extra-strong or durable as others might be. It’s even possible they may in fact be using used trucks or equipment in with the new aspects; or perhaps they’re building out of certain set blue-print vehicle designs, even cranking out the same shell for faster and easier production, thus making a product that isn’t ‘truly’ customized to your needs and preferences.

Then again, it can always be indicating a lack of the ‘extra’ factors in your Service. Many manufacturer’s these days not only help you build your truck, but also offer to help with menu development, marketing, and some other little tasks to assist you in the business startup. They go the extra mile, and offer great service; which can sometimes lead to a manufacturer which inherently costs a little more, but one can at least ensure that their Truck is an important project, and not another product and service being simply traded for cash.

Another shady tactic we’ve seen used in the past is that builders will quote one number and then increase the estimate after the down payment has been accepted and the build is in process. It’s unfortunate that this happens, but that reality is it does.

At this stage of research, though, we can’t know what this actual cost will mean for the final product, it can only guide us. Which is why we invest so much time up front to ensure we know exactly what you need on your vehicle before making a quote. We want our original quote to be as close to the final cost as possible.

Are They Legit?

Though there’s no official form of ‘certified quality’ for manufacturer’s, one can find different sources that will give proper credit and status to those that have garnered a proven track record of quality builds and/or have given continued help and support in the growth of the mobile food field.

One simple recommendation is to reach out to other food truck owners to see if they’re familiar with a builder’s work. Typically, food truck owners will be candid about the quality of a manufacturer. Another simple test is to run a Google search for the name of the builder. If Google brings back listings that have bad feedback about the builder it’s a good sign to stay away or at least find out more information.

Wrapping it Up

Plenty of builders offer Wrapping and other decoration services, or can source you out to some people who do a fantastic job; which is always great and well-documented on their sites (so it’s easy to see who does it well). But it’s also easy to subconsciously equate very attractive, skillfully wrapped and beautiful food trucks with quality manufacturing. Though one should hold no guilt in contacting these businesses for your truck-wrapping services, they should still place some extra inspections on the product beneath it so as to doubly ensure it ALSO meets the ideal standard (not to claim that certain builders are attempting to trick clients with pretty packaging, like cereal boxes, but it could accidentally lead to your own clouded judgement).

At the End of the Day, Research

After all your other considerations, counter-balancing, getting quotes, see what actually LOOKS good and what doesn’t, the best thing for you to do is actually CONTACT people to see what these different manufacturers’ promises get you. Hopefully by now you’ve at least been able to narrow down your options rather further, give yourself less places to look into.

So look into the customers, there should be some sort of gallery or listing on the builders’ website, or mentions and reviews on facebook. If you’re having difficulty in actually finding one, well, Red Flag, at the very least you know they haven’t worked on a lot and don’t have anything to go off of yet.

When you DO find some people (I suggest getting in touch with at least 3 per builder), ask them the important questions: how well was the job actually done compared to their expectations? How has the EQUIPMENT held up (breakdowns, length of time between each)? How was the SERVICE, both during and after? Do they continue to help with upkeep, repairs, etc afterward in a HELPFUL manner? And, at the end of the day, was it all worth it, especially with how much they charge (do they KEEP charging for all these other things here and there too?)?

With your answers found, you can finally start making your decisions, picking from the field of tens to find one or two businesses that fit your ideal quality, perfect product , commendable service, over-the-wall truck-plan assistance, and acceptable price points. Congrats, and good luck with the next step!

Extended Reading

Buy or Lease? – Food Truckr’s guide to the questions you should ask YOURSELF before getting your truck. More helpful advice about the food truck investment.

View Our Past Builds – See examples of our past food truck builds, including cost of each specific type of vehicle.

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