No matter how much we love what we do and what drives we have, all of us get into our fun and exciting mobile and concession food businesses for one shining reason above all others: to make money and make a living, hopefully by doing something that doesn’t feel like work. Being able to survive while doing this is key, and as such we need to have an idea how much we can make each year; can we survive on the actual profits of a concession trailer job?
One definitely needs to double check all the factors and ensure their potential salary can get to what they individually need. Of course, the true potential range for this is huge, based not just how well YOU will do but countless other influences. That said, we approach the subject on anyone’s mind who’s looking at opening up a concession trailer: What kind of salary can I make?
For this particular question, we’ll assume that you’re actually able to develop a strong customer base and a steady flow throughout the year with the typical ‘high and low seasons.’ Of course getting to that point is another adventure within itself that dictates success, but that’s an article for another time. On that same line, one can rarely expect to rarely make rates in this range UNTIL having done so, of which not a single penny will be pure profit until you’ve broke even after paying off loans, debts, equipment, and all those other startup business costs one has to deal with. But it can give you an idea on how much you can pay off each year until that point; and then on it’s smooth sailing.
Concession Cart Cost – ‘How much you’re spending on your gelapi.’ Buying used, maybe at around $2-$5,000 for something small or up to $50,000, if not more, for larger and newer models
Menu Prices – ‘How much you’re making per Order’
Single vs Meal – ‘Are customers ordering a single item or compiling multiples?’ Basically are you getting frequent small upsales
Production Speed – ‘How many Orders can you produce every hour,’ so how many checks can be gathered, like turning tables for restaurants
Hours of Operation – ‘How often are you actually out on the Streets? How many longer event gigs are you doing vs just shorter lunch/dinner street parkings?’
Event Fees – ‘How much are they taking from you?’ What kind of event fees do you have to deal with, and are they events that you can make that back easily or are you fighting for every penny?
Seasons of Operation – ‘How many DAYS are you on the Street each year?’ Is this business your life, all year, 24/7, or are you only doing it during the warmer months, stowing in the dead winter period and filling wage requirements with some other part-time job
Part Time vs Full – One should never really go into the mobile food business thinking they can operate it on the sid, but there are some BBQ Teams, Restaurants, Meat Companies, etc that will send their own trailer/cart out to special events all year or during the big giant summer fairs; these ones will obviously be in the MUCH lower price range brackets mentioned later, if not even lower still
Competition – ‘How many potential customers are being taken away by other trailers or trucks?’ This certainly sounds negative, but other trucks can also bring MORE customers to an area to buy from you, the question is if there’s a balance or simply too many damn trucks in one location
Employees – ‘How many people does it take to shell out your food?’ Can you get it all out, and fast, with just yourself and/or one other person, or do you need more people that need a paycheck
Maintenance – ‘How well are you taking care of the trailer?’ Technically more concerned with your cooking equipment here; and everyone has maintenance costs. The question comes into whether you’re using new/well-maintained models that keep up well over time, or older/not-paying-attention-to machines that suck money from you every month at least
Licensing and Permits – ‘Where are you and what the hell are they trying to soak from you?’ Where you are, what kind of trailer one has, stationary vs temporary, where one parks, what kind of events one does, all of it varies highly in fees. This is something that needs heavy research for your area and proper navigation to avoid the higher ends of billing while maximizing opportunities to make your salary
After all this is said and done, one rounds their expected earnings towards the final yearly salary. Though, again, there’s no real consistencies to hang on, we do have some figures that give us an average height to look to. For instance, the average owner salary for those in amusement and recreation food service industries, like concession trailers, in 2008 came to 45,650. This could be seen very hopefully, in for the effect of inflation, and the increasing gastronomic interests, raising this average even further. That said, one could also say that increased competition from OTHERS getting into the new concession trailer and food truck industries may also drive this number down. So take it as you will.
Another source states that many operating out of smaller trailers and focusing on some of the smaller events will often see 5-20,000 a season. Assuming they operate all or most of the year, and that figure is probably for the BUSY season, one could estimate the addition of slower months could bring that to anywhere between 10-45,000 depending. Which lines up to those he states achieve ALL of their revenue from the concession, and do a lot more events, who get into the range of 20-50,000.
What this means for YOU, chances likely, is that your first few years of success will be occupying these lower ranges. As nice as the higher values look, always keep in mind that most concession businesses won’t be getting to that ranges until you’ve worked the business 2 – 3 years at least.
Then again, there are always concession owners that strike a nerve among the public and make incredible returns very quickly. Just one example would be the founders of Cousin’s Maine Lobster who started out with a single truck and had a multiple six figure per year business. Now they have an exploding empire that includes an e-commerce store and franchise of food trucks.
It is possible to make a very healthy salary, very fast 6-figure+ salary in the concession business. But prepare for much lower numbers, especially when starting out.
Also Read These:
The Average Salary of a Person Who Owns a Concession Trailer – Small Business
“A Concession Business Can be Big or Small” – Festival Net
Starting a Food Concession Business – StartingaBiz.com