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What’s Financial Expert Dave Ramsey’s Opinion on the Food Truck Industry?

In a recent episode of The Dave Ramsey Show, the financial expert of the same name took a call from a prospective food truck business owner. True to form, Ramsey offered candid advice on the next steps the caller Isabelle in Houston should take to improve her personal finances and operate the food truck business profitably. Click the play button below to listen to the full 8-minute segment of the show.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dave Ramsey’s program, listeners call-in seeking advice on a variety of personal finance topics. Many of the callers to Dave’s program are looking for ways to get out of debt by reducing monthly expenses. Others folks call in with questions about retirement planning to dealing with finances in a relationship.

What’s Financial Expert Dave Ramsey’s Opinion on the Food Truck Industry?

Isabelle opens up the call by providing some details about her business planning process to give Dave some insight into the venture. Break even point is in 3 – 4 months after opening. This is the point where the business will begin covering all of it’s expenses. For a concession trailer this usually includes transportation, inventory (food), labor, permits, and other expenses. Once the business is up and running, Isabelle has estimated that she will have a take home or net profit of $70,000 annually for operating the business.

It should be mentioned that Dave Ramsey does not have experience operating a food truck business. That being said Dave is extremely knowledgeable about what it takes to operate a profitable business and understands the numbers. Dave begins by complimenting the caller on the initial forecasting of the business, but asks how Isabelle came to her conclusions for revenue estimates.

Isabelle shares that she surveyed what other food trucks where making in the area to estimate daily revenue. Based on Isabelle’s survey of local food trucks in her area she estimated that she could expect to generate $600 – $900 in daily sales.

Related Reading: What is the Average Food Truck Owner’s Annual Salary?

After learning that Isabelle had taken a logical approach to estimating her daily sales numbers, Dave inquired about the biggest recurring expense in the operations plan… Hiring an employee. Not only was Isabelle planning to hire an employee, but she had also planned to pay for some training and certifications.

As Dave points out in the program, hiring can quickly become the biggest recurring expense for a food business. And while it might make sense to hire in the future, if Isabella was able to operate the food truck on her own initially it would make getting in the black much easier. Isabella agrees she can operate the coffee truck business solo initially.

Finally, Isabelle asks if she should take a loan out to start the business. Dave explains that he never recommends taking out a loan to start a business in any situation. (Cutting up your credit cards and not having any debt is sort of Dave’s thing.) That being said, Dave suggests getting a sales job and living off beans and rice to cut expenses until she is able to purchase the trailer in full.

Overall Dave’s analysis of the food truck business is fascinating and after the hearing about the business model is noticeably excited for Isabelle. Dave even invites the Isabelle to return to the show after her business is launched. It’s great to see that with the appropriate business planning, research, and work ethic that a financial power house like Dave Ramsey sees the business opportunity that exist in mobile food vending.

Why NYC’s Snowday Food Truck Offers Job Training to Youth With Criminal Backgrounds

“People who run criminal organizations have all those (business) skills. They just have been put in the wrong and negative space,” explains Roy Waterman, Director of Program for Drive Change. The goal of Watermans’ organization is to train, mentor, and employ formerly incarcerated young men and women by working on a food truck.

As a former inmate himself, Waterman understands how difficult it can be to turn your life around and become a productive member of society. When you are raised in an environment where all you see if drug use and criminal activity, it can be almost impossible to break out of this negative cycle.

What compounds the difficulty of returning from incarceration is that it becomes infinitely harder to get a job. No one wants to hire a criminal that might steal from the business or cause other problems. It’s just too big of a risk.

But without the ability to get a job that pays respectably, former inmates end up frustrated and fall back into their old survival habits. The goal of Drive Change based in New York City is to provide a positive opportunity to these people that are often forgotten or ignored by most of society.

How a Food Truck Can Serve as a Life Changing Platform

The food truck that Drive Change operates is called Snowday. Snowday’s menu is based around grilled cheese sandwiches, a popular item on mobile food trucks. The food truck also won a prestigious Vendy Award in 2015.

At first glance, you probably wouldn’t recognize the social goal of the food truck. From a day-to-day operational standpoint, the food truck looks and acts like any other unit you see serving folks across NYC. As the video below demonstrates, the average day on a food truck starts in the early morning as Snowday is on the road traveling to a vending location at 8 a.m.

The goal for employees of Snowday is for it to be a transitional, but live changing experience. Each individual that goes through the program will work on the truck for a period of 6 – 12 months. After their fellowship is up, these folks will typically go into another job within the food industry or go to school full-time. Either way, the truck provides a positive work experience and job training that can be leveraged to provide entry into the workforce.

As highlighted in the video above the individuals being trained through Snowday became incarcerated for a laundry list of reasons like bank robbery or possession of drugs. Although their reasons for getting into trouble are all different, the common thread among each of these employees is that they want to make a change. They’ve learned their lesson the hard way and want to move forward.

In conclusion, it’s incredible to be able to see how impactful a food truck can be for individuals when aligned with the right mission. Visit the Drive Change website to learn more about the goals of this important organization.

Do Food Trucks Need to Pay Taxes in the United States?

The 2018 deadline for submitting your business or personal income taxes in the United States is nearly upon us. In 2018, the deadline for submitting these taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is April, 17th. This date is even labeled as Tax Day on most calendars. Depending on your situation this date is something you dread or is just another day because you filed your taxes in advance over a month ago.

No matter what end of this spectrum you find yourself at, as Tax Day moves closer people have questions about the tax code and law. One frequently asked question we’ve seen is whether or not food trucks really need to pay taxes? We aren’t sure how this rumor came to be, but it’s not true. Food trucks are obligated to pay taxes just like any other registered business.

Believe it or not there is no food truck loophole in the tax code that we could find. If your goal is to somehow avoid taxes by starting a food truck it won’t work in any territory within the United States. You’ll be obligated to pay Uncle Sam his fair share just like everyone else.

It’s unclear how the rumor that food trucks don’t need to pay taxes came to be. It could be an idea that goes back to the old roach coaches of years past that would serve questionable food without a business liscense. It could also be yet another misunderstanding about the food truck industry. Either way, food trucks, concession trailers and other vendors are required to pay their fair share of taxes to the government.

clam chowder van

Tony’s Clam Chowder built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks

While you can’t avoid paying taxes by starting a food truck there are some basics you can do to reduce your tax burden at the end of the year:

State Taxes: Where you live makes a big different in how much you pay in taxes each year with a food truck. States like Nevada and Florida have no state income tax at the time of writing. On the other hand states like Minnesota and California have an income tax of well over 6%, which can really eat into profit for a small business.

Business Expenses: Many of the costs associated with operating a food truck business can be written off as legitimate business expenses. Some common examples of expenses will include mileage to travel to different vending locations. Also any wages paid to employees or investments made into new cooking equipment can be listed here. The simplest way to track your business expenses is to have an account or credit card that is only used for business purposes. This will make it easier to download the charges you made in the previous business year from your bank’s website. Make sure to keep as many receipts as possible as a record of purchases.

One thing to keep in mind is that we are not tax professionals so don’t take this a legal tax advise. You should always consult a certified professional that can provide guidance based on your situation and goals. With that being said the above tips are all smart ideas to bring up to your tax professional to see how they apply to your business.

Five Popular Food Truck Alternatives to Start a Mobile Food Business

Do you love the idea of starting a mobile food business, but are looking for options beyond a basic food truck? In that case, we’ve got you covered with some of the most popular alternatives available!

At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks we’ve had the privilege of custom building all kind of food units to meet our client’s vision. What we’ve learned in our 15+ years in the industry is that every business has different goals and unique needs that require outside-the-box planning to accomplish.

Some of our customers are on strict budgets and need to a unit that will allow them to bootstrap their new food business. Other vendors must be able to navigate their food units in large cities and operated in tight spaces. While there is another segment of our clientele that requires fully tricked-out units with bathrooms, full-sized commercial kitchens, and space for five or more employees to work comfortably inside.

If you know you want to start a mobile food business, but are looking for alternatives to a food truck, here are some of the most popular options we’ve delivered for our customers:

Concession Trailer –
The most common alternative to a truck is the concession trailer. Concession trailers have been around for years and you’ve no doubt seen them at fairs, festivals, open field concerts and other special events.

The biggest difference between with a trailer doesn’t have a built-in engine like a food truck does. As a result, you need to have another vehicle one hand with enough horse power to tow it. There are advantages to this type of unit though. First off, food trucks inevitably break down just like any other vehicle. If you have a trailer, you can easily rent a truck to use for the day and get to a lucrative event. If you operate a food truck, you could end up out of service at worst possible time.

The second advantage that people like is the cost. Since there’s no engine on-board, the a trailer will always cost less than a comparable food truck. If you want to get into mobile food vending this is closest thing to a food truck.

Food Van – Food vans come in a variety of vehicle models like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, RAM ProMaster Cargo Van, or the Ford Transit. Each of these models can be converted into smaller sized mobile food units or catering service vehicles.

We’ve had tremendous success building custom-made coffee, ice cream, shaved ice, and Hawaiian food vans for entrepreneurs. The important rule of thumb to remember with these vehicles is that you’ll be working with a limited amount of space onboard these vehicles. A maximum of two employees is recommended on these units due to the space limits. Still, if you’re either on a tight budget or need an agile unit that can navigate busy city streets these are great options. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinters and other models are often used as work vehicles and can handle the daily wear-and-tear of food operations. Below is an example of a previous Ford Transit we converted at M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks.

Food Carts – When the average person thinks of a food cart they think of the hot dog guy, the pretzel vendor, or maybe even ice cream cart. Those can certainly all fit the criteria, but carts can be so much more than that.

One example would be our innovative line of BBQ smokers. These BBQ carts allow you to start a catering business or enter competitions for well under $5,000 depending on the model. Whether your specialty is brisket, pulled pork, or chicken we can help you get started on a shoe string budget.

Shipping Containers – In the past couple of years, shipping container kitchens have become increasingly popular. Advantage of these containers is there durability, low price point, and size. The downside of course is that they are significantly less mobile than the other alternatives listed in this post. If you plan to operate out of a somewhat permanent location these options can be really cool.

We modified the shipping container and mounted it on the back of a truck to maintain it’s mobility while giving it a truly unique experience to guests. Customers can literally watch how the sausage (or in this case) pizza is being made while they wait.

Catering Business – Catering is another popular option for beginning food entrepreneurs. With this business model you can often get started without any type of specialty food unit. All you need is serving equipment and access to a commercial kitchen assuming you’ve acquired a catering license in your area to serve legally.

We hope this post has given you some new ideas on alternatives to food trucks. Let us know if there are any options we missed within the comments section below.


Interview with Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine Founder Shawn Wenner

Learn more about Entrepreneurial Chef Founder Shawn Wenner.

It’s a stark reality that you’ll need more than “good food” to start a thriving restaurant or food truck. You’ll also need to develop business and marketing chops to keep your business open for the long haul. Unfortunately, these important skills aren’t usually taught in culinary school.

Enter Shawn Wenner, who after almost 10-years of working at a culinary arts school chose to start the Entrepreneurial Chef, a magazine and educational platform created to help close the gap between food and entrepreneurship. In today’s exclusive Q/A interview, we learn why Wenner set out to start the Forbes of the culinary industry and help a new generation of food entrepreneurs.


M&R: Tell us about yourself and the Entrepreneurial Chef.
Shawn: After close to a decade of working for Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, the campus closed and I was forced to find a new path. A few sleepless nights and slight identity crisis later, I had a flash of insight. Knowing most culinary students started school with entrepreneurial ambitions, coupled with the fact I saw many struggle from a business and entrepreneurial standpoint post graduation, I conceptualized an educational platform focused on food entrepreneurship.
All in all, the platform was originally intended to be a website where successful food entrepreneurs shared actionable advice. Truthfully, I had no idea if icons of the industry would even be interested in talking about the business and entrepreneurial side of things, but quickly realized we hit a nerve and they’ve not only been willing, but extremely eager and supportive. It was never intended to become a national magazine, have a collaborative podcast, launch contests, and engage in the many things happening today.

Digital Cover of Entrepreneurial Chef.


M&R: Entrepreneur and chef… Those are two distinct career paths that people usually don’t put together. How did you come up with this concept why did you feel like there was a need in the market for this content?
Shawn: There were honestly about 10 different factors, and each played a part. However, at it’s core, having the ability to speak with hundreds and thousands of budding chefs through the years, it was apparent most had entrepreneurial ambitions. Couple that with entrepreneurship being a core interest with future generations, food being a staple in our society, and the restaurant industry going through challenges, I began seeing where budding chefs would have to find ways to diversify their talents and/or enhance their business knowledge if they truly wanted to live their passion full-time and not struggle financially.
M&R: What’s the mission of Entrepreneurial Chef? 
Shawn: It has always been, and will continue to be, an educational platform to bring ideas, inspiration, and actionable advice to those who possess cooking or baking skills and aspire to live off their art. It’s not just about “how to make money,” though a core of our content planning is around that topic. It’s about helping someone with a passion for food and serving others to monetize their passion and live on their terms – as cliche as it sounds.
And it’s not just for chefs like the title may indicate. Truly, if anyone possesses the unique ability to cook or bake well, we want to help them find a way to monetize their passion. The ultimate goal is our readers and community members take away enough information and inspiration that they reach their entrepreneurial ambitions.


M&R: In your opinion, what is one or two of the most interesting pieces you’ve published in the magazine and why?
Shawn: Jokingly, it’s like asking which kid you love best. What I learned early on is everyone has a unique start, angle, struggle, inflexion point, etc., and it’s been incredible hearing about them all. Everything from how the iconic Daniel Boulud was just an eager young man in America and decided to sell truffles on the side one holiday season, but didn’t know he was technically operating illegally due to his legal status at the time. Just imagine an icon like that way back when getting his hand slapped by diplomats and the confusion it caused – yet, he jokingly shared that he sold all his truffles amidst the confusion.
There are people like Chris Hill who became frustrated and wrote his “Dear Chefs” letter that went viral and catapulted his personal brand. Follow that by a powerhouse like Maneet Chauhan who shared the story of giving birth to her child 3 months early on the day her restaurant opened, and then worked in the restaurant with her husband while her child was in NICU – can you imagine? Maneet shared the raw reality of why timing is never perfect from an entrepreneurial standpoint, and you just have to adapt and overcome.
Every person we connect with has yet another story that inspires the next generation and I’m so blessed we have the opportunity to capture them and share.


M&R: What’s your longterm goal (say 5 years) for this publication? 
Shawn: It’s funny, someone once said, “Shawn, are you trying to be like the Forbes for the culinary industry,” and without skipping a beat I said, “You bet!” It’s a crazy thought, and pie in the sky vision, but we’re driving to become the go-to resource for food entrepreneurship as a whole.
There are super niche platforms who do incredible jobs creating awesome content that is very focused to a sub niche in food entrepreneurship, like FoodTruckEmpire for instance who goes super deep with Food Trucks. However, what I saw was a lack of platforms that bridged all types of food entrepreneurs together – food truck operators, personal chefs, caterers, restaurant owners, pastry entrepreneurs, specialty food product creators, food bloggers, cookbook authors, food stylists, etc. – so everyone can glean practical advice from one another. We’re driving to become that bridge in various ways from a media standpoint.


M&R: Where can people go to subscribe or learn more?

Shawn: For the magazine, under the name Entrepreneurial Chef, we have native apps in Apple Store, Google Play, and are listed on Amazon for Kindle devices. Our website is simply Entrepreneurial Chef and has a ton of info about the site, magazine, and more. Also, our collaborative podcast with Chef Chris Hill called Making the Cut is on iTunes and Stitcher.













Can’t Take a Vacation from Your Food Business? This is the One Thing You Need.

Taking a vacation when you run a business can be difficult.

If you own a food business such as a restaurant it can be difficult (some may say impossible) to find the time to take a single day off, much less an entire week of vacation. When owners finally pull themselves away from work, they find themselves thinking about their business, what needs to be done, and everything that might be slipping through the cracks without their supervision. Longterm this is not a healthy way to run a business or run your personal life.

Today’s post outlines how one food entrepreneur was able to finally get his time back and be able to finally take a proper vacation after two years of 12+ hour days operating a food truck / restaurant.  Staking a claim on time won’t be easy and there will be numerous problems that will pop up in an effort to steal days set aside for yourself. Still if you are able to give yourself a break and relax every once and while, it will benefits your overall health and allow you to avoid business burnout.

Can You Take a Vacation?

“I’m going on vacation outside the country for 3 weeks with my wife,” I told my friend Case.

Case, who also owns a restaurant, looked at me like I was from outer space.

Case started his restaurant more than 3 years ago and had yet to take more than a day off at a time. If Case isn’t at his restaurant every day things would quickly go off the rails.

Supplies don’t get reordered. Catering doesn’t get booked. Things begin to be missed.

Of course, I found myself in the exact same situation just a couple years prior with my own business.

Back when I had only one food truck, I worked 16 hour days / 6 days per week for two years straight…

Here’s what my typical day looked like during that time…

Emails and calls in the early morning. On the truck in the afternoon until evening for service, and closed out the books late into the night.

Then I went to sleep and started it all over again the next day.

Even if you’re making good money, I think you’ll agree that putting in 16 hours a day, 6 days a week is not sustainable forever.

You need some help!

It wasn’t until my mentor Josh showed me why and how to build a team that everything changed in my business for the better…  

A team allowed me to:

  • Attend multiple catering events at the same time and generate more revenue.
  • Focus my effort on growing the business instead of cooking food, serving customers, driving a food truck.
  • Go on vacations with my wife and take a much needed break!

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re just starting out you’ll need to wear a lot of different hats in those early days. But you don’t wear these hats forever!

You need to build your business with the mindset that eventually you’ll passing the daily responsibilities to team members.

Building a team is the only way you can transition from being a solo profitable operator to owning an asset that you can pass along to someone else.

One of the areas we will be focus inside my mentoring program is team building. It’s a critical skill you need to learn whether you plan to start a restaurant, food truck, or catering business.

Hiring team members is critical for your success.

What Team Member You Should Hire First

Even if you’re still in the early stages of planning your business this is the right time to start identify who to hire and when to hire team members first if you want to grow.

There is debate among the business community who the first hire first for your business should be. Being a restaurant owner, I understand the heavy expense business owners pay and the mental challenges of making that first critical hire. As a result, I don’t recommend hiring an expensive manager or highly trained chef first.

Hire someone that’s a good worker that can be trained to complete low-level and routine tasks that you do not want to spend your time doing. This goal of this role is to complete routine tasks on your behalf like prepping food in the morning, washing dishes, or sanitizing the kitchen.

The Dreaded First Hire.

This first hire is important for a couple reasons. First, you’ll get some routine but time consuming tasks taken off your plate. Second, you’ll learn to delegate tasks, provide clear instructions, and be a leader. All important skills for a restaurant owner!

After you’ve successfully hired your first set of lower-wage employees, it’s time to find 1 – 2 rockstar managers that will be able to oversee your business while you’re gone. You’ll need these managers to have a high-level understanding of all aspects of your restaurant operation so they can direct other employees.

If you’re fortunate, you may discover someone with leadership abilities that you can train and promote from within your restaurant. While this can be a great way to incentivize and encourage other employees to excel, it’s wise to also look for external hires with experience if you’re hiring a first manager.

Bottom line, you need to work hard to be successful in the food truck, restaurant or catering business. But you should be able to take a vacation every once and awhile too!  Building a team by hiring is the only way to accomplish this goal.

If you’re able to take some time off you’ll feel better, but it will also allow your business to finally grow. Don’t be the bottle-neck in your business by trying to do everything yourself. Focusing on building a team and reaping the benefits of your hard work.


Would You Accept Bitcoin on Your Food Truck?

Would you accept Bitcoin for your food truck?

Bitcoin… You may have seen it reported in the news or heard relatives discussing it at the holiday dinner table. In the second half of 2017 to the beginning of 2018, the topic seems almost inescapable if you pay any attention to financial news reports.

Some experts believe cryptocurrencies  like Bitcoin are the future of money and a more efficient way to store value than in banks. Others like investing legend Warren Buffet, believe these new forms of money will “certainly end badly” and this is nothing more than a hyped-up bubble that will surely burst.

While it’s not yet clear how things will shake out for this new currency, it’s making plenty of headlines right now. Which led us to wonder… Would you accept Bitcoins or other forms of cryptocurrency on your food truck if you had the opportunity?

What’s the Potential?

Before you get too excited about the potential opportunity, one thing that would need to happen is wider adoption of this new form of money to get consistent sales. This estimate says well under half a precent of the total world population owns even a fractional percentage of a single Bitcoin. There simply isn’t enough people to get consistent transactions from.

Still… There could be some PR advantages to accepting bitcoin. For example, Subways in Bueno’s Aires now accept Bitcoin payments, although it’s unclear how many transactions have actually occured from customers ultilizing the currency.  There are some other large companies that have begun to accept the form of payment too like Microsoft and For the companies that elect to accept Bitcoin, they’ve been able to garner some free press as a result.

Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrencies

If you’re not familiar with Bitcoin, an extremely simple explaination it’s a digital currency. You can use these “coins” in the same way that you use a dollar to purchase goods, services (assuming the business accepts them as payment), or even a way to store wealth.

Unlike United States dollars, these Bitcoins are not backed by the United States government. There are no  real life dollars or coins that you can hold in your hand either. All transactions are recorded online by a group of computers that documents all transactions on a large digital ledger. The concept of Bitcoin and other digital currencies such as this go much, much deeper, but you can watch this video if you’d like to learn more. Reader beware… You can go very far down this rabbit hole.

Bottom line, it’s unlikely that you’ll be accepting Bitcoin payments anytime soon on your food truck. Still, if you had the opportunity would you accept it as payment? At the time of writing a single Bitcoin is being valued at around $12,000 USD.


John Stossel and the Fight For Fair Food Truck Regulations (Video)

Investigative journalist and broadcaster John Stossel and ReasonTV, published a new story titled “The Fight Against Food Trucks” earlier this month. The goal of the report was to find out if food trucks really are “bad” for restaurants as some politicians have claimed.

Are food trucks just part of healthy competition or are they rouge businesses that aren’t playing by the rules? Stossel aims to find the answer to this question in the video below that runs approximately 5 and a half minutes. So far this report has received over 20,000 views on YouTube alone.

The Advantages of Food Trucks for Entrepreneurs

As many of our readers may already know, food trucks are a lower cost way to start a food business than a restaurant. Many restaurant ideas will take $500,000 – $750,000 to start. A food truck often requires less than $100,000 all-in and doesn’t have overhead like monthly rent payments.

One of the food trucks featured in this story is Cupcakes for Courage based out of Chicago. The owner of Cupcakes for Courage Laura Pekarik says her reasons for starting a mobile cupcake business were due to not needing to rent a restaurant space or hire a team of people in the beginning. “Everything was under my control to get my feet wet in the business,” explains Pekarik in the early days.

Another food truck owner featured is Joey Vanoni of Pizza di Joey out of Baltimore, Maryland. In the program, Vanoni shares that he got the idea to start a pizza truck when he couldn’t find a good job after serving in the military. Instead of giving up on financial success, Vanoni decided to take matters into his own hands by starting brick-oven pizza business.

Bottom line, food trucks level the playing field by giving almost anyone from any economic background to start a food businesses with the opportunity to grow into a thriving brand. But do mobile units create unfair advantages for people that already invested half a million dollars or more to own a restaurant?

Food Truck Regulations

As Stossel points out, the rules for food trucks vary significantly depending on the city you want to operate. Some cities restrict serving time periods to only two hours. Others do not allow a food truck vendor to park within a certain number of feet of a restaurant.

These regulations can make generating sales on a food truck much more difficult. As Pekarik from Cupcakes for Courage points out it can be difficult to find a legal location to park in her city. Many of Pekarik’s regular customers have had difficulty even getting the opportunity to purchase her cupcakes for this reason.

Joey Vanoni also shares how difficult regulations have made operating his business in Baltimore. In Baltimore you are not allowed to sell the same product within 300 feet of another restaurant. In Vanoni’s case, the product is pizza making it nearly impossible to vend in the downtown area of his city where pizza joints are plentiful.

These regulations make generating revenue more difficult and begs an interesting conversation about why rules would favor one type of business versus another type of business? According to the video, it all comes down to who is lobbying local politicians.

More established businesses like restaurants have more broader networks. They know who is who in local government. They know other business owners that have been operating in the same area for decades. They’ve also got more money to contribute to lobbying local government. In short, restauranteurs have a lot of the resources that scrappy food vendors do not.

Leveling The Playing Field.

So how do small businesses compete against better funded and well established entities? One of the organizations cited in the Stossel piece is The Institute for Justice (IJ), an organization that has been helping ensure fair mobile vending laws are being established across the United States. IJ helps mobile food vendors and other The Institute for Justice is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps a variety of people and businesses as described below on their website:

Since 1991, IJ has come to the aid of individuals who want to do the simple things every American has the right to do—including own property, start and grow a business, speak freely about commerce or politics, and provide their children with a good education—but can’t because they find the government in their way.

As recently as December, 20th, IJ played a pivotal role in getting an important lifting the 300-foot serving ban for food trucks in Baltimore. This means that in the near future food trucks will be able to serve their food within a 300 foot radius of other restaurants with similar menu items in Baltimore.

In conclusion, the great restaurant versus food truck debate will likely continue for years to come. One positive aspect of this debate that we’ve seen in recent years is that more restaurants are investing in food trucks and more food trucks are building their own restaurants. Our hope is that in the future both types of businesses will have a better understanding and appreciation for one another.

Gary Vaynerchuck’s Business and Marketing Advice for Food Truck Owners

Gary Vaynerchuck is arguably the most well-known entrepreneur and social media thought-leader on the planet. Throughout the year you can watch daily tidbits of him running his business his YouTube Channel that’s rapidly approaching a million subscribers or Instagram. Vaynerchuck’s company, VaynerMedia, provides marketing consulting from Fortune 500 companies to the biggest athletes in the world. But while attending a recent marketing conference, Vaynerchuck took some time out of his speaking schedule to offer some specific advice to a small business owner… specifically a food truck owner.

online reviews

If you’re someone that’s never heard of Gary Vaynerchuck don’t worry! As background Vaynerchuck has a regular YouTube / Podcast called “Ask GaryVee” where people call or email a variety of business, social media, and even life choice questions to Gary. Gary takes these questions and gives his no-holds barred perspective on questions that are asked.

As Vaynerchuck describes in the video below, he met this food truck owner at a conference / book signing. The woman that owns the food truck received a signed book, but came back to Vaynerchuck to ask for seek specific advice about the operations of her food truck. Vaynerchuck gives her major praise for coming back to speak with him personally about her business and shared the mini consulting session below through his vlog.

The Scenario

The reason this woman sought Gary’s advice was to get his opinion on why her food truck was struggling. The woman had started an all-American BBQ food truck. Her first food truck was a huge success, profitable, and gained a following quickly. But… after adding a second and third food truck she found the growth difficult to manage and the new trucks to not be as profitable as the first. She then asked Gary what his thoughts were and admitted she wasn’t able to pinpoint where things started to go wrong.

Gary starts by asking the woman what changed after growing to three food trucks. This was a terrific question after all the day-to-day work of a food truck owner with one truck is very different than someone that owns three. With a single truck, you can have your hands in every aspect of the operations from the business from front-of-house and greeting customers to cooking meals and everything in between. But when you scale to multiple locations, your role needs to change. You will be doing more management of people and securing business for the trucks. It’s a completely different position!

Gary asks the entrepreneur to work back and think about all the different aspects of her business that changed after expanding to three trucks. The woman mentions that she used to take orders from the window. Now other employees accept the orders. The recipes and portion sizes may have changed… even slightly after this expansion as well. Vaynerchuck then explains to the woman how she needs to work backwards and figure out all the things that changed with her business operations initially and see what could be done to build more process into her business and make the total experience closer to what she had when there was only one truck.

Social Media Marketing  

Gary Vaynerchuck first became well-known in the marketing space for being an expert on the topic of social media. Gary then offers the business owner a tactic on Instagram that could work extremely well for a food truck business.

The idea is to find 20 social media influencers that are nearby the city you operate in. Gary then recommended reaching out to 20 people per day, saying you like their profile and then offering them free lunch at the truck. By consistently applying this tactic over time, Gary believes that you could become an extremely popular truck in the area assuming your food is of high-quality.

Gary also clarifies that it’s important to implement this strategy on Instagram specifically. Why? Because it has more organic reach than other social media websites like Facebook. Organic reach is a description of the number of people that see your post for free online and don’t have to pay for it with advertising.

The conversation is pretty in-depth considering that this advice was given at a marketing event where Gary was likely being approached to speak with many high-level marketers or business people.  So major props to Gary for taking the time to consult with a small food business owner. The owner walked away with some very specific takeaways that she said would be implemented in her business.

Whether you’re currently operating a concession business or just thinking about it, we recommend watching this video to anyone. It demonstrates just how challenging operating any type of business, including a food truck can be.


Food Trucks often Double as Disaster Relief Vehicles

When emergencies happen, you need teams of highly-skilled people that can mobilize quickly and travel to a distressed area to help. In critical situations like this people like first responders, fire fighters, nurses, and law enforcement usually come to mind. These people are the first at the scene of a catastrophic event.

But in recent months, seemingly unlikely food trucks have also been called upon to serve their communities after natural disasters. Food trucks answered this call by moving to support emergency workers and victims of storms like Hurricane Irma. When the power goes out and fresh water becomes non-existent these mobile food units are able to travel to the hardest hit areas to offer hot food, water, and in some cases shelter for individuals that have lost everything.

Van D’s Dutch Delights Desert Trailer.

Disaster Relief Vehicle Requirements

Although food trucks and concession trailers were not built with the intent to rush into disaster areas, they are well-equipped and prepared to handle many of these emergency situations. Below are four key reasons mobile food units are often called into action:

Speed: When disaster strikes, you need help that can be mobilized quickly today… Not sometime next week. Food trucks have the ability to spring into action with little notice. Often the only preparation needed is getting the right supplies (water, coffee, food) loaded up onto the truck and taking off.

Mobility: After a natural disaster, a cities electrical grid can be decimated and offline for days or in some instances weeks. This means not only homeowners are without power, but local services like restaurants and gas stations are offline too. Food truck have the ability to drive directly into the most distressed areas and offer services like cold water and a warm meal.

Equipment: Food trailers are already equipped with the right tools to serve emergency victims. There are ovens to heat meals. There are tables to prepare warm meals and refrigeration to keep perishable food cool. There’s also generators already installed so that these units can operate off-the-grid and without any electrical source.

Skilled: Finally, food truck owners have a unique skill set that often goes unnoticed. Food truck owners are accustomed traveling and setting up at events with few amenities. They are also comfortable preparing and distributing food quickly to large groups of people. These are critical skills to have in these scenarios.

SMART Trailer Left Side

Ideally local organizations like fire departments and hospitals will also have mobile medical vehicles on hand with additional specialized equipment for health care purposes. Many hospitals now have mobile clinics to help provide first aid and other emergency services in these events.

Recent Ways Food Trucks Have Served as Disaster Relief Units

According to reports, an average of 844,239 people are impacted by a natural disaster each year in the United States. A disaster could take the form of a flood, wildfire, drought, or hurricane depending on where you live. Here are a few specific ways food trucks have been called into action in recent months:

Napa and Sonoma Counties: Hat tip to Off The Grid that has helped mobilize Bay Area food trucks to serve areas impacted by wild fires within these counties. Food trucks are helping to ensure food donated is distributed to the right areas where people need help the most in these areas.

Las Vegas, Nevada: After the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, restaurants and food trucks banded together to help serve hot meals to first responders and victims of the this event.

South Florida – Pembroke Park and Monroe County have been aided by over 100 total food trucks to distribute free meals to residents. This is an incredible effort by the food truck community and other companies like JetBlue that helped sponsor these important events.

Although disaster relief was never the original intent for these food truck owners, they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve their communities when they needed help most. This is just another example of why we love this industry so much.


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