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August 28, 2018 Staff

Six New Revenue Stream Ideas to Grow Your Food Truck’s Brand and Business

The last time you visited a local Starbucks or Caribou Coffee shop you may have noticed something: There’s a whole lot more for sale than a simple cup of coffee and breakfast sandwich. The last time I frequented my local Starbucks location (a location I visit about 3 times per week) the store had a variety of items available for purchase. Here are a few items I observed at my location:

  • Mugs and tumblers with the Starbucks branded logos selling for between $12.99 – $19.99 on average.
  • Gum and mints strategically placed by the cash register to remind me that I will have coffee breath later.
  • Bags of coffee available for purchase that can be taken home and enjoyed. These sold for around $9.99 – $12.99 per bag.
  • Gift cards and a small selection of greeting cards for common occasions.

As the holiday season approaches later this year there’s no question the number of gifting options will balloon to include stocking stuffers and other coffee related gadgets. But instead of purchasing your coffee and moving on with your day, I recommend seeing what you can learn from a coffee business doing over $22 billion in annual sales.

Believe it or not you don’t need to be a multi-national conglomerate to offer value adding products for customers. You can offer similar items for your boutique food truck affordably if you know the options are and where to look. Here are a few smart ways you can add exciting new revenue streams for your business and grow your food trucks brand while you’re at it.

Sprinter Van built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks.

Six Ways to Increase Food Truck Revenue

Swag – Thanks to advances in printing and technology, you can get your log or brand message professionally printed on almost anything without spending a small fortune. Coffee mugs, t-shirts, hoodies, cups, hats, tote bags, and just about any other item you can be produced reasonably through websites like Here you can get 100 black shirts for around $7.62 a piece with free shipping. This leaves you with a lot of profit if you plan to sell for $15.00 – $20.00 per shirt.

Profit Potential: Low – You can usually sell one or two shirts per day, but selling branded items isn’t a huge revenue generator for most vendors that have tried. Still things like t-shirts, mugs, and other items don’t expire or spoil so you can retain inventory until it sells.

Food Products Seasoning Blends / Sauces – If you operate a BBQ concession business, bottling your blend of rubs or sauces makes a lot of sense. Once you start building a name for yourself through winning competitions this side of the business can be a real income booster since the price to make a rub is often low. Additionally, seasoning and sauces have a long shelf life so you won’t feel pressured to sell out at each event.

Profit Potential: High – The sky is the limit for this revenue stream. You can start by selling your product wherever you vend, but as your name grows continue to add distribution channels such as online and retail.

Advertising – More food trucks have gotten into the sponsorship game in one way or another. It makes sense because food trucks can serve as mobile billboards promoting a brand message in some of the most well attended events around a city. Often a brand will pay to wrap your truck with a brand message for this type of marketing often referred to as a food truck takeover. The city you operate will determine if these opportunities exist locally. Places like New York City or Las Vegas will have much more opportunities to monetize in this way.

Profit Potential: Medium – A vendor can expect to make a few thousand dollars per advertising event with their truck, but the opportunities can be few and far between.

Did you know? You can offer cooking classes on a food truck.

Cooking Classes –  Due to the popularity of cooking television and The Great Food Truck Race, cooking on a food truck is an experience people are willing to pay for. The average cost of a class will vary and depend on the type of food you plan to serve. Many vendors will choose to conduct their cooking classes during slow time periods like the A.M. on weekends or evenings on weekdays. You can expect people to pay between $50 – $100 for a single lesson or more if you plan to hold a once per week class.

Profit Potential: Low – You will be limited to the number of students you can teach. You also need to ensure your class hits a certain threshold of people to be worth your time. Also, keep in mind that there will be expenses associated with ingredients for cooking the food.

Cooking Competitions – If you serve BBQ, you already know about the opportunities here. Almost every weekend in the summertime you can probably find a smoked meat competition of some type near you.

Profit Potential: Low – Participating in a BBQ competitions can get expensive fast. You also need to consider the gas, time spent on travel, and entry fees for each competition. This is a great way to introduce your brand name, but it is expensive and extremely competitive. Many of the BBQ teams consider it a win if they break even on expenses at the end of the year.

Become a Food Expert – Transforming yourself from a food truck vendor into a food expert won’t be easy, but it is possible. There are many ways that you can develop into a food expert and make money: writing a book and making money from sales, creating a blog and generating revenue through advertising and product sales. Eventually you will be able to charge to speak at events.

Profit Potential: High – While the income potential is high as an expert, it will likely take you many years to reach a respectable income level. You will need to master your craft and spend years finding your unique voice for this to work.

As you can see there are many ways you can leverage the platform that is your food truck to build a lager food brand and increase overall profits. Have you tried any of these ideas in your business? How did they work out? Let us know in the comment section below.

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