Opening or taking over a restaurant
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How to open a food truck?

Louis de Champs
March 15, 2023
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It's decided, you too want to open a food truck! Whether you are already a restaurant owner or not, it's time to start the adventure!

To get started without making a mistake, discover our complete guide to learn step by step how to open a food truck !

1. What are the advantages of starting your own food truck?

Launching a food truck is often an excellent way to start in the restaurant business. Freedom, mobility, profitability, discover the main advantages of running a food truck!

It is a concept synonymous with freedom

The first advantage of a foodtruck is that it is mobile! It is even one of the most obvious advantages of a food truck.

Whether you want to reach a maximum number of customers at different events, follow the crowd during a travelling event (Tour de France for example) or simply change environment regularly, just fasten your seatbelts and drive to your future location!

Freedom is also found in the choice of the culinary concept since it is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself!

There are many original and inspiring examples of this:

  • Le Camion qui Fume : for the best burger ever in Paris,
  • Mozza & Co: for fans of... Mozza,
  • Doda has chosen to focus on delicious Moroccan recipes,
  • La Camionnette, in Lyon, offers sushi,
  • Vegalicious in Marseille, as its name indicates, has positioned itself on vegan meals.

All you have to do is let your creativity speak!

Is it profitable to open a food truck?

Opening a food truck can be a very profitable investment if the strategic, financial and legal steps are well respected. The advantage of a food truck is that, contrary to the creation of a traditional restaurant, the costs are 4 times lower!

Indeed, the basic investments are much less important than for a classic restaurant. Here, the purchase of the van and the equipment are the two main expenses to foresee. While for a restaurant, you have to find a place to pay, buy many tables, chairs, and other equipment such as large dishwashers, which is not the case for a food truck.

In the end, to own a functional food truck, you need to invest between 30 000 and 140 000 €. A substantial sum, certainly, but still small compared to the 300 000 € you will need to open a traditional restaurant.

👉 To go further: Margin and profitability in the restaurant business, understand it all

2. What are the sales figures for a food truck?

On average, a food truck generates a turnover of between 50,000 and 250,000 euros per year.

What budget to open a food truck?

Here's what you can expect in terms of budget to open your food truck:

  • The truck: new, used or rental? The choice is yours. Count on average 80 000 € for a new food truck, between 25 000 € and 60 000 € for a second hand food truck. Concerning the rental, some platforms, such as Mon Camion Resto or 1001 Foodtrucks, propose the rental of trucks at 50 € per day! This option can be interesting if you want to start the first time while limiting the risks. Note that some rental companies also include the equipment in the food truck (oven, fryer, barbecue, etc). 
  • Gasoline: count between 150 € and 250 € per month according to your rhythm of displacement (attention with the rise of the oil price, which will inevitably have an impact on your profitability)
  • Food/drink stocks
  • Kitchen equipment: between 10 000 € and 40 000 €.
  • The checkout and order management system (terminal, QR code, online ordering, etc.)
  • Packaging, cardboard cutlery and bags
  • Insurance
  • Taxes
  • Marketing costs (flyers, advertising on social networks, business cards...)
  • Potential training courses
  • The rental of your site
  • Unexpected" costs should also be taken into account in your budget!

In the end, the total investment to open a food truck is between 30 000 and 140 000 euros. Of course, this is a significant amount, but once again, it remains much lower than the one needed to open a real restaurant!

3. What resources are needed to launch your food truck?

The resources you need to have in mind when starting a food truck are the following:

  • Human resources: think about the type of contract your employees have according to your legal status, and their remuneration
  • Financial resources: evaluate all your other expenses such as your personal contribution, bank fees, taxes, insurance, and the price you will have to pay for your locations
  • Material resources: your truck, your raw materials, your equipment, etc.
  • Intangible resources: for example, the cost of advertising your food truck on social networks
Food truck employees

4. Which truck to choose for your food truck?

The choice of the truck for your food truck will depend on your needs, your desires and of course your budget. 

Here are the most popular food truck models chosen by mobile restaurateurs:

  • The Opel Movano
  • The Fiat Ducato
  • The Volkswagen Transporter
  • The Citroen Jumper
  • The Renault Master

Should you rent or buy your food truck?

There is no wrong answer: it all depends on your desires and your budget! Both have advantages and disadvantages that we have detailed for you.

1. Purchase of your food truck

The advantage of buying your own food truck? It will be yours, and that means you can customize it as you wish! The price will obviously be higher if it is a new vehicle. However, you will find many used food trucks for sale. Most restaurant owners buy them second hand. 

Buying a food truck is the best choice if you are thinking long-term. 

2. Rental of a food truck

Renting a food truck is ideal if you want to take fewer risks when starting out! You can always buy one later if you really want to. Renting a food truck costs between €400 and €1,000 a month on average. You'll find plenty of food truck rental sites, such as Mon Camion Resto or Wefoodtruck

The mandatory equipment for a food truck

Who says food truck, says of course mandatory equipment and standards! Of course, these will not be the same if your food truck sells hot dogs, pizzas, sushis or pancakes!

Nevertheless, here are the main ones:

  • Electrical or gas installations
  • Cold appliances (fridge, freezer, drinks cabinet, specific refrigerated display cabinets...)
  • Cooking equipment (various ovens, deep fryers, crepe makers, etc.)
  • A hood
  • The sanitary spaces
  • Bar equipment (dishwasher, ice machine...)
  • Kitchen utensils (dishes, ham slicer, cutlery...)

How to optimize your food truck?

1. A cash register NF525

Whether it is to facilitate your accounting or to save you time, the choice of a simple and intuitive cash register is essential to make your adventure a success!

Our advice: choose a quick and easy-to-use touchscreen cash register, specially designed for fast food restaurants.

👉 To go further: How to choose the best cash register software for your restaurant‍

2. A control terminal

The big advantage of a kiosk on a foodtruck? It allows you to delegate all the order taking and to concentrate on welcoming customers and preparing dishes. It is easily installed on your counter and offers an intuitive and playful interface. 

In addition, no more order errors, it is the customer who manages his order!

3. Click and collect

If you are close to offices, your customers will love being able to order in the morning and pick up their orders at noon without waiting in line! Not only will you anticipate your order flow, but you'll also be able to increase your sales volume.

👉 To go further: click and collect: the ultimate guide

4. The QR code

The QR code is particularly adapted to food trucks that have a table space. By installing QR codes on your tables, offer your customers the possibility to sit down, order and pay directly at the table. Once the order is ready, they only have to get up to get it.

5. How do you finance a food truck?

First of all, it is essential to study how you will finance your food truck

Personal contribution

As with any business start-up, the more savings you have, the less dependent you are on banks and other credit institutions. This also allows you to reduce your monthly expenses!

The banks

The majority of the restaurant owners opening their food truck call upon a bank to finance part of their project. However, be careful to have a sufficient personal contribution, otherwise the banks will be more reluctant to lend you funds.

The business plan of your food truck project must also be solid, credible and supported by figures.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding, or participatory financing, can also be a solution to raise funds, in addition to developing a future clientele committed to your project! For this, you have platforms such as the main ones: Leetchi, Ulule, KissKissBankBank or Tudigo. But also others like Les Entreprêteurs.

Financial aid for food trucks

There are many ways to finance your food truck, so take advantage of them!

Aids and General Grants:

  • Subsidies by region: check with your region's website, as each region subsidizes food trucks according to more or less specific criteria
  • ARCE (aid for taking over or creating a business): if you have already benefited from ARCE in the past, then your unemployment benefits can be paid to you directly in the form of capital by the French employment agency. This means that you can continue to benefit from ARCE during your food truck activity.
  • The Business Project Support Contract (CAPE): if you have chosen to launch your food truck as a company and not as a micro-enterprise, you will benefit from the help of an existing company in the form of material or financial means.

Specific grants and subsidies for starting a foodtruck:

  • The Intervention Fund for Services, Crafts and Commerce (FISAC): this subsidy is offered to businesses, and therefore to food trucks. In order to benefit from it, you have to apply to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry or the Chamber of Crafts and Trades.
  • The Kronenbourg Foundation The Kronenbourg Foundation: This assistance is aimed at entrepreneurs in the restaurant sector. It offers adapted subsidies as well as loans and advantages with banks.
Food truck customer

6. What location for my food truck?

Wondering where to locate your food truck?

First of all, you should know that you will have to check with your town hall or prefecture beforehand, because you will not be able to set up anywhere on the public highway. Specific authorizations are required. However, here are some strategic places you can already think about:

  • Markets and halls
  • Events (concerts, festivals...)
  • Weddings and private parties
  • Good locations such as near commercial areas

Tips for finding a location for your food truck:

  • Ask directly to your city hall
  • Do some scouting in your community and ask the local merchants
  • Check out the Facebook pages dedicated to food trucks and join communities!

7. What type of authorization is required to launch a food truck?

There are different types of permits to start a food truck:

  • For a site without a footprint on the public domain: you need a parking permit to be obtained from the town hall or the prefecture. A fee must be paid
  • For a place on a market or in a market hall, you will need an authorization for temporary occupation of the public space from the town hall. Here, it is the right of place which will have to be paid.
  • Finally, for a place on a private site, you must have the authorization of the owner directly. It is him who will fix the price. 

Attention, it is mandatory to have an authorization under penalty of fine!

How to request a food truck location at the town hall?

To obtain your authorization for your food truck location request, click here: Submit a request for a location

What is the average price of a food truck location?

The price of a location for a food truck varies a lot depending on the town. Indeed, a town hall in the provinces will not ask for the same amount as in the capital! 

In addition, don't forget to buy the travelling business card dedicated to food trucks. This is essential so that you can move your food truck outside your city. You can get the card at the Chamber of Trade if you sell dishes made of fresh products, or at the Chamber of Commerce if you don't.

8. What legal status should a food truck have?

Here are the different possible legal statuses to open your food truck, with their advantages and disadvantages!

Creation of the auto-entrepreneur status for a food truck

Open a food truck with the status of auto-entrepreneur? It is possible!

The two main benefits are: 

  • There is no minimum contribution required
  • The administrative steps are relatively simple

As for the disadvantages:

  • Your annual turnover must not exceed a certain threshold (i.e. 72 600 € per year)
  • The recruitment of one or more employees is not possible
  • You are limited to one partner

Creation of an EIRL for a food truck

Advantages of the EIRL status:

  • No minimum contribution required
  • Simple administrative procedures
  • Personal property is not seized in the event of default (non-individual civil liability)

Disadvantages: 

  • No division
  • High social contribution charges

Creation of a EURL / SARL for a food truck

The advantages of the EURL or SARL status:

  • Relatively simple administrative procedures
  • No minimum contribution required
  • Partners' liability limited to the amount of their contributions
  • Possibility of choosing the mode of remuneration of the manager as well as the type of tax system

Disadvantages:

  • Limited social security coverage with the Independent Social Regime (RSI)

Creation of a SAS for a food truck

For the creation of a food truck with the SAS status, here are the benefits: 

Advantages of the SAS status :

  • No minimum contribution required
  • The liability of the partners is limited to the amount of their contributions
  • Possibility of choosing the tax system and the mode of remuneration of the manager
  • Executive assimilated to the general social security system (employee)

Disadvantages:

  • Higher social security contributions
  • More tedious legal and administrative procedures
  • The social coverage is limited with the RSI

You now have all the keys in hand to launch your food truck! Good luck and have a good trip!

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To help you choose your restaurant's equipment, call an Innovorder expert directly. He or she will provide you with customized answers to your questions.

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