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What Are the Risks of a Food Truck Business? Complete Guide

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Food Truck: Risky Business?

Food trucks and carts have been around for a very long time but have recently begun to increase in popularity due to the low overhead costs of running the business.

If you have considered owning and operating a food truck, now is a great time to look into it further. Currently, in the United States, the food truck business is booming despite the risks that are associated with it.

There are well over 4,000 food trucks driving around the United States which makes for an industry that generates over $1.2 billion in revenue. From 2009 to 2016 the food truck business revenue increased by almost 8%.

Many food trucks offer a cheap way to grab some delicious food whether you are walking around town on your lunch break, or are at a festival enjoying music or crafts.

Of course, some areas have more food trucks than others and rules and regulations are a big reason for that. Some cities that support food trucks, like Portland Oregon, have truly embraced them and according to the city website they have over 500 food trucks, or carts, there.

When you are looking into whether or not you're going to operate a food truck it is a good idea to check your area to make sure the rules and regulations are not too stringent.

Top 7 Challenges Facing Food Truck Owners

Be aware of the 7 biggest challenges facing food truck business owners before you launch:

1. Rules and Regulations

Some permits and licenses may be required, health department licenses and inspections, food safety training for you and your employees to avoid food contamination, insurance, and certain mobile vending laws to be aware of.

2. Restroom Laws

Some states require that if you are going to operate your food truck business over a certain time period, there must be a bathroom nearby.

3. Parking Issues

You are probably aware that you cannot just drive up in your food truck, park it anywhere, and start your operations. Most of the time you will have to rent a space, whether permanent or temporary. If you plan on operating at special events you will need to pay a vendor fee and sign a contract. Be aware of what you agree to in those contracts as well.

4. Storage

Where will you store your extra food and what happens if you run out during your operating hours? These are things you need to consider. Possibly being close to a storage unit may be a good idea, or having an extra refrigerated truck may be something to consider as well.

5. Weather

Like a contractor or outdoor business, your profits will be pretty dependent on good weather. Many people don't enjoy being outside in the cold, heat, rain, snow, or wind so you have to consider your area and the type of weather that is common.

6. Repairs

Since your business is solely dependent on an operating food truck, being able to get repairs done quickly is essential. If you know how to fix it or have a close relationship with someone who does that could be really beneficial to the success of your business. Time is money, as they say.

7. Payment and Wifi

Pay attention to where your setup will be and if there is wifi or cellular data available if you are going to take credit card payments. These days you almost have to, as many people no longer carry cash. Do some research to make sure you aren't spending all of your profits on fees though. If you accept cash, make sure you have a lockbox of some sort for transporting.

What Are Common Risks to Avoid in Food Trucks?

  • Truck Expenses – Besides general wear and tear on the food truck, it is constantly exposed to weather and other elements that other businesses may not have to consider. Maintaining the food truck can end up costing quite a bit of money, so you must keep up with it as to avoid a huge maintenance bill down the road.

  • Employees – You probably will have some help to operate your food truck, and the more people in and out of it the bigger the risk of trips, falls, slips, cuts, and other bodily injuries or illnesses.

  • Liability – Every business has liability exposure and the food truck business does especially since you are dealing with food. Food-related illnesses such as food poisoning, auto accidents, and slips and falls are just some of the risks that are apparent when running a food truck business.

Other Coverages to Protect Your Food Truck Business

While General Liability, Workers Compensation, and Commercial Auto insurance is a great place to start, some other insurance policies are critical to reducing the risk of your food truck operations. At the very least, you'll want to consider these:

Food Contamination

Regardless of how many trainings you and your employees go through, accidents can happen. Raw meat can be left out too long, or touch other food that it isn't supposed to, or someone could come to work sick and transfer that to the food. If one of these things happen, then your entire stock of food has to be thrown out. This will put a huge dent in your profit, so Food Contamination insurance will pay for these costs for you.

Cyber Liability Cover

If you are going to accept credit cards, you must have Cyber Liability or Data Breach Liability insurance. You probably have been a victim or at least know someone who has been a victim of credit card number theft or hacking. This problem is so prevalent these days that you must protect your customers and business. A great thing about Cyber Liability is that it also pays for the public relations you will need if it is a big data breach and it goes public.

Umbrella Liability Cover

Because you are involved in a business that handles food, the standard limits on the liability insurance policies may not be enough. These limits are often $1 million per occurrence, and if you have one car accident that injures someone, or a big food contamination scandal, it won't take long for the number to get higher than that. An Umbrella, or Excess Liability insurance policy will give you an additional limit of liability on top of your other liability policies.

Business Interruption Cover

The goal of being a business owner is to make money, right? What happens when you are in an accident, or your food is contaminated and it takes a few days or months to get back up and running? Business Interruption insurance, also known as Business Income, will pay for your lost income during the time for which you are unable to operate your business. Keep in mind this has to be for a covered event, not simply because you are sick and unable to work.

Are You Ready to Get Covered?

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