DO spend time looking at different options.
Lots of truck rental companies will pull you into long term contracts. Make sure you’re getting the best rate before you sign anything! Often it can be cheaper to find a small renter who only has a few trucks, rather than pay the extra for the convenience of renting directly from a commissary. This goes for commissary fees as well. Although some commissaries can be harder to find on the internet, ask around and check the pricing of various lots before settling.
DON’T be afraid to negotiate your truck lease and commissary lease.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned working with food trucks for so long: it’s an informal industry. Yes, most people working within the industry are looking for a quick buck, but you can use that to your advantage. Be patient and hesitant when negotiating a truck lease and commissary lease. If you’re able to haggle just a few dollars down per month, that’ll save you in the long run.
DO make sure you have the truck insurance paperwork.
It’s easy to get overloaded in paperwork when you’re starting a food truck. Don’t forget about auto insurance! Check with whoever you’re renting the truck from to get updated insurance paperwork day ONE. You’ll likely need this information for permits, big events, and more.
DON’T forget to look over the small costs in the commissary.
Make sure you’ve accounted for all the costs that a commissary may charge you. Does your rented truck need ice? What about propane? How far are you from where you buy your produce? The little things add up, so don't forget to ask your potential commissary these important questions!
DO make sure your rented truck has a mechanic that can get to you quickly.
This one is super important, especially if you’re driving something built in the 80’s or 90’s. Trucks break down, it’s just a part of life. But if your rental company (or person) has a mechanic that can get to you quickly, it can save you thousands of dollars, especially if you break down going to a big event.
DON’T rent if you can afford to buy.
Food truck rentals are expensive and cut into your monthly profits. If you’re planning to be in this industry for a while, I would recommend purchasing a truck. If you go belly-up, you can always turn around and sell it (the market for food truck sales is pretty big
DO make sure you have good credit.
This can save you from large deposits or higher monthly bills. Talk to your rental companies about how your credit is affecting the price.
DON’T forget to think about the cooking process.
Not all trucks are the same! If you’re making a lot of fried food, you will NEED a truck that has enough fryers for your needs. If you don’t, it will slow down your cooking process and significantly lower the number of dishes you can serve per hour. Being able to turn out 60+ dishes an hour is crucial for bigger private events (which pay the highest). Make sure your truck has all the equipment you need and don’t skimp on this step.
DO think about a trailer.
Yeah yeah, I know a trailer isn’t always as cute or flashy as a food truck, but sometimes it’s better to have reliability in this industry. You’ll need a truck to pull the trailer and, if the truck breaks down, you can simply rent another truck until it gets fixed. Using a trailer means you never have to worry about not being in service for multiple days in a row. Plus, you can definitely make it look good
DON’T rule out pop-ups to begin.
Pop-ups are a great way to test out your concept before you invest in a food truck. Contact your local breweries or events and see if you can set up a tent. You can rent cooking equipment at most party planning stores and a truck from U-Haul or something similar; just make sure you’re still in compliance with health laws! In my experience, renting pop-up equipment is very time consuming and exhausting, but it can be worth it for the proof-of-concept.