Food truck businesses are growing: in 2020, the food truck market size surpassed $1.2 billion. Given the cheap start-up costs compared to brick and mortar restaurants, plus the boom in outdoor dining as a result of the pandemic, the future is bright for food truck and mobile catering companies.
Food truck businesses are different from restaurant businesses because they’re solely operated out of a vehicle: they have no brick and mortar location. Yes, there are some restaurants that will expand their reach or offer catering by utilizing a food truck — but they will likely already have an established infrastructure of suppliers and employees.
Food truck-only businesses and mobile caterers, by comparison, are focused solely on their truck, employ only a few people, and will have a limited menu. Alongside the founder/owner, there are likely two or three regular staff and occasionally a few others who may take shifts from time to time. All told, a food truck will likely employ less than 10 people.
For micro-businesses like these, where maybe you’re just paying yourself and a few other people, Roll by ADP works well for full-time or part-time employees, running payroll whenever you need to (even outside the regular cycle), and giving one-time bonuses to employees.
Traditional restaurants famously run on very thin margins, which can be driven by food costs, the type of cuisine offered, and multiple other factors. What differentiates food trucks from brick-and-mortar restaurants is the cost of the truck. Cost will vary based on your location, but a brand-new, custom-made truck with all the bells and whistles could cost you more than $150,000 — and likely take months to build.
Buying a used truck may be a better option, although there may be some additional costs as you customize the equipment you’ll need for your menu. There are also renting and leasing options that may be available, you’ll just need to run the numbers to see what option works best for you.
Besides the cost of food, napkins and utensils, uniforms, maybe a website — just like any other restaurant — but there are some costs you’ll need to consider that are unique to the food truck world.
If you’re passionate about food but aren’t keen on the food truck world, a catering business may be what you’re looking for. There is a lot of overlap between the two worlds — and if you are starting a food truck business, consider expanding into catering options once you get things up and running — but here are some catering-specific considerations.
We want you to be passionate about your menu and your customers, and not have to worry about the ins and outs of running payroll — especially if you are your only employee. Roll makes it easy to pay yourself and have all the taxes taken care of. And if you do have one or two 1099 contractors helping out, Roll makes that simple too.
In addition to all the truck and food logistics, setting up the actual business entity requires a few steps. First, the owner needs to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in order to be able to hire people to work for them. You can apply online.
Local licensing, food service, and other regulatory requirements will vary, so be sure to research extensively all the various approvals and licenses you’ll need to get started based on where you plan to operate.
When it comes to paying your employees, you’ll also need to be clear on the distinction between employees (W-2) and independent contractors (1099) — it’ll affect how you withhold taxes — and set a pay period in which you pay people.
Roll by ADP lets you run payroll in under a minute and handles tax filing too. The app takes care of all the withholdings and taxes so you can focus on crafting the perfect taco or barbecue or hot dogs or coffee or cupcakes.
Last, you’ll want to make sure you document your compensation terms. From paid time off to how you pay overtime (if you pay it), you’ll want to be clear with your employees on the ins and outs of how they’re paid.
With Roll, your employees can quickly find and manage pay info like this right in the app.
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