Food trucks have long been shaking up the food industry with their interesting storefronts and their wealth of amazing food options. Food trucks, due to their mobile nature, make it extremely easy to access the best food no matter where you end up across the world.
However, though many assume food trucks to be easy to operate as part of a free-wheeling lifestyle, they can actually prove to be very difficult and stressful to operate!
What kinds of things do you need to consider when starting a food truck in New Jersey? How easy is it to do? Read on below to have all of the answers you could need!
How To Start A Food Truck Business In New Jersey?
Have you got an idea for a really cool food truck business that you want to show off to the people of New Jersey! That’s great, but first, we need to ensure that you have met the right credentials to start.
First up, you need to create a business plan!
Create A Plan For Your Food Truck Business
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to research the market, to find out what your food truck needs to do to stand out. As part of this, you will need to ensure that you are targeting a certain market or a particular gap in an existing market.
Notice a certain lack of hot dog food trucks in the New Jersey area? Aim to fill that gap! Have an amazing twist on the classic burger recipe? Hone in on that. This is a great first step as it keeps you focused from the get-go so you can aim for success without running the risk of becoming unfocused!
Now that you know what your business will specialize in, and who you are marketing towards, you will want to start building your business plan.
Figure out how your food truck will be run. How many employees do you want to have? How much will they be paid? Is there enough room for them all? Are they qualified? It can be easy to get lost in the minutiae of it all, but as long as you ensure you are adequately staffed and that your staff is fully competent, then you will be fine.
Your business plan will also want to consider every single cost that you will meet so that you can be sure what you would need to price your products in order to make a healthy profit.
Crucial for food truck business plans, as well, is sourcing a strong supplier for your ingredients. You want somewhere that is reliable and boasts good quality service and a range of products, but you also don’t want to spend too much.
Finally, with all of this having been considered, you should then be able to make some kind of financial projection to estimate how your business will fare going into the future. Without a strong business plan, your business could very quickly face significant trouble!
Register Your Business
Next up, you’re going to need to make sure that your food truck business is fully registered. It is illegal to sell out of a food truck if you are not first fully registered with the local New Jersey government so that you can operate legally. Once you have this, you can begin to get to work.
If you are planning on moving your food truck from New Jersey to another state occasionally to reach further afield, you may need to register with the local government of wherever you end up, so that you won’t find yourself operating illegally without realizing it!
Get A Food Truck And A Commercial Space
Now that your food truck is registered and ready to go, you can now move on to the most fun part: choosing your food truck.
Getting the right food truck is crucial to ensuring that your business can survive into the future and that it can operate day to day, and stand out from the competition.
You generally have two distinct options when it comes to buying a food truck. First, you can opt to buy a brand new one through a licensed seller, a dealership, or from the manufacturer themselves. This is quite a costly option, so you must ensure you are ready for the investment, but a new truck is great for ensuring that all components within it work from the word go, and will work for many years to come.
You may even be able to make specific requests to food truck manufacturers so that you can get the perfect food truck that has exactly the requirements you need, and that can help your business to thrive well into the future.
The other option that you have is to buy a food truck that has already been used. This can be a great way to save money and is the perfect option for anyone that is new to the world of food trucks. You won’t have to sink in too much of an investment before you’ve even started selling, which can be a great relief for many entrepreneurs.
However, one of the weakest points of used food trucks is the risk of catastrophic faults that may only make themselves apparent well into the future.
While most used car dealerships will make a point of disclosing any faults and complications with a vehicle before you buy one, not all do, which means you can occasionally end up wasting plenty of money.
In order to avoid this, make sure to check the credentials of anyone that you attempt to buy a food truck from, and make sure to inspect it carefully for yourself before you make your investment.
As well as this, while it is a lot easier to renovate or redesign a used food truck than a new food truck, it will still be a very significant investment that could well cost more than simply buying a new model!
Obtain The Necessary Operation Permits And Licenses
Now that you’ve made it this far, you’re very close to getting your food truck finally up and running!
This next step is very crucial though, so you definitely don’t want to gloss over any of the smaller details.
Food Safety Certification
You will first want to make sure that you have food safety certification so that your customers can always be comfortable in the knowledge that your food is safe to eat, and has been prepared in a safe and healthy manner from fresh ingredients.
This is generally overseen by the New Jersey Department of Health, and they will be able to verify that your food truck is compliant with all health and safety practices and standards. You may need to undergo a test or an exam in order for the department of health to give your food truck the go-ahead.
You will also need to gain access to valid permits to allow you to park on curbsides, in parks, at beaches, farmers’ markets, food festivals, or even within certain public parking spaces.
It is crucial that you get a hold of these, as they are, of course, essential to the everyday operation of your food truck. You don’t just want your food truck to sit around in one place all day after all, do you?
You may be able to gain certain permits from the local government, whereas some parking permissions may need to be gained from the owners of the property around which you are attempting to park.
New Jersey Division Of Revenue And Enterprise Services
You also need to ensure that your food truck business is registered with the New Jersey Division of Revenue & Enterprise Services. This official body seeks to ensure that all companies and businesses registered under it are operating within the law and to a high degree of quality.
Applying to register your business is as simple as visiting the New Jersey Government website to find the correct registration platform here.
DORES will also be used to ensure that your business is registered for taxes and that you are falling within the correct tax bracket so that you do not end up overpaying.
Once your business has had its tax verified, it will then receive access to a Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS, so that you can begin hiring employees to then get your business off of the ground.
Register Your Business Name
You will also need to ensure that the name of your business is registered. This serves a dual purpose. First of all, it helps you to ensure that you are not registering a business with a name that has already been copyrighted.
As well as this, it also helps you to ensure that no other food truck businesses end up stepping on your toes by copying your business name in the future.
Register For Sales Tax
Via the New Jersey Government website, you can also apply to be registered for sales tax. This helps to make the process a whole lot easier, as it is essential for your business, as it is illegal to operate your business without it.
Paying the local sales tax ensures that your business is helping the local community, so you can be proud that your work is having a positive impact on the area in which you work.
Ensure Your Business Meets Employment Regulations
Finally, you also need to ensure that your business complies with all employment regulations. This includes verifying that your employees are being paid fairly, that they have valid sick leave, and that your business meets the correct working hours.
This helps to ensure that your food truck is a fair and comfortable place to work, which also helps to keep your employees motivated, which leads to much better service and products, and then, in turn, leads to more customers!
There are also numerous local requirements that you must ensure you are satisfying wherever you end up. These can differ quite significantly from place to place, so you need to make sure that you check local requirements whenever you operate your food truck in specific towns or states.
Certain towns and states require different mercantile licenses, so you should make sure that you have all of the appropriate mercantile licenses for any area in which you want to operate.
Many local areas will also have their own zoning practices and requirements. These will take things such as the general size of your food truck, your signage, and other aspects of your business into consideration to ensure that you do not take up too much space.
It is important to make sure that you meet these zoning requirements before you intend to operate in a specific area, as you may be fined if you take up considerable space.
Obtain Food Truck Insurance
Finally, before you hit the road in your flashy new food truck, you are going to want to ensure that you have appropriate insurance so that you are protected at every step of the way.
It is also a legal requirement to have food truck insurance before you operate a food truck. Operating a food truck without the appropriate insurance could see you being met with a fairly hefty fine that would prove immensely troublesome to a food truck business.
Luckily, obtaining food truck insurance is not a difficult process, and it helps to ensure that you are covered in the event of an accident. You can apply for food truck insurance online, and many services offer very different rates, so make sure to search the market before you choose a specific insurance policy.
How Much Does A Food Truck Cost In New Jersey?
As we mentioned earlier, the cost of a food truck can vary massively depending on whether you are planning to buy a brand new one or a used one.
If you are in the market for a brand new food truck, then you can expect, within New Jersey, to pay between $75,000 to $100,000. This helps to cover the initial cost for the food truck but also helps to pay for all equipment, design, and insurance work.
A used food truck in New Jersey will instead cost around $20,000 to $75,000. This is a much wider range, as these prices will be determined by the sellers or the dealerships, so the prices often vary quite greatly. This cost also does not consider the additional costs to renovate or refit a used food truck, which could see the costs increasing significantly.
There are also the costs that come with registering your business, creating the marketing, and gaining insurance. This is why it is crucial to consider all potential costs in the business planning stage so that you do not end up overspending.
Can Food Trucks Sell Alcohol In New Jersey?
Technically, it is possible for food trucks to legally sell alcohol to customers. However, it is rare that you will ever see one that does. This is because any food truck that sells alcohol has to have a valid liquor permit in order to operate legally. Without one, you may face immense legal trouble should you sell any alcoholic content from yours.
Liquor permits also differ greatly from state to state, and sometimes even town to town. Thus, you would need a different license for every unique place you sought to carry out your business.
The cost of operating a food truck that can also serve alcohol just proves to be too much for some business owners, so many forgo it.
Food Truck Inspection Checklist New Jersey
There are many things that you need to ensure you look out for when inspecting your food truck to ensure that it is safe for business.
- Have all managerial staff received appropriate training with regards to proper food handling?
- Does the business have personnel that they can contact in the event of an emergency?
- Have you performed adequate background checks on all employees?
- Have your staff received adequate training to prioritize health and safety?
- Can only employees enter the food truck premises?
- Do your employees report that they have communicable diseases when on sick leave?
- Are all products, such as ingredients maintained and inspected upon arrival and during the course of business hours?
- Are all products being checked for tampering before being served?
- Are all products being kept in ample conditions before use so that they do not spoil?
These are just a small number of things you should be making sure to check for as often as you can, so that you do not end up breaking food service laws, and to ensure that you do not have to pay unexpected and hefty fines, which you definitely don’t want as an entrepreneurial business!
Food Truck Fire Inspection Checklist New Jersey
As well as checking to make sure that your business is compliant with local laws, and that you are meeting basic health and safety requirements, you should also ensure that your food truck is inspected for fire hazards and fire safety.
Naturally, as you will be working with cooking equipment every single day, it is important to carry out frequent fire safety inspections on your food truck, as such vehicles are more likely to catch aflame.
The key things that you should be making a point of checking are such things as the fire protection systems. Does your food truck have adequate fire suppression equipment, such as extinguishers, and even automatic extinguishing from devices such as ovens?
Many states, including New Jersey, require that your food truck has fully working fire extinguishers on board at all times.
Are the exits of your food truck adequate and unblocked? This is crucial so that your employees can safely evacuate in the case of an emergency, without the risk of trips or trampling.
How are your ventilation systems? Are they all in full working order? Are they maintained often, including cleaning and dusting to keep them operating optimally?
Can excess heat and smoke safely and quickly be exhausted from the main cooking area, to prevent accidents and burns? These are all crucial to maintaining a working kitchen that is safe for your employees to operate in.
Are all of the flammable materials kept securely fastened down, and far from cooking equipment? This is absolutely vital, as any leakage of flammable materials could lead to deadly explosions, or lead illness, especially as certain gasses are breathed in.
As well as this, are any of your hazardous byproducts disposed of safely and efficiently to prioritize your employee safety?
Flammable materials also include compressed gasses and similar products which could pose very serious fire and explosion hazards if not kept in check. You should ensure that all of your flammable gasses are stored in a safe and secure manner so that they do not leak out, and so that they are not over-pressurized.
Finally, you should also make a point of checking your electricity supply. Is it safe and in full working order? Does it have an automatic failsafe, such as a fuse, to prevent overloading?
As well as all this, you should make sure that your electrical supply is compliant with local laws, as well as the National Electrical Code, also known as the NFPA 70.
It’s no small feat to run a successful food truck. It requires some significant effort, as well as some very significant investments not only of money but also of your time. It is not a job to be taken lightly. Thus, it is important to ensure that you meet all of the requirements to ensure that your business can succeed and thrive well into the future.
You should make a point of starting your truck endeavor by making a foolproof business plan. Consider absolutely everything. Consider how many employees you need, how much you will pay them.
Consider whether you will be buying a new or used truck, or renovating an existing one, and how much it will all cost. You should also consider the various other expenses, such as fresh ingredients, gaining certifications, and gaining adequate insurance to protect you in the future.
There are also numerous regulations and laws that you must make a point of complying with, lest you end up facing some very hefty fines that could see your fledgling business heading into ruin! These can also change by state, and even by town, so make sure to always be on top of your documentation!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Do Food Trucks Make In NJ?
Some of the most successful food trucks in the New Jersey area have managed to make in excess of $36,000 in a single year. However, on average, an ordinary but successful food truck will generally make around $20,000 to $30,000 per year.
How Much Is A Food License In NJ?
Generally, you should expect to pay no more than $75 to earn a food license within the state of New Jersey. The license will allow you to sell your food within the state.
Where Are Food Trucks Most Successful?
According to research done in the industry, food trucks often see the most success in states like Oregon, Orlando, and Denver, just to name a few. Many of these have their own food truck parks where businesses can earn a high profit.