Restaurant Start Up Life
Food Truck Vs Restaurant
You have a creative idea for a restaurant. You’ve already figured the restaurant name, how to create an appealing menu, and have made the food not only appealing for the belly but for the eyes as well. After allowing friends and families to try all your food, you’ve decided to go all in on your idea. But how? Do you take the food truck approach? or Do you begin with a restaurant?
Each type of establishment has both advantages and disadvantages. We’ll take a look at both and determine which can best potentially help you out when deciding to go for the restaurant of your dreams. Whether it is having the home front or the power of mobility, either type of establishment can best serve you on your course of becoming a successful restaurant owner.
- Mobile Marketing
If your food truck is designed properly, you have an opportunity to do some free marketing when driving on the streets. Having your social media accounts or information plastered on your truck, can help potential customers get into contact with you and come out and try out your food. If you have an eye catching truck, you will get countless people who drive by savoring over what your food would taste like.
- Low Start-Up Cost
Not saying that the start up cost is cheap but compared to a restaurant location, a food truck would be relatively cheaper to start up. In comparison to paying rent, building the kitchen (assuming the location you choose doesn’t have one), and buying all the essentials to create a restaurant, a running food truck would be essentially the only investment necessary. It would be wise to invest a commissary kitchen to have a location to prep all your food in safe and sanitary place.
- Simple Menu/Choices
With a food truck, you have the liberty to specialize in whatever you want, as opposed to creating a full restaurant style menu. For the sake of the example, lets say you decide to sell empanadas. With your food truck, you can have a selection of tasty empanadas on your menu. In a restaurant, a menu with more variation is necessary but with a food truck you can be known as the “King of Empanadas”.
- Chances to Expand
If you’ve gotten the formula for a food truck down pact, the opportunity to expand is always a possibilty. If enough people are visiting your establishment or know of your food truck, you can always set up shop with a second food truck across town (of course ran by someone else, who can equally provide the same great service as you are providing). If your food truck is really booming, theres also the possibility of creating a restaurant based off the idea.
- Potential to serve community based events
Many neighborhoods host festivals, concerts, and other community based events. This is a great opportunity as a food truck owner to get out there and show the community that the food sells itself. It serves an opportunity to truly connect with the backbone of your clientele and reel them as customers who cannot only provide you with their business but word of mouth as well.
- Location flexibility
One of the biggest drivers in sales for food trucks is location. How much foot traffic and car traffic does your food truck get? Are you in a location that has thousand of potential customers or are you in a dead end where potential customers are less likely to get to you? Although I recommend you do market research before choosing a location, a food truck gives you the freedom to move to a different location. If you believe across town is the place to be, as long as it is in the same city or township, you shouldn’t have a problem moving your business into a different part of town.
- Time consuming
Some restaurant entrepreneurs may never have worked in the restaurant industry. Understanding how demanding or time consuming the industry is an important concept to grasp. A food truck will demand at the minimum 15 hours of your day. When new food truck owners realize what they get themselves into, they usually give up after the 1st year because of how demanding running a food truck is.
- Seasonal dependency
Depending which part of the country you do business in, your food truck may be dependent on good weather. If you are in the East Coast for example, it would be difficult to sell food during the grueling winter days. Rainy days, forget about it. Rough weather will keep your customers indoors and your pockets thin.
- Low Profit Margins
The amount of costs compared to sales and paying employees is likely keeping your profit margins at a low percentage. Unless your food truck is and can handle high volume, it is tough to even breakeven at first. Be sure to check out my article on how to save on your costs when it comes out in the near future if you ever need help with this department.
- Regulations Nightmare
Depending where you are located, you will probably have to deal with plenty of different rules and regulations. From buying permits to sell food in a certain city or permits to serve food in general, these pieces of paper are going to cost you. Hopefully before you choose a location you see how much it costs to set up shop, instead of forking over a good amount of capital on a location that may be heavy with competiton.
- Truck Problems
Unless you have capital to blow and can afford a brand new food truck, you are likely going to have to purchase a used truck. Please do yourself the favor of getting it checked out completely. If anything goes wrong, it will cost you a hefty amount to get it fixed.
- Express your creativity
Everything you dream of, has the potential to be conceived of (with the right amount of capital of course). You can create the menu, exactly the way you want it (Read my Menu article here). From appetizers, entrees and desserts, you have have full reign of what you decide to implement in your restaurant. The ambiance and floor plan is all at your disposal. However you decide to create the restaurant is your choice and can help better serve your business.
- Delegation of tasks
As the owner, you have much responsibility, but not as much as you would being the owner of a food truck. With a restaurant, you have the option to hire food preps, cooks, waiters, bus boys, food runners. With those positions filled, it allows you to concentrate on one of the important aspects, the customers.
- Clientele focus
As the Owner, you should be interacting with each and every single customer that steps through your doors. Making them feel cared for is such a vital aspect to business success. While your main priority is to make sure your restaurant is being ran the way you want it, there is plenty of more time to focus on the people who put the hard earned dollars in your pocket.
- Seasonal Immunity
Dreary weather will always keep people indoors but if you have a roof over your business, at least you can guarantee some form of business. Compared to closing down when you own a food truck, your restaurant isn’t highly affected by bad weather.
- Start up cost
Investment costs are extremely high. You have to think about finding the location for your restaurant and how much rent may be or if you purchase the real estate. Constructing the kitchen, dining hall, and a bar adds up and is not cheap whatsoever.
- Time consuming
Like the food truck, opening up a restaurant is a full time job. We’re talking 7 days a week, 15–18 hours a day depending on what kind of cuisine you plan to serve. There is no clocking out early, the restaurant is your baby and you have to attend to it all times.
- High risk
With such high start up cost and ROI so low, opening a restaurant is a huge risk. You could potentially lose hundreds of thousands of dollars when investing in a restaurant and it fails after the second year. With the amount of competition that exists in the industry, finding a market and being unique enough so that customers are coming back daily is something that takes time and patience. Although most restaurants fail within that 1–3 year period, the amount of money lost is extremely high that can be huge financial burden for the owner.
- High costs
Owning a restaurant means there is food to buy and employees to pay. Even if the restaurant isn’t breaking even or making a profit, these costs are neccessary to continue operating. In a price sensitive industry, you don’t want to charge an arm and a leg to your customers for their business because your costs of food are too high. There is a tight rope that owners have to walk when choosing what goods they purchase and how much they charge.
The restaurant industry is a very tough industry to thrive and excel in. It takes much time and patience to see the results you would like to see. In these times, there may be points in time where you don’t have money for anything or time to spend with your loved ones. If you are to open a restaurant, do your research and make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into. Not only is there much debt that you can potentially accumulate (For God’s sake, STOP WITH THE BANK LOANS) but also frustration and stress that comes from being an owner of a restaurant or food truck.
In my opinion, the wise choice is to smart small. Save up at least a year’s worth of expenses. Invest in a small food truck, experiment and find a niche. Engage with each and every single customer that comes your way. Hire yourself a cook or maybe a partner that can help you handle the work load. Make sure the food is amazing (and cheap enough) to make people come back often. Finger food is a great way to start, different types of shakes, things that don’t require you to spend late nights or early mornings prepping complicated foods. Do your research, where is there foot traffic? Are there corporate buildings around that you can attend to at lunch time? Don’t be afraid to risk if food as always been your passion. Just make sure that every decision and step you take is carefully planned out as if it were a game of chess.