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How to Start a Food Truck Business in India – Complete Guide

Do you want to know how to start a food truck business in India? Do you want to know about the plan, profitability, design, and promotion? If YES, you have come to the right place. Find in this post, a detailed step-by-step food truck business plan.

What is a Food Truck Business?

A food truck business is a mobile venture that offers culinary experience directly to customers on the streets. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, food trucks are on wheels, allowing them to navigate different locations and cater to diverse audiences. This unique business model has gained popularity globally for its flexibility, creativity, and ability to serve a wide range of delicious dishes.

Food trucks are equipped with a kitchen and serving area, mounted on a vehicle for mobility. They often specialize in a specific cuisine or offer a diverse menu to cater to varied tastes. Food trucks operate on streets, at events, near offices, or in busy areas where foot traffic is high.

Is Food Truck Business Profitable in India?

Starting a food truck business in India can be a lucrative venture, tapping into the growing demand for on-the-go and diverse culinary experiences. While profitability depends on various factors such as location, menu, and operational efficiency, let’s explore some data points to understand the potential earnings.

Some of the key factors influencing profitability are location, menu pricing, operating costs, marketing costs, and average daily sales volume.

Successful food trucks in India can achieve daily sales ranging from INR 8,000 to INR 20,000 or more, depending on location and menu popularity. Considering an average daily sales figure of INR 15,000, monthly revenue can be around INR 4,50,000. Profit margins can vary, but a well-managed food truck business might achieve a net profit margin of 15% to 25%.

This business is a lot of fun to run. However, to be successful in this business you need to put in effort and dedication. If you are passionately looking at building a food truck business, take a look at the following steps mentioned below.

14 Steps to Follow to Start a Food Truck Business

1. Market Research 

Before starting the food truck business it is important to have market research for the locality and food culture of the place you want to cater to. You need to study the food culture of your target consumers. As the mobile food truck business is a capital-intensive business you need to be more careful about the proper approach and operating procedures.

2. Create a Food Truck Business Plan

After the market research create a detailed business plan for your mobile food truck business. You will need to determine how many vehicles you will initiate the venture. Fix long-term and short-term goals with a mission statement. Fix your promotional strategy. Calculate the startup budget with expected revenue return.

In starting a mobile food truck business you may have tied up with local restaurants and started to sell their products from your mobile cart. After getting a sufficient customer base and brand popularity you can think of your own cooked food.

3. Choosing the Right Food Truck or Commercial Vehicle

Selecting the right food truck or commercial vehicle is a critical decision that can significantly impact the success of your mobile food business. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed choice:

⇒ Determine Your Business Needs

Identify the specific needs of your food business. Consider the type of cuisine you’ll be serving, the equipment required, and the space needed for food preparation. Your chosen vehicle should align with these requirements.

⇒ New or Used?

Decide whether you want to invest in a new or used vehicle. While a new truck may offer the latest features and technology, a used one can be a cost-effective option. Ensure that a used vehicle has been well-maintained and thoroughly inspected.

⇒ Vehicle Size and Layout

Choose a vehicle size that accommodates your kitchen equipment and provides ample space for your staff to work comfortably. The layout should be designed for efficiency, ensuring a smooth flow of operations from food preparation to serving.

⇒ Kitchen Equipment Compatibility

Check if the vehicle’s kitchen layout matches the equipment you plan to install. Consider the power requirements of your appliances and ensure the vehicle can support them. Customizing the interior to fit your equipment may be necessary.

⇒ Compliance with Regulations

Verify that the chosen vehicle complies with local health and safety regulations for mobile food businesses. This includes having the necessary permits and certifications. Compliance is crucial for both legal and operational reasons.

⇒ Fuel Efficiency and Maintenance

Opt for a vehicle with good fuel efficiency to minimize operational costs. Regular maintenance is essential for the longevity of the vehicle. Consider the availability of spare parts and reliable service providers in your area.

⇒ Budget Considerations

Set a realistic budget for acquiring and customizing the food truck. Include costs for equipment, licensing, permits, and any necessary renovations. Be mindful of your budget constraints while ensuring you get a vehicle that meets your operational needs.

⇒ Brand and Model Reputation

Research the reputation of different brands and models in the market. Seek reviews from other food truck owners and assess factors like durability, reliability, and ease of customization. A reputable brand can contribute to the long-term success of your business.

⇒ Insurance Coverage

Ensure that the chosen vehicle can be adequately insured. Look for insurance policies that cover liabilities, damages, and theft. Insurance is a crucial aspect of protecting your investment and ensuring financial security.

⇒ Test Drive and Inspection

Before finalizing the purchase, conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle. Test drive it to assess its performance on the road. Check for any signs of wear and tear, and have a mechanic inspect the engine and other critical components.

4. Cost of Food Truck Vehicles in India

a) New Food Truck:

  • Average Cost: The cost of a new food truck in India typically ranges from ₹8 lakhs to ₹30 lakhs or more. Prices vary based on customization, size, and additional features.
  • Factors Affecting Cost: Considerations include kitchen equipment, vehicle size, and the extent of customization required.

b) Used Food Truck:

  • Average Cost: A used food truck can cost between ₹5 lakhs to ₹20 lakhs, depending on factors like age, condition, and any existing customizations.
  • Considerations: Ensure thorough inspection, check maintenance records, and assess potential renovation costs.

Some of the popular food truck vehicle brands in India:

  • Tata Motors:  Tata Ace and Tata 407 are commonly used for small to medium-sized food trucks.
  • Mahindra: Mahindra Bolero and Mahindra Supro are preferred choices for food truck entrepreneurs.
  • Eicher: Eicher Pro series
  • Ashok Leyland: Ashok Leyland Partner and Ashok Leyland Guru
  • Force Motors: Force Traveller is frequently converted into compact food trucks.
  • Piaggio: Piaggio Ape series
  • Swaraj Mazda: Swaraj Mazda Super and Swaraj Mazda Elite are used for food truck conversions.
  • BharatBenz: BharatBenz 914 and BharatBenz 1217 are preferred for food truck customization.

5. Food Truck License and Registration

Starting a food truck business in India requires complying with various licenses and permits to ensure legality and adherence to health and safety standards. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the regulatory landscape:

⇒ FSSAI License

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) license is mandatory for any food business, including food trucks.
Apply for the FSSAI license through the official website. Provide necessary documents such as identity proof, address proof, and a food safety management plan. The license is typically valid for 1 to 5 years, depending on your preference.

⇒ Municipal Health License

Local municipal health departments issue this license to ensure that your food truck complies with hygiene and sanitation standards. Contact the local health department or municipal corporation office to understand the application process. You may need to submit your FSSAI license, vehicle details, and a site plan. Renew this license annually.

⇒ Police Eating House License

Some cities may require a Police Eating House License to operate a food business. Check with the local police department or licensing authority to understand the specific requirements. Provide details about your food truck, business plan, and security measures. Renew this license annually.

⇒ Fire Department No Objection Certificate (NOC)

This certificate ensures that your food truck is compliant with fire safety standards. Approach the local fire department to inspect your food truck. Implement necessary fire safety measures as advised. Renew the NOC periodically as required.

⇒ Vehicle Fitness Certificate

This certificate verifies the roadworthiness and safety of your food truck. Visit the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and submit necessary vehicle documents for inspection. Ensure that your food truck meets pollution control norms. Renew this certificate periodically, usually every year.

⇒ Trade License

A trade license is a municipal permit that legalizes your food business within a specific jurisdiction. Apply for a trade license from the local municipal corporation. Submit documents such as proof of identity, address, and property ownership or rental agreement. Renew this license annually.

⇒ GST Registration

If your projected annual turnover exceeds the GST threshold, you must register for Goods and Services Tax (GST). Register for GST online through the official portal. Provide required documents, including PAN, proof of address, and bank details. Continuous renewal is not required; however, ensures compliance with GST regulations.

⇒ Shop and Establishment Act Registration

This shop and establishment registration is necessary to regulate conditions of work and employment in commercial establishments. Apply at the local labour department or online, providing details about your food truck business, ownership, and employees. Renew this registration periodically, usually every year.

6. Food Truck Location

Selecting the right location for your food truck in India is a critical decision that significantly influences your business’s success. A strategic and well-thought-out location can attract a steady flow of customers and enhance your brand visibility.

Understand Your Target Audience

Analyze the demographics of the area to ensure it aligns with your target customer base. Consider factors like age, income levels, and preferences. Identify areas with high foot traffic, such as commercial districts, markets, and popular hangout spots.

⇒ Research Local Regulations

Check local regulations and permit requirements for operating a food truck. Different cities may have specific rules governing mobile food businesses. Ensure compliance with zoning laws to avoid legal issues. Some areas may have restrictions on where food trucks can operate.

⇒ Scout Popular Food Truck Hubs

Explore existing food truck hubs or clusters in the city. These areas often attract food enthusiasts, creating a favourable environment for your business. Evaluate the presence of competitors in the area. While competition can be healthy, ensure ample demand to support multiple food trucks.

⇒ Consider Events and Festivals

Participate in cultural events, festivals, and seasonal markets where footfall is naturally high. These occasions can provide exposure and attract diverse customers. Establish connections with event organizers to secure spots at popular gatherings. This can be a lucrative avenue for increased sales.

⇒ Proximity to Business Centers

Position your food truck near business centers, corporate offices, and IT parks. Professionals working in these areas often seek convenient and quick dining options. Capitalize on the lunchtime rush by strategically parking near office complexes during lunch hours.

⇒ Explore College Campuses

Consider locations near college campuses to tap into the student population. Colleges are often vibrant hubs with students looking for affordable, tasty food options. Stay informed about college events, fests, and cultural programs, as these can draw large crowds.

⇒ Collaborate with Local Businesses

Collaborate with local businesses, such as cafes, breweries, or retail outlets, to park your food truck in their vicinity. This can create a symbiotic relationship and expand your customer base.

⇒ Leverage Social Media and Reviews

Leverage social media platforms to gauge popular food trends and locations. Engage with your audience to understand their preferences. Pay attention to customer reviews and feedback on food delivery apps. Identify areas with a demand for specific cuisines.

⇒ Conduct Trial Runs

Before committing to a long-term spot, conduct trial runs in different locations. Observe customer response, sales, and overall feasibility. Interact with customers to gather feedback on the location. Positive feedback and repeat customers indicate a favourable spot.

⇒ Evaluate Accessibility and Parking

Choose locations with easy accessibility for both pedestrians and vehicles. Ensure that potential customers can reach your food truck without hassle. Be aware of parking regulations and availability. A secure and legal parking space is crucial for the smooth operation of your business.

7. Source Raw Materials

Launching a successful food truck business in India requires meticulous planning, and one crucial aspect is sourcing high-quality raw materials. Here are some important tips for sourcing raw materials:

  • Local Wholesale Markets: Explore local wholesale markets, such as Azadpur Mandi in Delhi or Russell Market in Bangalore, for fresh produce. These markets offer a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and other staples. Develop relationships with suppliers in these markets to negotiate prices and ensure a steady supply of quality ingredients.
  • Farmers’ Markets: Consider sourcing from farmers’ markets to access fresh and, in some cases, organic produce directly from local farmers. Be mindful of seasonal variations in availability and prices, adapting your menu accordingly.
  • Online Wholesale Platforms: Explore online platforms like Udaan, Jumbotail, or Metro Cash & Carry for the convenience of ordering bulk quantities from the comfort of your kitchen. Take advantage of bulk discounts offered by these platforms to optimize your procurement costs.

8. Food Truck Equipment

Some of the basic equipment types and where to source are listed below:

  • Commercial Kitchen Equipment Suppliers: Purchase major kitchen equipment, such as grills, fryers, and refrigerators, from authorized dealers or reputable manufacturers. Opt for suppliers offering warranty services and prompt maintenance to minimize downtime.
  • Online B2B Platforms: Platforms like Amazon Business or Industrybuying.com provide a range of kitchen equipment. Compare prices and read reviews to make informed decisions. Explore bulk purchase options on these platforms to benefit from discounts.
  • Local Dealers and Manufacturers: For specific or customized equipment, connect with local manufacturers or dealers who may offer personalized solutions. Schedule visits to their showrooms or manufacturing units to inspect the quality of equipment before making a purchase.
  • Rental Services: Consider renting certain equipment, especially if you’re starting on a budget. This can be cost-effective in the initial stages. As your business grows, you can invest in permanent equipment.
  • Second-Hand Markets: Explore second-hand markets or online platforms for pre-owned kitchen equipment. Ensure that the equipment is in good working condition. Negotiate prices and inquire about the equipment’s history before making a purchase.

9. Arrange Funds

Starting a food truck business in India requires careful financial planning to cover various expenses. Clearly outline your expected expenses and revenue projections. Specify the amount needed for the food truck, permits, licenses, equipment, and working capital. Some of the popular ways to fund a food truck business in India:

  • Personal Savings
  • Family and Friends
  • Bank Loans
  • Government Schemes
  • Angel Investors
  • Crowdfunding
  • Vendor Financing
  • Equipment Leasing

Read: Best Personal Loan Apps in India for Instant Cash

10. Design the Outside of a Food Truck

This is an important part of a food truck business. Your food truck must look clean, attractive, and well-organized. It is better to hire a designer. Talk to him about your specific requirements and let him design a blueprint.

The food truck must have a specific storage area, cooking station, and serving area. Also, plan for the outside area of the truck. Decorate with your company name, logo, and attractive food images.

11. Menu Selection 

As in any restaurant business, menu selection is an important factor in the overall success of this venture. Select your menu according to the food habits of the people of the locality where you are starting the business. You will need to create menus that can be cooked with a simple process but deliver different attractive tastes.

You may keep some ready-to-eat foods like ice cream, cake, pastry, soft drinks, etc. Successful food truck business operators serve gourmet cuisine, delicacies from other countries, health foods, and speciality sweets like unique cupcakes and exclusive chocolates.

12. Hire Manpower

Running a successful food truck business requires a well-organized team to handle various tasks efficiently. Here’s a breakdown of the essential roles and the manpower required for your food truck:

a) Chef/Cook

Responsibilities:

  • Food preparation and cooking.
  • Menu planning and innovation.

b) Kitchen Assistants

Responsibilities:

  • Assisting the chef in food preparation.
  • Maintaining kitchen cleanliness.

c) Serving Staff

Responsibilities:

  • Taking customer orders.
  • Handling transactions.
  • Serving food to customers.

d) Cashier

Responsibilities:

  • Managing cash transactions.
  • Handling billing and receipts.

e) Driver

Responsibilities:

  • Operating the food truck.
  • Ensuring timely arrival at designated locations.

f) Cleaner/Dishwasher

Responsibilities:

  • Cleaning utensils and equipment.
  • Maintaining overall cleanliness.

g) Manager/Owner

Responsibilities:

  • Overseeing overall operations.
  • Handling logistics and scheduling.
  • Managing finances and inventory.

It is advisable to procure uniforms for your employees. It not only builds brand value but also creates confidence in customers to have food from your food cart.

13. Buy POS Software

Choosing the right POS software for your food truck business is a critical decision that can impact your daily operations and customer satisfaction. Evaluate your specific needs and consider the scalability and features offered by different POS solutions before making a final decision

Key POS software options for food trucks in India:

  • Zomato Base
  • Posist
  • GoFrugal
  • HDPOS Smart
  • eZee BurrP!

14. Promotion for Food Truck Business

Good food and the right service with a smile are very important aspects of a mobile food truck business. Choose a catchy name for your business expressing what you sell in a meaningful manner. Make an internet presence for your mobile food truck business. Creating a website is a must nowadays. Check our guide to create a website of your own or check the best e-commerce website builders if you want to create an online store.

On your website give all the menu details with price. Also, you can add some valued content about healthy food habits. Social media is now a useful tool for the mobile food business. You must have an account on Facebook and Twitter. These interactive social media will keep your customers updated about your happenings. You can also initiate a mobile application where people can check your real-time location, and menus, and can submit orders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need Special Licenses to Start a Food Truck?

Yes, several licenses are required, including a food license, health department permits, and a vehicle permit. It’s essential to comply with local municipal regulations.

What Types of Food Can I Serve in a Food Truck?

The type of food you can serve depends on your target audience and culinary expertise. Popular options include fast food, street food, snacks, and niche cuisines.

How Do I Choose the Right Location for My Food Truck?

Select locations with high footfall, such as busy streets, office areas, or popular markets. Consider local events, festivals, and fairs for additional opportunities.

How Can I Promote My Food Truck?

Utilize social media platforms for promotion. Engage with your audience, share appealing visuals of your dishes, and consider collaborations with influencers to boost visibility.

What Are the Operational Challenges of Running a Food Truck?

Operational challenges may include managing perishable ingredients, vehicle maintenance, fluctuating footfall, and adhering to health and safety standards.

About Next What Business Research Team

The Editorial Staffs at NextWhatBusiness is a team of Business Consultants with years of experience in small and medium-scale manufacturing and service-based businesses.