Ever dreamt of running a food van business, but don’t know where to start?
In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of starting your own food truck business in Australia, and run you through all the things you need to think about before you get started.
Plus, learn from our expert team about the ins and outs of what you’ll need to consider when it’s time to buy your van—Australian-made vs imported, compliance with Australian standards, payloads, and more. Let’s take a look.
Understand the legal requirements
First things first, when you start a food van business in Australia you need to follow various legal requirements, including things like licences, permits and industry standards. While we recommend seeking professional legal advice to ensure you obtain everything you need to safely operate your business, here are some key steps to help you get started:
- Register your business – Before starting your food truck business, you need to register it with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). You can register your business as a sole trader, partnership, company, or trust. Be sure to do your research on which business type will be best for you, and get advice from a professional if you’re not sure.
- Get necessary licences and permits – To operate a food van business, you need to obtain several licences and permits, typically including a food business licence, a mobile food vending permit, and a permit to use public land. The requirements for these licences and permits vary depending on your state and more specific location, so it’s essential to check with your local council.A great place to find exactly what you need is by searching for your business on the Australian Business Licence and Information Service.
- Comply with food safety regulations – Food safety will be your main priority once you are set up and out on the road serving customers. Your van will need to comply with the Food Standards Code, which outlines the requirements for food safety, handling, and storage. You also need to have a food safety supervisor who has completed a food safety training course.
- Understand insurance requirements – Having insurance is crucial to protect you, your business and your food van from unexpected events. You need to have public liability insurance, which covers you in case of injury or property damage to a third party. You may also need other types of insurance, such as vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. These may be asked for if you are working some festivals and events.Before you get started, we recommend getting advice from a professional about the types of insurance your particular business will need.
Create a menu and marketing strategy
Creating a unique menu and effective marketing strategy is essential to attract customers. Once you know what you want to serve, and who you want to serve it to, you’ll have a better idea of what type of food truck you’ll need, and what equipment you need it fitted out with. Here are some steps to get started:
- Develop a unique menu — Your menu should be unique and reflect what your ideal target customers will want. Remember to consider things like what is currently on trend, how long menu items will take to cook and how much you can charge for each item. Also think about the types of events you want to take your food van to, and what food will be most appealing in those situations.
Once you’ve decided what will be on your menu, you’ll be able to get all the right equipment installed in your van.
- Price your food items — Once you have your menu sorted, it’s time to think about pricing. You’ll need to consider the cost of ingredients, labour, and other overhead costs, and then decide how much to charge for each item. It’s important to ensure that your prices are competitive, but also that you are making a profit.To do this, you might like to do some research into what other food trucks in your area are charging for similar items. You might also want to consider offering discounts or loyalty programs to encourage your customers to return.
- Create a brand and logo — Creating a brand and logo is essential to differentiate your food truck business from competitors. Your brand should reflect your values, personality, and target audience. Once you have a clearly defined brand, it can be a good idea to think about getting your food van wrapped so that it stands out from the crowd—this means getting the outside of your van decorated in your brand, name and colours.
- Marketing strategies to attract customers — Marketing your food truck business is essential to attract customers, and to get your brand recognised. You’ll need to use various marketing channels, like social media, email marketing, and events. Also remember to consider things that will affect your customer’s experience with your food van, such as customer service, dietary accommodations and loyalty programs.
Get set up with the right equipment
Now for the exciting part—getting your food van and fitting it out!
Having the right equipment is key to making your food van work for you. There are heaps of things to consider, so we’ve pulled together a list of things to think about:
First up, you need the van! Food vans come in all different shapes, styles, sizes and capabilities—it’s important to spend some time thinking about exactly what your business will need, and to choose a van that suits those needs and your budget. Some other things to consider when making your decision include:
- Australian-made vs imported—Australian-made vans are generally more expensive but offer much higher quality and comply with Australian standards.
- Payload—make sure you know the expected weight of your final set-up, and that you’ve made sure your food van has the ability to take all of that weight and still come in under its maximum payload.
- Size – consider how many people will be working in the van and how they will be working and moving around each other. As a rule of thumb, a five-metre van can generally hold three workers maximum.
- Fitout—consider if you want to fit out a van yourself with all the required equipment, or if you want to buy a food truck that’s already fitted out with everything you need. You’ll also want to consider the layout, as this will affect your efficiency when working at busy events.
- Wrap—to make your food truck stand out, you’ll want to consider getting it “wrapped” or branded with your brand, logo and colours.
At RV Solutions, we understand that all this can be a lot to think about, which is why we buildcustom food trucks, fitted out to include everything you need. Our food trucks are also built to exceed Australian health and safety standards and payload requirements.
If you’re keen to get some help to figure out what kind of food truck you need, give our friendly team a call today.
Equipment for food preparation and storage
Next, you need to make sure your van is fitted out with all the equipment you need to serve and store your chosen food and drink. If you’ve bought a fully fitted-out food truck, such as a ToastaVan, you’ll be able to skip this step. If you’re fitting out a van on your own, you’ll need to consider adding things like:
- Deep fryer
- Gas stove
- Coffee machine
- Water tanks
- Hot water system
- Commercial fridges
- Stainless steel benchtops
- Pizza oven
Having all the right equipment, located in the best position in your food van will make all the difference in creating an effective workflow for food service and preparation.
Next, think about the point-of-sale equipment you’ll need to take payments from your future customers. This is likely to include a cash register, a card reader and a printer for receipts.
You’ll also need to make sure you have enough space to store all of these items. If you don’t have a lot of space, you may need to consider a mobile point-of-sale system, such as a tablet or smartphone, and a secure stand for it.
Power and water requirements
To effectively run your business, you’ll need to think about how you’ll get power and water to your van. If you’re setting up in a permanent location, you may be able to get connected to mains power and water. However, if you’re planning on being mobile, you’ll need to look into other options such as generators, solar power and water tanks. Make sure you do your research and choose the right type of generator and water tank to suit your needs.
Your food van needs to have enough power and water to operate all your equipment, for long periods of time. To make this happen, you’ll need to calculate your power and water requirements based on the equipment you have, how long you need to run them for, and the number of customers you expect to serve.
When you purchase a food truck built by our team, we will make sure this is all sorted out for you. You can learn more about everything involved in powering a van off-grid here.
Ensure your food van is compliant with Australian standards
Compliance with Australian standards is essential if you want to operate a successful food truck business in Australia. For food safety, your van will need to comply with the following standards:
- Standard 3.2.2 – Food Safety Practices and General Requirements
- Standard 3.2.3 Food Premises and Equipment
- Part 1.2 – Labelling and Other Information Requirements
Depending on where you want to operate, there may be other standards as well.
When you’re looking to buy a food truck from a dealership, it’s important to check what standards they build their vans to meet. This can vary from dealership to dealership, so it’s important to confirm that their standards and compliances will meet your needs.
At RV Solutions, we can build your food truck to be completely compliant with Australian standards, as well as meet any other requirements or specifications you need to get your van operating where you need it to. Plus, with our triple ISO certifications in Quality Management, Environment Management and OH&S Management, we can guarantee that your food van will be of the most premium quality.
Manage your food van business
Just like any other company, your food van business will need constant monitoring and management. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
If you want to grow your company beyond a family business, you’ll need to hire employees. Remember to hire employees who have the right skills and experience for your company, and who share your values and vision.
Manage inventory and supplies
Managing inventory and supplies is crucial to ensure that you have enough stock to meet customer demand. Make sure you have a system in place to track inventory and supplies and to order them on time.
Track expenses and profits
To understand the financial health of your food truck business, you’ll need to have an effective way to track your expenses and profits. You need to keep track of expenses such as food costs, labour costs, and overheads, and your profits such as revenue and net income.
Keen to get cracking?
Now that you know what it takes to get a food truck business off the ground, the team at RV Solutions would love to help you take the first step.
Whether you need a hand outfitting your van, or want to enquire about purchasing a brand-new, custom-made food truck to start your business, we’ve got you covered. Simply reach out today to have a chat about how we bring your food van business dreams to life.