No matter where you live, food vendor carts will always be good business ventures. Everyone from busy students and employees to families always appreciates an on-the-go treat. And depending on what you sell, choosing the right cart can make all the difference in the world. But when you’re just starting out, or have a tight budget, then knowing which one you should pick can be a major challenge.
All-in-all, your food cart should be cost-effective, easy to transport, and have enough room for all your products and equipment. As long as you keep these — and other qualities we’re about to mention — in mind, you’ll have a much easier time starting your new business. Let’s take a look at some of the top factors to consider when you’re about to make that purchase.
What to Look For in Your New Food Cart
Setting the right budget makes all the difference when you’re just starting out and for years to come. You’ll obviously need to invest in your new business, but you need to do so without emptying your bank account. In the beginning, your best option may be finding a used food cart for sale that’s still in good working condition. You can always upgrade after your business progresses and you see more profits. If you absolutely must buy a new cart, then find a reputable merchandiser that also offers monthly payment plans. This way you can have the highest quality equipment possible while still giving yourself time to earn more.
Before doing anything, think about what kinds of food or drinks you want to sell. Even basic items like ice cream, hot dogs, or coffee and pastries can be a very big draw. If you’re really stuck, do some research and see what’s most popular in your area. For example — tacos are a favorite in the Southwest, while the East Coast loves burgers and fried food. And even if you don’t choose the state-wide favorite, take inspiration and pick something that pairs well with it. As long as it sells and you can prepare it easily, that’s all that really matters.
Which reminds us…
When you see a food cart for sale, make sure it can store or prepare whatever products you sell. It should have the right heating or cooling elements to keep your food fresh, as well as enough space for serving utensils. If hot drinks are on the menu, find one that’s outfitted with a water tank that you can fill and refill easily. And more elaborate items like smoothies and burgers, need electricity or fuel in order to be made on-site.
Whether you’re in a city, a college town, or a residential neighborhood, there are plenty of places where you can run your food cart. Your best bet is to always choose someplace where you know there will be lots of people. Depending on your area, this can include:
- Strip malls
- Big box stores (think Walmart or Target)
- Local parks
- Sports and concert venues
- Outdoor festivals
- Farmers markets
Unless you have a very good marketing plan, try to avoid any location that’s too saturated with other vendors. And remember to check for any requirements or restrictions beforehand — we’ll discuss more that aspect in a bit.
One of the biggest questions to ask yourself when buying a food cart is — how am I going to transport this thing? You can only push it so far once you leave home, and not having access to a car shouldn’t stop you. That’s why a food bike cart could be your best option, as you won’t need to attach it to your vehicle or worry about gas expenses. All you have to do is pack it up, ride it into town, and then hop back on as soon as you’re done for the day.
Pay close attention to who’s in your area and what they like to eat or drink. Your best customers could be families, high school or college students, or busy office workers in the area. We even say go one step further and check the most recent demographics for wherever you run your cart. This includes not only the general population but also age, income, and how many kids they might have. You can never be too prepared when running a food cart business.
Speaking of being prepared…
Obviously, you can’t run your food cart business the right way without knowing all the legal aspects first. Do plenty of research ahead of time to see what kinds of permits and licenses you’ll need to operate your business. Depending on what you sell, you may even need to find a local commissary where you can prepare your food ahead of time. And even with all the right paperwork, there may still be certain areas where food carts and trucks are prohibited altogether. And once you know how to avoid any legal trouble, everything else will be a breeze.
Keep These In Mind When Starting Your Business
As with any business, a lot goes into running food vendor carts. Yet as long as you keep all these factors in mind, you’ll have a much easier time finding the right one for you. And once you do, there’s no telling where this new venture will take you.