In this post I outline a few options available to folks in the market for a food truck that’s for sale. Finding a truck that’s in good condition, includes the specification requirements you need, and is within budget won’t always be easy. My hope is that this article will provide you with the options that are available to you and help avoid some of the pitfalls that can occur for unsuspecting newbie truck owners. Here we go!
1.) Buy From a Corporate Fleet
When you buy from fleet, you can be more confident that the truck was cared for over the life of the vehicle. i.e. Received regular oil changes and other routine maintenance. Some companies that maintain their trucks well and are commonly converted into mobile food units, include bread companies, FedEx, and DHL. One of the nice things about purchasing from these companies is that they may provide (if asked!) documentation on standard practices for caring for the vehicle over it’s lifetime. This will give you additional insight into when oil changes were completed to when tires were rotated. The company should also have detailed reports on any previous break downs or accidents the truck has been involved with.
According to Bob Pierson of MR Trailers, whose company has built over 100 trucks in the past 5-years, high mileage is much less of a concern when it comes from a fleet than vehicles you would purchase used through a dealer. If you’re in the market, contacting these companies to identify how old trucks are sold is a smart approach to take. If this sounds like something you want to pursue, check out these resources:
How to Find and Evaluate a Used Food Truck – Learn how to evaluate a truck like a builder in this audio interview.
FedEx Truck to Food Truck – See why Tutta’s Pizza decided to use a FedEx truck for their business.
2.) Work With a Custom Manufacturer
If you live near a suburban area, no doubt there are a few custom food truck manufacturers that can help make your dream truck a reality. One of the nice things about working with a manufacturer is that there’s a level of experience that can only be attained by someone whose been there and done that. Additionally, builders often have experience getting trucks up to health and fire code in addition to understanding plumbing and electrical. Naturally, they also have the tools required to convert a truck, which can be pricy. If you want a food truck without the hassle of becoming a plumber, electrician, and mechanic during the build process work with a manufacturer. The good ones should also help you with the layout of your truck to ensure the cooking equipment will make sense and also provide marketing and operations training to ensure you’re prepared to run the business.
How Anthony Salvagno Found His Food Truck Builder – Listen to the interview to learn how Anthony found his builder and what the process was like. This is highly recommended.
Contact a Builder – Food Truck Empire has connections with the best manufacturers located across the United States. We’ve also negotiated discounts for our members.
3.) Contact FoodTruckEmpire!
At FoodTruckEmpire.com, we’ve built relationships with the best manufacturers across the United States and Canada. One of the benefits of working through us is that we are able to connect you with builders that have a proven track record of producing long-lasting and profitable food trucks. You’ll also get added benefits at no extra charge such as complimentary blue-prints for the build out of your vehicle, discounts by working through us, and the support of FoodTruckEmpire before and after the purchase. Contact us using the form below to tell us about the type of vehicle you’re looking for.
4.) Shop on eBay
Believe it or not eBay is a graveyard for food trucks that didn’t make it. I recommend checking out eBay prior to starting a food business even if you have no intent of purchasing one there. It will serve as a chilling reminder that you need to do as much homework as possible prior to getting into this business. But there is a silver lining in it all, you might be able to find one that’s for sale in your state.
Pro tip: if you decide to go the eBay route make sure to bring hire or bring a friend that is a mechanic to evaluate the truck. You don’t want to discover a month after dropping $30,000+ that you’ve got significant rust or other serious issues. You should heed this advice when evaluating any used truck.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to find a vehicle in the area for sale using the online classified’s website Craigslist. It’s a mostly miss process, but if you’re searching for a deal you might find it. Go to the city of your choice and select the for sale businesses section. Look at this cart I discovered in Washington for under $10,000:
6.) Network with other Truck Owners
Food truckers are a tight-nit community. Most truckers will know competitors in their city by first name and will know when a truck is about to close up shop and looking for an exit. Food truck owners will also know who builds the majority of trucks in their area and might share advice on where to go (or not go) for a truck. From my experience, folks in the food truck community are extremely approachable. I’ve interviewed dozens of them as part of the Food Truck Empire podcast and have enjoyed my conversations with all of them to date. If you want to get their attention, I recommend approaching their during a slow business period, placing an order and asking a few questions while wait. A simple email can also yield the results you’re looking for. While all truck owners are busy, many will take the time to provide you with advice and share their knowledge.
7.) Food Truck Associations
Almost every major city has a food truck association or equivalent organization. If you’re not sure if there’s one where you live go to Google and enter “city name + food truck association” into the search field. Odds are you’ll find one if you live in a suburban area of 1 Million or more people.
Keep in mind, however, that some of these organizations are managed by food truck manufacturers. It’s basically a lead generation vehicle for their business. I have no issue with this fact at all and I believe it’s a smart business practice. Just keep in mind that their could be some bias if you ask for food truck recommendations here.
Bonus Tip: Get Creative
Upon further research, you might decide that you don’t want a truck at all, but you’d rather invest in some other type of vehicle. In the past, I’ve interviewed two different entrepreneurs that opted for a bus instead. Keep your mind and eye’s open and you could end up with a vehicle with a competitive advantage.
Are you a food trucker? I’d love to hear where you found your food truck. If I missed any major places, let me know in the comments below.