Food truck lesson 2: Everything takes longer than you expect.
I am experiencing this fact right now! I am currently at the mercy of our truck fabricator, who told us in the contract that our truck should take about 6 weeks to complete, who is now telling us it may be as many as three more weeks before we can have our truck! ISN'T THERE A CLICHE THAT TIME IS MONEY?! I still have to get the truck to the vehicle wrap people for 3 days, and inspected by the Health Department before I can work! This is just another example of how things are not going according to plan and costing me money I didn't foresee! I have learned that no one wants to book an event with a truck that expects to be available by such-n-such a date. I don't blame them! I have already lost several revenue opportunities because my truck is not available at the time expected!
Right now I am experiencing the kind of frustration that comes with the people you have to depend on not sharing your same sense of urgency! It is a miserable state of helplessness that you should plan to encounter at some point in the process. At this point, the only thing that I can think of that might improve the situation for some of you out there is if you are fortunate enough to be able to buy a brand new truck. Oh! to experience the joy of stepping on to a shiny new truck and being able to say, "I'll take it!" But that experience will cost you upwards of $150,000. I am trying to start my business with only $60,000--that includes the truck and all the other start-up expenses! So if you are on the cheaps like me, it will cost you big TIME!
Let's rewind to the beginning of our adventure. It makes sense that you will need to spend time coming up with your business plan and searching out the best prices for everything that you need so that you have a good plan with little waste. I mean, if you can get a good fryer for $700 why would you pay $1,200? All of that searching takes time! My husband spent his time handling most of that as he was working with those spreadsheets I told you about. The thing is that when you are in the market for used equipment there is no telling how prices will fluctuate! We had the spreadsheets all worked out based on the info that we had available at the time, but when it came to finding those items when we were ready to make a purchase some time later they either weren't available or the price had changed (not in our favor). So we had to spend more time searching in order to save our budget. Sometimes that meant that we spent a lot of time just to end up spending more money anyway.
I'll give you an example. I don't know how many hours David spent searching for a used truck that would be around $5,000. I want to say he searched every site in multiple cities for weeks! We ended up driving from Atlanta to somewhere in South Carolina to get a truck that we knew would need work for $6,200. We felt it was worth driving that far because we also stopped at a restaurant equipment auction house on the way back with the truck and hauled everything right to the fabricator. You will have to weigh the time and the cost of traveling with the savings you expect to determine if it is really worth it. There have been a few items that I have paid a little more for something because I didn't feel the time and effort lost was worth the small savings.
All I have talked about so far is just getting our truck put together (and if you recall mine isn't really put together yet)! There are so many other things that suck time:
getting permits from counties and cities ( spent a day bounced between cities because they couldn't decide who had jurisdiction over my business--then they tood forever to issue my license! I had to go down to the office and fuss and then eventually get the fire marshall myself!)
filing for an LLC--paperwork!
getting jobs lined up--I have searched for hours to find events and businesses willing to let us park and vend!
cleaning used equipment and small wares
purchasing items--getting good deals on all the small wares takes an eternity!
shopping for inventory and scheduling deliveries
finding and training new employees
developing an employee handbook, and company procedures and policies
marketing--setting up a good website and flyers and logos...
prepping for jobs (we have done some sampling events so far as part of marketing--I was so late for my first one!)
Again, this is not an all inclusive list! So, unless you are in the know, how do you keep up with all these moving parts and save yourself a little time and effort?
Food truck lesson 3: Educate yourself--Ask people with experience for help and advice.