So you want to book a food truck for your next event? Awesome! (I hope you pick us!) There are just a few things that you need to know about making the event a success for everyone involved. (There is a little info for customers below as well.)
We see lots of event contracts or requirements come through via the groups that we are a part of, as well as requests via our website. There are a couple of ways to do an "event:" catering (my favorite) and vending (selling). If you would like a truck to cater your event that will work very similar to any other caterer that you would book. You give them the number of people, work out the menu you like, and pay the agreed upon cost to lock in your date--pretty easy. The only thing you really have to look out for is meeting the minimum cost requirement. It costs money to drive a "restaurant" out to you. Just know that if you are barely meeting that minimum, truckers may be reluctant to hold a date too far in advance since they will be on the look out for a better paying gig. It is also to your advantage to book a standard lunch or dinner window. The idea being that if a truck books a lunch at one venue they may still be able to book a dinner at another location on the same day. If you want them at an event from 1-4pm, for example, you have made it very difficult for them to double book the day (unless they get a late night gig, but that is less likely). The only exception would be if you are hosting a large event that would pull in the same money as a fully booked day.
If you would like a truck to come to your event and vend, or sell to your guests, make sure your terms are reasonable. You won't get many trucks excited about your event if you are booking too many trucks. For example, we got a call from a school that was expecting about 200 people at an event, but they wanted 4-5 trucks. If you think about it, not everyone that comes to an event is going to eat. So you have to knock down your numbers a little, and then divide that number by the number of trucks you are inviting. In our example we have 5 trucks for 200 people, so that is less than 40 people ordering at each truck. The trucks won't make enough money to cover costs and turn a profit. I get that you want to provide variety to your guests, but you have to be respectful of the fact that trucks are in business to make money in order to support their families.
If you are a broker, or booking a large event, there are options for fees for your in-demand event. You can either charge a fee for vendors, a percentage of sales, or a combination of the two. But unless your event is amazingly lucrative, be mindful of what you are asking. You should do the same kind of math I outlined above (obviously it will be on a larger scale), but then you have to deduct your fee in order to determine if you have left enough room for the truck to make any money. Of course truckers can always up the prices on their items, but then you evoke "supply and demand." As the price goes up for an item, the demand will go down. So while the trucker may be able to maintain their profit margin, compensating for your fee will hurt the volume of sales.
I get that we all want to get paid, but if you get too greedy you won't have any truckers at your next event! We talk to each other; you will get creamed on any number of forums if you overcharge, or have a terrible event. Personally, I like to book with event planners that have a low fee and no percentage of sales. If you have a higher fee, be flexible--if at the end of the event the trucker didn't make their minimum, cut them a break (obviously your event wasn't that great).
Remember, in not-so-food-truck-friendly states like Georgia, truckers have high overheads they have to cover just to operate! Not only do we have to cover the high cost of a commissary kitchen (check out Prep Atlanta's pricing if you don't believe me), but we don't get to pull up any old place we choose and vend. There are rules in Georgia, and they even vary by county. Most events have fees, most food truck parks charge fees and/or membership dues, and the state and local governments want their fees as well! (I haven't even gotten to labor, food costs, fuel, and other maintenance!)
A link for food truck customers: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/2012/08/food-truck-customer-etiquette-101
Customers, the only thing that I would add to this article would be under #5 Be Generous. I like it when you tip my crew, but in addition consider the above paragraph when you are tempted to complain about the cost of your food. Convenience comes at a price. We make an effort to keep the cost to you as reasonable as possible. There are groups out there (like FTAG) that are working toward making Georgia a more food truck friendly state; we would love it if our customers got involved!