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The Growing Appeal of Food Truck Franchises

Food truck franchises offer several benefits to entrepreneurs looking to break into the industry, including a lower investment and more flexible model.

The culinary world is evolving, and food franchises are adapting to keep up. Consumers are more focused on convenience and customization than ever before, and the food truck model is growing in popularity. For franchisees, investing in a food truck franchise creates an opportunity to build a scalable business with lower overhead costs than a traditional restaurant model while bringing fresh, exciting dining opportunities to the community.

“Food trucks are a great entry point into the food industry due to their lower investment and flexibility, allowing for strong community ties and the ability to scale,” said Diane Pleuss, franchise business consultant and career transition specialist at FranChoice. “With some natural weather disasters, food trucks can go onsite or nearby, and provide food and support. We just saw that with the tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa.”

In 2023, there were over 47,000 food truck businesses in operation, and the industry is expected to continue growing in the coming years. These mobile kitchens are a favorite of consumers due to their flexibility. In addition to popping up in major lifestyle centers, outside of offices and for public events, food trucks can be reserved for private events, meaning people can get their favorite meals when and where they want them. 

These circumstances support food truck owners in capturing consistent revenue, and because they do not rely on guests knowing of (or noticing) a stationary brick-and-mortar storefront, they can more easily adapt to address high-demand markets, even when needs shift.

While the industry is lucrative, the business model only boosts the benefits. When fitting an entire business within a truck, entrepreneurs adapt to smaller, more streamlined spaces, and the result is often a clear cost benefit. According to IBISWorld, the biggest costs as a percentage of revenue for food truck businesses are wages (nearly 30%), purchases (40.4%) and rent and utilities (just 5.9%).

“Traditional restaurant concerns like high fixed costs, difficulty in finding an ‘A’ location and lengthy build-outs aren’t an issue for food trucks,” Pleuss said.

“The food truck model offers a unique avenue for specialty item concepts, especially for those facing challenges in traditional real estate,” Nicole McIntyre, co-founder and CEO of Cocoa Forte, said. “Franchising proved instrumental for us in scaling our Cocoa Forte dessert truck. The key? Establishing solid foundational systems.”

Compared to traditional restaurant franchise models, which can require a multi-million dollar investment to launch, food trucks are far less expensive. Entrepreneurs can enter the food industry with a smaller financial footprint, minimizing risks and increasing the potential for quicker returns on investment.

Just like the business model, teams and menus are flexible and adaptable, consistently fostering ongoing culinary creativity and offering diverse, unique menus that captivate customers. Food trucks tend to offer condensed menus with simplified preparation models, but this doesn’t detract from the dining experience. Rather, it encourages teams to lean into a specialty and create one-of-a-kind dishes that stand out in guests’ minds long after the meal is over — another differentiator in the largely saturated food market.

The food industry is ever-evolving, with tastes and trends shifting rapidly. Food truck franchises, with their nimble operations, can quickly adapt to these changes, allowing them to experiment with new menu items, respond to customer feedback and stay ahead of the curve.

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