Food Trucks and Catering Trucks - How to Business Buyers Guide

If you are looking to start business as a concessionaire with a used food truck or catering truck, you have quite a task ahead of you. There are several things that need to be considered in this type of business. One of the most important things to think about is what to look for when purchasing a vending truck. In other words, how will you get the most bang for your buck? As with any major buy, you should think about suitability, age and condition, and price. Also, when trying to acquire something of significant value, you are not just appraising the equipment; you are sizing up the seller as well. Food Truck Inspection

A very important first step to evaluating any large-scale purchase of concession equipment is to look at its suitability for your situation. Think about your purpose. This can help you make smart decisions when it comes to spending money. Ask yourself a few questions about the amenities that are offered.

  1. What type of food items will you be selling? Does this used truck have the tools you will need to prepare and sell that type of product with efficiency and ease? For example, if you are planning to have fries on the menu, you will need to make sure that there is a deep fryer available in the vehicle.
  2. Is the size ample enough for day-to-day operations? If you plan on having a large menu, you will need room for top-of-counter appliances. These items might include like steam table storage, a hot dog steamer, or perhaps a cold case for drinks. Also, if you plan on hiring employees, you will need to make sure that a few people can fit into the prep area comfortably.
  3. Is there an adequate and functional temperature control system on board? When working in a small space where lots of heat is generated by cooking equipment, it gets uncomfortably hot very quickly. Having a strong cooling system is a must for any concession business. The same can be said about heat if you intend to sell in a climate that has very cold winter months.

Taco Food TruckOnce you have determined the suitability of the vehicle, you will need to look at age and condition. Age plays a huge factor in what a vehicle is worth. As with any depreciating asset, a vending truck deteriorates with time and use. As time passes, and a piece of equipment is continuously used, it begins to break down, and problems start to arise. And due to the complexity of a food catering truck repairs can be costly.

Just as you would have a mechainic inspect a used car you should take the same course of action when purchasing something as expensive a food truck. It is also possible to have a local vendor of kitchen equipment inspect the costly concession equipment you are about to purchase.

  1. Is the engine in working order? Make sure that the vehicle actually runs and is a viable means of transportation. Bringing a mechanic along to have a quick look may help save you some heartache. Request that the seller start the motor for you; you can even request a test drive. Since this is a major investment, a reasonable person will understand your motives. If someone is unwilling to comply, be very suspicious.
  2. Are there any warrantees or guarantees of condition that the seller is willing to make? A safe measure would be to get in writing that it is in good shape and that the seller guarantees this. That way, you are protected if something goes wrong. If you cannot get the seller to agree to a warrantee, maybe you can talk him or her into warrantees for specific big-ticket items like transmission or perhaps even an engine.
  3. Are all pieces of equipment and other mechanical items functioning properly? Though it may seem insignificant, you must know that every single thing is working, down to the last light bulb. It may not be a deal-breaker if something needs to be fixed, but you have the right to know what needs to be fixed, so that you can determine whether or not the problem is worth the time, effort, and money it will take to repair.
  4. What is the cosmetic appearance of the equipment? Will it fit your needs for the concession food that you would like to serve? Just as with any other thing, age and use are factors in wear and tear and physical appearance. Is appearance and function consistent with age? Look for worn upholstery, chipped paint, worn physical condition of cooking tools, and overall aesthetics. This should factor into what an item is worth as well.

Another important thing to look at when determining which catering or food truck to buy is, of course, price. This is a big stumbling block when shopping because you may find something that meets the other two requirements but costs too much money. Do not worry. If you cannot manage to come up with the funds necessary to purchase something you really want, using this as an incentive to become successful can be a very powerful motivator. There are a few things to consider with price.

  1. Is this in your price range? If you pool all of your funds and exhaust all available options such as loans, financing, partners and investors, will it all be enough to make this purchase?
  2. With all of the other things you have looked at, is the price the seller is asking for a fair one? Is it consistent with the overall condition of the equipment?
  3. Will making this purchase allow you enough start up capital to actually run your business? Spending every dime you have available on equipment is not conducive to being successful. Take one step at a time. If something is out of your financial reach, work up to that later. You do not want to start a business endeavor out on a shoe string if you can help it.
  4. Make an offer. In most situations, it is appropriate to make an offer rather than pay outright the price being asked. Sometimes, you will save a significant amount of money because the seller will negotiate with you. Do not be afraid to ask; you may run across someone willing to sell it for much less than it is worth, just to be rid of it.

Small Catering Truck For SaleFinally, after you have gone through all of these questions, do not forget a very important part of the buying process; size up the seller. There is always the person out there trying to make a buck at someone else’s expense. In this type of endeavor it is no different. Whether they are trying to sell a hunk of junk at a ghastly price or they are just trying to hide a fatal flaw, trust your instincts where character comes in. In order to be able to trust your instincts, there are a few things to remember when sizing up a seller. Also, do not be afraid to ask for business references and actually take the time to contact those references. A seller with nothing to hide will not be hesitant to provide you with this type of reassurance.

  1. Watch body language. Perhaps with the exception of an extremely experienced conman, people who are being dishonest tend to exhibit physical signs of it. Shifting from foot to foot, failure to make eye contact, and stiff movements may signal someone not telling the whole truth.
  2. Common Sense. Pay attention to time lines and the story the seller is telling. Often times, made up things will not make sense. If it does not make sense, be suspicious.
  3. Too Much Info. Be careful of someone trying to over-inform you. This may be a sign that someone is being shifty and adding unnecessary details to appear more convincing.

    Remember when you are looking to purchase anything that requires a significant financial investment, there are a few things you should consider. First, think about the suitability of the product. Next consider the age and condition. Also, look objectively at the asking price. Finally, be wary and cautious of the seller’s actions and demeanor. By being careful and knowing exactly what to look for, you can make purchasing a food truck or catering truck much easier and safer.