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How to choose the right food truck for my event.

Updated: Dec 16, 2023


Perhaps you're considering hiring a food truck for your event, or maybe you've already decided to go for it. Either way, it's important to ask yourself the right questions and make an informed decision. This article aims to guide you through the process and help you choose the best option for your needs.

Is a food truck the right choice?


There are two very important questions to consider when deciding to hire a food truck for your event.

  1. The number of guests

  2. The length of the event.

These two factors will dictate many of the other decisions, such as the budget, the cuisine, and the logistics. It's essential to have a clear understanding of these factors before moving forward with your food truck search and booking process.


example:

Let's do the math on an example. Say you are planning on hosting an event for 200 people and you have a two-hour service window. This means the truck you hire should be able to produce a meal every 35 seconds, and this includes taking the order, preparing the food and delivering it to the guest at the trucks service window.!

This essentially means that the truck is passing out premade food to your guests! Is this what you want?


Obviously, this raises two more questions.

  1. What kind of food will work for your event?

  2. Do you need more than one truck?

Obviously, something that can be produced quickly but is still fresh and tasty is great, but still chances are that in the above example you would need two or three trucks, providing the expectation that everyone eats. You still would want to make sure that each truck has limited options, but between the 2-3 trucks there would be plenty to choose from.


Pricing

Keeping the above in mind, also consider who is footing the bill. Generally speaking, there are two options.

  1. You pay the bill

  2. Your guests pay their own way

If your guests are paying it seems to reason that you can just bring in a bunch of trucks so that nobody has to wait too long, there is plenty of variety and everyone is happy.

Well, that is everyone except for the food truck owners who will most likely request a guarantee of a minimum number of sales. This means that If one truck doesn't pique the interest of your guests, or many of your guests decide not to eat, you will be on the hook for any shortfall.


Guarantees can range from $0 to $1,500 in the Seattle area. A word of caution here: If a truck doesn't have a minimum, you should be wary of what kind of service and quality of food they will be offering.


So, in conclusion once you have decided who is paying for the food, how much time you have and how many trucks you will need, you can make the decision to explore further and move on to the next step or alternatively consider other options.


Next step: Decide on your Budget.


If you or your company is paying for the event, the next thing to consider is your budget. Food trucks offer a wide range of cuisine options at varying price points. Established trucks that are popular tend to be more expensive, while newcomers may offer lower prices. It's important to remember that lower prices may not always guarantee good quality food or service. Calculate your maximum budget per person and start your search based on that, making sure to choose an operator who's food that is both tasty and affordable to you.


Next Step: Get offers.


There are several ways to do this:

  1. Google search and find Food trucks on your own

  2. Post on Facebook or other social media

  3. Use a food truck referral company

Google search and find Food trucks on your own

This is obviously tedious and apart from taking up a lot of your time, there is a good chance that you miss out on great options because they didn't appear on the first page of your search results.


Post on Facebook or other social media

This probably is the least reliable method especially if you are in a hurry.


Use a food truck referral company

This is a great option as it provides access to most food trucks in any given city/area. The concept is that you post your event details on the website and wait for responses from truck operators. Depending upon the particulars of your event you will get many responses within minutes. One of the key factors that operators look at before deciding to send you a bid is your stated budget. If you go too low, you will not get many bids, so go with your highest possible number as many will come in under budget and from there you can decide which vendor(s) you would like to work with.


Here are some of the operators that come up on top of the search list:


Nationwide:

Seattle/King County/Snohomish County/Washington State

https://foodtruckconnections.com/ ( smaller company with white glove service )


Once you have offers that pique your interest it's time to dive in and explore the quotes you have received. It's important to take the time to review them thoroughly. Don't just look at the total cost, but also consider what is included in the price. Ask your colleagues for feedback, suggestions and opinions, a group decision will take some of the burden off your shoulders! Some food trucks may have additional fees for things like travel, service, or rentals. Make sure you understand exactly what you are paying for before making a decision.


Next Step: Pick your food truck.


Once you have narrowed down your options and found a few food trucks that you are interested in, it's time to make contact with them. You can do this by visiting their website or contacting them directly via email or phone. Don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have to clarify any doubts or concerns.

  • Ask about the menu options are and agree on a menu

  • If there are dietary concerns for any of your guests, make sure to ask about it.

  • Inquire about how many people they can handle comfortably.

  • Ask about the payment process, deposits, and contracts.

This is the time to ask any questions or concerns that you may have, so that you can make an informed decision and choose the best food truck for your event.


Next Step: Discuss Logistics.


Once you've selected a Food Truck, have agreed on a menu and price for your event, it's time to discuss logistics.


Here is a list of things to consider:

  • Timeline: Be sure to confirm the Food Truck's arrival time and the start and end time of the event.

  • Location and equipment: Make sure the food truck can easily access your event space and discuss any setup requirements, such as power supply or water access.

  • Permits This includes fire permits, health department licenses and in many cases local business license. Without these documents, the food truck may not be allowed to operate at your event, and you could be held liable for any issues that arise. Before booking a food truck, ask for proof of these documents and confirm that they are up to date. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the safety and well-being of your guests.

  • Insurance. Along with the rest of the documentation it is good to ask for a COI listing the location and business where the event will be held as an additional insured.

Next Step: Make a commitment.

Once you are satisfied that you have found the right truck(s) for your event, it's important to let the vendors know of your decision. Reputable operators usually issue a contract that confirms all the details of what you have discussed. It's crucial to review the contract carefully, especially the paragraphs relating to cancellation policies. This will help you understand what happens to your money in the event of cancellation. To avoid any discrepancies, ensure that everything you have agreed upon is mentioned in the contract. Once the contract has been signed, you will be required to pay some kind of deposit. The contract should specify what the deposit is and when the balance is due.


Next Step: Mark your Calender.

It's always a good idea to stay in touch with the food truck vendor, especially if you're booking well in advance of your event. Sending an email a month in advance, a week in advance, and finally two days before can help ensure that everything is still on track and prevent any last-minute cancellations. This can also give you an opportunity to confirm details such as the menu, guest count, and logistics with the vendor and make any necessary adjustments.


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