How To Start A Food Truck: Finding Your Niche

It’s important to create a unique and memorable experience for your customers so that they continue to come back. If you are already aware of the licenses and permits required to start a food truck in your area and have a financial plan in place, you are well on your way to opening your restaurant on wheels. However, there are a few more things to consider, like: 

  • What will you name your truck?
  • What kinds of food will you sell?

These are a few questions you may have already began to ponder or have already figured out. If you haven’t yet, don’t worry; we’re here to help!

Scope the Scene

Although there is some camaraderie among local food trucks, at the end of the day, each owner is responsible for their own success. For that reason, it’s important to know what you’ll be going up against. Is the surrounding area you’ll be serving already saturated with food trucks? If so, what kind of food do they serve? Based on what you’ve observed, what can you do to make your business stand out?

If your area doesn’t already have a lot of food trucks, then you have an untapped market to use to your advantage if you execute correctly. If your area already has a lot of trucks that serve the food you’re thinking of serving, it’s not the end of the world, but you will need to critically think through how you can bring something unique to the table. What sets you apart from the rest of other food trucks?

Choose A Theme

This may have been the first thing you figured out, but it may be worth reevaluating as you get closer to actualizing your food truck dreams. What kind of food will you serve? Some of the most popular themes include BBQ, cupcakes, ethnic fusion, regional cuisine, or burgers.

If you’re a New Orleans transplant living in San Diego and you’ve been making cajun food for as long as you can remember, then it may be a no-brainer to have a cajun theme for your truck because there aren’t a lot of cajun food trucks in San Diego. However, if you are thinking of opening a cajun truck in Louisiana, you are going to face more of an uphill battle.

Name Your Truck

When approaching your food truck, prospective customers generally make swift decisions as they decide where to invest their lunch money. Your food truck’s name and appearance can greatly affect their decision to choose you. It is important that your truck’s name is memorable, stands out, and accurately depicts who you are and what you do.

There are a few ways you can approach selecting a name. Sometimes, it’s as simple as incorporating your area name and what you serve, such as DC Slices, the DC-based pizza truck. Naming your truck after a cultural reference is another option. For example, Come’Chop, meaning “come eat,” is a West African food truck whose name pays homage to the culture. If done correctly, clever puns, such as Basil Thyme, also make for great food truck names.

Regardless of which way you go, the name should be easy to remember and catchy. It should also be able to stand the test of time, so avoid anything trendy.  Be sure to think of alternative names in case you cannot legally use your first or second ideas. And test your idea with friends, family, or even strangers. Get feedback on your name to ensure that the message in your name gets across to third parties as you intended.

In the absolute worst case scenario where you just can’t get seem to get those creative juices going, remember that the internet is your friend. There are helpful tools out there such as business name generators that can get you started. If nothing else, maybe it can give you the inspiration you need to think up the name you really want.

Research Your Name

Once you have a solid idea for a food truck name, you need to contact your state’s Secretary of State office to find out how to check for registered names in your state. Next, you will need to verify that your name isn’t already a federally registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If the name is available, you will want to go through the necessary steps to legally secure the name as soon as possible. If it’s not available, this is where it’s helpful to have alternative names. Once your trademark is registered, it remains registered to you as long as you file a renewal every ten years.

Next, check to ensure that your desired domain name and social media handles are available. Ideally, your food truck name, domain name, and social media handles are all the same (e.g., foodtruckname.com, @foodtruckname). If your truck’s domain name and/or social media handles are taken, consider making the minimum amount of additions necessary, such as adding your state to the end (e.g., foodtrucknameny.com). Whatever you decide to do, try to keep it as uniform as possible.  

If you have any more questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer them. In the final installment of our “How to Find a Food Truck” series, we will give some insight on how to market yourself once everything else is in place. In the meantime, download the Goodfynd app to search for food trucks near you!

Author: Goodfynd

Whether you're at work, home, or just out and about in the city, we list the food trucks closest to you and do a little bit more!

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