5 Reasons Why Food Trucks Fail

why food trucks fail

Like all businesses, there are trends to be found in the food truck industry for success. But, there are also trends in the failures. Even some of the best franchises to own can be subject to failure if they aren’t properly prepared.

So what are some of the most common reasons that a food truck would fail? We’ve done some research and have outlined them here for you. Armed with the causes of failure, you can be better equipped to avoid these potential problems and increase your chances of success.

1. Identity Crisis

Your food truck needs a vision, but remember that it is not about you. That may seem odd to hear since you’re the owner, but it’s true. Your personal tastes and opinions don’t matter, because food trucks are customer-based and focused. You should be open to ideas and opinions besides your own.

Being open doesn’t mean being guide less, though. As previously said, your business needs a vision. Be open to ideas and feedback, and adjust what can be adjusted within reason, but don’t throw your whole business’ vision out in the process. Establish your brand and stick to it, and make changes that don’t compromise it.

2. Bad Openings

At some point in your life, chances are that you’ve heard the old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” If the opening launch of your food truck is bad, your business is going to suffer before it even has a chance of getting off the ground.

You’ve got a new group of employees that have likely never worked together, and some may have never worked a food truck at all. You may be new to the process yourself. So what’s the solution?

Try a soft opening to make sure everyone can work together neatly, efficiently, and peacefully. Invite friends and family to a mock opening and have your team work together, following recipes and providing the same standard of customer service you expect them to in the real world. It’s a great way to ease your team into the type of work they’re going to be doing and get them used to the people they’ll be working with.

After the mock opening, make any adjustments you need to make, address any problems or concerns you and your team might have now that they’ve been tested, and then work on your true, grand opening to the public.

3. Poor Management

This doesn’t just refer to any managers you have or you, this refers to the entire operation, from inventory to employees to how present you are as the business owner.

Poor inventory management can easily bankrupt you if you aren’t careful. Your inventory, the food, and ingredients in your truck are your biggest, consistent expenses. Keep track of your daily finances and adjust your inventory accordingly – if Tuesdays are slower than Saturdays, don’t load the truck up with the same amount of inventory, as it may spoil.

Additionally, monitor your employees and manage them effectively. Hire a consultant or experienced truck owner to guide you on how to properly train your employees to not only deliver excellent food but provide amazing customer service as well.

Poor Ownership

You bought the business, so you should be able to sit back and enjoy the profits now, right? Wrong. Many food trucks fail because the owner of the truck has this mindset, but there’s very little that’s worse than an absentee owner.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be able to be away for a day or two to recharge your batteries every week. You should be prepared to do the same work your employees do as often as they do. But, you should have also put people, tools, and systems in place that will allow you to safely take a day off when you need to without the truck being run into the ground.

There’s a balance of work and monitoring when you own a food truck, so you have to find it.

4. Lack of Market Research

As with any business, a lack of market research and analysis can be the downfall of your food truck. You should thoroughly examine any potential locations where you plan to sell your products. Do surveys, check out local businesses, and more to make sure that there is a demand for your product and that you won’t have an intense amount of competition.

Even once you’ve established yourself in a favorable area, your work isn’t done. You should work to stay on top of local and business trends to keep customers and gain new ones.

Lack of Marketing

Staying on top of trends is part of marketing, and good marketing leads to successful businesses. Use tools to connect with your customer base.

Social media is a great way to do this – create a business page for your food truck on Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, and any other media outlet you know your customers are using. If you need help managing these accounts, you can hire a social media influencer or expert and have them keep your customers engaged and informed.

5. Recipes

You may know your recipes for every item on your menu, but do your managers? Your employees? Chances are they don’t, and even if they do, they’re likely to alter something, miss or add an ingredient that wasn’t in the original recipe, or worse.

A big part of the success or failure of a food truck is a lack of consistency where the food itself is concerned. Whether you’re running a burger truck or selling gourmet pretzels, you have to have consistency in your recipes. So if all of your truck’s recipes are hidden away in your head, and you aren’t always around or available, there’s nothing in the truck to guide your employees in the right direction. This means your food truck could be in trouble, just like that.

Write the recipes down and have them stored in the truck. Laminating the pages is a good idea, too, since grease splatters and other fluids or staining materials could ruin or obscure the pages otherwise.


There are many reasons a food truck franchise could fail. But, if you want a successful franchise, all you have to do is keep these factors in mind and do what you reasonably can to fix any problems you can.

If you want to give running a burger truck a try and you’re in the Philadelphia area, you can submit a form to Zac’s. They’re looking for eager, informed franchisees!

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Zacs Food Truck

Zac's Burgers is presently not selling franchises and does not have a certified franchise disclosure document.  Zac's is offering licensing opportunities, however, potential licensees must meet all federal and state requirements.

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