Man and woman eating at a food truck.

Food Trucks vs. Food Trailers: Which is the Superior Investment?

When you’re deciding between food trucks and food trailers, thinking about the long term is critical. Which one is the best investment? Consider the following points.

How are Food Trucks and Food Trailers Different?

First, it’s essential to differentiate between food trucks and trailers. These primary differences demonstrate the distinctions:

  • Size: The average food truck is larger than the average food trailer. Food trucks are typically in the 16- to 20-foot range, whereas trailers are smaller.
  • Design: The aesthetics distinguish the two vehicles. Entrepreneurs typically convert a commercial van or truck into a food truck; Food trailers are external kitchens you hook up and tow.
  • Mobility: Food trucks are independent vehicles you can drive anywhere. Food trailers need a heavy-duty vehicle to move them, but they are detachable.

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Pros of using a food truck

Food trucks can be an excellent venture for entrepreneurs getting into the food game. These pros show the value of this investment.

  • You will save time Food trucks suit those who want to save time. All you need to do is get in and go — no need for attachments or waiting on a towing vehicle.
  • You get visibility: Food trucks are generally larger than trailers, catching more eyes on the road and the streets. A large music festival like Coachella easily exceeds 100,000 attendees daily, so it is vital to have an eye-catching machine like a food truck.
  • You can customize: How do you get eyes on your food truck? It starts with customization and creative design. Food trucks have large exteriors, providing a blank canvas for artwork. Use eye-catching graphics to enhance your branding and spread the company’s identity everywhere you travel.
  • You get an all-in-one unit: Food trucks are convenient because they are an all-in-one unit. Businesses get the kitchen and serving areas in one vehicle. Entrepreneurs do not need separate machines or devices to get the job done.

Cons of using a food truck

Food trucks can be an excellent venture for entrepreneurs, but they are not without these disadvantages.

  • They can be costly: The upfront investment can be steep and out of range for new entrepreneurs. Buying a new food truck costs at least $50,000 and can exceed $150,000. Used trucks save money but still cost between $30,000 and $70,000.
  • Your employees have tight spaces: Food trucks are convenient for their all-in-one features. Still, the space inside can get cramped. The typical food truck will have cashiers and cooks in tight quarters.
  • They depreciate quicker in value: Food trucks are independent vehicles, so entrepreneurs must consider depreciation. Depreciation depends on age, condition and other factors, but most vehicles lose 20% of their value after one year.
  • You may limit your menu: Tight spaces mean food trucks may only have the capacity for a few employees and machines. Thus, the menu will become smaller. Restaurants may be unable to display their full potential to new customers.

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Pros of using a food trailer

Another option for entrepreneurs is to use a food trailer. These pros show why you should consider this option.

  • The investment is lower: Food trailers are more accessible for those who have limited capital. They are typically smaller, but you can flex the size based on your needs.
  • The versatility is higher : Food trailers bring versatility with their size. You also see this flexibility in the detachment feature. Operators can drop off the trailer and move the towing vehicle to create more room.
  • You get high durability: This option brings durability and less depreciation because it has no engine. Entrepreneurs can enhance their durability by opting for an aluminum trailer, which is flexible and resists rust, requiring less maintenance over the years.
  • Your kitchen is bigger: The flexibility of food trailers creates more room in the kitchen. Business owners can hire more employees to accommodate large crowds and expand the menu.

Cons of using a food trailer

Food trailers are ideal for entrepreneurs wanting to enter the food business. Though, these cons may make you reconsider.

  • You will depend on the towing vehicle: Food trailers cost less to invest in, but they require a towing vehicle. If you do not have one, you must acquire a truck with high towing capacity.
  • They are harder to drive: With food trailers, entrepreneurs must drive one vehicle and haul another. Consider how bad parking is in Boston, New York and other large cities. This setup makes it harder to navigate.
  • They take longer to set up: Food trailers entail more time to set up because the employees must detach the trailer, stabilize it and prepare it for the day ahead.
  • You may need a generator: You’ll need a way to power the machines inside. Purchasing a generator can add unwanted costs to the budget.

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Tips to think about:

  • Consider your budget and how much capital you can invest.
  • Evaluate your business and how much space you need.
  • Account for your city and what events you plan to attend.
  • Research regulations on food trucks and permits.
  • Consider flexibility if you want to upgrade or scale down.

The SuN Takeaway

Food trucks and trailers are solid investments for entrepreneurs entering the service industry. Trailers require less capital to invest, and you can upgrade or downgrade based on your needs. You also get less depreciation than with food trucks. Trucks provide convenience and mobility, but food trailers set you up for a better investment.

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