A Guide to Hiring Food Trucks for Your Event or Fundraiser

Hiring one or multiple food trucks to show up at a party, business, wedding, or mega-fundraiser can be an easy way to solve the catering solution for any soiree.

Hiring one or multiple food trucks to show up at a party, business, wedding, or mega-fundraiser can be an easy way to solve the catering solution for any soiree. Throwing a party in your home? Trucks will drive up, prep a bit, open the windows, and start serving. When everyone’s full, they drive off without ever stepping foot in your kitchen.

Calling in trucks for business meetings or purely to serve the employees is not only easy it offers employees something different for lunch. Many businesses arrange for food trucks stop by their offices and, even though employees pay for their meal, it’s a nice service for staffers.

Food trucks add fun and function to fundraisers or larger events and festivals. Stonewall Jackson Elementary’s PTA runs one of the best that I’ve seen over the years, simply charging $5 per adult for entry.

Getting food trucks to service your event is not hard to do. The food truck owner/operators will do most of the work for you, but there are a few things you need to take into consideration when making your plans.

One food trucks can feed 100-125 people per hour. If you want a 2-hour serving window, you should figure one truck for 200-250 people.  If you have only a few extra guests on your list, don’t go to the expense of adding another truck, just simplify the menu. Depending on the event, be sure to consider how many people you think will eat. Not everyone attending large festivals will eat, but if there is a truck in your backyard for a holiday party you can plan on all of them eating. If you are considering a gathering of 2,000, choose eight hot food trucks and a couple of desert trucks.

It would be very easy to simply add more trucks to ensure that your guests have short lines and can quickly order.  The downside is that the food trucks make less money for that 2-hour window.

Now you know how many food trucks you need for your event.  Let’s go to the next step.

First, what sort of food do you want for your guests? The choices are many: burgers, sliders, pizza, sushi, sandwiches, tacos, soul food, Asian, Indian.  If you have more than one food truck, you’ll want a lead operator.  The food trucks all know each other and mostly like and respect each other. I’d recommend someone that has been in operation for at least one year and preferably someone with more than one food truck such as  Ruthie’s, Easy Slider, Two Trucks (Gandolfo’s, Texas Burrito Co., The Butcher’s Son), Nammi, or Rockn’ Ricks.

Depending on the event, most food trucks will require guaranteed (contract) minimums. This is where calculating the number of food trucks can get tricky. Minimums can vary from $750 to $1200, depending on the popularity of the food truck.  Given an average ticket of $10, that means that you need to have at least 80-120 people per truck.  Otherwise, when the event is over, you, as the event planner, will be kicking in the balance. The minimum is typically settled up at the end of the event. If you execute a great event, and repeat it the next year, it’s likely your lead food truck may not require minimums.

Food trucks can be great vehicles for fundraising events.  I’ve seen successful events for home owners associations, PTAs, churches, and charity organizations. There are two ways to raise the money. One is to charge an entry fee.  Over the last few years, the most effective has been $5 per adult with kids under eight or so free. If it’s a large enough event with lots of add-ons such as music, bands, and other activities, then perhaps you can raise the price to $10. As your pricing goes up, you’d better get it right and pray for beautiful weather.

The other way to raise funds is to skip the entry fee and contractually agree to a percentage of the food truck’s revenue. Obviously, the food trucks don’t prefer this option as their margins are already slim. I’ve seen some events ask for 30% of revenue, but for a typical PTA event with 3-8 food trucks, 5% to 8% is more reasonable.  Know that the food trucks are going to raise their menu prices a bit to compensate.

Depending on the privacy of your event, you likely want to ensure that your food truck is licensed for the city where the event is taking place. Most trucks are licensed for Dallas. Few of the food trailers from Fort Worth are licensed in Dallas. If your event is very private though, you probably won’t have code compliance officers coming in your back yard.

Depending on a food truck for your event carries a few other risks. Sometimes they break down. Make sure the one you are dealing with has a backup in case of an unexpected disaster.

Plan well ahead. Schedules for Christmas and Spring events are filling up now.

Lastly, if you are doing a large public fundraising event, let me know so that I can ensure that everyone knows about it.

 

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