FOOD TRUCK CATERING
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Looking to hire a food truck to provide catering for your event? Below we will talk about the things you should ask and do before hiring or booking a food truck. This will help both parties know what is expected from one another so there is no confusion over what is expected.
What does catering mean? Catering in the food truck world is when a person or company pays the food truck to attend their event; catering is not when the truck pays you to attend the event, for example food truck festivals or things like Canada Day events. Typically a food truck is hired for catering when it is for a special occasion such as weddings, birthdays, parties, corporate events, movie sets and, yes, even funerals. Food trucks fill a very important gap in the market; they allow a person or business to not have to worry about providing, cooking or bringing in food themselves to their event. This saves a lot of time, stress and possibly money for the person/business that hires them.
BEFORE HIRING A FOOD TRUCK
Once you have submitted your catering request using our service and have received some food truck responses, do a little research. We gather data on the food trucks in our system and will remove anyone who receives too many negative complaints. But you should still do your own research. Look at their reviews… please note that most people only leave reviews when it is negative, so take that into account. But also keep an eye out for trucks that have a lot of very detailed reviews on how great they are over and over. This is a sign of paid reviews. If there are a lot of details down to the company name, list of owners names, …exact ingredients of the food… this doesn’t happen regularly in real reviews, people don’t usually go into that much detail.
Also look at how long the truck has been around for. If the truck is new, take that into account. Not saying to not give them a shot, as we all need to start somewhere, but just be mindful of brand new trucks when the job is many months away. If the job is a week away or month away, no worries, give them a shot.
Ask them if they have a current health permit and have them send it to you. It should be up to date. This is pretty much standard across North America. There are many more permits that you could ask for but that falls on the trucks responsibility to make sure they are up to date. Every region is also different on what permits are required for the truck to operate so this can get very difficult for you to know what is required. In places like British Columbia, Canada for example, there are at minimum 5 different permits, without insurance! On your end, make sure you have permission for a food truck to park at the location of the event or at the venue before booking the food truck. For example some wedding venues do not allow it.
All food trucks should carry liability insurance. This is something you can ask for as well. This just ensures if anything were to happen such as bad food or any number of things that the truck has some coverage.
Go over all the details with them as to what you want, and what you expect from them. Make sure they know the times, where to park, who to contact when they arrive etc. This includes what happens if you booked for 100 servings and they hit that level, can they go over and bill you for the difference, or should they stop serving at 100. This is a very important one as no one wants to deal with that during or after a catering job. The purpose of hiring a food tuck is to make it easy on you and helps them to provide you with the best service they can.
It is typical for a food truck to have a minimum. For example, you say approximately 100 servings will be served. A truck may say ok but we need a guarantee of X amount of dollars or a minimum of 80 paid servings even if you only hit 60. This is typical and expected. Please remember a food truck has fixed costs, such as employees, food costs, fuel… some trucks also have food such as lettuce… that doesn’t last long. This means they throw it out at the end of the day so they need to cover that cost. Please remember they are providng a service and should have their costs covered regardless of your event turn out. So be very cautious if a food truck does not have a minimum. This may seem beneficial to you, but it’s not a good sign.
Ask them for ALL costs/fees. Some trucks tack on truck fees, taxes and tip onto their final bills but do not disclose this up front. THEY SHOULD. You need to know if there are any other costs or fees on top of the quote.
Food trucks SHOULD be asking for a deposit. This guarantees the date for them as usually it is non-refundable. It protects them from you canceling last minute and them loosing the days pay and possibly stock when they could have booked elsewhere. BUT this also protects you! This helps you guarantee they will show up. This has been a problem in the food truck business. If they don’t wan’t a deposit for your catering that is more than a week away, I would move on. Usually it’s because they want to see if something better comes along. A very bad business practice.
For almost all food truck catering you should be signing a contract that outlines all the details, what is expected and what happens if something goes wrong, such as a truck breaks down, your event gets cancelled or if the government cancels events… cover your basis. Again, if the truck does not want a contract, we would suggest you move on. There is a reason they don’t want one. There are some industries that typically do not have contracts signed due to quick turnarounds, such as movie sets, last minute bookings… so if your catering is last minute you may not have time to deal with a contract. You should still get all the details worked out over email at the bare minimum. Again this protects BOTH parties. All experienced food truck owners should have a contract on hand for this and it should not take you long to sort out.
This is totally up to you of course but we do believe if a service has been provided and the food was great, the truck did a good job, then a tip should be given. It is a service business. The food truck, catering and restaurant business is VERY hard work with long hours and tips go a long way.
In the end do some research and cover your bases. This article is not here to scare you away from hiring food trucks as a large portion of them are great. We just want to make sure you AND the food truck are on the same page. This benefits everyone and makes your special day or event that much better and helps reduce the stress! After all that’s the purpose of outsourcing things like catering and is one of the main reasons we started Perfect Caterer. We aim to make your life easier and save you a time searching out trucks and manually contacting each one.
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