HAVING A FOOD TRUCK ATTEND YOUR EVENT
We are going to go over some of the things for you to think about when asking a food truck to attend your event for a fee or no fee or even a guarantee of sales. One of the biggest things to understand is asking a food truck to attend your event is not catering. Catering is when you pay them, typically a set amount to serve your guests, customers, employee etc. When you ask a truck to come to your place of business or family gathering with no guarantee of sales, it is certainly not catering. So please when you fill out the caterer request form please make sure you do not select catering in the drop down field on the form
WHY DO TRUCKS ATTEND EVENT’S THAT ARE NOT CATERED?
- It’s a large event with thousands of people, such as a food truck festival or celebration
It’s a fund raiser
- School event as schools cannot give guarantees or pay
- Expectation of future work (not recommended)
- They are new and just need to try and make money
CAN YOU CHARGE A FOOD TRUCK FOR ATTENDING YOUR EVENT?
Although this is becoming too common in the business, there are reasons it makes sense to charge a food truck for providing their services. For example, if your event relies on them to help pay the event costs and the event is mainly related to food trucks, but if it has other vendors, the cost should be split up equally among them. If you are thinking of creating an event, do not rely on the food trucks to bring in the crowds and expect to be paid. This happens a lot and it should not be the case. There is nothing wrong with everyone sharing the costs of food truck festivals, but it’s not right to charge the trucks and just sit back and put no money into advertising. Remember the food truck owners have bills to pay. Food trucks are not cheap to buy/build or to run day to day.
Basically the way we look at it is, if you have a food truck festival or have a business such as a brewery and you’re providing things such as customers, bands, permits, tables, staff, advertising, then it is acceptable to charge a reasonable fee. But if you don’t and expect the trucks to draw in people and pay for it, this is not acceptable. With the exception of fund raisers of course.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I CHARGE?
When thinking of charging a food truck to attend your event, you obviously have to take into account how much the event costs you to put on and how much you think the food trucks should help with that cost. But again do not expect them to cover ALL the costs unless it’s a food truck specific event and even then you should reach out too companies to sponsor the event to cut costs. Food trucks have tight margins for the most part, just like any food related business.
Some small events want to charge 15-25% of sales and this is not acceptable to most food truck owners. Due to it being a small event, they usually end up with less attendance than expected; therefore, a food truck owner cannot cover the percentage or fee by volume alone. On top of that most small events seem to be located near a lot of restaurants or fast food chains and the food truck owner cannot raise prices to cover the cost due to the competition in the area. Selling food is a numbers game and volume is needed to make any money.
So our suggestion is if you want food trucks to attend a small event, the max you should charge is around 10% and again, that is only if your providing services, customers and advertising, not just relying on the food truck to pay your expenses and bring in customers. I know this sounds like common sense but we see it a lot in the business where the event organizer wants the food trucks to pay the entire event costs and they do nothing to bring customers in.
Another good option for new smaller events is to make an arrangement with the food truck to not charge them if they do not reach a certain sales amount. This way the food truck knows they wont have to pay the fee if sales are low. This will help them decide if they want to attend your event as it lowers their risk of loosing money.
Smaller events typically will not book more popular trucks or trucks that have been around for awhile, especially in the summer months. Be prepared to have trucks that are newer without a well known name behind them.
ASKING FOOD TRUCKS AND CHARGING NO FEE
Asking a food truck to attend an event or for them to park in front of your business for free is great. BUT most food trucks will want to know details as it does cost gas, employee costs, time etc. Please let them know accurate numbers of attendance/customers or if you are completely unsure of these numbers, BE HONEST. All too often people say they are going to get 1000’s of people to their event. It usually doesn’t work out that way.
Most trucks who have a good following and have been around awhile will likely require a guarantee to attend new or small events as they can park almost anywhere and bring in sales. They would most likely increase your attendance. This is why bringing in popular trucks at no cost or even guaranteeing them a certain amount of sales is a good idea. They can help promote your event on their social media or to their customers which helps you and them. A guarantee is when you would pay them the difference in sales. For example, they say they want a $1000 guarantee to come to your event/business, they sell $800 worth of food. They would expect you to pay the remainder of $200. So you have to be able to afford this, but the benefits of them promoting your event, having a big name truck at your event can certainly help with attendance and promotion.
In the end, what you charge and how much a food truck will pay is based on many factors. To get the best results and have the best food trucks at your food truck festival or other event, book them early and keep your fees down as low as possible. This will increase your chances of snagging a popular food truck, especially in summer months when trucks have endless options for work.