How to Start a $417K/Year Food Truck Business (Part 1)

have you ever walked up to a food truck and had a delicious taco burger and then stopped to wonder can i make a living doing this if you guys are interested in starting a food truck business you need to stay tuned for today's inspiring episode today we'll be talking to the owner of vet chef futra kyle gourley the name of the game is the speed you're not a restaurant fill them up and get them out of here since starting his food truck business in 2016 three years after completing his culinary management degree kyle has managed to double his sales every year and now he's in the six digit figures you don't have time to focus on marketing sometimes what was our most important thing is putting out the top quality that we possibly could what about doubling sales year after year how are you doing that kyle is a u.s marine vet he's got an inspiring story with his rock and roll rocky start yet five years later he's a success we want to share this story with you as of today what's your yearly revenue your investment is not wild you can get into a cheap truck for 50 000 bucks what are the three tips for people looking to start a food truck business youtube uh rewards your engagement so please comment ask questions below we've got our vlog in the description below if every question isn't answered we'll answer it on our blog so stay tuned and let's go meet the legend [Music] kyle hey what's up man to see i'm paul youtube paul nice to meet you we're ready to ask some questions all right let me show you a story let me come out awesome i'm excited you guys it's gonna be an awesome episode the vet chef elite fusion food you've got an incredible story tell us about your military experience and how that led you to starting a food truck business basically uh i was in the marine corps for four years from 2004 to 2008 did thankfully only one tour uh to ramadi iraq i was one of the services thank you thank you it's one of the fortunate people that only have one one tour under my belt unlike my friends who have seven or eight went to culinary school and uh knew from my military experience i didn't really want to work for somebody again so i was like man what can i do i'm not a little young don't really have any experience open a restaurant why not a food truck nice you were just looking for that opportunity where you could be on your own not work for anyone fit the bill and you know a small startup cost which is obviously pretty important we were looking at some of the restaurant numbers it's like holy cow man how how like how could i how could i take that leap and the nice thing about a food truck is let's say you know you got a restaurant and then they just started deciding to do construction on that road and next thing you know you're out of business and it's not even i don't care how good your restaurant is not even your fault so now we just get up and move nice so i like it it's like a restaurant on wheels exactly what it is [Music] so looking at your trailer truck what was your initial budget i mean what did this set up cost you opening day including opening informatory it was forty one thousand two hundred dollars break it down for us what does that entail i already had the truck the trailer cost me roughly twenty six thousand dollars bought it new so i had it customly designed for me uh you know you you're working on speed you want the fryer where you want the fryer you want the grill where you want the grill so you're you're working down the line and and trying not to move so um about eight thousand dollars of equipment and then you know all the permitting and all that stuff okay so yeah yeah and why why this particular menu not burgers not you know your typical stuff that you would see how did you come up here we don't have it here seattle doesn't have great mexican food i mean honestly okay honestly it just doesn't how did you come across that did you just california no no no i i mean when i lived oh yeah definitely so when i lived in california i was stationed at camp pendleton in the marine corps this was the the go-to thing the california burrito man like if you were a mexican place and there's a million mexican places in california but if you had the california burrito you'd have a line out the door i mean like you got inspiration from yeah oh yeah yeah that's what we used to do man we used to you finish a long day work and go get a california burrito so i know i needed the california burrito so our entire menu is built around that california burrito as of today what's your yearly revenue and profit margins that you try to operate this business at okay so last year i believe we did like thousand 417 wow that's a pretty good number it's a lot of breezy are you happy with that oh yeah yeah we keep we keep doing better and better uh so are you are you uh looking at the amount of burritos sold and you know get the dollars it's the burritos you got to get a million of them it's depressing sometimes when you're like oh man i rolled a thousand burritos and then you're like oh ten thousand a hundred thousand now now where you at you know honestly i know we run at a 33 34 food cost okay um that's kind of my end of the business my wife handles all the other stuff um i just do my best to keep us under 35 um which is very high for a food truck but we got to have quality you know so [Music] what are the one or two pitfalls of starting a food truck business you're not a restaurant okay there are so many people that get it in their mind that they need to you know julian a carrot or or something like that man you are not a restaurant your job is to serve fast food fill somebody up is the other thing like if you're going and you're buying something and it doesn't fill you up you're not going to come back you know what i mean so give them a big portion they walk out just like oh my gosh yeah like help me do my car kyle please i know we should provide a forklift sometime but uh a wheelchair for the yeah no kidding but uh yeah i mean the name of the game is the speed you're not a restaurant fill them up and get them out of here so they got they got stuff to do [Music] what are the three tips for people looking to start a truck food truck business that you would give them do it uh do it number one i mean honestly you got to take the step i mean it's it's scary but your investment is not wild like you can get into a cheap truck for fifty thousand bucks it's a car so give us a step buy a truck go to your go to your local um health department talk to them okay that's the number one thing saying all the paperwork how do i how do i start okay it's a six-month process of running through all the hoops of the city l and i all that stuff um so you need to plan ahead know that you're gonna take six months of of work and not going to get anything for it you won't even be running you're just going to be going so have the reserves to live for six seven months yeah or you know keep your keep your other job okay so start getting used to working those 14 15 hour days because they're coming yeah yeah so um do that start with a trailer there's another thing that's what we did so okay as you can see we we did the trailer it's significantly cheaper than uh than an actual truck i could pull it with my truck so i kind of you know i already had that so i just pull it on hook it up and and go that makes sense that's safe and you know we do ultimately want to get in the truck because it is better um but start with something small do it as cheap as you can and uh and just start any sort of festivals churches i mean any time that you know that there's people going to be there just go yeah call them and it takes time right i mean yeah i don't think it's real to expect you're going to blow up in a week no no i mean you got a solid you're right you got a solid year of losing money um and just gaining your spot gaining your gaining your reputation and just getting your name out there but it's all worth it every every ounce of it i would never would never would never not do it it's it's it's a wild ride but we love it [Music] let's talk about breaking even right there's a period in the business where you're probably not paying yourself for the time so how long did it take you to break even pay all your employees and then start getting on i would say we were probably uh pretty close that year we took about a year yeah we started with uh the nightmare so lock up the food truck go home wake up the next morning the power went out in our food truck and i had nothing so our very first day of like scrambling i'm calling everybody i know hey man i need help prepping like help so we go to our commissary just start throwing stuff together next thing we know we're out and just start opening up we're like oh this is this is crazy like a roller coaster yeah and then our generator goes out it's just like why why is this happening so we ended up getting that we we pulled off our generator hook up a friend's generator and you know finish the day but it's like man this is going to be a long life if this is how it went and it didn't thankfully we we we got a new generator fix it all up and things evolved it's like man this is a lot of work we started getting a little bit more popular and next thing we know we hire um my cousin who was a high schooler then and she just needed a few hours and so we we gave her a few hours and we were able to you know say listen play we can only pay you for the time we're open like just come here help us open right when we close all clean i don't care anything basically if something can go wrong it will go wrong and that's not your cue to quit uh it's your cue to dig deep and this is your life man and if you're not committed if this is not part of your family if this is not fully something you're willing to be invested in don't open the business because it's going to consume you and it's worth every second of it [Music] what about doubling sales year after year how are you doing that i would love to say you know sticking with it building a location but um that that really does help but you also need to move around um so we we built a location we stuck there we we did the nitty gritty for a long time you know we we took losses we we tried everything we kept getting our name out getting our name out getting our names are you testing out different locations yeah i mean we wouldn't we wouldn't say no to anything like if they came hey man we got a venue for you to surf yes we'll be there what time okay and that was that was the name of the game that was just the name of the game yes yes yes it's just repetition come see the vet chef here's the vet chef vet chef vegeta and next thing we know people start calling us that are a little bit bigger a little bit bigger and now we're at boeing now we're doing you know some some awesome numbers so yeah it's all about just getting that name out it reminds me of the yes ma'am oh yeah yeah say yes to everything oh i know see how your life goes yeah but there were times where you know you you get in there and you lose money but we just knew that chef vet chef vet chef and next thing we know wow yeah [Music] we talked about employees real quick um in in 30 seconds how much does having employees cut into your margin can food trucks afford typically employees yeah i mean the 15 an hour minimum wage definitely really hurts um that was kind of a kick to us for a while um but you have to have employees i mean you're you'll drive yourself into the ground um it's it's a hard job so i would say definitely do what you can like i said when i talked earlier we would say show up right here first serve time i came i had everything ready they showed up they took orders we cleaned uh without employees and sent them home so um minimize what you need them for use your your free label labor even though you know you're not free but uh use that at least for the first year then when you can start surviving right you gotta have sales yeah locations you can usually find a high schooler or you know relative that will work those weird three four hour shifts and be very happy okay [Music] if you would wind it down to one thing what's the most successful key factor in launching a successful truck food business being dependable if you're say you're going to be there be there i mean i don't care if your tire pops on the side of the road you better have triple a and make it to where you're going to be and you better be on the horn saying listen guys i might be five minutes late but i'm gonna serve food there you know and they start talking you know what i mean i mean that it's profoundly simple i guess we've interviewed many businesses and the most key factors you hear is like to be there on time to be dependable i mean to me it's like hello that's pretty simple but most people fail it's just we popped we popped five tires last year and every single time we popped a tire we were within like three miles from les schwab able to fix it got to the thing still opened up on time wow you know or other other people just say hey man this is a stressful day you know yeah be there because they talk that's huge kyle yeah it's almost like don't worry as much about your facebook and your instagram and anything else just be there when you said you'll be there do what you said you're going to do do it on time we have 1400 facebook followers considering the amount of food we're serving the the popularity we have the award-winning we have that's nothing we don't spend a lot of time on facebook you don't have time to focus on marketing sometime it wasn't our most important thing what was our most important thing is putting out the very best food the top quality that we possibly could [Music] when we opened up we had from primarily mexican food type stuff we did a poyocon crema we did uh jeez it's been so long now we did argentina and tacos we did like chimichurri steaks and all that stuff and next thing we know we're doing philly burritos burger burritos i mean it's yeah the burger burrito yeah have you guys heard of a burger burrito especially eating a delicious burger in a burrito i mean yeah that was all my employee too a little army vet he uh he came up with it i was like man i don't want to eat a burrito with ketchup so it took me like two months to even try the burrito and as soon as i took a bite i was like all right man put it on the menu and i want to ask you guys mike i mean did you guys like it i know you was really good right nick nick behind the camera look he's licking he's drooling thinking i need another one

As found on YouTube

How to Start a $417K/Year Food Truck Business (Part 1)

Are you wondering how to start a food truck? If so, you’re not alone. Since they cost less to start than traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, food trucks are appealing to aspiring restauranteurs.

Watch Part 2:

If you’re wondering what it takes to start a food truck—and how you can make it successful—you’ve come to the right place. In this 2-part interview with Kyle Gourlie, owner of the Vet Chef, we talk about how much his food truck cost, how he’s built a successful food truck business, and his plans for the future.

After its founding in 2016, the Vet Chef quickly became one of the most popular food trucks in western Washington. It was voted Best Food Truck in Western Washington in 2017 and has doubled its sales in each subsequent year, with recent sales nearing the half-million dollar mark.

The Vet Chef isn’t just about profit. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Chef Gourlie also uses his business to support fellow vets. Being veteran-owned is a huge part of the Vet Chef’s identity and it’s not just a marketing gimmick. They offer jobs and mentorship to veterans, providing a community outside the military.

You can learn more about the Vet Chef and the work they do here:

For more information on starting a food truck and for questions that weren't answered in this video, visit our blog post:

If you are looking for new and used food trucks for sale, visit:

If any of Chef Gourlie’s answers resonate with you, we’d love to hear about it in the comments! And make sure you subscribe to our channel if you like this video and want to see more like it.

#foodtruckbusiness #foodtruck #foodbusiness

0:00 Intro
1:36 Meeting The Owner Kyle
3:00 Initial Budget
4:32 Yearly Revenue and Profit Margins
5:26 Pitfalls of Starting a Food Truck Business
6:16 Three Food Truck Business Tips
8:21 Thoughts On Breaking Even
10:10 Doubling Sales Year-After-Year
11:27 Employee Costs
12:32 Key Factor In Launching A Food Truck
14:05 Serving Mexican Food
14:42 Outro