It is by no surprise that entrepreneurs from the food truck world have grown beyond their 4-wheel events to full-service restaurant spaces. However, the road to a successful restaurant is by no means an easy process even for the most successful food trucks. Having talked to Lindsay Dvorak (co-founder of Colorado Truckie) last summer volunteering at a TEDx Mile High event, I certainly saw the need to provide my expertise and knowledge in a market fairly untapped by the commercial real estate community. Untapped for some good reasons as not all “truckies” are the type of client you would desire to have, but limited space requirements also make it more challenging and less fruitful from a business development standpoint.
As a commercial realtor, I started a campaign in the summer of 2017 marketing to every food truck with a web presence either by facebook, instagram, or email campaign. My process was to really learn the pain points of growth and if they were considering space – how could I best serve them in making their concept successful. I will highlight a few very important perspectives in helping these clients emerge into the restaurant community.
- : If there is anything that really struck me is that most of these entrepreneurs are operating from lean staffing requirements and financial budgets. However, time can be the toughest resource once Spring hits and the calendar gets lined up for events. Setting the expectation of availability from the beginning is key, and I’ve coached my power partners on this aspect as well. It is important the these businesses meet with a lender to ensure they have the liquid capital to sustain 6-8 months of no operation, including both construction and buildout costs.
- : When does a food truck decide they are ready to take the plunge on committing to a permanent space? This really depends on the mission of the truck but if additional catering needs and less seasonal fluctuations are consideration, the benefits will certainly outweigh the overhead costs. However, a well structured business plan is needed before a lease consideration is even an option. I’ve seen restaurants delayed 3-6 months from opening from various contingencies they didn’t plan on. The sad part is the free rent usually negotiated in a lease is usually exercised before doors officially open.
- : These businesses need to draw traffic in as opposed to the concept of driving to the masses. It is important to figure out what type of client the restaurant will service (i.e. – Downtown/DTC lunch, dinner/late night options, or early morning commuters). Analyzing traffic counts and access is a huge factor when looking at any commercial space for this type of business.
If you are considering starting a restaurant, please seek the advice from a trusted professional. I am more than happy to set a time frame with my clients and I would recommend that planning for this new business endeavor begin one year prior to opening. Keep your options open and always be conservative in the initial planning and operation!