Image of three food trailers and a food truck lined up in a row, representing the choice between food trucks and food trailers for a mobile food business.

If you’re deciding between a food truck and a food trailer, there’s a lot you need to consider. What’s your budget? What kind of events do you want to work? Where are you going to park and store all your equipment? 

With so many questions, deciding between a good truck vs. a food trailer can be overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of a food truck vs food trailer to help you decide which is right for you.

What’s the difference between a food truck vs food trailer?

Before you can decide between a truck or a trailer, you first have to understand the difference between the two. These differences don’t necessarily mean right off the bat that one is better for your food truck business than the other—but they do each present unique benefits and challenges that should factor into your decision.

What’s a food truck?

A food truck is a truck or a van that’s renovated inside to have kitchen equipment and storage so you can prepare and serve food right out of the truck. The entire food truck business is self-contained in the vehicle, meaning that you can cook and drive right in the same space. 

What’s a food trailer?

A food trailer is a trailer or airstream of some kind that’s been renovated to be able to prepare and serve food. The main difference from a food truck is that a trailer isn’t mobile on its own. It needs to be towed by a car or a truck, or it’ll stay parked where it is.

Pros and cons of a food truck vs food trailer

Now that we have a common understanding of the difference between a food truck vs. a food trailer, let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of each to help you make the right choice for your business. 

Budget for a food truck vs food trailer

Before you pull the trigger on a purchase of a truck or a trailer, spend some time thinking about your budget and what your goals are for your food truck business. 

How much does a food truck cost?

A used food truck can cost anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 dollars, which doesn’t account for any updates or restoration that you might have to do on a used vehicle. A brand new fully-equipped food truck can cost up to $200,000. 

How much does a food trailer cost?

By contrast, food trailers cost less upfront than a truck. Depending on the size and how old the trailer is, you might be looking at between $6,000 and $25,000. However, when doing the budget breakdown for trailers, you have to consider towing capabilities. 

If your current car or truck can’t tow the weight of your trailer, you may have to invest in a new vehicle that does, which adds to your upfront cost of a trailer. 

All that said, trailers on their own are likely going to be the cheaper option when compared to a food truck. If speed to opening or if you have a tighter budget, then a trailer might be a better option when you’re just starting out.

Business goals for a food truck vs food trailer

As you create your food truck business plan, think about where you want your food truck to be in the future. What kind of customers do you want to serve, and where are they hanging out? 

Food trucks are easier to maneuver in tight places, such as navigating narrow city streets or a busy parking lot. If you plan on serving customers downtown, a food truck might be your best option. Plus, just by the nature of being a food truck, you have more flexibility to be on-the-go than a trailer.

However, food trailers are great for events or fairs because they are typically larger and can serve more people. Plus, by unhitching your trailer you now have a vehicle available to run out for additional supplies if needed! 

Think about your personal and professional goals and how a food truck vs food trailer fits into each of them. For instance, if you’ve been dreaming of owning a truck, you may just not be happy with a trailer instead. This will help you make sure that your purchase is aligned with where you want your business to go long term. 

Paperwork requirements for a food truck vs food trailer

Another aspect to consider when deciding between a food truck vs food trailer is the paperwork involved. Food trucks require more paperwork to get started, with requirements like permits, insurance, tax documents, and a lot more. 

Table Needs Filer can help you with all of this, so it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker in your decision, but it is a factor that you should weigh along with the rest. If you’re looking for the quickest and easiest route to opening your food truck business, a trailer might be a quicker option. 

Security for a food truck vs food trailer

Having peace of mind goes a long way when it comes to deciding between a food truck vs food trailer. Be sure to weigh security and maintenance. 

Since a food truck is so self-contained, it’s more difficult for anyone to steal your truck and with the proper precautions, you can protect your truck from vandalisms or pretty theft. However, if your food truck breaks down, you’re out of business until it’s fixed.

Food trailers have limited maintenance issues but they are easier to steal, especially if your tow car isn’t attached to it when you’re parked overnight. Finding secure parking is essential for food trailers. 

Table Needs POS mobile app for food trucks and trailers

There’s no right decision when it comes to food trucks vs. food trailers. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision that depends on you, your business, and your goals. 

But no matter what you choose, flexibility will be key. A huge draw of food trucks and food trailers is it gives you freedom that’s missing with a brick and mortar. So you need a POS that matches that flexibility and can hit the road with you. The Table Needs POS mobile app is built to go where you go and keep your kitchen running smoothly.  

Learn more about the Table Needs Mobile POS today

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