Food Truck Employee Guide Part 1

Food Truck Employee Guide Part 1

This is a collaborative article we did with Terrence of TBD Foods to cover some lesser thought of problems associated with finding a food truck employee.


Food Truck Employees


You’ve started or are starting a food truck, congratulations!  Aside from time capital and creating tasty treats, you’ll need employees.  Finding people to run your business and sell your product for you, eventually without you there, are imperative to your success.

In another post, Terrence outlines what to look for in a prospective food truck employee.

Finding your Food Truck Employee

Now that you know what to look for in a food truck employee, you’ll need to know how to find them! Craigslist is first thought for most for its ease and cost to post a job listing title. Believe it or not, it’s how I found my job! craigslist-logo2.jpgThis does require some time to create, check out this article on how to write a solid craigslist job posting.

Apart from the world of Craigslist, ask around to see if friends, family or former co-workers know of anyone who is looking for work. I don’t suggest hiring your best friend. If you’ve cooked before, it doesn’t hurt to ask your cook friends to see if anyone is looking for work. Maybe you can get lucky with an unhappy line cook or dishwasher looking for new work.


Now you have an idea of demand for people trying to fill your job vacancy, how do you whittle the number down to find your ideal Food Trucker? Due diligence, just like in any job industry.  Bring them in for an interview and if that goes well, bring them in for a trailing/stage (derived from the French word stagiaire meaning apprentice/trainer.) Free labor for a few hours and a real opportunity to see how your prospective employee does in the tight quarters of a food truck – really valuable information for employers.


Protecting your Investment

Treating this like any other job, it is worth your time to check the background of a prospective employee. Remember, employees are an investment so it’s important to check references, past employers and a do background check to make sure you are getting the same person whose resume had you jumping up and down in excitement when you received it.

Background Info USA, provides access to comprehensive background checks which includes:

  • Multi-Court Criminal Database
  • Search, Sex offender registry for 50 states
  • Social Security Number verification
  • One Single-County Criminal Search
  • OFAC/Global Homeland Security Check
  • Adverse Action Notices

If you are going to have an employee driving your truck, you NEED to check their driving record. This prevents surprises when it is time to add them to the business auto insurance policy. With a spotty record, you will get hit with a large premium increase.

Records highlighting driving history over the past 3 to 7 years and are available in all 50 states and Washington DC. Background Info USA, and other providers allow for easy ordering.

The food industry is notorious for having employees who are rough around the edges.  They also put out good food. Before hiring a person ask yourself if you want your customers to see this person as part of my brand? Cooking can be to taught.  Value reliability and professionalism over culinary skill.

Classifying a Worker: Employee vs. Independent Contractor.jpg

Classifying a Worker: Employee vs. Independent Contractor?

Many Food Truck owners prefer to pay their “employees” as 1099 workers due to the small amount of tax paperwork and expenses.  Mistakenly classifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in significant fines and penalties from the IRS.  It can also lead to a workers compensation insurance audit surprise.

WHY? It has to do with the way the IRS and Workers Comp insurance define employees (W2) and independent contractors (1099). For a full IRS checklist of determining an independent contractor go here.

If you are uncertain whether you have an employee or an independent contractor, Form SS-8 is available to request the IRS make the determination for you. There is no charge for filing Form SS-8 with the IRS.

*Note that a incorrectly classified workers will sometimes be surprised by the amount of taxes they owe at year-end.  Independent contractors are generally required to make quarterly estimated tax payments instead of having their tax withholding payments made through payroll.

This unexpected tax burden at year-end can lead workers to argue that they are an employee and NOT an independent contractor.

If the IRS believes there was intentional disregard, the employer can be held personally liable for both the employer AND employee payroll taxes.  A penalty of 20% of wages paid to the worker along with interest and additional underpayment penalties will be assessed. The IRS can mandate these adjustments going back the last three years!  I cannot stress the importance of doing your research on employees!

This article was a collaboration of Joel Paprocki from  Joel offers affordable insurance for food trucks, food trailers, caterers and chefs. Also contributing is Terrence Rogers from TBD Foods who offers fine dining chef service – specializing in farm to table fare.

ROAM – Mobile Food Conference Featured Blog

ROAM – Mobile Food Conference Featured Blog

ROAM – Mobile Food Conference Guest Post

Mobile food vendors have their challenges most every day. Running a kitchen on wheels makes every owner aptly skilled with plumbing, electrical and all types of construction and repair. Sometimes contractors can be engaged and it is wise in certain circumstances, yet food cart and truck owners are DIY people by nature. However, when it comes to insurance, where do you turn?

Most owners turn to their personal insurance broker who may or may not be skilled enough to know the ins and outs of insuring a mobile food unit.  That’s why I recommend working with companies who specialize in food truck and cart insurance. Insure My Food works hard to make insurance easy and affordable for the industry. Simple application forms, the ability to pay with a credit card and quick turnaround on certificates puts them in a position to be a good member of the mobile food community. Standard forms for property, auto and liability insurance weren’t sufficient or designed for food trucks that operate as a mobile business which could create gaps in coverage. Insure My Food understands these gaps and work to inform the customer so that you’re covered.

Insurance is key to operating a successful mobile food business. Getting catering jobs or working with corporate clients will require proof of insurance and certificates. Some companies just can’t do that quickly. Insure My Food Trailer can. As a sponsor of the ROAM Mobile Food Conference for 2014, Insure My Food has committed to partnering with the ever growing and ever evolving street food industry. If you’re looking for a new policy or would just like to make sure you’re covered at the right price, drop them a line. You can find more details about Insure My Food at

Come on down to San Antonio, TX, November 8-9, 2014 for the ROAM Mobile Food Conference to learn more about opening a mobile food business whether it be a food truck or cart. There will be something for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced owner. Register Now.

Get More Catering Gigs with a better website!

Get More Catering Gigs with a better website!

builde a better website for food trailers.jpg

Get More Catering Gigs with a better website!

Social Media is the darling of web marketing currently, and even more so with Food Trailers and Food Trucks that are on a shoestring budget.

But I think there is a case to be made that your website (yes, the old fashion website!) is equally as important to your marketing than social media.

Here are the reasons…

1) SEO (Search engine optimization)

If you have a website people can search for you on google.

Even if someone types your company name and your Facebook or Twitter pages pull up, that isn’t enough!

What you want is for your page to pull up when someone searches Asian food truck catering, or food trucks your zip code or part of town.

A website that has pages with catering info, food served, location, chef bio, etc., will be indexed by google and in turn more attention from people who are searching for your exact services.


Don’t pay someone to do SEO when starting off, just google best practices. If you exhaust those efforts, then look to hire an expert.

2) Photos, photos and more photos!

With a website you can tell a story about your food with photos. Customers can’t taste or smell your food online, but having mouthwatering photos is the next best thing.


Use a professional, not your iPhone! Barter for services if you need to, it’s well worth the investment!

3) Create personality, build your brand and design your own style!

With a static Twitter or Facebook interface, there is very little you can do to add your own personal touch to the design or layout. However, on a website you can have a section about the chef, or add links to menus and photos.


Use a website builder where you can control the content, so you can tweak the page and keep cost low. Most site builders nowadays will offer a Responsive Web Design, which adapts your website to desktop or phone viewing.


Need a graphic designer for your website? try for low-cost options to outsource the work.

Why You Need Insurance For Your Food Trailer

Why You Need Insurance For Your Food Trailer


Why you need insurance for your food trailer

If you own a mobile food business like a food truck, food trailer, or concession trailer, you need general liability insurance.

Wondering why it’s so important?

  • Even if you win a lawsuit the legal cost could ruin your business, and legal fees are covered by insurance policies.
  • Lawsuit out-of-pocket costs for small businesses exceed $35 billion every year.
  • Most events won’t let you attend unless you can show you have the proper coverage to list the event organizers as an additional insured.

The need for general liability insurance goes beyond just mobile food vendors, and can help with many other types of vendors. Get a quote here.

  • Vendors at swap meets and flea markets
  • Retailers who sell out of mall kiosks
  • Food Carts
  • Indoor Vendors
  • Newsstands
  • Outdoor Vendors
  • Seasonal Lots or tents
  • Stands, Tables, and booths.


10 questions to ask on your Food Trailer Park lease

10 questions to ask on your Food Trailer Park lease

The 10 questions to ask on your Food Trailer Park Lease

When yFood trailer in cold.jpgou sign a commercial food trailer park lease, you are entering into a relationship where both parties have responsibilities to each other. This is one contract you will want to thoroughly read! It’s always best to ask questions ahead of time on areas that aren’t clear.

ALWAYS put any gray areas that aren’t clear in writing. Even with the best intentions of both sides, doing so will avoid miscommunication.

Don’t be left out in the cold! Make sure you understand your lease.  Below are some tips that you’ll want to cover with your potential Landlord before signing anything.


1. Maintenance

  • What are you going to be responsible for?

2. Utilities

  • Who pays for electricity? Do they have grey water pick up?


  • What limits and coverage are you required to carry on your food trailer?

Lease duration

  • How long are you locked into the location?

Landlords right to Terminate your lease

  • Can they cancel your lease early for his or her convenience?

Access in and out of the park for your food trailer

  • Will you be able to take advantage of catering opportunities and events?


  • Are parking, restrooms, seating, etc. provided?


  • Will they partner with you in promoting the food trailer park or just interested in filling the park with food trailers?


  • Is there a limit to the number of food trailers and types of food that can be located in the park?

Hours of Operation

  • Will tenants be required to be open certain hours?

Keys to a Successful Food Trailer or Food Truck

Keys to a Successful Food Trailer or Food Truck

Keys to a SUCCESSFUL Food Trailer or Food Truck

Raw Chef Renee1. Leverage your strengths

Everyone has unique skills and experiences. What things can you do better than most?

2. Identify what excites you

What’s your passion? Hopefully food! ;-), However, after you crank out the thousandth taco, hamburger, hotdog, etc, what will keep you going? What is interesting and stimulating for you?

3. Be willing to learn

Jumping into running a food trailer can be thrilling!  But make no mistake, there is plenty to learn. You will be reminded daily. Don’t let these failures run you off course.  Instead, use them to learn and grow.

4. Be wary of naysayers

Maybe it’s from friends and family or from the established food trailer owner themselves, change scares many people.  Be confident in your goals. As long as you’re willing to learn, failure doesn’t exist because you gain experience and knowledge.