What does it mean when a Food Truck requests a guarantee?
Giving a Food Truck a “guarantee” means you are guaranteeing they make a certain amount at the event or service. At the end of the event, you will subtract the amount they made from the guarantee amount and you owe them the balance.
Example: If you guarantee them $500 and they make $300, you owe them $200. If they make $600, you owe them nothing.
The minimum guarantee is usually $500 but can be as high as $1000 or even $1500 on the busiest days of the year. (The last two weekends of April and October are the busiest.)
Why are guarantees requested?
$500 is typically their financial break even point for a meal service, or around 60 meals. If that is not possible or they think it is too risky, they will ask you to offset the risk by offering a guarantee.
A gourmet Food Truck is not the same as a lunch or route truck (the kind you see at construction sites for quick stops). Operating at an event means at least 5 hours of labor outside of the event time as well as purchasing gas, propane and fresh food that has a short shelf life. A handful of unsuccessful events at the right time of the year is all it takes to put a Food Truck out of business and they have to protect their business.
Why should I offer a guarantee?
Without past attendance numbers or other facts that make the Food Truck owner confident it will be a success, a guarantee is the only way to mitigate the risk for the Food Truck owner and book a top Food Truck.
The successful Food Trucks in Arizona know they have a limited number of weekends during good weather to make their profits for the year and keep their business afloat. They will not take a risk that the host is not willing to take with them when there are more profitable events with a successful history available. If you do not think there will be enough people at the event to take the risk yourself, you might not have the crowd to support a Food Truck.
Do Food Trucks accept cash and card?
Yes! A Food Truck that doesn’t accept debit/credit cards is hard to find in Arizona.
Several are beginning to not accept cash at public events due to safety concerns so this might be something to ask about when booking.
What are some of the common payment arrangements?
While each Food Truck operates uniquely, almost all will work with the following scenarios.
– Guests pay for their own meals. (This is typically where a guarantee is requested.)
– Host hires the Food Truck as a traditional caterer and pays per person for a set number of people.
– Host pays for all meals served. (Open bar style – you can set a dollar amount for the Food Truck to stop serving or notify you at.)
– Host gives tickets to the guests to use as cash at the Food Truck and pays for tickets collected at the end of service. Tickets should be for a set dollar amount with one of the following scenarios:
- The Food Truck menu is adjusted to only include items of that amount so everyone picks their “free” meal.
- Guests have the option of a “free” meal for the amount of the ticket or can pay the difference to get a higher priced item from the Food Truck.
- Guests order anything on the menu, use the ticket as a coupon and pay the difference.
- Guests get one item “free” with the use of a ticket and can purchase additional items from the full menu.
Have something else in mind? Call the Food Truck and ask! They are happy to work with you!
**We highly recommend you create any kind of ticket for your guests to use at the Food Truck instead of asking the Food Truck to keep a tally throughout the night. The ticket can be printed on your home computer, nothing more than blank pieces of paper or anything that is unique. This keeps the host in control of how much money is handed out and spent as well as avoids disagreements about the invoiced amount at the end of the night.
**If you are hosting a business event such as a grand opening or open house, requiring guests to view your venue/service and leave contact info to get a ticket to the Food Truck is critical to getting a great return on your investment from the food you purchase!
All About the Food
Can Food Trucks accommodate dietary needs?
Yes! While not all Food Truck owners have the capability and/or knowledge to accommodate your needs, many can and are happy to. For very strict or uncommon needs, make sure you ask the chef about their experience and background with these requirements.
Use the filter for dietary needs when searching for a Food Truck on the Browse the Food Trucks page to find a great match for your event!
Are appetizer bars, buffet style meals and plated dinners a problem?
They are not a problem at all for some of the Food Trucks that specialize in buffet style and fine dining catering! Since Food Trucks are just caterers who have adapted to be more flexible with some of Arizona’s top chefs behind the windows, they can do anything the catering industry can do plus some! Ask the individual Food Trucks for pictures of past buffets. The ones who do this regularly won’t have a problem providing them!
Use the filter for buffet style catering under specialty services when searching for a Food Truck on the Browse the Food Trucks page to find a great match for your event!
Are utensils, napkins, plates, etc provided by the Food Truck?
Almost all who serve guests right from their window at any event include utensils, plates, napkins, etc. but buffet or drop off style catering might not. This is a question to ask each Food Truck when discussing the event with them but not something to worry about it if you are hiring a Food Truck to attend an event that is open to the public with no other special catering involved. Make sure to ask ahead of time!
At the Event
How many Food Trucks do I need at my event?
For public events where guests purchase their own food, expect 10-15% of your guests to purchase from the Food Truck unless your entire event is centered around eating. Since they must sell over 50 meals to break even, a Food Truck hopes to sell 100 or more meals at each 3 hour service. That means you only need one Food Truck per 1000 guests…unless you know many will plan to eat. If the event is at breakfast, lunch or dinner and the guests know food will be available ahead of time so they plan on eating at the event, a truck can be added for each additional 100 eaters you think will have.
If you would like a dinner, dessert and drink truck but don’t think you have enough people to support 3 Food Trucks, ask a savory truck to add a dessert item and drinks to their menu. This ensures they don’t lose money and your guests are happy!
For private events, ask the Food Truck how many people they can serve per hour. Each truck will have a different answer based on their menu items and can speed things up when they know in advance with additional steps in their prep prior to the event. Topping bars and buffet style side items with the main dish coming out of the Food Truck can keep the Food Truck experience but ensure your guests are served quickly. Remember, serving 60 guests in an hour requires a plate to come out of the window every minute without slowing down. That is possible for some with the right kind of prep but not likely during a regular public service where food is made to order. Communication with the Food Truck and preparation on their part is key!
Either way, ask the Food Truck owners you speak with! Most will have a good idea how many you need for your specific event.
I also have free food at my event – does that matter?
Yes, it absolutely matters. One of the most disheartening things as a Food Truck owner is to spend all day preparing fresh food to sell at an event and arrive to find free or very inexpensive food setup right next to them. Almost every guest will go for free food before purchasing something from the Food Truck, even if it isn’t as good.
Giving away popcorn and snow cones to kids? This will take the dessert sales down to almost nothing because parents are going to talk their kids into the free options. Offering pizza for $1 a slice? Almost all of your guests are going to eat pizza and the Food Truck is going to lose a lot of money on wasted food.
If you have free or inexpensive food of any kind at your event, please tell the Food Truck in advance. They will prepare for the event differently to avoid losing money on food waste.
Is where the Food Truck park important?
Very much so! The location of the Food Truck is one of the most critical things for them at an event.
- Location: Place them in a visible spot close to other activities where they will be seen upon guests arrival. Sometimes even 25 feet out of the traffic pattern will take sales to almost nothing! Make sure all Food Trucks are together and guests naturally walk within 10 feet of them.
- Level Ground: Make sure the ground is level as it is hard to cook on a flat cooking service when things are sliding off!
- Size of the Food Truck: Food Trucks are typically 20-30 ft long and 10 ft wide. They need 5-10 ft clear behind them to enter and exit if their door opens at the rear. Many will have a generator on the ground behind the Food Truck as well.
- Fire Safety: Many fire departments in Arizona request 10 ft all the way around the Food Truck to be clear, especially if they don’t have a fire suppression system. Although Food Truck fires are extremely rare, this protects the buildings around them in an emergency.
What can I do to help the Food Truck increase sales at my event?
There are a few game changers for food sales at events. Plus, if you are offering a guarantee or asking for a percentage back, this will put money in your pocket as well as the Food Truck’s!
- Make sure your guests know food will be available before they arrive. They will plan to eat before they come otherwise.
- Advertise with the Food Truck name, social media links, menu and/or food pictures before the event. Get guests hungry for the exact food available at the event so they mentally plan to eat there.
- Place the Food Truck in a visible location where guests see them when they arrive. Most won’t search for them.
- Keep the Food Truck within 10 ft of the natural walking pattern in the event. People simply don’t walk far to look at a menu.
- Communicate with the Food Truck in advance to let them know of every single other food option available to guests, whether it is free food, very inexpensive food or other Food Trucks.
- When hiring multiple Food Trucks, make sure their menu items don’t overlap. Variety is key. Ask the Food Trucks if you are unsure as the owner will know who competes with his concept.
Will the Food Truck give my organization back a percentage at public events?
Yes, most are willing to donate a percentage back to support schools, churches, charities and other organizations. 10% of sales or less is what most are willing to offer, but it will vary owner to owner.
When it is unknown how many people will eat and you are unable to offer a guarantee but also want a percentage back, the best way to make this fair for all parties is to request a percentage back once the Food Truck exceeds $500 in sales. Not offering a guarantee puts all the risk in the Food Truck owners lap and not taking a percentage of a service that is a financial loss for the Food Truck is always appreciated.
Still have questions?
Our goal at ArizonaFoodTruckCatering.com is to help your Food Truck experience be amazing and easy. We think everyone should have a little more street food in their life! Ask us your question and we will help in any way we can!