How Much Money Can My Food Truck Make? [Free calculator included]

January 3, 2021 by Adam Hoeksema

Before you buy a food truck or finalize your menu, you should run through an exercise to determine how much your food truck or trailer would be able to generate in sales.  The following process will allow you to project your food truck sales for your specific concept, food truck design and menu.  

Our free food truck sales projection calculator and the below video will help you walk through this process. 

How to calculate your food truck sales projections in 9 steps

  1. Find the average amount of time to make your menu items - you can simply set up a simulation in your kitchen at home and time yourself for each item. Let’s say that some items take 2 minutes to prepare because you are simply assembling pre-cooked ingredients while some items might take 6 minutes to cook. Maybe your average across your most popular items is 4 minutes. 
  2. Calculate the number of customers you can serve per hour - If your average item takes 4 minutes to prepare, that means the food truck could serve a maximum of 15 customers per hour per cook.  Then simply multiply by the number of cooks or food prep staff you expect to have on the trailer.  If you have 2 cooks that can serve 15 customers per hour, then your food truck has a capacity of 30 customers per hour.
  3. Determine how many hours per day you will operate - For example, you might serve lunch for 2 hours and dinner for 3 hours.  
  4. Estimate at what percentage of capacity you will operate - Now that you know how many hours you will operate, you need to estimate at what percentage of capacity you will normally operate.  Maybe for lunch you have 1 busy hour at 100% of capacity and one hour at 70% capacity, so your average operating capacity is 85%.  You will need to do the same for dinner.  One way to estimate this might be to go watch a competing food truck and just watch how busy they are and for how long.  How many customers did they serve etc.
  5. Project how many customers you expect to serve - Simply multiply the maximum number of customers you could serve per hour x the number of hours of operation x the average percentage of capacity that you operate at.  In this example that would be 30 customers x 5 hours x 85% = 127 customers per day.
  6. Set your pricing and estimate your average spend per customer - Again you could do some competitive research by watching what customers order at other food trucks and then estimate how much you expect the average customer to spend at your food trailer.  Maybe you expect a $7 entre plus a $2 drink for an average customer spend of $9. 
  7. Calculate how much money you food truck can make per day  - Now you just need to multiply your 127 daily customers x your $9 average ticket to project $1,143 in average daily sales.  
  8. Compare your food truck sales projections to industry averages - Once you do this, you should compare your projected sales to what we found as an industry average.  Based on 3 different sources ( Mashed, Food Truck Empire, Quora ) we found the following:
  1. Minimum daily food truck sales = $200
  2. Maximum daily food truck sales = $2,500
  3. Average daily food truck sales = $1,000

How to Improve your Food Truck Sales

There are a number of things you can do to increase your food truck sales.  Using our food truck revenue calculator I am going to show you how the following improvements can have a dramatic impact on your sales projections. 

1) Increase your capacity by reducing the time it take to prepare an order

a) Add more cooks

b) Add more cashiers

c) Add more point of sale systems to take orders

d) Prepare more of your product beforehand

e) Optimize your menu for speed of delivery

2) Increase your capacity utilization by finding a better location

3) Increase your average spend per customer

See how these improvements can improve your food truck sales.

How profitable is a food truck? 

Now that we have a solid understanding of our food truck sales forecast, you might want to know how profitable your food truck can be.  Our food truck financial projection spreadsheet will help you enter in your startup costs, operating expenses and cost of goods sold in order to project your profitability.  

Top image: Photo by James Frid from Pexels

Corner image: Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

About the Author

Adam is the co-founder of ProjectionHub which is a SaaS web application that helps entrepreneurs create financial projections for their business. Since 2012, over 40,000 entrepreneurs from around the world have used ProjectionHub to help create financial projections. Adam also serves as the Executive Director of Bankable. Bankable is a Small Business Administration (SBA) lender that makes loans from $500 to $250,000 to Indiana small businesses that are unable to secure financing from a traditional bank.

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