Monday, September 24, 2012

Food Trucks -Part II: Franchising

Last week we posted on the food truck revolution in the United States. The post dealt with broad issues related to the food truck industry. Today’s post is about the food truck in the franchise context.

The Pros and Cons set out in last week’s post (Food Truck (R)evolution) all apply in a franchise setting. The ability to test a market, the advantage of the travelling billboard and ability to move to the customers all are advantages to a franchisor. However, determining whether or not a food truck can and should be a part of your franchise is something that takes a lot of consideration and analysis. This post is meant to give a few ideas on how a food truck could work into your existing franchise system, or how it can become a franchise system all on its own.

The existing franchise system can use the food truck in a number of ways. The most apparent way, at least to me, is to add a food truck as a separate franchise offering. Instead of offering a restaurant franchise in the traditional store-front sense, you can offer a prospective franchisee to become your food truck franchisee. The advantage is potential cost savings with lower overhead and start-up costs for the franchisee. If you do decide to go this route, you have the option of either wrapping in the food truck concept into your current Franchise Disclosure Document (“FDD”), or to have a separate FDD for the food truck concept. The decision on which route to take should be made with your qualified franchise attorney.

If you do not want to add the food truck as a franchise offering, you could purchase a franchise truck (or several), outfit it, wrap it and offer it for ‘rent’ to your franchisees in an area so that they can use it for special event purposes. This increases your exposure and helps to reach out to an audience that might not know your restaurant exists. This also is a great add-on benefit to your franchisees that are looking for ways to increase business and to get their name more fully into the community.

A new restaurant concept that starts as a food truck could expand their food truck business by offering food truck franchises. Unlike an existing restaurant franchise system, this type of franchise is limited to just the food truck. The advantage is that it potentially keeps franchisee costs down and gives someone the option for a (often seemingly) part-time business that the traditional store-front restaurant often does not allow for.

No matter how you choose to incorporate the food truck into your business, always talk to a qualified professional, including attorneys, and those in the industry, who can help you decide the best option for your business.