Can I Expect any Success with a Mobile Slice Business w/ a Limited Menu?

I have cross-posted this question on a food truck forum, but I also want the Think Tank opinion as well.

I really want to start small… a truck…pizza slices and canned sodas… at least until I get some experience under my belt. A fast option and good value. Can profit be eked out with volume and limited menu?

My target customers are blue collar, staff, and faculty with only :30 minutes for lunch and no retail dining nearby. This is a no-public access institution. There are some trucks that come (I’m acquainted with the person that books them and I used to be the person that did the paperwork to get them access) but from my observations it seems that they are mostly:

[*]Very niche (not a lot of appeal to the blue collar folks),

[*]Wait times at best average 10 minutes but 15 and 20 minutes are sometimes seen, and this demo seems to need something quicker.

[*]Most menu items (depending on the truck and food type) are between $9-$13 (USD) which may be above the price point this crowd is comfortable with on a regular purchase basis.
These are only my opinions though. Often the trucks don’t show up. I also believe there are other opportunities here but it gets complicated.

I gave a lot of background info but what I want to know is: As long as I don’t have big expectations, can I expect any profit with such a limited menu?

With the limited information all I can say is it’s always possible to make a profit. While you have given a little background on the area, there is too much information missing to establish profitability.

Here’s what you need to look at to determine profitability.

  1. Cost of Truck / Vendor Fees? This is going to be, by far, your biggest obstacle. Most of the costs you’ll experience as an operator will be variable costs (food, labor, utilities, etc) that will correlate with your sales volume. Any “rent”, or in this case truck payment / vendor fees, will stay static. I have never done a food truck before, but I am sure there are also equivalent insurance costs to be considered as well.

  2. Labor? Will this be a solo venture with just you on board, or do you anticipate having a staff member. It sounds like the operation will be a small scale, so while the potential may be that it could turn a profit for a working owner, the same may not be true if you’re going to have someone running it on a regular basis.

  3. Hours of Operation? When selling by the slice part of the allure is the convenience, as stated, of getting it quickly. This means preparing the product in advance in hopes of selling out. The longer the hours of operation, the more potential you have for wasted product. Adhering to a small window of operation will help maximize your profit, and given your clientele it seems this would be easy to accomplish.

  4. Payment Options? Credit Card fees are brutal. Credit Card fees on small purchases even more so (most charge a flat fee per transaction, which can equate to a large percentage). For the operation you are suggesting, I would say there is more benefit in being cash only and possibly missing customers.

Summary: If your overhead is low, your operation can definitely succeed. To the extent of how much would be entirely dependent on way too many factors for anyone here to take a guess. If you have a high overhead, and are working to cover that before you even sell your first slice, the odds of making a profit are very slim.

By the slice you’ll probably be able to achieve a cost of goods sold percentage around 30% (mine hovers around 36 - 38% but the margins on a whole pie, wings, subs, etc, tend to be significantly less than by the slice).

Hope this helps!

What is cost of goods? just food, cleaning supplies, registrar tape, soda, new front door rug, etc, . No labor, cc fees, insurance, online ordering service, etc