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ADVICE NEEDED - Building Coffee Trailer

Acoufal

New member
Sep 1, 2016
3
0
I know there a quite a few posts regarding mobile coffee shops, but I am looking for some insight as I am building my business plan. I am planning on building my own coffee trailer equipped with espresso machine, coffee brewers , grinders, blenders, ice machine, fridge, and generator(s). We haven't got a trailer yet, but I am thinking an older 20 ft would be feasible. I will continue to work full time, and do events on the weekends and possibly some nights. I am thinking total costs to build/stock my trailer will be around 25-30K. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Here are some things I am still researching:

Business Loans
Profitability (How many weekends do I need to work to break even?)
What is a realistic profit I can make per event (or per hour)
What POS systems are good for iPads?
What complications can you help me avoid :)


My husband is NOT a risk taker (and I would LOVE to be a full time entrepreneur), but he is finally letting me live my dream part-time of owning my own coffee shop.... so I can't screw this up :)
 

sidg

New member
Jun 7, 2011
77
0
Several of us here can help you think through your plans but a little more info will be helpful.

What part of the country are you located in? That will impact the number and size of events you can work.
Are you planning on extra staff or doing it alone or with family? That impacts your costs as well as your potential amount of sales.
Are there other Food Trucks in the area that are paving the way for you and your concept?

As far as figuring your break even point a quick way to think of it is by taking all of your fixed costs (loan payment, insurance, license fees, etc.) and knowing you have to pay these no matter what. If it is $1000 then you're probably going to have to make around $1250 in net sales (after taxes) to cover the cost of goods. That would be your break even point.
Can you make $1250 selling coffee on weekends? I can now but it has taken 3 years to figure out what events to say yes to and which ones to pass on as well as to build the reputation necessary to get into the right places.
Ive done a couple of weekends where I've had almost $2000 in sales. Those come up only a couple of times a year. My most consistent weekends are the once a month "Cars and Coffee " that i help sponsor that can be in the $300 range for a mornings work.
Hopefully this helps and you can continue to work on your planning.
 
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A

Acoufal

New member
Sep 1, 2016
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Thanks so much for your response!

I am located in Nebraska (not the big cities, kind of in the middle of no where compared to big cities).

I will be working the coffee shop by myself and maybe in the future hire a part time hand if I grow too big to handle myself.

Currently, there is nothing like a coffee trailer in my area. I have heard of one in the bigger cities around, but none to cater to events in my area.

There are a lot of events around me that I can try out, and I think it will be a great hit in our area.

I was thinking 2 days a month will be my break even point, but I am just not sure what is a realistic volume until I actually get started. Like you said, I am sure I will have to figure out what events I should take and which ones will not be as popular.
 

sidg

New member
Jun 7, 2011
77
0
The rule of thumb we use for Food Trucks is 20 - 35% of people at an event will buy something from a food truck (the more trucks it just means spread out between the trucks). I figure depending on the weather 25% will buy drinks from me if it is in the am or if it is an all day event like a sports tournament. My average is in the $4 /drink rangesand . Some events are better than others. I do very few chaity / fundraising walks no matter the attendance but wil do almost any car show that asks.
In your area being able to connect with a school that would have you come out for sporting events and you return a percentage back could be very profitable for you. Just be careful how big of a percentage you agree upon.
 

mstodg5

New member
Oct 3, 2016
1
0
Virginia
I am doing the exact same thing here in Virginia :) My husband is not a huge risk taker so I have to start part-time and hopefully get to replace my full-time job. I am in the process of writing my business plan to secure some investors but would love to work with someone to bounce ideas off of and also the progression of the entire process. I noticed your post is from last month, have you gotten any further along?
 
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Acoufal

New member
Sep 1, 2016
3
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  • Thread Starter
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I would love to have someone to bounce ideas off as well :) unfortunately (I guess and fortunately) we decided we needed more room for us to build a shop to keep my equipment stored in, so that led to buying a fixer upper in the country! So right now my coffee shop got put on hold until we buy the house and renovate. My original plan was to buy a trailer this fall, obtain a loan and get it ready for production in Spring of next year. Now, I will have to hold off at least another year, but for a good reason. I am almost complete with my business plan, have the requirements for a food trailer for NE and talked to the lady that does the inspections in our area. I have my costs assigned, and I have my menu done. The road block that I ran into recently, is I found another coffee truck in the area, but as long as I don't wait for another one to enter the market, I think there is enough events for us to both be successful.

I am doing the exact same thing here in Virginia :) My husband is not a huge risk taker so I have to start part-time and hopefully get to replace my full-time job. I am in the process of writing my business plan to secure some investors but would love to work with someone to bounce ideas off of and also the progression of the entire process. I noticed your post is from last month, have you gotten any further along?
 

bstcups

New member
Dec 26, 2016
25
0
China
I know there a quite a few posts regarding mobile coffee shops, but I am looking for some insight as I am building my business plan. I am planning on building my own coffee trailer equipped with espresso machine, coffee brewers , grinders, blenders, ice machine, fridge, and generator(s). We haven't got a trailer yet, but I am thinking an older 20 ft would be feasible. I will continue to work full time, and do events on the weekends and possibly some nights. I am thinking total costs to build/stock my trailer will be around 25-30K. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Here are some things I am still researching:

Business Loans
Profitability (How many weekends do I need to work to break even?)
What is a realistic profit I can make per event (or per hour)
What POS systems are good for iPads?
What complications can you help me avoid :)


My husband is NOT a risk taker (and I would LOVE to be a full time entrepreneur), but he is finally letting me live my dream part-time of owning my own coffee shop.... so I can't screw this up :)

Hi,

I am Tom, from China, just like you said, there is no coffee trailer in your area, only in the big city, so it will be become your advantage, once you start, you will be the only one.

Then you just start it, you should try be save the cost.

Third, you need place more time on it, only have pressure, then you will have the motivation.
 

Fanalone

New member
Mar 8, 2014
12
0
Los Angeles California
Hello to both Entrepreneur you have the idea but a trailer is not the way to go, I had the same Idea and I was lucky that a Ex-Seattle Coffee Van can on in the market, Chevy van 3500 2003. I purchase the van and I did take it to the local health department (Los Angeles County) and completely retrofit to 2014 codes, and I even surpass they codes because I wanted to make a kick booty van. I must said the I have known 3 trailers built for coffee van and it take lots of muscle power to move around and it has many limitations in speed to cleaned up and be ready for next day. With a van is like which is 20 feet long and 8 feet wide you are in and out quick. Sales are all over the place, full time I have made 7K to 9K month , weekends only 3K month, 4 to 6 hours events $2800.00 to $3200.00 like 4th of July. have own it since 2013 the van now I am selling the van as a body shop has come to my attention I must said it has being fun and made me more prepare for a real coffee house for the near future actual listing .http://www.ebay.com/itm/192067668155?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649
IMG_1125.JPGIMG_1123.JPGIMG_0682.JPGIMG_1335.JPGIMG_0704.JPG
 
Last edited:

TheGreenJoe

New member
Nov 8, 2014
66
0
Albuquerque, NM
I'm working on building my second truck now. The first truck was a great success and we grossed over 100k our first year. Not to bad. When you get started it's hard to find good solid advice. This site has helped me the most. There are some awesome coffee truck owners on this site. But beware, some people will give you advice from the back seat. Meaning, they haven't driven but are more than happy to tell you how to drive. So, pay attention to who you get your advice from. So here's the answers to your questions, as best as I can:
Business Loans
Avoid them if you can. Set up a cart and do festivals for your first 6 months if you have to. Buy the equipment and let the equipment buy the truck/trailer. I think loans are a bad idea. You CANNOT guarentee profit, but loans guarentee debt.
Profitability (How many weekends do I need to work to break even?)
Depends on where you set up. I've had weekends that I've made 50 bucks and weekends of 5 grand. That one is on you. On a event of 1000 people or more, if I'm the only coffee supplier, I feel like I can walk away with $300 in 4 hours.
What is a realistic profit I can make per event (or per hour)
This is a really hard questions to answer. It varies so much. Some events bomb and some do great. You get better at picking the good ones as you go.
What POS systems are good for iPads?
I use square. There is also clover.
What complications can you help me avoid :)
There are sooooo many. I blog on this regularly to help anyone trying to get started. Check out the blog when you have a chance. But for the most part, it's more daunting than it is. Get some equipment. Get some power. Plumb the thing. Tie down your fridge and go get your permits. Knowing what I know now, if I could go back, I would pay more attention to indoor catering as I built my truck. I was all about the outdoor truck and totally didn't consider weddings, corporate events, parties. Those are bank. My going rate is 299/hour. No way youre going to do that in transactions outside. So, be mindful of the catering...
 
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