The great American food truck is a long-standing tradition. You just can’t beat street food. Our love of food trucks is evident in our festivals, our TV shows, and our cities. The food truck industry is booming with a three hundred percent increase over the last three years. The cost of entry for an owner is far less than a brick and mortar location, so the risk is lower. Since food trucks are such an appealing prospect, give your truck the best chance for growth. Accounting for food trucks: five tips for success.
- Accept multiple forms of payment. Nothing turns away customers faster than a sign that says “Cash Only.” Some businesses can get away with it if they are in demand, but it is a mistake to restrict any buying from your customers. Account for point of purchase fees in your food costs and include it in your total. You will need the hardware to accompany these methods, so invest in a square reader for credit cards and PayPal and a contactless payment-capable point-of-sale terminal for Apple Pay. Having customers wandering off the beach with just their phones and leaving with an armful of your food will be worth it.
- Record your cash transactions. When the lunch rush hits and things get crazy it’s hard to keep recording the sales. Resist the temptation to just take the cash and move onto the next order. Keep careful records of your cash sales. Proper accounting of your cash will make everything else accurate: your inventory, your tax payments, and your growth projections.
- Use cloud file storage. Chances are space in your truck is at a premium. You won’t have the room for a dedicated work computer. If you keep your accounting information on a physical computer at home, you won’t have access to important information when you need it at the truck. Use cloud-based file storage to keep your information accessible by tablet or your phone.
- Carefully manage and record inventory. Inventory is one of the most difficult logistical problems of a food truck. Food storage space in a truck is minimal, the majority of the space is dedicated to cooking. This means that owners have to bring in fresh inventory daily and they are unable to buy food in bulk at a discount. If you’re constantly going through small quantities of inventory, it can be easy to just skip over the tedious accounting of it all. But accurate inventory counts are crucial to your success. You need it to predict food sales, detect theft, and account for write-offs and losses. A good truck owner takes charge of their stock.
- Pay your taxes dutifully. Food truck sales are subject to sales tax in almost every state. Know your tax rates and charge them accordingly. Most price lists include the tax to make it simpler for customers. However if your truck is operating in more than one state, make sure you know if the rates change. You will be required to pay quarterly taxes so keep careful records of the correct rates. With so much riding on your business, don’t open yourself up to a costly audit.
When in doubt, enlist the help of a professional bookkeeping firm like JADDE Financial Solutions. We’ll help you set up the accounting infrastructure you need to automate the process and set you on the path to food truck supremacy.