Industry Insights

Q & A: Finding your Fortune in the Food Truck business

Refresher Truck 1Hot on the wheels of our blog on what it takes to fit out a food truck, we check out what actually steering a mobile food/beverage business looks like.

Fortune Valdez hit the road with his mobile frozen drinks business the Refresher Truck back in 2015 and he’s been keeping thirsty Melbournians sated ever since.

We took five minutes with Fortune, to find out how you keep a food truck business moving in the right direction.

What did you wish you had known before starting a food truck?

I wish I’d known about all the council regulations and the red tape around starting a food truck business!

There was so much I didn’t know before I started, but once you overcome all those hurdles it’s worth it.

Do you think food trucks are overly regulated?

I can see why they’re very strict. It keeps us on our toes making sure that everything is very clean in our truck, and making sure that no customer ever gets food poisoning.

We all have to abide by the regulations and it keeps the consumer safe as well which means people will keep coming back to food trucks.

Have you worked for yourself before this?

This is the first time. My wife and I both run the business, and it’s meant a lot of saving, a lot of sacrifices, and a lot of late nights and working for other people – but at the end of the day it’s all been worth it.

This is probably the best venture I’ve done in my whole life. Of all the jobs I’ve ever had, this is hands down the best.

Tell us about the first event the Refresher Truck worked at …

To be honest it was pretty nerve-wracking. We didn’t know what to expect, but luckily it started off slow and built up gradually throughout the day. We got used to working in the truck as the customers came and it worked perfectly for us.

What are some of the challenges you face when serving food and beverages out on the road?

The truck itself has no issues but there’s always the usual wear-and-tear on equipment inside the truck.

Another challenge is that as we sell drinks, we obviously have to use a lot of water. If there’s no potable water on tap on-site, we have to bring a lot of jerry cans just to get us through the day.

What process was involved in deciding on your branding, livery and signage?

We wanted to make a drinks truck but we didn’t know what sort of branding we were going to use.

My family and I sat down and decided to go with the idea of keeping people refreshed and hydrated, and that’s where the Refresher Truck name came from.

My little brother, Leslie Valdez, is a designer and wanted a look that was refreshing in colour and vibrant at the same time, which is how we came up with the pink and green – a bit like a watermelon!

How do you keep your truck in good shape?

We constantly clean. We check the oil levels all the time. We make sure that when it’s time for service, we service.

We keep on top of all the scheduled servicing, whether it’s for the coffee machine, the fridges, the freezers, or the truck itself. If we’re not on top of it, there’s the chance things could go wrong quicker, which we don’t want.

What would you say is the secret of a successful food truck business?

I would say trust your partners. That’s the most important thing: trust. If you don’t trust each other and you start doubting each other, that’s when things start to get a bit weird.

There are days when my wife and I don’t agree on certain things, but we have to trust to make sure that it works. If you’re not on the same page, things can fall apart – so for me, trust is number one.

What’s the food trucking community like?

It’s a very mixed bunch. There are some operators who keep to themselves, and there are others out there that like to help you succeed as a business, and they’re the type of people that I try to keep close to.

Tell us about the most memorable event the Refresher Truck has worked at…

It was the Bacchus Marsh Strawberry Festival. Everyone went there to pick strawberries, but demand was so high the strawberries ran out after an hour and a half.

There was so much traffic on the road, no one could leave and that’s when they all turned to the food trucks. It was the first time we ever got absolutely smashed – we had a ten-metre line for a solid four hours!

Do you have any advice for people contemplating a food truck venture?

Research, research, research. You’ve got to know your product. You’ve got to know exactly what you want out of the food truck and the more research you’ve done, the easier it will be to plan for what’s ahead.