How Much Do Food Trucks Make in Dublin?

Tyler MartinezAuthor

How Much Do Food Trucks Make? (Food Truck Profit Margin)

Food trucks in Dublin can make around €80,000 to €115,000 and above every year. Monthly, that works out to €6,650 to €9,560 or more. We’ve created this guide to give you an idea of how much income your mobile food truck business could bring in, including its profit margin potential. 

We’ll also provide techniques for maximising your food business’s income throughout the article. 

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Costs to Start a Food Truck

A food truck can make for a flexible business and lifestyle, but it’s important to know that the startup costs can vary quite a lot, generally ranging from €6,000 up to €200,000, depending on your business idea. Before you get started, it’s essential to cover all costs in your plan. Think labour, materials, insurance, and marketing. At this point in your business journey, you might be surprised to find that some of the steps to get started for a food truck are similar to a conventional restaurant.

On top of traditional costs, there are expenses unique to the food truck industry (but not quite as unique as your food truck concept). These include the vehicle purchase cost, paying for licences and permits, and spending on equipment to make everything operational. Similarly, you need to plan to pay for things specific to your unique business needs, whether that’s a commercial kitchen lease, applying for parking permits, and more. 

Are Food Trucks Profitable?

The first year is a year of substantial costs. That’s due to the need to invest in so much up front: the equipment, the truck, kitchen space, and licences, and more. Plus, in addition to these initial costs, you’ll also need to set aside enough funds to cover costs for every month of your first year. Consider your first year’s financial requirements carefully.

Contingency funds to cover you for the first year until your business becomes profitable is fundamental. Make sure these contingency funds are accessible and able to be used, such as personal loans or savings. These funds, if needed, can be used to cover staff salaries and any other surprise costs. After all, things can and will go wrong. That’s all part of the exciting challenge of running a business.

  • Startup - €6,000-€230,000+
  • Equipment - €10,000-€100,000
  • Permits/licences - €500-€2,000
  • Contingency Funds - €5,000-€200,000

Average Food Truck Costs

As an average, operating costs are often about 85-90% of monthly revenue – that’s once your food truck is profitable. For the first two years or so, it’s wise to continue to invest in your business to account for costs of labour, food costs, or marketing expenses. While delicious fast food will be the bedrock of your food truck, success, growth, and longevity will come from a solid financial plan.

  • Operating Costs €12,000 - €60,000
  • Commercial Kitchen - €1,200/month
  • Parking - €500-€800/month
  • Insurance - €500-€7,500/month
  • Utilities - €900-€1,100/month
  • Marketing - €300-€2,300 (3-6%) of sales
  • Food Costs €2,300-€17,500 (30-35% of sales)
  • Labour €1,750-€17,500 (24-40% of sales)
  • Loan Repayment

Forecasting Your Food Truck’s Sales

Use any sales data like labour costs, food expenses, inventory levels, and even your food truck’s serving speed and maximum capacity to forecast potential future sales. Keep in mind that without any previous sales data, calculating how your business will grow month to month can be challenging. Keep in mind variables like how the weather and seasons influence demand, your marketing performance, and any other relevant key performance metrics (KPIs).

Start by calculating your daily service capacity. Work you how many people you can serve – it’s as simple as how many burgers or tacos your business can cook during a day or shift. Then, you’ll be able to work out your potential revenue by balancing the costs against profits in that time period.

Naturally, you won’t be operating at maximum service every time you pull up to a car park or festival. But, with sales metrics from a whole month (or even just a week), you’ll be able to view and learn from the average sales of that period of time by using technology like the best mobile POS system for food trucks in Dublin. From there, you can calculate the average for each shift.

Average Food Truck Revenue

As a general guide, an average income for a food truck in Dublin calculated as gross sales prior to costs spans from around €6,000 to €11,000 (and more) each month. One way to get an idea of what your food truck might earn is by accurately calculating your own estimated sales figures projections. Work this out by taking your total estimated sales for a season – while keeping an eye on those key performance metrics (KPIs) –  then divide that total by the number of months in that period. It really is that easy.

Food Truck Profit Margin Per Month

On average, a food or hospitality business’s profit margin is about 3%-5%. That’s the average; some businesses have a margin close to or at 0%, while some can enjoy margins as large as 15%. Use the following equation to work out your profit: monthly sales x profit margin = profit. As a working example, consider that if your food truck averages €10,000/month in sales, and the profit margin is 4%, your profit is €400. Profit is a great sign that you’re heading in the right direction, but it’s best put to good use. Putting any profit back into the business is a recipe for a sustainable and growing business with a bright future.

Food Truck Owner’s Salary

Profitability time is when you can start to think about your salary, but not earlier. As a ballpark, a food truck manager’s base salary in Ireland is, on average, €31,120. But what you pay yourself is up to you – it’s your business, after all. But remember, this could be your first truck, and you might one day have grand plans to build a fleet of fantastic food trucks, so keep your eyes on the prize and look forward to scaling up your business to multiple trucks and potentially reap the rewards. Whatever your plans, big and small, it’s wise to calculate your salary at less than 50% of net profit.

If your business is a niche or smaller food truck business that requires fewer hands on deck, you might be able to pay yourself a more significant piece of the pie. This could be the case, particularly if you're wearing many different hats and taking on most of the responsibility. An example might be that you function as the head chef, bookkeeper, and front of house running the POS, so you could see a proportionally bigger payday in comparison to a more complex and larger operation with more staff and higher wage costs.

The big decisions on salaries and how much profit to reinvest to grow the business rest with you. Obstacles in the first 12 months are just about certain, but reinvesting profit in the business and maximising sales with effective marketing tactics and the right technology gives you every chance at success.

Timeline for Breaking Even for Food Truck

Profit often becomes a thing around the first one and a half to two years for most food trucks. But this varies from business to business depending on food costs and those unique KPIs we mentioned earlier.

Putting in the effort to maintain profitability before using up contingency funds is a must. And now that you are adept at estimating revenue for your food truck, you’re able to get a rough idea of when you’ll break even.

Keep an eye out for seasonal moments and events throughout the year. Embracing these can mean strong boosts in sales. Next, work out the sales you need through your POS system to pay off all start-up and running costs. Use the example below to work things out. Note that this is hypothetical and has made-up numbers. You should use our own figures that match your circumstances:

Breanne’s Burger Truck of Dublin starts with a loan of €350,000, with a repayment period of 5 years at 5.6% interest:

Equipment (including the Truck): €100,000

Permits & Licences: €1,000

Contingency Funds: €249,000

Breanne’s Burger Truck has low labour costs since Breanne herself covers multiple roles in the first eighteen months of operation; however, her parking costs are up because she’s been working extra hours to establish the business.

Commercial Kitchen Rental: €1,500

Parking: €900

Insurance: €2,200

Utilities: €1,000

Food Costs: €9,000

Labour: €3,000

Marketing: €1,500

Loan payment: €4,400

Total: €25,500

At €25,500, the annual cost of operating Breane’s Burger Truck is €306,600.

Breanne’s famous cheeseburger, her biggest seller, brings in a profit of €6.75. Complementing the burger is an optional side of fries, yielding a profit of €1.50, and onion rings, which yield €3.50 in profit. With the capacity to produce 150 average orders per shift, Breanne can make a profit of €1,012.50. If Breanne’s business includes fries with a third of the orders and onion rings with another third, she can bump up business revenue by €206.25 per shift. At maximum capacity, Breanne has the potential to earn €7,312.50 over a six-shift week.

Monthly Sales: €29,062

Operating Expenses: €25,500

Profit: €3,750

Profit Margin at 100% capacity: 8.8%

At an average of 50% capacity, Breanne’s can potentially gross €43,403 annually (50% of the gross profit potential x 52 weeks), with monthly revenue of €11,950. That rises to €286,806 annually at 100% capacity.

  • The startup costs of Breanne’s Burger Truck were €451,000, and the monthly operating costs were €25,500. Breanne’s first year will cost €467,500. 
  • Breanne operates at 50% capacity for the first three months – €43,593
  • Breanne’s had a great second quarter (a lively and busy Dublin summer) and operated at 70-85% capacity for that quarter – about €65,398 in total revenue. 
  • She kept the momentum going past the peak of summer, operating at 60-70% capacity in quarter 3, earning an additional €56,607.90.
  • Dublin’s food truck demand does vary with the weather, so Breanne’s is back to 50-60% in quarter 4 and ends the year with €47,952.30 in revenue.
  • Breanne’s earns €213,551.20 in revenue for the year.
  • Luckily, Breanne’s contingency funds keep the business afloat this year, making up the €262,949 shortfall.

So, for Breanne’s Burger Truck to reach profitability, running at 87% capacity is the target. With smart marketing strategies and fastidious record-keeping, Breanne can forecast that she’ll reach profitability just before the end of her second year of running her food truck.

Improving Your Food Truck’s Sales

To boost your sales and reach profitability as soon as possible, there are a number of things you can do. Work out food costs carefully and upskill employees to sell more of your highest-profit menu items. You might even go as far as designing your menu to highlight the most profitable items to make them as enticing as possible for customers. Another tip is to join popular events and festivals to find customers and introduce your brand to more people, including locals.

In our digital age, websites and social media pages for online marketing are incredibly important. Make sure your customers can find and follow your truck with an active online marketing strategy.

The Right Tech

Your food truck technology will help you maximise efficiency and profitability. Get set for success by utilising inventory, time-tracking, and financial software from the beginning. Invest in a POS system that brings it all into one place and makes it easier to operate your business as seamlessly and smoothly as possible. So, make sure you find the perfect portable POS solution for your street food vendor business in Dublin. And don’t neglect your customers, too. Make it a pleasure for them to buy from you with tech like mobile order and pay. When you embrace the right technology, your business will be on track for healthy growth! 

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