Becoming self-employed with a food truck despite a low budget

How can you start your own business with your concept without taking a full risk in terms of costs? To help you find the right solution for your business plan, we have compared the two most common street food vehicles: the food truck and the sales trailer.

Cocktailtrailer im coolen Look

Street food is the new star in the gourmet sky. While images of chips and sausages used to pop into our heads when we heard the term food truck, today we think of imaginative dishes from all over the world that we can enjoy at events like street food festivals or during our lunch break.

The fact that street food is so popular is also inspiring more and more food lovers to fulfil their dream of a mobile restaurant with delicious concepts – which is probably why you have also landed in this article.

But how can you start your own business with your concept without taking a full risk in terms of costs? To help you find the right solution for your business plan, we have compared the two most common street food vehicles: the food truck and the sales trailer.

Food Truck vs. Sales Trailer: The Rough Difference

A food truck is a truck that has been converted into a mobile kitchen.

The sales trailer differs primarily in that it is not motorised – the converted box trailer with sales hatch is pulled by a towing vehicle.

This difference is important when it comes to starting a food truck business. Both options come with different challenges that you should consider before making your choice.

What permits do I need to start a food truck business?

In order to open a food truck, you must meet these requirements in Germany:

  • a catering instruction and infection control instruction (IHK)
  • a restaurant licence (Trade Licensing Office)
  • a business registration (Trade Licensing Office)
  • Health certificate and hygiene instruction (Public Health Office)
  • Food hygiene training according to § 43 Infection Protection Act (Public Health Office)
  • the travel trade card if you want to sell outside the place stated in the trade registration (Ordnungsamt).
  • outside the location stated in your business registration (Ordnungsamt)
  • an application for outdoor catering (Ordnungsamt)
  • a liquor licence for serving alcoholic beverages (Ordnungsamt)
  • a food truck parking permit or special use permit (Ordnungsamt).

In addition, you need the following for the food truck:

  • from a weight of 3500 kg the driving licence class C1.
    • Example dimensions for a food truck weighing over 3500 kg:
      Total length: 7450 mm, body length: 5100 mm, body width: 2450 mm.

For a sales trailer you need

  • for a weight up to max. 3500 kg incl. towing vehicle, driving licence class B.
  • Important: If the combination of towing vehicle and sales trailer exceeds the weight, you can drive a combination of max. 4250 kg with the B-96 extension and with the BE trailer licence the trailer alone can have a total weight of 3500 kg.

Finding a parking space: What are the advantages and disadvantages?

With your food truck, you always have the choice between a fixed stand or a regularly changing location. Whatever you decide: It’s not a bad idea to think about your business plan in advance.

Food trucks are usually larger than sales trailers and therefore require larger stands. On the other hand, you can place the sales trailer with your towing vehicle and then park the vehicle somewhere else.

Here are a few more advantages and disadvantages for comparison:

Food truck disadvantages:

  • Food truck pitch costs are often charged by the metre of the stand. Therefore, the larger the truck, the higher the stand costs.
  • Food trucks are usually tested on a part-time basis first, instead of setting everything on full flame straight away. Events are usually the best time to do this, as they take place at the weekend and there are automatically potential customers there. However, if there are longer intervals between the events, the food truck’s engine suffers due to the longer standing times.

Disadvantage of sales trailers:

  • Sales trailers are often smaller than food trucks, but this does not necessarily make them cheaper when it comes to renting a stand. Even if the towing vehicle is not required at first glance, you still have to park it somewhere. Depending on the parking options, additional parking costs may therefore be incurred.

Advantage Foodtruck:

  • Food trucks can park in normal parking spaces, which is not the case with trailers. This makes it easier to find a parking space.

Advantage of sales trailers:

  • Since the sales trailer does not have an engine, it does not mind coming to a standstill. In addition, the often high maintenance costs for the engine are eliminated. If you have ever had to choose between a caravan and a motorhome, you already know the disadvantages.
  • You can react more flexibly: Imagine that the customers are ripping off your car and you’re running out of supplies. If you work in a team, you can hold the fort while your partner brings in supplies with the towing vehicle. If you are on the road with a food truck, you would have to dismantle everything and head for the next market. This is especially a problem if you are in the middle of other food trucks at a festival.

Make your start in mobile gastronomy easier.

Play it safe with the food truck trailer from BuddyStar. Manufactured according to German quality standards, equipped with catering equipment and stainless steel furniture: The Buddys meet all specifications and are therefore the perfect basis for your start in mobile catering.

Food truck interior: Does it offer more space than a sales trailer?

The food truck interior depends on your plans and the size of your truck. But one way or another: creativity and know-how are in demand when it comes to fitting out. With clever combinations and innovative solutions, you have to use all the space available.

But even the best interior planning is of no use if you haven’t given enough thought to your concept beforehand: How many people are to work in the sales trolley? What equipment, cupboards etc. do you need? What equipment is actually obligatory?

You should take all this into account in your business plan so that you can choose and plan the right sales trailer for you on this basis.

Whatever you finally decide, every food truck and sales trailer should have this basic equipment:

  • Stainless steel surfaces
  • A refrigeration unit
  • Washbasin
  • Storage facilities
  • Splash guard
  • marked water tanks (waste water and fresh water)
  • a drinking water tank
  • Electrical connection for power supply

For your final choice, it is also important to know that the outward appearance of a food truck is often deceptive. Most people assume that the size of a food truck means that it offers more space than a sales trailer. In fact, it is the other way round – sales trailers usually have a larger interior. This is due to the fact that the components of a motorised vehicle, such as the engine and wheel wells, do not have to be obstructed.
In addition, a sales trailer offers more space all around for design options such as foil stickers, signs and neon signs due to the larger exterior surfaces.

What does a food truck cost?

You will probably already have guessed: Here, too, it all depends on your concept. Therefore, it is difficult for us to give you a price without further information.

However, we can assure you that sales trailers are the cheaper alternative. When we were looking for a food truck with solid basic equipment and an appealing design, we quickly realised that there was no high-quality solution for smaller budgets.

Food trucks are very expensive simply because of their popularity, and the fact that you end up buying a vehicle, a kitchen and a salesroom all in one does not push the price down. The prices for basic vehicles alone have also risen horrendously due to the vanlife and camper trend. As a result, even supposedly cheaper self-builds have become significantly more expensive. You should also keep in mind that a food truck is a motorised vehicle. This means that necessary maintenance or repairs cause additional costs and also ensure that you have to do without your vehicle and thus the sale for a few days – a killer argument for many self-employed people.

The biggest disadvantage of the sales trailer, on the other hand, is that you also need a vehicle that is strong enough to pull your trailer. However, most people already own a capable towing vehicle and can save on costs. However, there are many sales trailers and food trailers that can be pulled by small cars due to their low weight and efficient design.


As you can see, both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, the choice ultimately depends on various factors of your concept – and of course on your budget.

The food truck is a vehicle, kitchen and salesroom in one and has the advantage that you can easily move it from point A to point B. If you have lower start-up capital and a strong towing vehicle is already in your garage, it is more worthwhile to invest in a high-quality sales trailer and food trailer.


Benjamin, der Autor dieses Beitrags, ist von Beginn an bei BuddyStar dabei und kümmert sich um das Marketing. Der leidenschaftliche Hobbykoch hat eine Vorliebe für Street-Food und reist gerne in ferne Länder, wo er immer wieder neue Food-Kreationen für sich entdeckt.

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