Being a unique niche in the food industry, working with the right type of expert to handle your food truck’s books is vital due to the mobile nature of the business.
“Food trucks and food vending is such a volatile industry. Small menus, mobility, and changing regulations all have a great effect on success or failure. This volatility makes for an added adventure that most chefs and owners live for. Each day is a fresh start with its own unique challenges and blessings,” according to Cherie-Lee and Joshua Mason upon sharing their thoughts regarding the food truck industry’s differentiation to other niches. Their company, Panther Bookkeeping, specializes in bookkeeping for food trucks and food vendors.
Food truck owners are motivated by their passion of providing delicious food and great service but rarely get excited with analyzing the balance sheet. But seeing that cash flow is considered to be the lifeblood of any business and its management can either spell the success or failure of a venture, having organized bookkeeping is extremely important for food truck and food vending entrepreneurs.
Cherie-Lee and Joshua Mason understand this well. Motivated by the freedom to do what one enjoys, love of food, and admiration for small businesses, the two US Air Force pilots decided to extend their expertise and assistance to passionate mobile food entrepreneurs who become less enthusiastic when keeping track of the business’ financial side is concerned.
“Cherie-Lee’s family has been in the food vending business for the last 4 years and we have seen some of the struggles and victories that occur on a regular basis. Many of the chefs and food truck owners we talk to have neither a love of numbers nor the training to keep their books or analyze them in a helpful way,” says Joshua.
Though handling your own bookkeeping is not impossible, business owners can greatly benefit from hiring an expert. Getting on top of a food truck’s financial statements can be challenging due to the long to-do list required to operate the business. Keeping track of receipts, invoices, withdrawals, and deposits plus analyzing what they mean to the current and future status of the business can be daunting to most people. Fortunately, professional bookkeepers or accountants can assist entrepreneurs make sense of their financial statements and even give invaluable information or analysis to help grow their food truck business.
Compared to a conventional restaurant, the factors that affect the profitability of food trucks are varied and very dynamic. Consulting with experts who understand these factors offer advantages to entrepreneurs due to the extensive analysis and insights they can offer. Some financial hurdles may be overlooked if the bookkeeper is not well-versed on how much the mobile nature of food trucks affect the performance of the business. Factors such as low margins, limited storage capacity, and high seasonality, among others, can greatly impact revenues while failure to plan for them can be the end of a food truck, no matter how great its concept or products.
Some entrepreneurs may think is it wise to do their own bookkeeping first and just get help later on. But failure to have a plan and system based on reliable information, especially financial information, is one of the most common reasons why food trucks get into trouble.
“Without a plan and good information to back that plan, it is easy to fail in this industry,” says Joshua. “The first budget will be only as useful as the time spent building it. A budget based on guesses will be much less helpful than a budget based on research and estimates from other food truck owners.”
Getting expert financial advice at the early stages of the venture to create a plan that prevents problems can save a food truck business later on. Though not all future issues can be prepared for, juggling a food truck’s operation while trying to fix a financial problem can often lead an entrepreneur to break under pressure and the food truck to fail. Without a plan business owners will have even less time to solve a problem if one arises, which is why it is best to ask professional help and plan for contingencies as early as possible.
“It is going to be tougher than they thought, harder work than they expected, longer hours than they want, and not as profitable, at first, as they dreamed,” as Cherie-Lee puts it.
Accounting is the language of business and bookkeeping can be a great way to assess a food truck’s current success. An experienced professional can offer much more information than the current status of your business. Receipts, invoices, and deposits can provide important information that can guide food truck owners on how to efficiently manage and grow their business. The financial information, when analyzed by capable bookkeepers, can reveal key performance indicators: quantifiable measurements that affect the success of the food truck business such as food cost percentage, sales per head, bestselling items, staff performance, customer satisfaction, marketing cost, and conversion rate, among others.
Key performance indicators can be used to advise business owners whether to continue with the current business plan, reevaluate certain operations, or change the direction of the business. Such vital information can be drawn from analysis that specialized accounting professionals provide.
“We can help organize their finances so they have a better understanding of where they stand, where they need to be, and steps they can take to be more profitable,” Joshua says regarding how Panther Bookkeeping’s specialized services can benefit food truck entrepreneurs. “We can help take their jumble of receipts and create easy to understand financial reports. Our system uses online, secure accounting software so they can have easy access whenever and wherever they need.”
Cherie-Lee adds, “We can automate their bookkeeping and show them how to reconcile accounts or take on all bookkeeping. As a bookkeeper, we can also connect clients with businesses that help food trucks run smoothly and more efficiently so they can focus on other aspects of the company and spend more time doing what they love.”
Make sure to check out Panther Bookkeeping to learn more about their company and learn how to keep your bookkeeping up to date. Also check out Xero, the software Panther Bookkeeping uses, which helps manage anything from bills & expenses, inventory, purchase orders, and much more. Clover food trucks will automatically sync with Xero to help make your bookkeeping easier. The features and benefits that Food on a Truck uses are optimized to help your bookkeeping more organized with help in your location and schedule management, sales trends, hourly sales, and more. To learn more about these features (and compare them with Square) make sure to request a comparison here!
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About Joshua Mason & Cherie-Lee Mason.
Joshua Mason is a pilot in the US Air Force as well. He graduated in 2009 from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelors of Science in Humanities and Minors in Russian Language and Philosophy. He is currently working on graduate studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University seeking his Masters in Business Administration in Aviation. He admires chefs and owners who have taken the bold step and launched a new endeavor in the growing industry of food trucks and food vending. Food trucks represent a sense of freedom and adventure. He feels that few chefs and owners are trained in financial accounting and many find bookkeeping a stressful hassle and distraction from their normal operations. He would like to take that stress and give you back your valuable time.