This week, and through the month of August, I'm answering questions submitted by my readers.
Question 1: How many trucks are there in DFW?
Answer 1: There are a total of 65 different concepts currently on the road. Of those three have multiple trucks.
There are 12 brand concepts that should roll out in the next 30 days and a second truck from Gandolfo's.
If all of these trucks roll out on schedule, but the end of August we would have 84 trucks, on the road.
*Disclaimer, this number is subject to change, it seems that every month there are three or four trucks that roll out with out notice.
Question 2: With between 65 and 84 trucks rolling, is the DFW market saturated?
Answer 2: Not even close. Some specific areas may seem saturated; for example, every Dallas permitted truck wants to be in the Arts District for lunch. But, there are large areas within the Dallas city limits and all through the the suburbs that are are under-served by the food trucks.
Question 3: How much do these trucks really make?
Answer 3: I cannot answer this question for several reasons.
1. No one is ever going to tell me how much they make.
2. The income is going to vary significantly by truck owner. Like any small business, you get out of it what you put in to it. The trucks owners that I assume to be doing well are working 18-20 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, year round.
3. Food trucking is a seasonal business. The DFW trucks were very lucky this January and February and did not have to contend with many cold days, the trade-off is that they are struggling this July and August with significantly lower than average sales. If I asked any truck owner their income for this past week, they would most likely cry.
Question 4: What is the best way to track the trucks? With the growing numbers, following every single truck on Facebook or Twitter isn't practical. Your website aggregates the tweets, which helps, but it's still hard to scan them all and identify the neighborhoods. What I'm looking for is a list by city/area or a map, but the ones I've found are barely populated or not kept up to date.
Answer 4: The short answer is that I haven't found the perfect way to track the trucks. There are several other websites/apps out there: Beecon and Roaming Hunger are the two that are the closest to current and have maps attached.
Beecon is the website and iPhone app that is DFW specific and that I have the most knowledge of. The trucks are asked to submit their schedules for the week and the locations are entered in to a database. I checked the website this morning and I did not find any trucks in the incorrect location and the two that were doing breakfast were listed, along with those serving lunch and dinner today. The only drawback of this site is that it relies on the trucks to submit their information, so its only as complete as the trucks allow it to be. Also, because it is a manual entry, if there is a schedule change, there may be an miss by the programmers and the new location or cancellation may not be reflected on the site.
I am not sure how Roaming Hunger gets their data, I just checked the Roaming Hunger site and for yesterday, it was correct for all but one truck. I happen to know that two trucks are out for breakfast this morning and neither are posted on Roaming Hunger for today. Everything seems to be correct for lunch today. I do like that Roaming Hunger breaks down the map by meal so that you aren't wondering what hours the trucks will be near your location. I also like that Roaming Hunger covers other cities, if you travel you can find food trucks anywhere in the US with one site.
With both of these sites, I would still recommend confirming location with the trucks on Facebook and Twitter before you head out.
If you want to ask a question about food trucks, their operations or this blog, feel free to comment, post on Facebook or Twitter or email me. I'll try to answer as many as I can, with the understanding that I intentionally do not know anything about the permitting process in the various cities and I cannot share proprietary information that many of the trucks have shared with me.