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How to recruit staff for your mobile catering van

Hiring employees for your food truck is an integral step in establishing your business. This article provides a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the hiring process effectively. However, it's not just about finding individuals who can cook and serve; you need a team that is passionate about food, customer service, and the food truck experience.

Identifying the roles

Initially, you must clearly identify the type of employees you need. This could involve skills like previous experience in the food industry, customer service abilities, or a passion for food and cooking. Also, consider the specific requirements of your food truck, such as employees who can handle long hours on their feet or those with experience in a fast-paced environment.

Typically, a food truck requires the following roles:

  1. Food truck manager: This individual will be responsible for day-to-day operations, training and managing staff members, ensuring sanitation procedures, following health and safety guidelines, cash management, and possibly even driving the truck.

  2. Chef/Cook: This role involves preparing and cooking the food that your food truck will serve. This individual must be proficient in the type of food you plan to sell.

  3. Kitchen prep: These staff members will be responsible for preparing ingredients, cleaning the kitchen, and other tasks to help the cook/chef.

If staff members will be taking on multiple responsibilities across all these roles, you could hire for a general “Food Truck Crew” role.

The hiring process

Once you've identified where to find potential employees, it's time to initiate the hiring process.

Here are some steps:

  1. Start the process early: Begin listing your open positions three to four months before your busy season.

  2. Clarify expectations: Ensure the job description clearly states that this is seasonal work, outlining all duties and expectations.

  3. Identify potential full-time hires: Consider whether you could see a candidate becoming a full-time employee.

  4. Target the right applicants: Seasonal work is ideal for students or recent graduates.

  5. Make the offer: After completing the interview process and determining the best candidate for the job, make an offer. This should include details about salary, hours of work, benefits, and any other information.

  6. Train your staff: Finally, once you have hired your food truck staff, ensure they receive proper training. This not only includes the basics of their job role but also the nuances of working in a food truck, such as dealing with high temperatures and confined spaces.

By following these tips, you can build a skilled and dedicated food truck team that will help your business thrive. Whether it's for a summer season or a full year, these guidelines will ensure you find the right people for your mobile catering van or street food truck.

Writing the job description

Next, write a detailed job description for the roles you need to fill. In addition to including information like wages and a job summary, you should also specify key aspects related to working in a food truck. This could include:

  1. The location of the food truck

  2. The requirement for heavy lifting

  3. The need to work in a small space, often in high temperatures

  4. Working hours, typically evenings and weekends

  5. Driver's license requirements, if applicable

It's also important to outline any employee benefits you may offer, such as staff training, flexible scheduling or free meals.

Advertising job openings

Food truck workers on shift

Once you have the job descriptions ready, it's time to advertise your job openings. If you already have a location, you can use this place to advertise. If not, you'll need to post your job listings online. Job boards or online communities in your area could be a good start. If your food truck is seasonal, you could advertise the roles to students.

Setting up interviews

After advertising your job openings, you will start to receive applications. The next step is to set up interviews. If you don’t have a physical location for conducting interviews, you can ask a local business if they would be willing to host your interviews, or you could consider hosting video interviews.

Conducting the interview process

Conducting employee interviews for your food truck business can be a thrilling yet challenging task. The food truck industry is booming, and it's essential to find the right people who can contribute to your business's growth and success.

Prepare for the interview by developing questions that will help you assess their skills, knowledge, passion for the industry, and ability to work in a fast-paced environment. You can ask about their previous experience, how they handle pressure, their customer service skills, and their knowledge about food safety and preparation.

During the interview, observe their communication skills and attitude. A good fit for the food truck industry will be someone who is energetic, friendly, and quick on their feet. In addition to their abilities, their personality is significant as they'll be interacting with your customers directly, potentially dealing with customer complaints. Always remember to set a friendly tone during the interview; this will help candidates relax and show their true nature.

After the interviews, deliberate carefully before making your decision. Remember, your employees are a reflection of your business; choose those who you believe will represent your food truck brand best. With the right team, your food truck business will not only survive but thrive in this competitive industry.

Catering liability insurance considerations

It's also important for street food businesses to consider appropriate catering liability insurance. This type of insurance can protect your business from potential risks and liabilities related to your catering operations.

Onboarding employees

Onboarding an employee for your food truck business doesn't have to be a daunting task. It is a critical process in the food truck industry because it not only introduces your new hire to the job but also helps set them up for success. As food truck owners, start by introducing them to the ins and outs of your food truck – from understanding the menu, the food preparation process, to learning the cash machine system. It’s essential they become familiar with these areas because they will directly interact with your customers.

Take the time to explain your business values, customer service standards, and what you expect from them in their role. Remember, they are representing your brand. Train them in all safety procedures, including food handling and safety guidelines, which are important in the food truck industry. You could also set them up with a mentor in the initial stages, someone experienced who can guide them through the daily operations of a food truck.

Food truck owners should also make new employee feel welcome. Introduce them to all members of your team and ensure they feel comfortable in their new work environment. Remember, a well-on boarded employee is a happy and productive worker who can contribute significantly to your food truck business.

Where to find potential employees

The method of finding potential employees largely depends on your preference and the reach of your network. Here are some places to find potential hires:

  1. Word of mouth: Leverage your network of family, friends, or former co-workers who might know talented individuals or have contacts in the mobile food or restaurant industry.

  2. Online postings: Websites such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn are great platforms to post job listings.

  3. Local newspaper and trade magazines: Despite the rise of digital media, local newspapers and trade magazines cater to a diverse audience, making them a viable option for job listings.

  4. Local colleges: Reaching out to local colleges, or culinary schools can yield full-time and part-time apprentices.


Recruiting a competent and committed team is essential to the success of your mobile catering van or food truck business. It's not just about securing individuals who can cook and serve; a passion for food, excellent customer service skills, and an understanding of the food truck experience are also essential.

When recruiting, it's important to start early, clarify job expectations, identify potential full-time hires, seek referrals, target suitable applicants like students, and look for quick learners with positive attitudes. After selecting the best candidates, make an offer detailing salary, working hours, and benefits, and ensure your staff receive proper training.

Writing a comprehensive job description is essential, outlining all duties, working conditions, and any employee benefits. Once ready, advertise on job boards, online communities, or your existing brick-and-mortar location.

By following these guidelines, you can assemble a skilled, dedicated food truck team that will contribute significantly to your business's growth and success, whether it's for a seasonal period or year-round operation.

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