Mark Saliba has the rare title of having tried every single food van hamburger in Sydney.
In preparation for the launch of his very own food truck, ‘Brother Jackson & Co’ this year, Mark indulged in some market research to see what else was on offer. Many, many hamburgers later, he has seen first-hand the explosion of food truck success in this country.
Mark is the son of a hospitality business owner. His father owned an Oporto franchise in a Westfield shopping centre in Sydney, and was the inspiration for Mark’s food van idea – but maybe not in the way you would expect.
“He was paying almost $20,000 a month in rent,” says Mark. “So I thought, why not escape that cost and start a van?”
Indeed, like many other young Australian entrepreneurs, Mark does not see the ballooning rental costs for commercial spaces to be affordable to a new business. A first timer in the world of food and beverage, Mark is keen to keep his costs down until he is sure Brother Jackson & Co. will succeed.
His concept is simple: American-style burgers and cheesy fries, with flavoured milkshakes. It’s a tried and true combination on the Aussie market, and Mark is confident it will go well. He anticipates taking his food truck to music festivals and other local events – something he has already worked in, in his previous role as an events manager.
“I already had contacts with Olympic Park, music festivals, that sort of thing,” says Mark. “So when I called them to ask if I could use their events for my food van, they said absolutely, and just to let them know when I was ready to go!”
Other local businesses were not so keen to lend their spaces to his food truck, with concerns about crowds and the mess they will bring. In fact, many Sydney business owners have only agreed to allow Brother Jackson & Co. on their premises if he pays a small fee.
Prior to opening, Mark already had to put in the groundwork to get his business ready for action. This, he says, is the key to success in the food truck trade.
“Absolutely you need to be prepared well before starting,” he says. “First step is to scout locations and talk to the businesses to see if you are allowed to park nearby. Then you need to check with council that it’s legal. And then you should be sussing out the competition.”
In a congested market, Mark notes that staying across what types of food trucks frequenting your local area is a must, in order to stay competitive.
“You might put on a bit of weight, but it’s best to know what’s out there!” he says.
Mark had a very strict budget when he approached his designer, John Greco, with his concept. He presented the vehicle, and asked John what he could do within his price range.
Using a GoGetta equipment and vehicle loan of $63,500, Mark was able to afford the following:
• Custom built truck
• Range hood
• Deep fryer
• Chest freezer
Mark stresses the importance of checking in with your local council before taking your truck on the road. Although he was inspired by the busy streets of America – in which food trucks are prolific – he notes that Australia is far stricter on where and how you can sell.
“You can’t just pull over to the side of the road in Australia,” he points out, “obviously because there is a risk of having a crowd near traffic that could be hit by a car or something. There’s a lot of rules.”
Large community events such as music festivals and sporting games are the beginners best bet, according to Mark, where you won’t be treading on the toes of local businesses, yet also enjoying large crowds.
Mark is just one of many in the hospitality industry thinking outside of the box when it comes to food and beverage service. And, with online marketing tools like social media and smartphone apps now making mobile businesses easier to find than ever, we’re sure this is a trend that will only continue to grow.
You can see more from Brother Jackson & Co on their Facebook page : https://web.facebook.com/Brother-Jackson-Co-516235668577932/?_rdr
Learn how GoGetta can help finance equipment for your business or read our guide to starting your own food truck business.