Choosing Concession Trailers: What You Need to Know
How to Choose the Right Concession Trailer
If you’ve made the decision to purchase a concession trailer, there are so many things to think about when shopping that it can get overwhelming. After you’ve determined a budget range that will be feasible for you, use this list to help you keep track of the factors to consider.
Considering Trailer Size
Deciding on a trailer size may seem obvious at first, but make sure you think about not only your current situation, but also the future of your business. If you’re strictly selling something like Sno-Kones® or sugar waffles now, a smaller, simpler trailer could be best.
But do you plan to expand in the future? If so, will it make more sense to purchase a small, cheaper trailer now and sell it later when you’re in the market for a larger one? Or, should you invest in the bigger trailer from the start? Only you know your business plans and projections, but this is certainly worth thinking about from the get-go.
Electrical and Plumbing Capabilities in Your Mobile Concession Stand
You can’t operate your business without power and water. Pay especially close attention to these elements when viewing potential trailers.
Examine all the concession equipment you’ll be using, now or in the future, in the trailer. What types of plugs do they have, and are the trailer’s outlets equipped for them? Determine how much energy your machines will need if all in use on the busiest possible day and be sure the trailer’s circuit board can handle more than that.
Also consider an independent power source. If you’ll be traveling to many kinds of events, the power options can be unreliable. You’ll find that the voltage varies by location, and you might be required to use extension cords, which often result in power surges and inconsistent amps. Having a quality generator onboard will alleviate these issues so that you don’t lose power in the middle of an event.
Concession trailers are required to have a water supply. As you inspect potential trailers, it’s a good idea to bring a copy of local health department regulations so you remember to check for everything you need.
Usually, you must have a sink for hand washing as well as a three-well sink for sanitizing dishes and equipment. You’ll need a fresh water tank, as well as a waste water tank and hot water tank. Make sure the trailer you buy either has tanks and plumbing that meet the specifications for your locality or that there is adequate space for them to be installed.
Used vs. New Concession Trailers
The choice between a new or used trailer is not as cut and dry as it may seem. Generally used will be cheaper than new, but there are a lot of other aspects to consider. Some perks of purchasing used include:
- Used trailers often come with equipment already installed, saving you money on purchasing machines and time on figuring out what kinds of equipment will fit in your space.
- If you purchase from an individual, you may be able to get advice and helpful tips from the previous owner, as well as knowledge upfront about the vehicle’s history and quirks. Just make sure you trust the person and understand their reasons for selling.
- Prices on used trailers can be significantly lower, which means you may be able to find one you can afford without a bank loan. Startup costs are already heavy for a small business, so the ability to begin operation without excess debt is no small thing.
Choosing a brand new concession trailer, while a more expensive option, gives you benefits like these:
- You’ll have access to the manufacturer’s warranty. Often used trailers’ warranties have expired or are no longer valid, but a new trailer offers peace of mind that you can get help if something goes wrong.
- Set up the trailer exactly the way you want. Starting from scratch means you can put your equipment where it makes the most sense for you. A used trailer is set up to meet someone else’s expectations.
- New electrical and mechanical features can mean less worry. Especially if you aren’t handy with these types of things yourself, new wiring and parts let you focus on your business instead of making upgrades to your trailer.
Construction Materials and Durability
Pay close attention to the materials used to build the interior of the concession trailer. You want something that will be sanitary, easy to clean, and will withstand the wear and tear of daily business. Food-grade stainless steel is ideal for food preparation surfaces.
As far as walls, ceiling, and flooring are concerned, your options will include anything from painted surfaces to vinyl to stainless steel to aluminum. Think about what foods you’ll be preparing in your trailer and how messy things will get. For example, if your business involves cooking and frying, and you need to hose down the trailer at the end of each shift or event, avoid vinyl or linoleum flooring.
Layout for Concession Equipment, Storage, and Serving
Your trailer will need space for everything you use for your business, so you’ll need to be sure the floor plan allows for that and is laid out in a way that will work with, not against, your food prep process. List everything you’ll need in your trailer, including:
- concession equipment
- food display/warming cabinets
- refrigeration units
- empty counter space for food prep
- cash register
- dry storage space
- any hoods or ventilation required
- fire suppression system or extinguishers
- serving window
Visualize an event from setup to tear down, and a transaction from customer order to food prep to serving. Anticipate where you or your employee will move throughout the trailer for any given customer purchase so you can be sure the layout of your trailer enhances your process rather than hindering it.
Consider placement of sinks for hand washing, the proximity of your supply storage to where orders will be prepared, and whether you’ll have more than one person working in the trailer at a time. Although concession trailers are small and nothing is ever too far away, now is the time to think about the layout that will be best for you.
When you’ve found the right trailer for your business, keep local inspectors on your side every step of the way. Any modifications or upgrades should be approved by your health inspector, and also discuss requirements with your fire marshal to make sure you’re meeting their regulations. No matter whether your trailer is new or used, it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s up to code.
If you’re starting from scratch, now is also the time to think about your concession equipment and supplies. An equipment manufacturer that offers a parts and service warranty, and a supplier that will work closely with you to meet your needs, will go a long way toward creating a successful concession business. Gold Medal offers both – contact us today to set up a personal consultation and make sure your business runs smoothly from the start.