The beginning of a true business and end to a trend

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Picture is for illustrative purposes only
Image Credit: Supplied

When I was asked to write about the very industry that my team and I care so deeply for, I was honored and at the same time came to a block in my mind. The block was the questions, where do I begin, what do I share, and how to do it that reflects the respect that such an Article and Food Truckers deserves as those who are in the business and have had their good times and bad, have put their passion and monetary liabilities into, at the time an unknown business. Many have trusted my team and I with this very tough and at many times stressful decisions.

I will try to present this article in a way that will represent accurate, honest and tough points in which to bring as much relevant information to those who seek to enter into this business as I can. When it all began and we started to spread the word FOOD TRUCKS in the UAE back in 2013 – 2014, there were many friends, clients, investors, big brand all said the same thing “This is a Trend”, I did not blame them for what they believed, as it was true it was just beginning and some businesses, concepts and brands only have a short life span here in the UAE and in many other countries, everybody wants the “NEW Thing”. When the first Trucks came into the market, it did catch many off guard including departments that would be responsible for the safety and sanitation of the customers that would be purchasing from these “Mobile Kitchens”. It took a very long time to develop and assure all departments what are the roles of the Relevant Departments, Food Truck Owners, and the Companies who would be building these Kitchens. Once all were on the same page many issues were resolved and the full potently of this business was able to start to flourish. From that first day to even today there are a few more things that we still need to work on in order to allow us to hit the highest results as a Food Trucker in the UAE.

What we have seen over the last 4 plus years are the very essence of the UAE’s ability to take hold of an idea big or small and give it as much love, respect and time to make it a staple in their country as something that adds to the great life that the UAE is known for. One of the first discussions I would like to start with is something that is very close to our core value as a Company, and that is the TRUST that goes into this business. Clients have to trust us as a fabricator and Support Services Company with their vision, investment, and time. At the same time we must trust our clients to be open and share these ideas, passion and do all we can to ensure their success. When this business started there truly wasn’t anyone else doing this, just my team and myself, but like many things once people see the success of a business they will try to duplicate or attempt to make that quick buck on the back of others. Again I do not blame these “fabricators” for doing what they felt was the way to go. I do on the other hand wish that they would be held accountable for the lack of effort, standards, and care towards a client’s project. This leads to trust being broken not just between that client and fabricator, but it leads to uneasy feelings for many to enter the business in fear of having the same experience as their friends, family members had with that unaccountable fabricator. My team has seen more and more in the recent year of low quality, unsafe, and truly hazard vehicles/trailers etc., come into the market. The reason is because many clients come to us already with a “fabricated truck/trailer” and they have spent a lot of money and still left to get these licensed by the Government as 99.9% of fabricators will not do the licensing process as I believe should be mandated, that if you build these trucks/trailers etc.., you should have to offer and provide the Government Licensing Process. I believe this would increase the success, quality of fabricating and raise the trust between Client and Fabricator. Another issue is the quality of work that we have seen brought to us for inspections, in many cases we are forced to turn the client away as it would be too pricey to bring the unit up to the quality required to pass. Again I know clients are looking for many times a cheaper way to get in to the business and there are ways to approach it but there are certain points that should not be compromised. Also of course fabricators tend not to turn away a project but leave all liabilities with the client with regards to the final product. Fabricators must take responsibility as well and learn to say NO in cases where they know the final project will not be something they themselves would use. I believe if there was a true understanding and truthful communication between client and fabricator, the standards of this business and products produced would see such a great benefit and the Business itself will see a growth of support and less stressful decisions having to be made. This is why I chose to speak firstly on the topic of TRUST, it is and always has been the beginning building block of a successful business and partnership.

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Secondly, the next Topic that many ask is: HOW DO I GET STARTED The best answer I can give is arranging meetings with Service Support Companies that can assist in the following:

CLIENT WITHOUT F&B LICENSE:

  1.  Pre-Approval of Company Name:
    • Provide 5-10 Names – Approval will depend on Government Selection
    • (XYZ Catering services)
    • Add activity of Catering
  2. Obtain a Sponsorship (For non-GCC Client): (or open company in Freezone, no local partner needed)
    • Sponsorship – Not needed if Freezone
    • (MOA) is created – States Sponsor will have no rights to your business, unless otherwise amended.
  3. Central Kitchen:
    • Obtain Tenancy contract / Ejari
    • OR Third Party Kitchen Assistance (Contract with a supplier)
  4. TRADE LICENSE:
    • Once EJARI is obtain – Along with registered Submitted Pre-Approval Company name and EJARI to Government for approval of TRADE LICENSE
    • Cost for Trade License is in the Range of (AED 10,000 – 25,000)
    • Open Labour and Immigration File to Hire Staff
  5.  WHILE COMPANY IS BEING FORMED:
    • Select Concept of Menu: – Suggested Max 8-10 Items – Logo and Design
  6. Select Vehicle type: – Step Van – Air Stream – School Bus – Double Decker Bus – Citron – VW Van – Specialty Vehicle etc.
    • Select Equipment to be place in your Vehicle: – Cooking equipment – Non-cooking equipment
  7. Select Required Services:
  8. Trade License
  9. Development / Branding
  10. PRO / Government Relations
  11. Government Licensing and Approvals
  12. TRUCK FABRICATION / DELIVERY TIMING: –
  13. 45 – 50 working days for Fabrication
  14. 10 – 17 working days for Government Licensing and Approvals
  15. VEHICLE WRAP
  16. 4 – 7 working days
  17. HANDOVER OF FOOD TRUCK
  18. Sign Handover documents
  19. Pay all outstanding payments
  20. Begin Operation (Based on Scheduling)

The next Topic I would like to discuss would be the operational side of the business

  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Balance of time
  • Correct approach to define when and where you should be
  • Proper Costing
  • Proper Menu
  • Pricing on Menu
  • Suppliers
Kris Haggie
Founder, Truck-A-Licious - From the moment I arrived in Dubai almost 6 years ago, I pursued and achieved the goal of bringing the great opportunity know as Food Trucks and Mobile Business alike to the region. With over 100+ clients throughout the GCC, We have truly started seeing the great potential that this wonderful business model has to offer from home grown brands to some of the bigger name brands. We are so very proud of how big and far stretched this concept took hold in the region. We believe all deserve to have a "Taste of Success".