Whether you’re the sole employee of a mobile kitchen or the owner of a food truck chain, consistently and effectively maintaining your vehicle and kitchen is key to achieving your food vending dreams. While there is no replacement for proper training in food handling and kitchen maintenance training, we are all human and prone to mistakes. Preparing a checklist for your mobile kitchen is a great first step towards perfecting routines and establishing expectations for regular and thorough maintenance.
Checklists can make a palpable difference for your business. A research project by the American Economic Association monitored auto servicing businesses before and after installing a checklist for employees. It found that, “Revenue was 20% higher during the experiment. Checklists appear to boost productivity by serving both as a memory aid and monitoring technology.”
So here you are, the ultimate mobile kitchen maintenance checklist. Feel free to copy and paste this list into your own editable document.
Daily (or after each shift):
Wash the dishes and clean the sink
Wipe the counters and cupboards (including the handles)
Wipe the outside of appliances
Empty the trash
Sweep and mop the floors: Do not hose interior to protect electrical systems
Secure food and cooking utensils for driving
Walk around the vehicle: Check for vandalism, flat tires, dents, and paint chips.
Empty the grey water tank and fill the clean water tank. This task may need to be done more than once per week.
Clean appliances: Fridges, ovens, fryers, grills, coffee makers, microwaves, etc.
Check oil levels
Start the engine and use the vehicle if feasible
Clean the ventilation fan and exhaust hoods
Scrub the interior walls, back-splash, and ceiling
Wash the exterior
Move large appliances and clean under and behind them
Grease the hinges of service window and back doors
Update the menu: Prices might need to be adjusted based on different events, inflation, and a new variety of dishes
Annually (or bi-annually depending on use):
Deep clean the fridge
Test your battery
Fill windshield wiper fluid and check wipers
Deep clean the grey water tank
Maintain your safety kit: First aid supplies, fire extinguisher, jumper cables, road salt, ice scrape, spare wheel, car jack, etc.
Tighten the wheel nuts
Renew health inspection certification: In many states, this includes having suitable clean and grey water tanks, a large enough sink to wash any dishes at hand, a supply of hot water, sanitary food storage, and proper ventilation. The specifications for many areas are detailed. Make sure you do your homework to avoid having to schedule a recheck.
Renew vehicle registration and inspect vehicle systems: Lights, clutch, brakes, engine, etc.
The frequency with which each of the tasks needs completing depends mainly on how often you are using your mobile kitchen. If you use your kitchen less than once a week or only during the summer months, many of these tasks won’t need to be repeated on the suggested schedule throughout the year.
A Note for Renters:
If you are renting a mobile food truck or trailer some of these tasks are especially paramount. Be sure to understand what your responsibilities are under your contract, as each owner’s expectations may be different. If you park in the same spot for a long time, it can be easy to forget that the truck or trailer still needs to be road-worthy. Oil changes and kitchen cleanliness are vital to successfully maintaining a mobile kitchen trailer for rent.
A Note for Messy Chefs:
It’s okay to have fun in the kitchen but make cleaning the ceiling and walls a priority. Most customers will get a glimpse into your cooking area while ordering. Splatters on the walls may scare away customers who don’t know what other messes they may not be able to see. It’s not worth leaving a negative impression. Other tasks may need to be done more frequently as well.
A Note for Stressed-Out Vendors:
To-do lists can be arduous and overwhelming when items remain uncrossed off. It might be a life saver to outsource some of the maintenance work. Mobile kitchen plumbing, for example, can drain hours of your time as leaks and blockages remain stubbornly unfixed. Hiring a plumber might seem like a luxury, but in the end, it can save you money. Wrapping your vehicle with a custom vinyl wrap is another way to cut back on maintenance time. Vehicle wraps protect your mobile kitchen from scratches and make advertising and setup that much more straightforward.
Maintenance often feels monotonous and never-ending. Make the chores fun by doing it with others and taking pride in a sparkling clean kitchen. Every mobile kitchen trailer or truck is unique, with different foods and vehicular quirks. There will be tasks specific to your setup you can add to this list. It sounds obvious, but you absolutely need to keep your mobile kitchen roadworthy and clean to remain profitable.