Do you want to start a fashion truck? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to open a fashion truck business with no money or experience.
Fashion truck business is a subset of the boutique industry. Fashion trucks are mobile boutiques that can travel from one location to another, opening their business on wheels and selling to customers along their routes or in a location they choose to park for a period of time before moving on.
Please note that if you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you. You also need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to get all the information you need before you can legally open a fashion truck business in your city.
You can start your fashion truck business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do and you are ahead of the trend in the fashion industry, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.
Steps to Starting a Fashion Truck Business
Understand the Industry
Fashion truck business is a subset of the clothing boutique industry and fashion trucks are mobile boutiques that can travel from one location to another, selling to customers along their routes or in a location they choose to park for a period of time before moving on. An ideal fashion truck has a fitting room and some are even equipped with air conditioning.
The clothing boutique industry is made up of small retail stores that retail a limited range of apparel and fashion accessories.
Please note that the clothing boutique industry is defined as single-establishment stores only. Boutiques can be designer based (i.e., only one designer’s collection is sold there), or they may sell a mix of brands that are specifically catered to the local market.
Clothing boutiques primarily cater to high-end or niche markets and are reliant on strong macroeconomic conditions. Businesses in the clothing boutiques industry are defined as having only one location and basically focus on providing high-end or niche products to consumers.
Since the products sold at clothing boutiques typically come with a high price tag, the industry is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in the macroeconomic climate. For example, an increase in per capita disposable income generally has a positive effect on industry revenue.
The Clothing Boutique industry in the United States of America depends on strong consumer spending to spur the demand for industry products. Over the last half decade, the economy has begun recovering from recessionary declines with both the Consumer Confidence Index and disposable income increasing.
Going forward, as the economy of the United States continues to recover and consumers are expected to loosen their discretionary budgets, the industry is anticipated to thrive. The Clothing Boutique industry is a thriving sector of the economy of the United States and the industry generates a whooping over $18 billion annually from more than 74,015 clothing boutiques stores (clothing trucks inclusive).
The American Mobile Retail Association (AMRA) has approximately 500 fashion trucks spread across all 50 states. The industry is responsible for the employment of over 42,647 people. Experts project the industry to grow at -1.8 percent annual rate between 2014 and 2019.
The market for the clothing boutique industry is open to all stakeholders because no clothing boutique has the lion market share in the industry.
Lastly, if you choose to start a fashion truck business or a mobile a boutique, your permit needs will vary from state to state and city to city. You will need some permits for the legal operation of your business, such as a business license — though not all cities or counties require one — and you will need to register to collect sales tax.
In a nutshell, the fashion truck business is a profitable business and it is open for any aspiring entrepreneur to come in and establish his or her business. As a matter of fact, with the right locations and network, you will just be fine with this business.
Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who patronize fashion truck businesses cut across people who reside in your location of operation, tourists, visitors and of course park operators. In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but all the residence and businesses in your area of operation.
The bottom line is that when it comes to clothes and fashion accessories, there are no restriction to the market demography.
Clothes are required by humans from birth until they die. It is clearly observed that females spend more on clothes than males; the average female has dresses that they spend much to buy but will never get to wear them more than twice until they discard them.
Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Most fashion truck businesses tend to retail a wide range of clothes and fashion accessories. That is why it seems like there are no niche areas in the industry. But on the other hand, players in the fashion truck or clothing boutique industry may decide to specialize in any or all of the following;
- Vintage clothes and fashion accessories
- Women’s clothing
- Men’s clothing
- Children’s clothing
- Footwear (Shoes, Canvas, Sandals and Slippers et al)
- Other fashion accessories (belt, handbags, sun shades, caps, hats and wristwatches et al)
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The competition that exists in the clothing boutique industry goes beyond competition amongst fashion truck businesses; you will be expected to compete with other players in the industry that also sell clothes and fashion accessories.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you have trendy clothes and fashion accessories, your workers are well – trained, your customer care services is top notch and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.
Know Your Major Competitors in the industry
Here are some of the most popular fashion truck businesses in the United States of America;
- Le Fashion Truck – Los Angeles
- Street Boutique
- TopShelf – San Francisco
- Therapie Boutique – San Diego
- Lodekka – Portland
- The Vintage Mobile – Dallas
- Bootleg Austin
- The Trunk – Nashville
- StyleLiner – New York City
- The Fashion Truck – Boston
- The Fashion Mobile – Minnesota.
When it comes to starting a fashion truck business, you just have to get your costing cum economic analysis right if your intention of building the business is to generate profits, grow the business and start selling franchise. When conducting costing and economic analysis for your fashion truck business, you just have to critically examine these key factors; place, pricing, and promotion.
As a matter of fact, you have to continue to review these key factors at regular intervals while running your fashion truck business. As fashion truck business owner, you just have to have a proper grasp of your competitive landscape if indeed you want to maximize profits and be in the frontline of the industry.
It will actually cost you around $70,000 to start a small-scale fashion truck business, and you should be ready to spend an average of $1,000 each month for gas, maintenance, and parking. The bottom line is that fashion truck business is not a green business, as a matter of fact, you will come across several fashion trucks when you go shopping for clothes and fashion accessories.
So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey on what is required to purchase a truck and the amount needed to stock your fashion truck with a wide range of clothing and fashion products from different designers and brands that are in demand in your location, and also the cost to successfully run the business.
Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful fashion truck business as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is expensive buying the franchise of a fashion truck business, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.
But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the industry, then you might just want to start your own fashion truck business from the scratch. The truth is that it will pay you in the long run to start your fashion truck business from the scratch.
Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business. Please note that most of the big and successful fashion truck businesses around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.
Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own fashion truck business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established fashion truck businesses and also brick and mortar boutiques and other outlets that retail clothes and fashion accessories. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
Some other threats that you are likely going to face as a fashion truck business operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies maintenance cost, and the arrival of a competitor within your location of operations and global economic downturn which usually affects purchasing/spending power.
Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When considering starting a fashion truck business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.
Generally, you have the option of choosing a general partnership, or limited liability company for your fashion truck business. Ordinarily, general partnership should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale fashion truck business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have clients from all across your city, state and the United States of America if you choose to go into franchising, then choosing general partnership is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.
Choose a Catchy Business Name from the Ideas Below
When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own fashion truck business in the United States of America, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Melvin Moore® Fashion Truck, Inc.
- Look Good® Fashion Truck, Inc.
- All Fashion© Fashion Truck, LLC
- Macy Mackey™ Fashion Truck, Inc.
- Fashion on Truck® Fashion Truck, LLC
- Dioecy Jason™ Fashion Truck Group
- Stacey White© Vintage Fashion Truck, LLC
- Mobile Fashion® Mobile Boutique Ltd.
- We Move® Fashion Truck, Inc.
- Nancy Fred® Fashion Truck, Inc.
- Amy Emma© Fashion Truck, Inc.
- Charity Tyson® Vintage Fashion Truck, Inc.
Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.
Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own fashion truck business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Workers’ compensation
- Physical Damage Insurance
- Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
- Motor vehicle insurance (comprehensive insurance)
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
You can contact the following leading insurance companies in the United States of America to purchase the needed insurance policies for your fashion truck business;
- Allstate Insurance Group
- Liberty Mutual
- Progressive Insurance Group (PGR)
- Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)
- New York Life Insurance Company
- Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
- MassMutual (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company)
- Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Protect your Intellectual Property with Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own fashion truck business, usually you may or may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection / trademark.
This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties. But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection.
If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When it comes to operating a fashion truck business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to open and operate a fashion truck business in the United States of America.
All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of managing the business. On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to manage your fashion truck business pretty well, then by all means try and pursue such certification.
Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you.
These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Appropriate driver’s licenses for drivers (Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- Assistant’s licenses for assistants
- Proof of ownership, proper identification and vehicle license
- Business Plan
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a fashion truck business is relatively capital intensive, hence entrepreneurs willing to start the business ensure that they raise the required startup capital from all available legal means. When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan.
If you have a good and workable fashion truck business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business. Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your fashion truck business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for loan from your bank
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Choosing a location for a fashion truck business can be in two phases. Firstly, it must be located in a city that has robust demography and also in a city that a attracts a good number of tourists and visitors and also has good road network.
Indeed, locations has great influence on the success of a fashion truck business. If you have taken your time to study the Clothing Boutique industry, you will realize that fashion truck businesses are willing to stay in a metropolitan city and of course a busy tourist locations.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you choose to open your fashion truck business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consist of people and organization with the required purchasing power and lifestyle.
If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a warehouse facility with parking space for your fashion truck business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business and perhaps spend more to drive through the city.
It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor.
Having said that, these are some of the cities in The United States of America where you can locate your fashion truck business;
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Los Angeles, California
- New York City, New York
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Seattle, Washington
- Dallas, Texas
- Oregon, Florida
- Washington, District of Columbia
- Boston, Massachusetts
Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
There are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for well-equipped trucks, POS and software applications. You will also need computers / laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an operational base or warehouse with enough parking lots, the size of the fashion truck business you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), Manager, Merchandize Manager, Professional Drivers (Truck Drivers), Accounting Officer, Sales Girls and Sales Boys.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 2 to 5 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard fashion truck business.
Please note that you would need the services of automobile servicing and maintenance engineers. If you are just starting out you may not have the financial capacity or required business structure to retain these professionals. Hence you are expected to contract out some roles.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
When it comes to buying and selling stuffs, there are no hard and fast rules about it. Basically, it is the duty of the merchandize manager to help the store stock goods (a wide range of authentic women’s clothing, men’s clothing, children’s clothing, footwear and fashion accessories et al) from different manufacturers (brands) all across the globe.
They go out there to source for good purchasing deals and they also ensure that they do not only purchase at the right prices that will guarantee them good profits, but also purchase clothes and fashion accessories that are in demand in their business location.
Once the fashion accessories and clothes are bought, they are properly arranged in the fashion truck for customers to see and purchase. On the other hand, they are also expected to deliver orders made by clients if such services are available.
Stocks are taken after the close of business every day and account are balanced. This will enable them place demand for more clothes and fashion accessories from the warehouse.
It is important to state that a fashion truck may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated fashion truck business process is not cast on stone.
Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
The fact that the entry barrier for starting a small – scale fashion truck business is not too high means that there is bound to be more players in the industry no matter the location you choose to start yours. In essence, you must come up with unique marketing strategies if you must carve out a market for yourself within the available market in your community, city, state or country.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience in the Clothing Boutique industry, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your fashion truck business;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to park operators, fashion enthusiasts, households, residential estates, and players in key industries within your location of operation
- Open your fashion truck business with a party so as to capture the attention of residents who are your first targets
- Engage in roadshow in targeted tourist centers from time to time to market your goods
- Advertise your services in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business on The Fashion Truck Finder and yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your fashion truck business
- Engage in direct marketing and sales
- Encourage the use of word-of-mouth marketing (referrals)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business
- Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you.
Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you sell your products at rock bottom prices is to purchase your goods directly from the manufacturers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantity of goods you purchase directly from the manufacturers, the cheaper you tend to get them.
Another strategy that will help you sell your clothes and fashion accessories at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products and services.
So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.
Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The availability of a wide range of authentic women, men and children’s clothing, footwear and fashion accessories et al from different manufacturers (brands) from all across the globe in your fashion truck, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.
Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base. Over and above, ensure that your fashion trucks are well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and your product can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.
Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always.
If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.
If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive complaints and feedback from them).
Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your fashion truck business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and fashion related magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community – based events
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your fashion truck business
- Install your Bill Boards in strategic locations all around the locations where you operate
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- List your fashion truck business in local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise your fashion truck business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
- Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the locations where your fashion truck business operates.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your fashion trucks are well branded with your company logo et al.