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Tap Truck 101: What You Need to Get Started in the Mobile Bar Business

Classic Taps

Our Tap Truck Introduction

The world of mobile beverage service is a dynamic and exciting industry, and one of the most unique and visually appealing ventures within this space is the tap truck business. Picture this: a vintage truck or van beautifully outfitted with taps pouring a variety of beverages, from craft beers and wines to cocktails and non-alcoholic options. It's a showstopper at events, parties, and gatherings. But what does it take to get started with a tap truck business? In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the essential elements that a tap truck needs to kickstart its journey to success.

A Clear Vision and Business Plan

Here at Classic Taps we believe in measuring twice and cutting once. Before diving headfirst into the world of tap trucks, it's crucial to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and a solid business plan to guide you along the way. Your vision should outline your company's mission, its unique selling points, and your target market. A well-structured business plan will include financial projections, competitive analysis, and growth strategies. It's your roadmap to success, helping you make informed decisions every step of the way.

The Perfect Vehicle

The heart and soul of your tap truck business is, of course, the vehicle itself. Consider choosing a truck or van that aligns with your brand image and can accommodate all the necessary equipment, including taps, refrigeration, and storage. Vintage trucks are often favored for their nostalgic charm, but modern vehicles can work just as well, especially if they can be creatively customized to reflect your brand. For Classic Taps we chose a 1966 GMC 1000 pickup truck. The truck had unique styling and a large enough bed to hold multiple kegs and our jumper box system.

Licensing and Permits

One of the most critical aspects of starting a tap truck business is navigating the complex web of regulations and permits. Depending on your location and the type of beverages you plan to serve (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), you'll need various licenses, such as alcohol permits, health permits, and business licenses. Compliance with local, state, and federal laws is non-negotiable and essential for the smooth operation of your tap truck. It's important to know your state's regulations! In the state of Tennessee, we need to operate as a dry hire. This means our clients must purchase the alcohol for the event. We are only able to serve alcohol on-site, not sell it!

Beverage Selection

The lifeblood of your tap truck is the beverages you serve on tap. Consider your target audience's preferences and curate a menu that caters to their tastes. Craft beers, local wines, signature cocktails, and refreshing non-alcoholic options should all find a place on your menu. Collaborating with local breweries and wineries can be an excellent way to offer unique and regional flavors, setting your tap truck apart from the competition.

Tap System and Equipment

A reliable and efficient tap system is the backbone of your tap truck business. This includes draft lines, taps, CO2 tanks, and kegs. Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure the quality and consistency of the beverages you serve. Don't forget to keep spare parts and backup equipment on hand to handle any unexpected issues that may arise during events. Many mobile bar setups will use whats called a jumper box or jockey box system. This is a cooling system that chills the beer as it flows through stainless steel coils. If you are interested in a jockey/jumper box system, check out ColdBreak! We have loved our 4 tap roto jumper box and it works like a charm.

Branding and Marketing

To stand out in the competitive world of mobile beverage service, you need a strong brand identity and effective marketing strategies. Develop a memorable logo and design that reflects your brand's personality. Create a user-friendly website and utilize social media platforms to generate buzz and connect with potential clients. Local advertising and collaborations can also help boost your visibility and attract customers.

Event Booking and Scheduling

Managing event bookings and schedules efficiently is essential for a smooth operation. Consider implementing a user-friendly booking system on your website that allows clients to inquire about availability and make reservations easily. Booking and scheduling software can help you keep track of events, prevent double bookings, and plan your staffing and inventory needs effectively.

Staffing and Training

The success of your tap truck business depends on your staff. Hire and train employees who are knowledgeable about the beverages you serve and capable of providing excellent service. Customer interactions are vital, so ensure your staff members are friendly, engaging, and well-versed in responsible alcohol service practices.

Logistics and Transportation

Transporting your tap truck to different event locations is a logistical puzzle that you'll need to solve. Develop a plan for safely moving your vehicle, setting up at events, and handling equipment logistics. You should also consider vehicle storage and maintenance when your tap truck is not in use. In most cases tap trucks are made from classic vehicles, they're old! We do drive ours if the event is close, however, a trailer will allow you to safely transport your investment from your place of business to your event!

Pricing and Revenue Model

Setting the right pricing structure is crucial for profitability. Take into account the cost of beverages, overhead expenses, and desired profit margins when determining your prices. Consider offering various event packages, such as flat-rate fees or pay-per-drink options, to cater to different client preferences and budgets. Pricing can be tricky and there are multiple ways to do it. Coming up with a pricing structure will take time. Just make sure its a model you're comfortable with. At Classic Taps we tend to use a flat hourly rate with additional fees such as mileage, cups, ice and an administrative fee.

Customer Experience

Creating an exceptional customer experience should be a top priority. It's not just about serving drinks; it's about engaging with guests, ensuring their satisfaction, and leaving them with a memorable impression. Encourage customer feedback and online reviews to continuously improve your services.

Safety and Responsible Service

Safety should always come first. Implement responsible alcohol service practices, have designated drivers for events, and develop emergency plans to address unforeseen situations. Ensuring the well-being of your clients and staff is a critical aspect of running a successful tap truck business.


Starting a tap truck business is an exciting venture, but it requires careful planning and execution. By addressing these essential elements – from having a clear vision and selecting the right vehicle to navigating legal requirements and providing exceptional customer experiences – you'll be well on your way to establishing a thriving and memorable tap truck business. So, take the plunge, and let your tap truck pour success, one event at a time. Cheers to your new adventure in mobile beverage service!

Written by Michael Elliott - September 9th, 2023

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1 comentario

Hannah Sears
Hannah Sears
26 sept 2023

As a dry hire do the clients have to literally go to the store and then hand it to you at the event and you just serve it or is that included in the price and you as the business can go get it so long as the client paid for it. Like say a wedding and you charge x amount does that include to go buy the alcohol or that price only for what you will use to make a cocktail or serve beer/wine.

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