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Richard Myrick

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Richard is an architect by degree (Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan) who began his career in real estate development and architectural planning. In September of 2010 he created Mobile Cuisine Magazine to fill an information void he found when he began researching how to start a mobile hotdog cart in Chicago. Richard found that there was no central repository of mobile street food information anywhere on the internet, and with that, the idea for MCM was born.

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food truck menu on facebook

Some of you may have missed it but a few months back Facebook announced that food trucks can now upload menus through SinglePlatform from Constant Contact to Facebook pages. SinglePlatform helps mobile food businesses showcase their most important information anywhere local consumers are making decisions online.

As a result, Facebook users can both find and “like” a food truck, in addition to view its menu to help them decide if they want to track them down. Considering that nearly 80 percent of online local-mobile searches result in offline purchases, this is a major benefit to food trucks promoting their mobile food businesses to Facebook’s over 1 billion active users.

food truck menu on facebookFor food trucks that already use SinglePlatform and operate in the U.S. or Canada, their menus featured on SinglePlatform will now automatically appear on their Facebook business page. For others, food trucks can upload their menus in PDF format to their Facebook page to take advantage of this new feature. (Handy guide on how to do it)

With this update, food trucks can take advantage of the size and influence of Facebook’s audience to attract potential new customers that search for places to dine in the areas you operate. Facebook makes it very easy to find new and existing food trucks.

Now that you have added your menu to your food truck’s Facebook page, here are some tips to further leverage this feature to your mobile food business’s marketing advantage.

Sending out an email blast inviting fans and customers to check out your food truck menu on Facebook.

Let your email list subscribers (see, I told you an email list can come in handy) know to check out your menu on Facebook, giving you a good reason to connect with them and increase social media engagement on your Facebook page.

Cross-promotion of your food truck menu on Facebook on other social networks:

Promote the menu on your Facebook page with your other social networks to expand its reach to more audiences. Using a free service like bitly, you can shorten and custom-brand your URL and track your response rates.

Sharing menu updates with customers and fans:

If you have updated your Facebook menu or added a new item, let your customers and fans know about it. Doing this gives you multiple opportunities to stay connected with your Facebook page community.

Starting up conversations about your menu with your Facebook fans:

After your Facebook fans have had the chance to view your food truck menu, ask them what they think about it. Facebook’s polling feature is a useful way to garner feedback about your menu from both potential new and existing customers.

Sharing photos from Facebook on Pinterest and Instagram:

Posting your food truck menu on your Facebook page gives you more reasons to sell the menu with pictures. Post new food and drink photos from your menu on your Facebook page and cross-promote them on Pinterest and Instagram, as well.

So how many of you are already using this feature? How many of you will be posting your menu on your Facebook page to boost your social media presence? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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food truck turnover percentage

With the mobile food industry continuing to grow we are constantly on the look out to assist both the owner operators as well as the customers of these rolling bistros. From time to time we run polls to gain industry information that truck owners can use to help better their customer service and the options that they provide to the communities that they serve. Other times our polls are set to find out general information “we” want to know.

The food service industry has always been a high-turnover industry. Turnover in the industry is defined as the percentage of the workforce an employer loses in a year, and in some sub sectors (such as fast food and fast casual), turnover is well over 100 percent.

This means that employers generally lose all of their workers in a year, and then lose another percentage of the workers who replace them in the same year.

The poll this week is to help us understand food truck turnover percentages.

To compute your food truck turnover percentage, divide the number of employee separations last year by the average number of active employees during the same period. Take your result and multiply it by 100.

Example: Last year your food truck had an average staff size of 4 employees and you had 6 separations (whatever the reason). Divide 6 by 4 (equal to 1.5) and multiply by 100.

Tada…you had a 150 percent turnover rate for your food truck.

Now it’s your turn. Once you come up with your food truck turnover percentage, enter the result in the poll below.

What Is Your Food Truck Turnover Percentage?

View Results

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We would also ask owners to share this link to this poll with other owners in your area so we can gain as much data as possible. Once we have this information we will share the findings with our readers.

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public relations basics

Most food truck’s across the country lack the cash to invest in an internal press staff, so as usual, this task is just one more job an already busy mobile food vendor needs to take care of themselves. So what is it that journalists want when you send them information about your food truck or an event you are going to be part of?

public relations basics

Check out our public relations basics list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts for pitching a story to the press about your food truck.

  1. DO some research and figure out the right reporter before you pitch a story. All reporters have beats and Associated Press also has national writers who specialize in certain areas, including business, entertainment, medicine, health, sports and lifestyles.
  2. DO make sure your story pitch is national in interest and sharply focused. AP is for national and international news. Stories about local food truck events and a new menu items developed by a local food truck aren’t AP stories — but they might be a better fit at a local publication.
  3. DO write succinct press releases, preferably with bullet points noting the time, place and date of the event and a FEW sentences explaining the “what” and “why” of the story. Every newsroom in America receives hundreds of press releases each day by fax and email. Long winded pitches fall through the cracks.
  4. DON’T shop your story around to multiple reporters at once. If one reporter turns down your pitch, it’s likely all reporters will turn it down. If a reporter can’t handle your pitch or it isn’t in their beat area but he or she thinks it has interest, the reporter will pass it along to the appropriate person. Please keep in mind, they talk to each other and pass along pitches all the time.
  5. DO tell reporters that if (despite no. 4) you’re sending a pitch to multiple people within the same newsroom. If a reporter begins a story based on a pitch, only to find out one or two other reporters in other departments or beats have done the same thing, this will make reporters more cautious the next time you pitch something.
  6. DON’T call to follow up on a pitch. If they are interested, they will call or email to let you know.
  7. DO take no for an answer. Nothing drives a reporter crazier than getting multiple pitches for the same story from the same person after they’ve said no once, twice or even three times or having a spokesperson argue on the phone over a “no” response. If you accept a no this time, maybe the next time they will work with you. If you drive them nuts when they are on deadline, that won’t happen.
  8. If you really have a great story, DON’T wait until the day before, or even two days before, to pitch it. The best stories may require a week or more of planning and reporting. Too often, pitches that could have been a good story, but we are first notified of them the day of the event or the day before. That’s just not enough time to turn around a story, alert all the editors, coordinate any video or photo coverage and edit the piece.
  9. DON’T assume you know everything about pitching the media. Media is ever changing and fast moving. With the proliferation of news sites on the Internet popping up daily, news comes in many forms and we can all learn a thing or two!
  10. DO be consistent and send news out regularly. One day your food truck story may be the one that gets chosen to follow.

If you and your food truck follow other rules that would fit into a list of public relations basics, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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discover local flavors

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about using local ingredients and products as a way food truck owners can separate themselves from the competition. Today I want to take that idea a step further to discuss local tastes or better yet, how to discover local flavors to inspire your next food truck creation.

If you’re a mobile food vendor looking for a way to excite potential customers and create a niche in the community you operate in, there might not be any better way than researching local flavors. Every town has the typical list of fast food, fast casual, burger joints, diners, and pizza places. What’s a better way to stand out (other than having a kitchen is on wheels) than offering something specific to the region your food truck calls home?

Discover Local Flavors

What this means depends on the course of meals you serve from your truck as well as where you typically park. Regardless of the ingredients, flavors, and dishes that are native to your hometown, a strategy like this means moving away from developing a menu based on the demand of the masses and toward a food truck menu based on something unique that people might not realize they want.

If this sounds risky, that’s probably because it might be. But it’s not as though using unique flavors and ingredients means making and serving weird food. You can use local influence to put your personal twist on a popular, mainstream dish.

Consumers Have Changed

If you’ve missed it, the average consumer has developed much more interest in the flavor of the food they purchase. Food truck customers typically ignore the old standbys and safe choices. They are a demographic that enjoys watching food television, trying new cuisines, and exploring food establishments that previous generations may have passed by.

The era of the celebrity chef has taught television watching foodies how to be adventurous and try the best local food any given place has to offer. When it comes to your location, that could be your food truck; that should be your food truck!

Research Local Flavors

If you’re looking for something new to add to your food truck menu, it might be time to study the flavors and ingredients that are indigenous to your local community. Speak with local farmers or better yet, if you have a local food historian (yes they exist) track them down and find out the food history of your area.

Determine how you can use the history of food and the local ingredients and flavors to influence your menu. Think about different twists can you put on old favorites to make them truly local, truly worth the locals tracking you down at next food truck location or for those traveling to seek out your food truck service window on their way through town.

I’m betting with the ingenuity I’ve seen come out of the kitchens of food trucks around the country; you can come up with something absolutely amazing.

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temporary food truck employees

Afraid of new hires, especially those that will be temporary food truck employees during your busy months? Get a grip. What might scare you is their numerous questions or ideas about your food truck business but don’t take their questions the wrong way.

Maximize The Time With Your Temporary Food Truck Employees

Take advantage (not in a bad way) of your temporary food truck employees and keep your ears open to ways you could improve your food truck business with these easy steps.

Don’t be embarrassed, let them help

Bringing in a new hire can be like opening your house to a stranger. Some of the clutter and improvements you’ve been putting off are now front of mind and part of someone’s learning environment.  If there are things you haven’t had the time to finish, let them jump in and help out. Fresh energy and a new perspective can take that misused storage space in your truck or kitchen from a crazy mess to an organized masterpiece.

Don’t shut down ideas

It’s easy to get comfortable in a routine and not want to change. But having a fresh set of eyes to evaluate your work flow or systems can give you the extra push you need to go from good to great. If your new employee comes in with a new idea to promote your truck or to help your customers, try it out. If it doesn’t work, thank them for their idea and tell them to keep it up. Feeling encouraged will keep them thinking about your mobile food business as a whole and not just about clocking out.

Make sure you get to know them

Starting a new job can be scary for them as much as it is for you and your other staff members. Make sure your new hire feels welcome. If they have questions or ideas they don’t feel comfortable bringing up to you, they can share with a co-worker first to get their opinion and gain a little confidence before sharing with the team.

New or temporary hires can be a great resource for your food truck business. Invite them in and welcome their ideas to make for a beautiful summer.

Are you looking to staff up for a big event or during your truck’s busy months with temporary employees? Feel free to place an ad with us in our new Food Truck Jobs section.

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creme bruleee fun facts

The internet is full of fabulous facts about everything from current events to the history basket weaving. Because of this, as we research for our daily content on food trucks, food carts and street food, we stumble upon some items of knowledge that we just did not know. We have decided when these fun facts pop up, that we would share them with our readers in our section titled “Did You Know?”

For today’s Did You Know we will look at Creme Brulee fun facts.

creme brulee fun factsThe Facts: Creme Brulee (also known as burnt creamcrema catalana, or Trinity cream) is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It is normally served at room temperature.

  • The earliest known reference to crème brûlée as it is known today appears in François Massialot‘s 1691 cookbook.
  • July 21st is National Creme Brulee Day.
  • In the early eighteenth century, the dessert was called “burnt cream” in English.
  • Crème brûlée is usually served in individual ramekins. Discs of caramel may be prepared separately and put on top just before serving, or the caramel may be formed directly on top of the custard, immediately before serving. To do this, sugar is sprinkled onto the custard, then caramelized under a salamander broiler or with a blow torch.

Creme Brulee fun facts we missed?

If so, please feel free to let us know in the comment section below. We always love to add to these lists. If we can verify that the facts is just that, a fact, we will give the reader credit in the article.

Reference: Wikipedia: Fun Facts about  Creme Brulee.

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take you for granted

You know you are a good boss. You’re fair, you keep your emotions in check and you care about your food truck staff. Unfortunately over time some staff members will take you for granted. This could result in feeling entitled to extra favors, and assuming you make so much money it doesn’t matter. So how does this happen and how can you make a change?

For most food truck employees, if you don’t give them rules and reasons why policies and procedures are in place, they will make up their own. If you don’t provide them, they’ll ask someone else, or base decisions on what they did in their last job and many of these assumptions will be wrong.

7 Common Areas Where Food Truck Staff Take You for Granted

Here’s a quick list of some of the most common problems I have seen over my time working in the food service industry. Do any of them ring true in your food truck and need your attention?

  • Left-over food taken home. I have always found it funny how there’s always a little extra left over after a shift when truck owners allow this policy. If you notice your food costs being higher than planned a simple change in rules needs to be instituted. I’m all for offering staff meals, but not full take-out orders.
  • Continual roster swaps. No one loves organizing shift schedules, and it’s very easy to let staff members make fixes and changes themselves. Unfortunately you can bet that eventually you will end up in a miscommunication and will be short staffed with nobody to cover. If you don’t have one in place already, it’s time to create a Swap & Request Book. It will still need your supervision, but this system is much easier for everyone keep informed and your truck properly staffed.
  • Tardiness. I’m sorry but texting that you will be late 15 minutes before your shift just won’t cut it. If someone continually is late it’s time to give someone an official warning. Everyone knows who the offenders are, and if nothing is done will wonder why it’s tolerated.
  • Phone use. We understand that almost every one of your employees will have a phone with them while on shift, the key is to regulate when they use it. Any time a problem surfaces nip it in the bud before it becomes bigger. Even though for some staff it may be like taking away one of their limbs, if you have issues where staff members are using their phones at the wrong time…have them turn them off and place them somewhere out of their reach. Share the rules and make sure there is secure storage for phones not being used.
  • Poor grooming. Not to come off as stodgy old man but some of today’s common cultural grooming techniques just don’t fit inside a mobile food service business. For men, the daily shave now seems to be optional. If you’re growing a beard, let it grow (but don’t forget a beard guard if you are preparing food). But if you only bother to shave twice a week, it’s now time to make it daily. Your staff manual may need more explicit guidelines, with pictures and clear examples of what’s OK and not OK. Discreet facial studs and rings are also common, but the role of the owner and a food truck’s staff is not to alarm the customers – do you need to tighten up on multi-colored hair, big rings and studs or ear tunnels? It’s not discrimination to enforce a common set of guidelines.
  • The truck is a mess, and it’s not busy. The famous saying, “if there is time to lean there is time to clean” needs to be regularly enforced – do you have a cleaning checklist posted in the truck? If you don’t, it’s time for a change so develop your own.
  • Playing off owners (or managers). As kids, we all knew which parent to ask for certain things, and when. The same thing happens in the business world. You certainly don’t need a 10 page policy on every instance, but there certainly needs to be clearly written directions. If you and your partner and/or managers are getting played by your staff members, put a list together and write up the standard response. Maybe it will be just for the two of you, or you can add it to your food truck policy handbook.

I hope these tips can help food truck owners prevent themselves from being taken advantage of by their employees. If you have any additional areas that I missed, please feel free to add them to the comment section below.

Looking to fill a position in your food truck or restaurant? Place an ad with us to find experienced candidates.

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Mentoring For Food Trucks

Many food truck owners start off with the perfect menu but very little practical business experience. That’s why SCORE (Service Corps. of Retired Executives) provides mentoring for food trucks.

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses grow (including those in the mobile food industry) and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.

Founded in 1964, the organization boasts approximately 400 chapters across the United States. There are four types of mentoring that a current or prospective food truck owner can use, face-to-face, over the phone, by email and teams. They cover the gamut of small businesses and if one mentor may not specialize in one aspect of running a mobile food business, they can easily put you in touch with someone who can.

Their mentoring members cover a wide number of skill set areas, everything from senior management to technical skills to operational human resources.

Their mentors are heads of organizations and have worked for powerful companies. In addition to the weekly mentoring available, SCORE offers low cost classes such as, “The Buzz About Creating Your Own Business,” “How The Right Information Can Make You A Lot Of Money,” “Get More Customers With A Great Marketing Strategy,” and “Making Your Business Profitable, How To Find The Cash In The Cushions.”

These classes are designed to take a novice and teach them how to get all the key tools in place to ensure they’ll be successful. SCORE mentors present the information as well as provide the necessary steps to implement it. For food truck business owners looking for mentoring on a less structured business, SCORE also offers mentoring by appointment which varies from city to city.

The Treats Truck – NYC

For Kim Ima, it was love at first sight – not with a person, but with the idea of the Treats Trucks. Kim wanted to spend her days baking delicious cookies, brownies and other treats and then serve them on the streets of New York, her adopted home town. “It combined my love of baking, my love of treats and my love of the city,” Kim says. “The more I thought about the idea and how it could evolve, the more I wanted to do it.”

There was only one problem; Kim had no idea how to get her idea rolling.

Kim went to SCORE and researched potential volunteer mentors before she requested a meeting with Elliot Merberg. It was then that Kim’s vision was closer to becoming a reality and ultimately did become just that.

Kim worked with Merberg on a wide range of startup issues and other things she needed to consider as she put together the business plan for Treats Truck. “Sometimes when I met with Elliot and he didn’t know the answer to a question, he simply asked someone else to come over and help us,” Kim says. “There were always plenty of people with specific experience to draw on.”

Merberg also helped Kim manage the emotional ups and downs that come with starting a new business. “When I got over-enthusiastic, such as wanting to start with two trucks, he’d advise me to slow down and focus on starting with one,” Kim says. “When I got frustrated about something and was too hard on myself, he’d show me how things were actually going OK.”

Become a SCORE Mentor and provide mentoring for food trucks

Are you, or have you been, a food truck owner? Do you enjoy sharing your experience to others?  Are you willing to commit 10-12 hours per month assisting other culinary entrepreneurs start or expand their mobile food business dream?

If so, SCORE would love to talk with you. You could join a team of local mentors who counsel clients throughout the country, one of which is probably close to you.

To become a SCORE volunteer, go to www.score.org. Or follow them at Twitter@SCOREMentors We hope you’ll consider joining the ranks of 13,000 other volunteers nationwide and become a SCORE mentor and help the mobile food industry continue to grow.

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food truck catering testimonials

What someone else says about the quality of the catering your food truck provides is far more believable to a customer than what you can say about your own mobile food business. For most people, buying catering services from a food truck is a relatively option and can be filled with anxiety.

Unlike your Yelp listing, there are no “rating” services for food truck caterers for individuals to gain confidence in your catering quality or level of service before they buy.

Food truck catering is a major purchase for most people. A lot of money is spent without any real assurance the catering will be as it’s promised to be. This is why testimonials from previous clients are extremely crucial for the success of your food truck catering especially when buyers fear making a mistake they might regret.

Food truck catering testimonials are important because shoppers gain confidence to buy and then are able to assess blame to others if something goes wrong with the event. Think about why you ask others for recommendations before you buy or don’t buy an expensive or important product or service. It’s because you are in search of the good, bad or inside tips on the product or service.

3 ways to use food truck catering testimonials:

  • Place testimonials throughout your food truck website, not just in a special separate section. Spread them throughout your site and mix them in with your other content. If possible add a photo from the event the happy client is referring to and label it as such.
  • If you use a large photo album or portfolio to show clients your past events, don’t hesitate to place testimonials in this album in such a way that they will see them as they turn the pages in the photo album. Don’t put testimonials in a special section in the back of the album. Mix them in with the photos. Also, take time to talk about them in the same way as you do about the photos. Every testimonial has a story behind it.
  • If prospects come to your office, (if you have one), you should have your walls flooded with framed letters and notes from happy clients. Take time to talk about these testimonials or take one down from the wall for the prospect to read before you start your sales presentation. Also, don’t be afraid to place testimonials you received via email on the wall for all to see.

Do you show off your food truck catering testimonials to sell your catering services? How do you do it if different from these suggestions? We’d love it if you shared your tips with our readers in the comment section below.

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Cinnamon Snail

Can anyone unseat our two time reigning Vegetarian Food Truck champ Cinnamon Snail?

Today we are announcing a new contest which will allow our readers from around the country to name America’s favorite vegetarian or vegan food truck or cart for 2014. In last year’s contest we had a fantastic turnout and our final winner was The Cinnamon Snail out of New York City.

Do you have a favorite truck in your area, or have you read about a cart that is at the top of your list to try out the next time you are in their area? Nominate them today!

We will be gathering submissions until Friday, July 25th at 12 AM CST. Once we have all of the submissions, we will determine your top 10. 

At that time, we will provide a poll which will once again, allow you to vote for your favorite. The results of this poll will determine the winner. The winning truck will have a profile interview posted on Mobile Cuisine.

Please be sure to add Vegetarian/Vegan Mobile Food Vendor in the subject line. And list your nomination in the body of your message.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

You may submit as many entries for the same or different food trucks as you like for this portion of the contest. The form may clog due to the number of users at one time, if you run into any issues, please submit your votes to contest@mobile-cuisine.c0m.

To be eligible to be part of this contest, the truck must have been open since May of 2014 and the majority of the truck’s entree items must cater to vegetarian or vegan diners. We upset some readers in the past who felt that only trucks with exclusive vegetarian/vegan menus should be included. We disagree, and will stand by rule for this for this years nominees.

Please, help us spread the work and tell your friends and family about this contest.

Our Previous Winners:

2011

Purple Carrot

Twitter: @eatpurplecarrot

The Purple Carrot is a Farm to Truck mobile dining destination specializing in locally grown fare. Join us for unique, seasonal and delicious eats!

East Lansing Michigan · http://www.thepurplecarrottruck.com

2012 & 2013

The Cinnamon Snail

Twitter: @VeganLunchTruck

The Cinnamon Snail is the country’s most raunchy mobile Vegan Organic restaurant! Blasting supreme bliss & zany antics all over NYC, & dirty Jersey

Hoboken NJ, Red Bank NJ, NYC · http://www.CinnamonSnail.com

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