With smart sales forecasting, food truck owners can plan ahead for the varying levels of business in the future. With properly done sales forecasting vendors can avoid surplus staff and unnecessary food purchases and preparation which will result in a nice boost to your bottom line.
Catering jobs provide food truck owners with 100% certainty for much of the time and business is booked and already paid for. This allows you to achieve lower food costs and consistent staffing levels because you can work with the exact numbers of meals you will be preparing and serving. This allows you to make spot on purchasing and staffing decisions.
So how can sales forecasting allow you to lower your margins for every day operations?
10 Ways To See Into The Future With Sales Forecasting
Maintain logbooks & diaries. Record customer numbers, weather, special events, the pattern of customer visit etc. You can use previous data from these logs to guide your mobile food business for the next few weeks or months.
Make sure your food truck staff understand the numbers. Do they know how many more customers to expect if food traffic will be 25% busier than last week or down 33% from last month?
Keep an eye out for local events. Adjust your daily operation times accordingly (sporting events, concerts and local festivals). This can be a great time to find a location to park specially to catch the crowds.
Find good sources for local weather. Use a reliable mobile app for your smartphone, or the most consistent (they’re almost never right) television weather channels that show weather patterns 7 days in advance. This information will help you determine if you will you need extra staff on the weekend.
Track the effect of changes in temperature, snow and rainfall. You may have to adjust your cooking and turnaround times based on the temperature.
Become more flexible with staff schedules. Explain about how the forecasted changes can affect business, this will prevent it looking like an unfair policy when their shifts are increased or decreased.
Create a staff standby system. If one of your food truck staff members is on-call, pay them an agreed sum to be available. Not only will you will build staff loyalty but your costs will be lower, even if you occasionally pay someone for just being home and watching TV. This will give your food truck staff confidence that they won’t be cut back but might also start planning for some bonus shifts.
Reduce ‘just-in-case’ over-staffing. Prepare your Plan B for an unexpected rush – it may be more profitable to maintain normal staffing levels but institute a smarter queueing system and ways to turn over customers more quickly.
Long term sales forecasting:
Watch population changes in the areas you operate your food truck. This goes for both residents and workers. Census data can help; unfortunately it isn’t officially updated every year. Paying attention to local news and statistics provided by your local Chamber of Commerce will be a more reliable guide.
This can also give you a guide to negative events that could hurt business such as a large business relocating from one part of the city to another (or out of town altogether) could mean the loss of hundreds of potential customers.
Watch industry trends (you can find those here at Mobile Cuisine). Keep your mobile food business ahead of the game such as faster service, healthy options, the newest obsession with ingredients and flavors, and legal regulations. All of these changes can result in the type, preferences and number of customers your food truck business sees.
If you are able to keep your focus on sales forecasting and sales building, rather than reactive steps such as cost cutting: your food truck business will soon see the difference.