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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 tip of the day

tip of the dayIf you’re posting on your food truck’s Facebook page and not seeing engagement in the form of likes, shares or comments, you’re wasting your precious time. You need customer engagement if you want to continually be seen in the news feed. For those of you that didn’t know, the news feed is where all the action is on Facebook.

One simple way to boost your engagement is to use images to boost your status updates. If you want to know where your customers would like to see you park next week, take some images of the spots you are considering and ask for them to like or comment. Take the location with the most likes or positive comments and put it on your list of upcoming locations.

Another route you can take is to search for “blank” images like talking bursts, chalkboards and signs, and then add text to the images, in the form of a question for your followers to answer.

Images can be a fun way to amplify your questions and grab the attention of your customers.

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food truck catering difficulties

Catering for holiday parties, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and community events generate great opportunities for mobile food vendors to grow their business. Food truck catering offers opportunities for attracting new customers, extending your reach into your community and increasing profits, but vendors also face some challenges as well.

Food truck catering involves some different skill sets than your everyday food truck staff members normally use. These include greater people skills, planning abilities and the ability to use kitchen equipment outside of your truck that is safe, hot and appealing.

When determining how to approach catering for your truck, consider these food truck catering difficulties:

The Various Forms Of Catering

Food truck catering can consist of the simple packaging of your truck’s standard menu or include special party platters, custom menus, food deliveries and custom off-site menus for private parties. Simple carryout packaging of regular menu items is the easiest way for a food truck vendor to cater, and handling private parties at an event venue using the regular menu is only a bit more difficult.

  • Creating a catering menu that extends the regular menu without disrupting regular operations.
  • Off-site catering generates the greatest challenges to produce successful events while keeping regular restaurant service at its usual level of quality.
  • Choosing one or more staff members to communicate with catering customers and coordinate bookings and service can help to facilitate handling inquiries, but someone on duty should always be available to talk to prospective customers.

Catering On-site or Off-site

Off-site catering (jobs where you cook your menu at your commercial kitchen and end up bringing the food to the venue) generates some unique challenges. Planners must choose foods carefully because some dishes don’t travel well or hold up in chafing dishes. Some foods dry out, and others only taste best in those narrow periods when foods are perfectly cooked.

  • Seafood items become overcooked in chafing dishes and produce unappetizing smells when held. Always try to grill fish at the venue to order.
  • Fried foods become cold, greasy and soggy. Fry food on-site for best results.
  • Pastas dry out or become overcooked when held in chafing dishes for very long. Try casserole dishes, or boil pasta and add sauces on-site just before service.
  • Red meats grow cold if they rest too long and overcook if held in heated pans. Try cooking meats slightly underdone and let chafing dishes finish the process. Another option is to grill meats at the site.

Soups and chili, salads, fruit dishes, and braised foods work well for catering menus. Chicken dishes reheat well, and raw oysters are fantastic appetizers that are perfect for travel. Also consider creating a boxed lunch package for corporate lunches.

Special Diets for Event Guests

Accommodating special diets correctly has become an increasingly common challenge not only for catering but also for daily food truck operations. Make sure that staff members understand the right definitions of various special diets and prepare meals accordingly. Misinformation or staff mistakes could have serious consequences for your customers and your mobile food business.

Pricing and Planing for Food Truck Catering

Regardless of format, your staff will need access to basic equipment such as ovens, griddles, fryers, holding cabinets, steamers, refrigeration, and hot boxes to transport foods at safe temperatures.

  • Clear communications and careful scheduling prevent overworking your regular truck employees and risking a lack of staffing at a big catering gig.
  • Planning menu prices involves adding extra expenses such as delivery costs, mileage, equipment wear and tear and insurance.
  • Don’t take on projects that are too large for your truck or staff to handle.
  • Tiered pricing is a strategy that drops the cost per person as guest counts rise.
  • Custom pricing analyzes each project by its unique criteria to determine the price for each customer.
  • Fixed prices charge set prices for certain quantities of each dish. Prices might also charge by the head count.
  • Extra fees might include cake-cutting fees, delivery fees, server fees and set-up or take-down fees.

Food truck catering offers a great way to increase income and strengthen a truck’s presence in their community, but choosing the right strategy is critical to make a profit and prevent conflicts with your regular day-to-day food truck service.

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food truck suppliers

The strength of your mobile food menu depends on the quality of your food truck suppliers. It’s the vendors responsibility to handle customer needs, comply with government regulations and standards, and provide quality meals, all while keeping their budget under control. Without a food supplier you can trust, your food truck brand has no chance of getting off the ground.

There are a lot of food truck suppliers to choose from, and figuring out which one you should go with can seem pretty daunting.

Here are a few things to think about when choosing your food truck suppliers:

Product availability

Your food truck is about much more than just food. Some suppliers provide only food and beverage; some are limited to a single product like seafood or poultry, and some are providers who can supply everything your mobile food business needs from fresh produce to kitchen cleaning supplies. Whether to choose individual suppliers or a single food supply company is the first decision you’ll need to make.

Supplier reputation

Check online and with your local Better Business Bureau to find out if the supplier has any serious, unresolved complaints. Speak with other food service operators in the area to find out if they have dealt with the company. You can also search news stories to find out if any companies in your area have been responsible for negligent quality issues.

Checking company history can provide you with extra information. Most companies have an “About us” link on their website with information about the company and its history. How long a company has been in business, and how they present themselves, adds to their credibility.

Compare prices

Request a price quote or catalog from the suppliers you’re interested in and compare the goods you’re most likely to order. While it’s not a good idea to make a decision based solely on price, it should certainly be included in your evaluation. Compare prices on the items you’ll need most and look for cost effective solutions. Will butchering your own meat provide you a costs savings…and are you and your staff up to the task? How about cakes and breads? Are you better off baking from scratch or buying ready-made? Do you have storage space to hold items you can’t use that day?

What are current food trends?

With price lists from your local providers, you should be able to find a food supplier who offers everything you need. But do the suppliers you’re considering offer what’s hot in current food trends?

If the national obsession with items like ghost peppers and mango based sauces gives way to, say, pretzel buns, and your customers start asking, will you be able to get them? If not, your customers will be tempted to find another food truck restaurant for their cravings. In most cases suppliers who offer whatever’s hot today will offer whatever’s hot tomorrow.

What else do they offer?

The relationship you are encouraged to forge with some food truck suppliers is more like a partnership than a delivery service. Since supplier success depends on their clients’ success, they offer tools, information, reports, recipes, cost calculators, and other tools to help you manage your mobile food business, control costs, and track inventory. Information is a powerful business tool.

Ask additional questions

Now that you think you have a grasp on local food suppliers and you’ve narrowed your selection down to a few viable suppliers who carry or deliver the goods you need to your commissary or commercial kitchen. You’ve considered selection, price, and availability. Before you make the final decision, find out about their hours of operation if you do the shopping yourself or their delivery schedules, food safety standards, ordering and billing practices. The right food supplier will have answers to fit your needs and offer advice and support.

Choosing the right food truck suppliers is absolutely critical in your mobile food business success. The success of any food truck depends on the quality, safety, and value of the food they offer. There are always other considerations such as customer service, parking location and how well you understand the local customer base, but the bottom line is in the food you serve. If your food is outstanding, fresh, and hits the customer’s price point, the consumer will return.

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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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