Authors Posts by Richard Myrick

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 budgeting

When you begin planning for the start of a food truck business, you need to understand the various expenses you’ll need to plan for. Even if you have previous experience in the food service industry, you probably aren’t aware of all the things you’ll need to plan for when it comes to operating a food truck. Because of the difference in the businesses, consider the following expenses and budgeting for your new business.

5 Areas To Include In Your Food Truck Budgeting

Startup Costs For A Food Truck

There are a lot of things you’ll need to purchase up front that aren’t cheap. First and foremost, you’ll need a truck. These can cost anywhere from $10,000 – $150,000 for a used truck to over $200,000 for a completely new custom vehicle.

Related: Mobile Cuisine’s Food Trucks For Sale

After you have your truck, you’ll need to outfit it with the equipment you need to cook the food you plan to sell. If you’re selling pizza, you’re going to need some ovens and prep tables. However, if you’re selling ice cream or shaved ice, freezers will be key components.

Related: How Much Does It Cost To Start A Food Truck

Legal Requirements For A Food Truck

You’ll need to make sure you budget for all the legal requirements to operate a food truck. This will include city, country, and/or state permits. These permits cost varying amounts, depending on where you operate, so make sure to check with every municipality to plan to operate in to know the exact amount and how often those payments need to be made.

On top of your operational permits, you will need to account for insurance. Most municipalities require some sort of insurance for your mobile food business. The specific type and amount of insurance you have varies by state and city as well. Plus, you may decide that you want extra coverage that isn’t required. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have accounted for the coverage you need.

Related: Food Truck Insurance

Monthly Costs For A Food Truck

There are a number of ongoing costs you’ll need to budget as well. Are you paying employees? You’ll have to budget payroll. Purchasing ingredients is crucial, because if you don’t have these, you don’t have a product to sell.

You’ll need to purchase paper products. What you need again depends on what you’re selling. However, a good start is plates, cups, napkins, and plastic silverware. You’ll buy these items regularly, since they’re used by your customers every time they show up at your food truck’s service window.

Recurring Costs For A Food Truck

Other costs will occur frequently that you’ll need to budget. One of the most expensive things you’ll need to think about the cost to fuel your food truck. Depending on how often you move the truck every day, you may find yourself going through a full tank quite often. This won’t be a monthly cost, it will in all likelihood be a weekly or even daily, cost.

Also, unless you are well versed and skilled in vehicle maintenance, you are going to have additional costs for things such as:

  • Oil changes
  • Tire changes and rotations
  • Other preventative vehicle maintenance
  • Kitchen equipment repair or replacement

These items are critical to account for so you don’t have to spend time that could be spent on the road, in a mechanic’s bay.

Extra Costs For A Food Truck

It’s extremely important that you budget for extra expenses. If you don’t, you’ll be scrambling when problems come up. Consider adding an extra 5-10 percent of your budget each month for unexpected happenings. This gives you a buffer if there’s a problem. Some things to consider are extremely large repairs to the truck or equipment, having to hire a new employee, legal fees, and more. Each of these can cause a lot of trouble if you haven’t put money aside for problems.

I have never suggested that running a food truck is an easy job, but over the years of covering this industry, I can tell you it is extremely rewarding. If you carefully develop a budget for your food truck before you ever get on the road, you’ll have a much better chance of success.

If you’ve run into additional costs we’ve missed or things you’ve included in your food truck budgeting, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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first food truck employee

If you have big ambitions for your mobile food business, eventually (perhaps even at start up) you’re going to have so much to do that you can’t do it all yourself. When that day comes, it’s time to hire your first  food truck employee.

3 tips to help you manage hiring your first food truck employee:

Knowledge First

You can’t just hire people, pay them with a wad of cash every two weeks and then lather, rinse, repeat. Start by learning everything you need to know about becoming an employer.

The Small Business Administration outlines the steps you need to take and everything you need to consider, like getting an employer identification number (EIN), tax withholding, wage and tax reporting, employee eligibility verification, workers’ compensation insurance, quarterly federal taxes and record keeping requirements.

There’s a lot to think about, but it’s manageable.

Now that you have the government’s blessing, it’s time to work on a hiring strategy.

Define Roles

When making your first official hires, it’s better to go with clearly defined roles.

That means taking stock of the tasks that you need a hand with and creating a position in support of those needs. Are you going to be working in the kitchen or working directly with your customers?

The answer to this question will help you to determine what type of skill set you are looking for in your first food truck employee(s).

Mind you, a little flexibility doesn’t hurt and helping employees spread their wings can help you nurture your food truck staff.

Food Truck Business Culture

Another important factor to consider before making your first hire is your food truck’s culture.

What values, traditions and practices do you want to shape your mobile food business? Once you’ve figured out what kind of workplace and culture you want, the better your chances of finding someone who shares that vision.

Once you’ve determined what defines your food truck as a workplace, look for hires that fit the bill. If your employees share your vision, they’re more likely to excel in their jobs and all stick around long enough to help you succeed.

BONUS: We now provide food truck employers and those looking for food truck jobs a great way to meet. Food Truck Jobs at Mobile Cuisine is the perfect solution for employers who want people who have specific food truck experience. Post your food truck job today!!!

If you are an old hat at hiring, what tips would share with vendors looking to hire their first food truck employee? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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brand audit

Your food truck’s brand is the mental image that sticks in the minds of your customers as well as the consumers in the markets your food truck operates in. We’ve stressed this in numerous articles over the years, but for good reason.

Food truck vendors need to look at their brands as the sum of everything they and their staff does that relates back to their mobile food businesses.

Ultimately, it’s the culmination of your actions, communications and how the public perceives your menu and the experience they receive while at your food truck.

Because of the importance of branding to every food truck on the streets today, we put together a short list of five questions to ask yourself. By answering these questions, you will be conducting a quick food truck brand audit.

5 Food Truck Brand Audit Questions:
  1. A huge convention is scheduled to come to one of the cities you operate in; did other food trucks get invited to serve the attendees? Did yours?
  2. If you asked your staff members to describe your food truck in 5 words, would each description sound similar, or would each one say something completely different?
  3. Do all of your food truck’s customer touch points (web site, menu, truck wrap, and social media) use the same style of graphics, colors and typefaces?
  4. Have you reached out to a local food blogger, or local news media to have lunch from your food truck in the last 6 months?
  5. If your food truck was accused of food poisoning one or more of your customers do you have a crisis action plan in place?

If you answered no to 4 or more of these questions, you’ve got some work to do to correct these answers. Each of these questions relates directly to the branding opportunities you have control of and if handled correctly will take your food truck’s brand to the next level.

Do you have additional questions you think would work well in a food truck brand audit? We’d love to hear them. Feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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Food Truck Health Inspection

Although it may be tempting to put off certain repairs to your food truck or overlook a few minor health violations in hopes that the health inspector won’t pay you a visit in the near future, a better practice is to treat every day as the day an inspector will show up.

Today we provide some tips to keep that food truck health inspections spotless and those citation costs to a minimum:

Tips For Acing Your Food Truck Health Inspection

Inspect your truck every month

The best way for you and your employees to prepare for any inspection is by performing a self-inspection on your food truck every month. The saying “practice makes perfect” fits perfectly into any conversation about the health inspections your food truck receives.

When conducting self-inspections, you should take the role of the inspector and have another staff member take your role so your employees know what will be looked at and how they can help maintain your truck with minimal assistance.

Here are some tips for conducting your own monthly food truck health inspection:

  • Surprise your employees with an inspection.
  • Arm yourself with the right tools.
  • Use the local inspection sheet.
  • Start outside.
  • Give your truck the white-glove treatment.
  • Ask “why” questions.
  • Check your records.
  • Point out the positive as well as the negative.
  • Review your findings.
  • Schedule a mandatory staff meeting to delegate tasks

Within a day of your monthly self-inspection, or an official health department inspection, schedule a staff meeting to go over the findings. Make sure your staff knows this meeting is more official than your regular meetings. Be sure to have an agenda plus a time and action plan, and assign tasks to each employee regarding what needs to be inspected and cleaned in order to comply with health department regulations.

Figure out what to fix from the past

Use your previous inspection reports, which the health department provides upon completion of its inspection, as a guide to help you and your staff clean your kitchen,service window area, storage, and cooler areas.

Before an inspector shows up, he usually does the same thing and typically makes a point of reexamining these areas to make sure you’re keeping them up to snuff. Showing that you’ve taken care of previous issues tells an inspector that you take his reports seriously. Some health officials even speed up their inspections knowing that you’re willing to listen to them and follow their advice.

Ask for an inspection by an exterminator

Nothing will shut down a food truck faster than an inspector finding a cockroach or the remains of a little critter. Because rodents, flies, cockroaches, and other pests can contaminate food and food preparation surfaces, any evidence of vermin or insects inside a food truck can cause pointdeductions.

If an active infestation is discovered, the health inspector can shut down the establishment immediately and keep it closed until the problem is resolved.

Check your refrigeration

You and your employees open and close your food truck refrigerators numerous times throughout the day, causing their internal temperature to rise several degrees. If your refrigerator is set at exactly the minimum required temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit, the actual temperature may be several degrees higher by the middle of the day.

Consistently check the temperature inside the refrigerators to make sure your food is being stored at the proper temperature.

Another refrigeration area to look at is the drainage. Each week, make sure your drains are flowing freely by pouring boiling water into the bottom of the appliance to find and remove any clogs.

Keep your cooler shelves clean

The bottoms of cooler shelves have a tendency to collect grime, dirt, or residue from vegetables, meat, spilled milk, and so on and are regularly missed by cleaners. A lot of fairly new restaurants are found guilty of making this mistake during the inspection following their openings.

Every week, or as needed, fill a sink with warm soapy water, remove all trays and racks from the inside of the cooler, and wash them in the sink. Wash the inside of the cooler along the sides and bottom with the warm soapy water, too.

Check your water temperature

Over time, the water heaters used in food trucks can fail to reach their maximum water temperature. Although the water may feel hot to your touch, it may not meet your health department’s standard.

Why risk a mark against you during your inspection — or even a fine — if using a thermometer under your water tap monthly can help you avoid it? If you determine that your water heater isn’t producing water at its maximum temperature (check the manufacture’s guide for the specific data for your equipment), contact a licensed plumber to repair or replace the unit.

Clean your coffee mugs

Your personal coffee mugs or water cups that you have sitting around while you’re busy working the grill can be inspected, too. The problem probably isn’t a citable one, but any significant sign of dirt and wear can affect the way the inspector perceives your entire operation.

Make an appointment for an inspection

After you and your team have completed a thorough cleaning of the truck, call your health inspector and ask him to schedule your vehicle for an inspection. Let him know that you’re attempting to achieve a high health department score and that you’d like an inspection in the near future.

Due to their tight schedules, many inspectors will fit you in as soon as possible because they know they’ll be busy later in the year as new inspections, reinspections, and follow-up inspections are called for. And that way, you’ll know that your truck is as clean as possible during the inspection.

Inform your staff that the health inspector is coming

Make sure every one of your employees knows that the inspector may show up. Even if it’s a week before the scheduled inspection, make sure your employees are on their toes by monitoring the truck’s cleanliness and pointing out issues that need correction immediately.

Remind everyone to wash his hands frequently, and keep water splashed in the hand sinks. Nothing is worse than having your hand sinks dry when the inspector shows up. Also make sure you have hand sanitizer in the truck.

We hope these tips help you breeze by your next Food Truck Health Inspection. If you happen to have any additional tips that you have found helpful, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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8 Lessons For Future Food Truck Owners

When I was researching to start my own food truck (still in the planning stages) as well as the research I did for my book, “Running A Food Truck For Dummies”, I had the great fortune of receiving a lot of great advice from a lot of people with food truck experience.

In the spirit of sharing, I thought I would jot down some of the lessons I found the most helpful.

8 Lessons For Future Food Truck Owners

You can’t do it alone

Over the years you’ve heard about food trucks across the country as “one man” or “one woman” shows. The truth is there is no such thing. Sure, there are many successful food truck owners who came from backgrounds with very few advantages in life.

It’s also true that all of these people had to work incredibly hard to get where they are and they should be recognized for their hard work, but they still aren’t one person shows. No one is. Every single person who has experienced any degree of success in the mobile food industry has a long list of people they owe this success to.

You’re going to things that make you uncomfortable

Whether you have a fear of talking to strangers, or taking financial risks, being a successful food truck owner means coming up against your fears and doing what needs to be done. Every time you do something that needs to get done, despite being uncomfortable doing it, you’re bravely stepping up to the plate. Over time, the things that make you feel uncomfortable will become much easier.

Freedom comes with a price tag

There is a lot of freedom in being a food truck owner. When you work for yourself, you get to call the shots. You can take time off to do things a normal 9-5 doesn’t allow. But in exchange for these freedoms, you will have to put in long, hard hours. You may find yourself working harder than you have ever worked in your life.

You don’t have to step on other people

There is never a justifiable reason to speak poorly about your competitors, no matter what they may say about you behind your back or in public. One of the most satisfying things you can experience as a food trucker is uplifting other people, rather than pushing them down.

You have to learn how to say no

The ability to say no is crucial as a food truck owner. If you don’t master the art of saying no, sooner or later you will get burnt out and exhausted. You’ll eventually let staff and customers down if you attempt to keep up with everything. Commit only to the things you want and have the time to do well.

Flexibility is key

There are going to be times when things don’t go according to your plan. Look at your food truck business plan as a road map, and remember to leave plenty of time and space for detours. If you don’t bend, you’ll break.

Commitment is required daily

You don’t just commit to being a food truck vendor once in your life. You have to continually do it day in and day out. To take that a step further, there will be days when you have to recommit yourself multiple times a day. Doing what you love for a living sometimes means doing things you’d rather not.

You have the same amount of time as everyone else

Every food truck owner has a busy life, but most aren’t nearly as busy as they believe they are. In reality the problem isn’t that you don’t have enough time, it’s how you spend it. Try tracking everything you do for a week or two. See how many time wasters you can eliminate to make room for what you want to accomplish.

These eight lessons are just the start. There are a lot of brilliant people out there running food trucks, so I expect to keep learning every day I’m involved.

What have you learned that has changed the way you approach running a food truck? Do you have any additional lessons for future food truck owners? If so, feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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daily deals

Over the years, I have spoken with plenty of food truck owners that have tried using Daily Deal sites such as GroupOn and Living Social. When I ask them how they fared, most have told me that they felt it was a waste of time. The minority would reply that they got more than they expected, not only did they sell out but they were able to capture an entire new group of regular customers.

So how did these few food truck vendors get their Daily Deals to pay for themselves? Simply by taking control of the entire process. Today I’ll share some of their secrets and show you how.

As I mentioned the majority of trucks that have used sites like Groupon or Living Social have their own horror story to tell.

One dessert vendor (who will remain anonymous) had over 500 people purchase her 75 percent off deal on a dozen cupcakes.  Sounds great, right? Unfortunately she had only expected a couple hundred orders. The discount provided her with a $4.50 loss on each sale. Plus, she had to pay for the extra staff she needed to fill the orders for an extra 6,000 cupcakes.

We spend a lot of time researching food trucks and the various marketing avenues they take, and after hearing stories like this, we wondered why some many food trucks still use Daily Deal sites.

The common answer, “exposure”! As it was explained, many don’t expect to make any money off the actual deal, they just want to get customers lined up at their service window, get their brand noticed and recognized.

Unfortunately, in most cases those hopes aren’t met.

So how can you gain control over your next Daily Deal campaign and make it pay for itself?

Simple…Daily Deal sites are an excellent way to build your customer list. In fact, with the extreme discounts that many deal sites require, the deals need to be looked at less as coupons but more like free samples.

Think about it, free samples give your customers a risk free chance to experience your food. And if they really love it, they are almost certain to return…and pay full price.

Sure there will be the times where the only customers your Daily Deals attract are discount hunters. Don’t fret; this can actually work in your favor.

The key is, even if you’re giving your product away for free, you can still ultimately make money on the deal as long as you properly use your customer list.

Making Your Food Truck Daily Deals Pay For Themselves

Every time a Daily Deal user comes in to complete the transaction, you have to have a system in place to capture their contact information. While some might refuse, there are ways to increase their interest and make them want to give it to you.

The next step is to ask them for a testimonial. Even if they don’t order another item off your menu, they can become free advertising for your food truck.

RELATED: Build Your Business With Food Truck Catering Testimonials

Now here is the key; once you have their information, you need to send them out additional daily deals that you don’t offer the general public. These customers won’t be on your standard mailing list, but on a separate list that only contains the people who purchase your Daily Deals.

This is how you make them work for you. You take control over the process, and aren’t reliant on the deal site for future earnings.

When a customer uses their daily deals coupon…
  • Thank them for purchasing the deal.
  • Explain to them that occasionally you give out special deals like this … but to save money, you don’t offer them on the Daily Deal sites. You might just get the bargain hunter to become a regular customer.
  • Ask them if they would like to be notified of your future insider deals.
  • Explain that you only do a few each year, so you can calm any concern over excessive emails.
  • Assure them that you’ll never give or sell their email to anyone.
  • Give them a testimonial request card and ask them to fill it out before they leave.
  • Once you have their email you can also ask them if they want to be added to your regular mailing list. Explain that you have a regular email list for your weekly specials, recent news and changes in your menu.

Tada, that’s it.

For the price of one food truck daily deal, you’ve now got a list of customers you can continually sell to without having to purchase another.

Do you have any tips on how to make food truck Daily Deals work for vendors? If so, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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food truck debate

As our industry becomes more main stream throughout the country, more and more cities are beginning to look at starting a dialog to determine if food trucks have a place in their communities.

We have researched many of the common points brought up by those opposing mobile vendors. Although many of those against the rise of food trucks have ulterior motives that circle back to the brick and mortar restaurant industry.

If the industry is to continue its growth, we need to identify those issues, sit down and civilly discuss that food trucks are not the danger to restaurants and communities that many are trying to convince cities they are.

Food Truck Debate Issue 1: Food Trucks don’t pay rent

They may not have leases or rent payments as high as restaurants, but food trucks still have to pay for commissary space to clean and restock their “kitchens,” they pay for licenses, permits, food and staff.

In many communities, food trucks also are legally required to pay for rent on storage space and commissaries where they do most of the prep work.

In cities such as San Francisco, mobile vendors are charged upwards of $10,000 a year to maintain their licenses in certain districts. New York City has a limit of permits they issue to street vendors which include trucks and carts.

Outside of liquor licenses, cities do not limit the amount of restaurants which can operate within their city limits.

Food Truck Debate Issue 2: Food Trucks unfairly compete with restaurants

One of the most common complaints by dissenters is that Food Truck operator’s relatively low costs give them “an unfair advantage”. Before the recent uptick in mobile food vendors across the country, this occurrence in the restaurant industry was always referred to as a “competitive advantage.”

So long as the owner of a competitive advantage was passing the benefit of their “advantage” to their customers in terms of value both economically and the quality of their cuisine, this has always been looked at as a positive.

The fact that the mobile food industry has changed its perceived limitation as a “food of only convenience” is what has shifted consumer perception. The current emphasis on value in the market strongly favors the Food Truck model, and is what has attracted many consumers to the new generation of food trucks.

Food Truck Debate Issue 3: Food Trucks only go to trendy areas

Of course food trucks go to trendy areas, food trucks thrive in areas with high foot traffic, but at the same time, isn’t that what restaurant owners try to do when they open up?

They find areas where their business model has the best chance to succeed. Why should food trucks be held down to a foundation or lease if all they have to do is start up their truck and drive to another area where consumers spend their time?

It can also be said that trucks develop something close to cults. Food trucks have followers, the difference lies in their devotion and as shown to date, food truck followers will follow their food wherever it is, so new trendy areas can be created by food trucks that new restaurateurs can follow if they choose.

Food Truck Debate Issue 4: Food Trucks polute the environment

The longer the food truck industry is popular; technology will help it to become greener.

Many trucks around the country already run their vehicles off the vegetable oil they produce so as to cut down on oil costs for fuel and the emissions their trucks create. If they are so concerned about the environment, are they as critical of restaurants that generate upwards of 41% of their carbon foot print from merely heating and lighting their restaurants?

Dependent on the area of the country and what is their source of power generation, I’d certainly take a food truck that is driving around town on vegetable oil or biodiesel, over a restaurant that requires nuclear or coal based power generation.

Food Truck Debate Issue 5: Food Trucks generate excessive trash

This is an area where we may be in agreement currently, however the food truck industry is evolving. An example of this can be seen in San Francisco where the group Off the Grid has created lots for food truck festivals throughout the week.

When they started, they were holding 3 hour events where approximately 300 hundred consumers attended every hour, now they are holding 4 hour events with upwards of 700 consumers showing up every hour.

Their solution? Asking each vendor to provide a trash can outside of their vehicle as well as charging each truck a little more for their participation so the event planners can hire more assistance to help clean up the site.

Food Truck Debate Issue 6: Food Trucks create more traffic

food truck debateSince food trucks spend the majority of their operating time parked in a lot or a parking spot selling their fare, this point seems moot. Another way to look at this argument is that food trucks use social media to inform customers of their location from day to day.

Much of their sales come from people already in the area, as opposed to many brick and mortar establishments which get people taking taxis or driving themselves to the restaurant’s permanent location. Imagine the cuts in deaths due to traffic incidents if people stopped using taxis or personal vehicles to get to their food source?

These are far from all of the negative points driven by those who do not back the food truck industry, but we have found these to be the most common.

If you are aware of other topics which are used to attempt to dissuade municipalities from approving laws and regulations which allow food trucks into their community, feel free to share them with us in our comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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listening to customers

Are you like most mobile food vendors that are continually looking to build your food truck’s social media clout? Outside of creating buzz about the fantastic food your serve, one of the best ways to build a loyal following that keeps coming back as well as attract more customers is to make sure your followers know that you are listening to them.

Since Roy Choi’s Kogi BBQ started tweeting back in 2008, the savvy food truck customer expects to be heard by the vendors they do business with. These customers want to know that the trucks they frequent, have their best interest in mind when making product and service decisions.

Listening To Customers – 3 Steps To Prove You Are:

Ask For Feedback

The first step in the process needs to be a request for feedback. Make it easy for people to leave comments, ask questions, provide feedback and even submit complaints. Do this by using Twitter and Facebook as well as an easy to find form on your food truck website or a customer support email address.

Now the key is, not to just provide these communication tools, but to tell your local market about them. Make sure your customers, current and past, know how they can provide feedback and assure them that you want to hear what they have to say.

Act on Feedback

It’s never enough to just welcome customer comments. You have to prove to your customers that you are listening to them by actually taking their comments seriously and taking action whenever possible.

This will give them proof and helps you brand food truck business that takes its customers’ needs and suggestions seriously.

Of course, you’ll never be able to install every suggestion into your menu or schedule, and you probably shouldn’t. While you want to make changes to build your loyalty, you should not make changes if they will be bad for your business.

The actions you take can be as simple as using a different social media network, adding some vegetarian options to your menu or even add a few more stops to your weekly food truck schedule to reach people that want to want to give you money for the products you serve.

Respond Publicly

When you make suggested changes, or even in the cases where you can’t, respond to comments publicly when it makes sense. If you regularly see feedback from your customers on your Facebook page make sure you post your responses there.

Responding publicly gives you the opportunity to show off you awesome customer service skills and shows customers that you are listening and ready to answer.

Even if you can’t provide specific assistance online, respond with a comment that directs them to your food truck website, asks them to email you or provides some other form of assistance.

Showing your customers that you are listening will have a long term impact on your brand building efforts. It will help you build a loyal fan base, attract more customers and create a reputation as a food truck business that always puts its customers first.

Do you think we missed something in regards to show that you are listening to customers? If so, please feel free to share your suggestions in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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food truck profits

One of the most common mistakes made by first time food truck owners is to confusing the ideas of ringing up sales with making a profit. Some of the new mobile food vendors we’ve spoken with appear to believe that the number of tickets they ring up in a service is the key to success.

Unfortunately these vendors fail to take into account that while ticket count is important, the more important factor is to earn enough to cover their costs including paying themselves. Without making this their focus, they might as well be back in a job where they are working for someone else.

Everyone who starts a food truck understands the importance of making a profit, but somehow some vendors follow through with making this happen.

The first step in maximizing your food truck profits is to take profitability into account on every sale you make. Another big one is to keep the mobile food business’ operating costs as low as possible.

Once you can nail those two points, follow these rules to generate maximum food truck profits from each and every sale:

4 Tactics To Maximize Your Food Truck Profits

Make The Price Right

Many first timers think they need to undercut the competition to draw customers to their service window. This is certainly the quickest way to failure. If what makes your truck unique is that you offer the lowest prices, what happens when another trucks drops their prices below yours?

To develop proper pricing, dig into all of your costs (food, labor and overhead). Now take a look at what other trucks or restaurants price similar products. Don’t be afraid of being the most expensive as long as you offer items on your menu that justify your rates.

Push High Margin Menu Items

Understanding the differences in margin for each of the items on your menu is critical for shaping your profit plan. Many of the most successful food truck vendors boost their bottom line by pushing items that have lower prices but maintain larger margins. While the total sale maybe smaller, with each one, they put more money in their pocket.

Cross Sell With Higher Margin Items

Last month I spoke with a food truck owner that keeps track of the typical add-on menu items (think apps, sides, beverages and desserts) that are purchased when someone buys his most popular entrée (it’s also hold the highest margin for that menu segment).

These items help him increase the profitability entrée sales because they have even higher margins. So he instructs all of his service staff to push the idea of adding those items when customers only purchase an entrée. Since training his staff this technique he has seen his profits skyrocket.

Put Your Menu On A Diet

Food trucks don’t offer a lot of storage space, so why are you tying up this valuable real-estate with ingredients that might only be used in low selling, low profit dishes? By getting rid of your slow moving menu items, you can save space, prep time and money and put it into menu items with the highest margins?

There are plenty of other tactics food truck owners can use, but the key is always to keep your eye on maximizing your profit. Remember, it’s not how tickets you ring up, but how much you earn on each sale. Otherwise, when you run out of your working capital (if you have any at all), you’re truck will be out of business until you can come up with more money.

If you have any additional profit margin tactics that help maximize yours, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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social media time management

It seems from some of the most recent questions we’ve received that some food truck vendors are still having difficulty in improving their social media presence without having to spend more time than they thought they would to get anything accomplished.

Are you one of these vendors? Not to worry, today’s article is all about social media time management and was designed to show you how to streamline the time you invest with social media while still being able to build a strong online brand that draws customers to your food truck service window.

4 Social Media Time Management Tips

Downsize

One mistake I see some vendors make is joining every social network on the web and spending time to stay relevant on each one. If you are presently on what may seem like every social media platform, take some time to find out which ones are actually drawing customers in and interacting with you.

If there is no customer interaction on some, cut down or eliminate the time you spend there and focus more of your time on those that are more active.

If your customers don’t engage with you on Pinterest or Instagram, there’s no need to be there.

Once you know where you’re your message is being heard, pick two or three and don’t worry about the rest.

Speak With Your Customers

Spend some time engaging with your social media followers. Does is seem as most of them are not in your local area? If not, you could be spending your time engaging with people who may never spend a moment waiting in line for one of your awesome menu items. If this is the case you need to fine tune your approach.

Look at your updates that generate the most interest, and use those as a starting point for conversations. When you find a customer hot button issue, run with it. Be sure you share information that is both relevant to your food truck and beneficial for your customers.

You need to focus your social media communications on your customers to build trust and encourage interaction. This will lead to a creating social media advocates for your food truck business.

Consistant User Names

There are some vendors I found while researching this article that use upwards of 3 to five different user names on various social networks. Some even have several handles for Twitter alone.

Not only is this difficult to manage (unless you are paying someone to handle all of these accounts for you), but it also confuses customers which will ultimately dilute your brand.

Settle on a single username so people can easily find and follow you. Use your food truck’s name or a shorter variation. If you’re Your Name Food Truck on Facebook, don’t create a different handle for Twitter, keep it consistent.

Become Predictable

In social media it pays to be predicable. Create a schedule for posting on the social media networks you’ve chosen to have a presence. Choose times when you know your customers are most likely to see your posts.

Once you have your schedule in place, stick to it, it’s much easier to identify what to share in advance rather than trying to do it in real time.

Use the space in between your scheduled posts for customer conversations. Retweet or comment on things you like and thank customers who promote your food truck.

We hope this helps those of you that are having a tough time navigating all of the social media avenues available to food truck vendors. Time is one thing that we understand vendors don’t have in surplus.

If you have addition tips on social media time management, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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