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 tip of the day

tip of the dayUltimately the quality of the food you serve will draw people to your service window; however customers are far more likely to return for purchases of your menu items if they feel valued by the person selling it.

Under-appreciated customers will look elsewhere to make their next food purchase.

Reach out to each of your customers and make sure they know how important they are to your business.

Give them the opportunity to meet as many of your staff as possible. Have your service window staff thank them for their business and ask them to tell them a little bit about themselves.

When you or your staff creates an emotional connection with your customers, they are more open to hearing what you have to offer, and much more inclined to keep coming back for more.

This interaction needs to be genuine and shouldn’t never be phony or insincere.

Do you have a tip you’d like to share with our readers? If so, please feel free to drop us an email, a DM on Twitter, or a private message on Facebook and we’ll discuss how to provide your information in a future “Tip of the Day”.

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Food Truck Winter Storage

Although it isn’t quite Winter yet, recently we have noticed a few Twitter messages from food trucks around the country were preparing to shut down until Spring.

Unless your mobile food business is located in the warmer climate areas in the United States, the first frost is usually a sign that it’s time to start thinking about putting your food truck away for the winter. Proper storage of your food truck can save you a lot of work down the road.

In this article Mobile Cuisine will share a few food truck winter storage tips you should follow before packing your vehicle away for the winter. Come next spring, your vehicle will look great and perform well.

Before you begin, be sure when taking parts apart, to be organized. Keep similar parts together in a safe place where they won’t get lost and layout parts in a way that will allow you to put them back in the same order.

Food Truck Winter StorageFood Truck Winter Storage Tips

Make Safety Your Top Priority

Every vehicle is different. When it comes to maintenance and repairs always follow the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Make sure you have all of your tools and supplies before you begin – the last thing you want to do is go shopping when you have the car on the jack.

Safety should be your number one priority. Don’t smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or wear exposed jewelry while working on your food truck. Watch out for hot objects, sharp instruments, hazardous materials and other potential safety hazards in and around your workspace. Always wear a set of safety glasses, a dust mask and latex gloves.

Do not work with a Philips when the job calls for a flat screwdriver. Substituting tools can compromise your safety.

Finally, when the fun turns to frustration or if the job requires specialized knowledge beyond your abilities, seek the assistance of a professional mechanic. The last thing we want is someone getting hurt.

Perform All Repairs And Maintenance 

Perform any known repairs or maintenance on your vehicle. You don’t want to forget and find out the hard way on the first spring drive.

Change The Oil 

Change your engine oil and filter. You don’t want contaminants that have built up in the oil to sit in your engine all winter. Change the oil again when taking the truck out in spring to remove any condensation build up in the oil pan.

Fill The Tank 

Add a container of fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank and completely fill the tank with high quality gasoline. Drive a quick 10 miles or so to work the stabilizer through the entire fuel system.

Prevent Rust 

Spray hinges, crevices, and anything shiny with a coating of WD-40 to prevent rusting. This can be wiped off in the spring with a degreaser. If you are using a rust inhibiting coating on the exterior, it should be applied now. Let the vehicle sit for a few days before washing and waxing.

Wash And Wax 

You’ll want to do a complete and thorough cleaning before storage. Wash the car, inside and out.
Wax all painted surfaces with a high quality wax.

Remove Kitchen Equipment

If your mobile bistro isn’t going to be stored in a heated area this step should be followed. If any of your kitchen equipment is not bolted down, remove it from your food truck and store it in a secure heated area.

Clean all of the remaining kitchen equipment to make sure there is no food to sit and spoil over the winter. Prop open your oven and refrigeration units to prevent mold from building up and ruining this equipment.

Wipe Down Rubber Parts 

Wipe all rubber parts and seals with a rubber dressing to stop them from drying out and cracking.

Battery Maintenance 

At the very least, disconnect the battery cables. If your storage area is not heated, it’s recommended that the battery is removed and stored indoors through the winter, but always watch for the possibility of corrosive battery acid.

IMPORTANT - Before disconnecting a battery, be sure you disarm any alarms and that you have any necessary lock codes for the stereo or other electronic equipment.

It’s important to maintain the battery to prolong its ability to hold a charge as time goes by. Battery maintenance can be done in a few different ways:

  • Trickle charge the battery every few weeks with a battery charger.
  • Use a battery charger that has a “maintain” setting so the battery is kept at the right state of charge, but not overcharged.
  • Use a 12V solar panel and battery maintainer to constantly monitor/charge the battery.

Fill Washer Fluid 

Fill your washer fluid container with winter washer fluid to prevent freezing and cracking of the fluid container.

Keep The Critters Out 

Cover or plug the exhaust tail pipe and air intake tubing to prevent rodents from taking up residence. Steel wool works well, just remember to remove it before starting the car! Some people also like to use mothballs under the hood or in the trunk to keep rodents away. It’s NOT recommended to use mothballs on the interior of your food truck.

On The Ground? Off The Ground? 

Next you’ll need to decide whether to raise the vehicle for food truck winter storage or leave it sitting on the ground. Flat spots on the tires used to be the main reason to store a vehicle raised off the ground, but with modern day tires, this has become less of an issue.  Generally, if the truck is only parked for the winter, storing it on the ground should be fine. Over-inflating your tires by 5-8 pounds can help prevent flat spotting over the winter.

If you are raising it off the ground, you’re next decision is whether or not to remove the wheels. Some people prefer to remove the wheels when storing a car, rather than have them in a high traffic garage area where your rims can be damaged.

IMPORTANT – DO NOT use the parking brake when storing a vehicle. Parking brakes can seize over months of being left on.

Cover It Up 

First, leave the windows down a few inches to let the interior breathe then cover the truck. Covers should be a breathable, snug fitting material. Tarps or plastic are not recommended.

Make Sure You Are ‘Covered’ 

Adjust your insurance accordingly. Call your insurance agent and let them know your food truck has been stored. They can recommend the appropriate amount of insurance.

Do you have any additional tips for Food Truck Winter Storage? If so, please feel free to leave a comment below, Tweet us or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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food truck upselling

Upselling is an important part of any food truck’s marketing and sales strategy and an obvious way to boost revenue. However, there’s a delicate balance between offering helpful suggestions to your customers and becoming an annoyance.

Food Truck Upselling

Every mobile food business strives to ensure its customers have the most enjoyable dining experience possible, and therefore, the last thing service staff should do is overly push them to order extra things they may not want.

On the other hand, many times customers are very receptive to or even appreciative of a server who goes the extra mile to suggest additional menu items they may not have thought to order on their own.

So how should your food truck strike the right balance between too much food truck upselling and not upselling enough? Easy, follow thes four food truck upselling tips.

4 Food Truck Upselling Tips

Know the customer

Your service window staff should take the time to personally know their customers, especially loyal ones.

To do so, train them to ask certain questions that will allow them to better understand their customers’ personal preferences and then offer particular menu suggestions, accordingly.

Make the upsell enticing

When upselling, customers will only be excited about their server’s suggestions if they are.

To help service staff be more convincing upsellers, during your regular staff meetings try slotting out time for mock scenarios, whereby service staff can test and fine-tune their upselling techniques with each other.

Another great way to do this is by regularly featuring different menu items with visual photos on your food truck’s Facebook page.

Look for queues from customers

Typically customers will let their server know, even if subtly, how they are feeling throughout the dining experience. By asking basic questions, such as: “Do you know about our specials today?” will let the server know whether or not their guests are receptive to additional menu suggestions.

Make sure service staff is knowledgeable about the menu

Every member of your staff must know your menu inside and out to be effective upsellers.

This includes making sure they have an opportunity to try different food/drink items as well as briefing them prior to their shift about any changes or specials that have been added to the menu.

Knowledgeable staff and stellar server interaction is always a must.

With these basic tips and techniques, you can ensure that upselling provides your food truck with a nice additional revenue flow, without compromising the customer experience.

Do you have any additional food truck upselling tips that could help our readers? 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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favoriting tweets

So what is that star thing on Twitter and what does it do?

There seems to be a lot of food truck owners who haven’t really explored favoriting tweets or at least don’t see much value in starring tweets of others so here’s a quick intro to one of the most overlooked little gems of Twitter.

Favoriting TweetsWhat is a Favorite?

There is a small star under each tweet that allows you to favorite a tweet.

Everything else is open for interpretation and there lies the main problem. It isn’t readily apparent why a mobile food operator would use this. Is this a bookmark or a high five?

Favoriting Tweets: How to use them

The standard disclaimer applies: There isn’t a wrong way and this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Method 1: Save a tweet for later.

As a busy food truck owner knows keeping an eye on your twitter feed and reading the links that show up in it during the day can be a difficult task. Favortiing can help you save a link that you’d like to read but you don’t have time at that exact moment to digest the entire article. You can favorite the tweet so you can easily find it later and read it when it’s more convenient.

To see your favorited tweets just visit your Twitter profile and click on the Favorites tab.

Method 2: Show appreciation (give a little Twitter high five)

This is the method some owners I have spoken with prefer because it allows them to show appreciation to someone for their tweet without retweeting it. In my view, a retweet is for others whereas a favorite is for you and the author of the tweet.

Method 3: Create a “Reviews” archive

This is a great method for food truck owners- Favorite a tweet when someone says something nice about your product or customer service. You can use these tweets in the future on promotional displays, real and digital, and it’s a quick way to show off your positive user feedback.

Method 4: Create an archive of tweets

Twitter search is not quite as handy as most would like so if you want to create a searchable archive of tweets you can get the rss feed of your favorited tweets and plug it into Google Reader. Nifty huh?

Monitoring who is favoriting tweets from your truck

There are a couple of ways to see when someone favorites your tweets. The first 2 are the most common and the last 2 are my favorite.

1) Twitter.com now includes mentions in the tab formally known as mentions. Just make sure to uncheck the “Show mentions only” checkbox.

2) Tweetdeck will also display favorites in your replies tab.

3) Boxcar iPhone App – This app is how to get push notifications for everything Twitter. Its faster and more reliable, supports many services and comes with settings to set quiet times, sound notifications, and much more. Part of that more is the ability to get a push notification when someone favorites your tweet. It’s free and awesome. Visit Boxcar.io for more info.

4) Favstar.fm – A quirky but very useful service built completely around favorite Tweets. Authorize your twitter account to see who favorites your tweets.

So, do you favorite tweets? How do you use them for your mobile food business?

If this article encourages you to give them a try let us hear from you, or tweet this article and we might just favorite it.

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double your food truck profits

Growing a food truck’s sales is an essential goal of all mobile food businesses, however it is NOT the surest way to make a major impact on your short term profitability. Reducing the truck’s non-essential expenses is.

To double your food truck profits, a vendor with a net income of 5% of sales would need a minimum sales increase of 10% and likely as much as 15% or more.

Besides food, beverage and other variable costs, generating more sales would likely require additional marketing expenses as well as the use of some type of promotional discounting or coupons.

For virtually all food service industry businesses (including food truck and carts), the most effective way to boost profitability quickly and permanently is not by putting a hard push on sales but by limiting the amount of your unneeded expenses.

Double Your Food Truck Profits

Two of the most important functions of any mobile food business are:

  • Retain current customers
  • Attract new customers

Based on these assumptions, how much of your monthly costs and expenses are being directed toward supporting these two areas? Every mobile food vendor who can’t say, “all of it” or even worse, doesn’t know, is likely not maximizing their food truck’s profitability.

Over the past 4 years we’ve spoken with many food truck vendors and 99% of them were easily wasting 5% to 10% of sales on things that had absolutely no impact on their existing or potential customers.

If you are truly serious about doubling or significantly enhancing your profit, ask your accountant or bookkeeper (yes, ask yourself if you do the books yourself) for your year-to-date detailed general ledger. Then, account by account, line by line, invoice by invoice, check by check, examine each and every expenditure in your mobile food business.

On every item ask yourself, is this a “necessary” cost of retaining or attracting customers? It may help to look at your spending in terms of whether each purchase satisfies a “need” or a “want”. All food trucks “need” certain products and services to provide for their customers.

Conversely, “wants” often reflect the desires of management and staff. These costs are incurred primarily for the comfort and convenience of the management and staff, not the customer. Be objective and cut out what you don’t really “need” to be spending money on.

This simple, yet highly effective way to evaluate your costs and expenses is the easiest and surest way to double your profit in the future.

Do you have any additional advice to our readers on how to double your food truck profits? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your experience in the comment section below, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

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food truck tip of the day

tip of the dayRunning a food truck has its challenges; dealing with the competition is one of the biggest ones.

Diners don’t have to step up to your mobile food business – they could always go to another food truck or head into a local restaurant.

You need to remain mindful of this and do all you can to remain competitive.

Here are some points to bear in mind:

  • Play up your strengths and make them matter to your customers.
  • Analyse your competition (mobile and brick and mortar), determine their deficiencies and exploit them.
  • Close the gaps on your own deficiencies.
  • Continually create new points of difference.
  • Know your market, how your points of difference matter to them, and how to reach them.

Do you have a suggestion for a topic for us to cover in our Tip of the Day section? If so, drop us an email, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

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free google business listing
Many food truck operators seem to neglect any type of online business marketing for their truck if it isn’t part of their social media strategy on Twitter or Facebook. Unfortunately, those who do miss out on a fantastic way to be discovered outside of those channels, Google. Today we’ll discuss how to setup a free Google business listing for your food truck.

For those unaware, a first page listing on Google search results is the Holy Grail when it comes to search engine marketing.

Many companies invest large sums of cash to appear on the first page by advertising through Google Adwords. For example, to achieve the top ad position when a user searches for “seafood New York,” the advertiser is paying $2.35 each time someone clicks on their ad. This can become very expensive very fast. Wouldn’t it be better if there was a way to appear on Google for Free?

The good news is, there is, and Google wants you to do it.The Google Local Business Center is designed as a way for local business owners to provide information about their business, so Google Maps can deliver more relevant findings. But in the Google tradition of ‘more is better,’ it goes far beyond a simple location description.

This is an essential online marketing tool that is provided to your food truck business for nothing.Beyond listing your business, you can add important business information including your phone number, website, description, category, payment options, business hours and service area.

But it doesn’t stop there. You can also add photos and videos, and now they also give you the option to provide both printable and mobile phone coupons.

And here’s where it gets really interesting because they provide information on your results – how many viewed your listing, what actions did they take, and where did they come from. And did we mention this doesn’t cost you anything?

Here’s how to take advantage get a free Google business listing:

2. Click on “Get on Google” button
3. Sign In with your Google account. If you don’t have an account, it’s simple and Free to sign up for one.
4. Click on the “Add New Business” button.
5. From there, you start adding your information. It’s as easy as that. We suggest listing your food truck business’ mailing address because at this point there is no means to provide your mobile locations which may change daily.

The results appear with the “Local Business Results” map that you often find at the top of a search. Take the few minutes it takes and add your food truck to Google Local. We promise, it is well worth the time spent.

Do you have any other tips to sign up for a free Google business listing for other food truck owners? If so, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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customer satisfaction survey

Did you know that it costs three times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer happy?  Customer satisfaction survey cards can help you keep your existing food truck customers.

Very rarely do food truck customers speak with their mouths, they speak with their feet. When they’re unhappy, they simply don’t come back. Why? Could be bad service, price increases or a change in portion size. Most food truck vendors will never know.

Don’t spend big bucks on mass mailers, newspaper ads, and weeknight specials to attract new customers. Focus on keeping the customers who already know and love you. And if something does go wrong, set up systems to intercept unhappy guests before they walk away from your truck.

A well-executed customer satisfaction survey card system gives you the vital information you need, shows that you care about your customers, and offers a simple, hassle-free way to give feedback—good or bad.

Be creative. Design a customer satisfaction survey card that people will want to complete. Include a section for rating food, service and setting. Another section should include a space for short answer, open-ended questions. The last section should ask for customer information. Here’s where you can start building a valuable data base.

Sample Customer Satisfaction Survey:

Please rate the following areas on a scale of:

1 – Unacceptable
2 – Needs improvement
3 – Fair
4 – Good
5 – Excellent

Your server:
Friendly
Knowledgeable
Prompt

Food:
Portions
Taste
Presentation

Cleanliness:
Truck
Line/Queue area

Menu:
Variety
Description
Prices

Other questions to include:

What did you order today?

How often do you visit the truck?

  • First time
  • 1-4 times a year
  • 1-2 times a month
  • Once a week or more

Would you like to be on our email mailing list?

Please add any other comments that will help us improve your dining experience.

Encourage your customers to fill-in the card completely by giving incentives such as a complimentary dessert on the next visit. Birthday and anniversary “treats” are good incentives too.

You’ll increase frequency of existing customers simply by asking these questions and offering a “thank-you” gift to be redeemed at a future date. And equally important, if something goes wrong, you have the chance to make it right…almost immediately. Don’t let that customer walk away from your food truck for good.

Do you have any other suggestions or tips for the use of customer satisfaction surveys? We’d love to hear from you is you’ve got experience in this area. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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Menu Psychology
Image from Good Dog Houston

What do dollar signs, anchors and bacon have in common? They’re all menu psychology tactics used to make food truck menus more enticing to prospective customers, of course.

The bottom line is the bottom line: You want diners buying food. And you’re lucky; before your diners even decide what they’re going to order, you’re putting an advertisement in front of them, in the form of a menu or menu board.

Here are the top 6 tips of menu psychology that will lead your food truck customers to order what you want them to:
Don’t Use Dollar Signs

This is menu psychology 101: DO NOT use dollar signs ($$$) on your food truck menu.

We’ll repeat that if you missed it, do not use dollar signs on your food truck menus or menu board. It forces customers to focus on the price of the item rather than on the item itself. Is your menu a list of prices or of meals?

Columns Kill

One of the best ways to compare numbers is to have them all lined up. So give your diners a break and get them focusing on the food and not the price.

Columns force your diners to compare the prices of all your dishes, making them weed out the most expensive rather than focus on the most delicious.

However, pricing all your entrees around the same can be a good tactic to prove to your patrons that you are a fairly priced eatery.

Use Adjectives

While using simpler copy is certainly a trend, the words you do use must be precise. Dr Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab, found that descriptive labels on menu items increases sales by as much as 27 percent.

Bracketing

Bracketing is for the same-dish-that-comes-in-two-different-sizes trick. The two sizes prompt the diner to feel a bit worried that the smaller portion might not be enough and reassure them that for less than double the price, they can get twice the amount of food. Deal, right?

Well, sort of. If a customer doesn’t eat the extra food and doesn’t take it home to finish, then, both the food and the consumer’s money are wasted. However, if you’re the food truck owner, you just made close to double the profit off of that sale, simply by having two sizes.

The Upper Right Hand Corner

Just as with newspapers, the upper right hand corner of a menu is prime real estate. This is the first place a diner’s eyes go. Putting something especially enticing or your signature food truck dish there is a good call.

The Enhancer: Bacon

If your pork dish is listed just as a pork dish, chances are customers would glance over it and keep moving to the next item. However, when that pork loin is bacon-wrapped, everything changes.

Bacon is still a buzzword for many food truck diners. They always seem to be enticed to see what the tasty, salted pig-part has been paired with this time.

Do you have other menu psychology tips that have been successful for you and your food truck’s menu board? If so, please feel free to share you thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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Delete Archived Tweets

Recently, Twitter has pulled back the curtain and opened up its archive to the general public. By doing this they have made it possible for it’s millions of users to search through their records of every Tweet that has ever been published and delete archived Tweets.

According to the site’s engineering blog, Twitter’s search engine has indexed and archived nearly half a trillion sent tweets which date back from its launch in 2006.

delete archived tweets

Previously, the entire archive was only available to a few or Twitter’s partners, the Library of Congress and MIT.

Of course, while the general public archive can give food truck vendors a way to look back at previous Tweets and conversations, it also means that your earliest awkward stabs at tweeting can now be seen by just about anyone.

However, there’s nothing for you to worry about since there is a simple way to remove them from the record, if need be.

If you’d like to find out what you’ve posted without scrolling through for hours, you can download your food truck’s Tweet backlog.

This log will provide a live link to each original tweet, which can then be deleted…no matter how embarrassing they are

Other Ways To Delete Archived Tweets

There are many other options to remove large numbers of your Twitter history with apps (some free others paid) like Delete Tweets, Tweet Cleaning and Tweetinator, or similar services that require you to sign in with your Twitter account, such as Twit Wipe and Tweet Eraser.

Are you curious to find out how your early Tweets looked?

If you do proceed and delete archived Tweets or find anything interesting while digging though your old Tweets, please feel free to share your experience in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you find.

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