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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grits 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 Grits fun facts.

grits fun factsThe Facts: Grits are a ground-corn food of Native American origin, that is common in the Southern United States and eaten mainly at breakfast. Modern grits are commonly made of alkali-treated corn known as hominy.

  • Grits have their origins in Native American corn preparation. Traditionally, the hominy for grits was ground by a stone mill. The results are passed through screens, with the finer sifted materials being grit meal, and the coarser being grits. Many communities in the United States used a gristmill until the mid-twentieth century, with families bringing their own corn to be ground, and the miller retaining a portion of the corn as a fee.
  • September 2nd is National “Eat Grits” Day.
  • Three-quarters of grits sold in the U.S. are sold in the South, throughout an area stretching from Texas to Virginia, sometimes referred to as the “grits belt”.
  • The state of Georgia declared grits its official prepared food in 2002.
  • “Charleston-style grits” are boiled in milk instead of water, giving them a creamy consistency.
  • Grits are usually either yellow or white, depending on the color of corn. 

Grits 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 Grits.

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food truck mistakes

I’ve begun to meet more and more food truck owners that have transitioned from the military into food truck ownership. It seems that a career in the military is becoming a great training ground for picking up a spatula and running a food truck business. The fact is part of life in the military is that these individuals learn early that they have to deal with both private and public tongue-lashings from their superiors.

As a military veteran myself, I can tell you that this type of experience turns out to be great training for the mistakes that can be made in the operation of a mobile food business. In the military, you have to get out in front of mistakes to minimize their damage. It’s no use to hope that mistakes will disappear or someone else will take the blame. Likewise, successful food truck owners have always learned how to deal with mistakes by getting out in front of them.

The typical food truck business is not set up with the same structure as the military and the results of mistakes are not nearly as catastrophic, but the pressure to perform can be just as great. Success in the mobile food industry will eventually grow confidence but those who excel in vending can have trouble dealing with mistakes as they happen. However, the best way to deal with food truck mistakes is get out in front of them and start the process of moving past them as soon as possible.

Getting In Front Of Food Truck Mistakes

Dealing With Customers

When problems occur at the service window, a common first reaction is to hope they’re not so bad, or that they’ll go away. In fact, the only way you should deal with is to address them quickly. Problems with customers are never easier to deal with than just after they first happen. The costs for avoiding them are far worse.

  • Customers can be angered by the failure of a manager to take responsibility.
  • Online reviews can damage a truck’s reputation and keep others from visiting your food truck.
  • Mistakes that aren’t corrected are likely to happen again.

The right way to deal with a customer complaint is to make it right, apologize, empathize, and be sure you’ve made it right. Military members are taught to check their pride at the door. Food truck owners and managers should learn early to do the same thing.

Dealing With Ownership/Employees

The fact is that any vendor will appreciate an employee who owns up to a mistake right away. Everyone makes mistakes, more importantly; this industry is full of potential pitfalls. Unfortunately when owning or managing a food truck many will only get noticed when something goes wrong.

Everyone who has worked in this industry can attest that a thousand things can go awry on a given day. Mistakes are constant with food trucks that get a high volume of customers. An owner or manager who admits to errors immediately will endear themselves to employees and ownership. Those who don’t appreciate someone who admits to a mistake shows that they are unfamiliar with the inner workings of a food service business.

Creating Positive Opportunities

The best possible way to look at mistakes is that they provide you as the vendor way to make amends with a chance to impress your customers and turn the situation into a positive. The first thing you have to do is admit that a mistake has happened, and then repeatedly attempt to make it up to the customer. An overcooked menu item can be quickly followed by:

  • A properly meal
  • A free dessert
  • A free beverage
  • A five-minute friendly discussion
  • A personal correspondence the following day (phone, email, social media, etc…)
  • An invitation to come back for a free meal

In most cases, the food you serve off your truck isn’t the only place in town where a consumer can order it. But this level of service is impossible for most of them to find. Getting out in front of your customers can convert a missed opportunity into a long time loyal customer.

Do you have any other suggestions to getting out front of your food truck mistakes? Share them with us in the comment section below or Tweet us and post them on our Facebook page.

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food truck website features

Your food truck’s website design matters. In the days before the Internet a printed menu was usually the first point of contact between a food service business and its potential customers. Today, however, a food truck is more likely to make its first impression via its website. When people hear about, read about, or drive past your truck and become curious, they will likely pay a visit to your website before ever showing up at your service window.

The following is our list of food truck website features that every mobile food business website should have in order to provide customers with the information they’re seeking.

10 Must Have Food Truck Website Features

Make It Mobile

Step number one is to make sure your food truck website can be found by everyone no matter what type of device they are using to track down your truck. Not only should your website be designed to show well on a pc or laptop, but you need to make sure the millions of smart phone users get the same experience.

Related: Top Responsive Food Truck WordPress Themes

A General Overview

A basic introduction to you and your food truck is an absolute must. Even if you think the name of your mobile food business is self-explanatory, people still seem to appreciate how you describe yourself. If you have any unique selling points (locally sourced or seasonal ingredients, vegetarian options, etc.) now is a great time to mention them.

Locations

While food trucks don’t normally have permanent locations, consumers need to know where you are, and how to get there. You don’t need to provide directions from every part of town, but an address, or intersection, and link to a direction-giving site like Google Maps is very helpful indeed. As if you didn’t know this already, you need to include a photograph your truck, so first-time visitors will recognize it easily from the street.

Hours

Basic stuff, here. If a diner is looking for the location your truck is parked a particular day, they need to know what time you’ll actually be there. Make it a priority to stick to your schedule to avoid upsetting customers who attempt to track you down to find your truck isn’t there when your website told them you would be.

Menu

The food you serve from your truck is your business. If ever there were an influential and unique selling point, it would be a mouth-watering menu. Words and images will paint a picture, here. Don’t just scan a paper menu into an annoying PDF file, either – invest in having a digital menu designed to complement your physical one.

Photos

A picture speaks a thousand words. Show what you’ve described in your menu, and make the imagery so vivid that it wants to track you down ASAP. Show off your food; show the inside of your truck, your staff, and your baby…the truck itself. The food is the star, but give prospective customers a preview of the experience they can expect.

Social Media Accounts

Another no-brainer. Food trucks can live or die with the proper social media marketing strategy. Why not make it easy for your customers to find your social media accounts so they can follow any updates you may provide along those channels.

Catering & Contact Info

If you make it easy and painless for people to book your truck for a catering event they’ll be more likely to do it. Provide an easy-to-find phone number, of course, include an email contact form.

Tesimonials

As I’ve discussed before, nothing gives a wavering customer a little nudge more than seeing that a friend or neighbor that had given a truck a glowing review online. Take your positive reviews from sites such as Yelp or social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and transfer them to your website for all to see.

Related: Embedding Twitter Testimonials on Your Food Truck Website

New Content

If you have each of the items above you are going to have a very informative website, but the last ingredient I feel food truck owners need to add to the mix is not just having a static website that only is changed with monthly calendar or menu changes. Provide your customers a reason to keep coming back. Run a blog on your site to share the news of your business and let the community get to know you better.

Related: Developing a Blog for Your Food Truck Website

Did we miss an item that you feel is important to any food truck website? If so, please share them in the content section below, Tweet us or on our Facebook page.

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food truck insurance checklist

When you’re in an auto accident in your food truck, it can be easy to forget what information you need — you’re shaken up and rattled and in many cases wondering how the accident will affect your mobile food business.

But for your insurance company and that of any other people involved, carry a copy of the following list in your glove compartment so that you get all the information you need to protect yourself and expedite your insurance claim to assure you are back on the road with your mobile bistro as quickly as possible.

Food Truck Insurance Checklist

  • Date and time of accident
  • Accident location (take photos if you have a cellphone with a camera)
  • Name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number of the driver of the other vehicle
  • Injuries (for each person)
  • Name, address, and phone number of each witness
  • Police department responding, including phone number
  • Police case number
  • Police officer’s name
  • Tickets issued (if any)
  • Name, address, and phone number of each passenger in your vehicle
  • Name, address, and phone number of each passenger in the other vehicle
  • Name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number of the owner of the other vehicle (if different from driver)
  • The year, make, model, license plate number, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the other vehicle
  • The insurance company, insurance agent (name and phone number), and policy number of the other vehicle’s driver
  • The insurance company, insurance agent (name and phone number), and policy number of the other vehicle’s owner (if different from driver)

We hope this food truck insurance checklist will help you in a time of need. If there are any additional items you feel are important but have been left off our list, please share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

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food truck sales lessons

Most of the food truck owners I have met over the years don’t come from jobs in sales. However the most successful vendors seem to be the most effective salespeople I have had the pleasure to meet.

You may have a great menu and your marketing plan has you parking in great locations and engaging with your social media fans and followers, but you may be missing on key factor in taking your food truck business to the next level.

Part of owning a food truck requires that you learn how to sell to products and services. You need to be able to get walk ups or prospective customers to not only walk up to your truck, but you need to learn how to close the deal resulting in them making a purchase.

If you spend as much time outside of a food truck as I do, you will realize that most people walk by, but a precious few stopped to ask questions or actually order.

Here are 5 tips to create a simple sales format that will not only get more people to stop at your food truck, but also make a purchase.

5 Simple Food Truck Sales Lessons

Engagement

Position yourself or one of your employees where you engage the people walking by your food truck. Greet everyone (and I mean everyone) who makes eye contact with you. A simple, “Hi there. How’s your day going?” Simple, authentic and effective.

Qualification

When people stop, ask a simple question to engage them. “Do you like (insert your cuisine here)?” In most cases you’ll get a yes. Now follow up with, “Do you (one dish off your menu) or (another dish off your menu)?” At this point to your menu at the item that fits the customer’s preference.

The Pitch

Now is your chance for your 30 second elevator pitch. Explain your truck’s concept and any of the extras that you different than any other truck or restaurant that serves the same cuisine. (Think local products, organic, non-GMO, scratch made, etc…). The presentation should well-rehearsed but at the same time exceedingly conversational.

Related: Developing Your Food Truck Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The Close

The close doesn’t need to be complicated. “Would you like to order a (the item they suggested they preferred)? It’s just $10.” Make sure you deliver the question with a smile on your face and act as though their answer will be “yes.”

Get Referrals

Alright, now that you’ve made the sale, your job isn’t done. Hand every customer a business card with your website and contact information, then ask them to post their thoughts on the dish on their social-media networks. There’s nothing like getting online referrals from happy customers.

While you may not think you are a salesperson, as a food truck owner you need to understand the basics of the selling process. You must exude passion for your menu and willingly put yourself outside of your comfort zone to connect with customers and ask for the sale.

Have you used one or more of these food truck sales lessons, or are their others you employ? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

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get local media love

In numerous articles we have stressed the importance in building and maintaining relationships with your local media outs. Today we will look at how you can show reporters you respect them and, in turn, help to get local media love with you and your mobile food business.

Here are 10 steps to get local media love:

Invite Them To Eat Your Food

Nothing will endear you and your truck to a reporter’s heart more than offering them some of your delectable offerings.

Take note: Make sure you make it right. This type of peace offering can surely backfire if you hand a media member a food item that isn’t cooked properly or even gets them sick.

Help Them

This could include offering additional resources for a story such a customer or another local food truck reference, a link to a video explaining your truck, your background, the truck’s logo or compelling image, results from a survey with data on the food truck industry, and so on. This makes it easier for them to do a story. After all, if you make their jobs easier, they may keep coming back for more.

Rapid Response

We understand your schedule is always busy, but when the media asks for something, be ready to send it as soon as possible. Don’t make them wait three days for a photo or other request. Think and prepare ahead to be ready with whatever they may ask for. They’ll appreciate it and be more likely to turn to you in the future.

Be Yourself

Nothing will turn off a reporter more than if they feel you are not being sincere with them. Formulated answers and a fake bravado will certainly put you on their favorites list. Humility and sincerity are great traits to show the press especially if they come from the heart.

Get To Know Them

Do a little research to see the types of stories they write and the topics they cover. If you do this prior to initially introducing yourself, it will help you craft a better message and maybe even stand out in their crowded mailbox.

Email Email Email

According to the reporters we’ve spoken with, they prefer to be pitched via email vs. social media. So, why not go with that instead of trying to pitching them in 140 characters?

Please & Thank You

If they do respond to your pitch, make sure you thank them for their time and interest. Also, ask them what stood out in your pitch that attracted them to follow. Maybe it was a great subject line or perhaps it was simply good timing. That way, you can use the same type of approach in your next attempt.

Don’t Be A Pest

Sure, it’s alright to send a follow-up email. Wait a few days or a week after your initial message, but whatever you do, don’t pepper them with multiple emails, calls and social media messages? This is a quick way to find your messages in their email trash cans.

Build A Relationship

Make yourself a valuable resource for reporters; they’re more likely to turn to you in the future when they’re looking for help with another story.

Don’t Get Offended

Members of the media receive multiple pitches each day of the week. Sometimes, your story just isn’t going to get followed up on, no matter how hard you push it. You’re competing for their time with every other small business or food service establishment in your community. Just take solace in the fact that in some cases you’ll win and in others you’ll lose.

Be Likable

Showing respect for a reporter’s busy schedule and deadlines, thanking them for their time (see above), and keeping in touch all go a long way toward making them fall in love with you and your food truck business.

Related: Spread The Word About Your New Food Truck With Local Media

Have you used other approached to get local media love in your area? We’d love to hear your story. Feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

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    Tteokbokki

    So you want some Korean street food, but don’t have the time to jet over to Seoul. Why not give it a try in your own kitchen. Tteokbokki is a traditional Korean street food which can be usually purchased from street vendors.

    If you want to find a food truck truck that serves Tteokbokki, the next time you’re down in the Orlando, FL area, a food truck to track down is the Korean BBQ Taco BoxTteokbokki is a common side dish they offer with their fusion dishes.

    While the recipe I’m sharing with you today isn’t the Korean BBQ Taco Box Tteokbokki recipe, I’ve done a little work in the kitchen and came up with this variation. Once you’ve tried it out in your kitchen, let me know what you think in the comment section below, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

     

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    accounting tips

    Unless you were an accountant before deciding to become a food truck owner, the word “accounting” probably makes you a bit uneasy. For new food truck owners, this feeling is usually much worse. After all, bad bookkeeping when a business opens not only puts you in a hole in the short term, it can come back to bite you in the backside over time. Don’t forget; even start-up food truck businesses can get audited.

    Now that we’ve made you feel even more uncomfortable, there are ways you can avoid having your tax submissions getting flagged by the IRS. Here are a four beginner accounting tips to help start your mobile food business.

    4 Accounting Tips For New Food Truck Owners

    Make It Part Of Your Schedule

    In the same way that you go through your email every morning, or in the same way that you tirelessly prep for each day in your truck, make your accounting work a habit. Set a recurring alarm on in calendar: “Review The Financials!” The frequency you do this is up to you, but you need to set aside time for accounting at least once a month, if not more.

    Learn The Jargon

    The terminology of accounting can seem like it’s another language and in some cases it is. Accrual? Imprest System? Key Ratios? Accounting jargon isn’t usually in the average person’s day to day vocabulary.  So take some time to understand the basics. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Center is a great place to start.

    Find The Right Software

    Find the accounting software that you feel comfortable using. Don’t simply grab the first one you find. Research the various options you have and relate them to the way in which you will be using it? Do you have POS system that will provide financial reports? Find software that is compatible with these reports.

    Look For Advice Locally

    Chances are, if you spend enough time trying to figure out an accounting issue, you could. But the reality is, you’ve got a food truck business to operate. Since you need to file taxes quarterly (not just annually) you need to place a bit of urgency to get these issues solved. Speak with other local food truck or restaurant owners in your area. The years of accounting they have seen will probably lead to an answer faster than any other place you look.

    Food truck owners familiar with the SCORE program offered in communities across the country have used this group as a local resource to get accounting questions answered.

    Another route is to set up food truck owner working groups where you can invite a local accountant to speak on common problems the group members run into. Look for an accountant or bookkeeper who specializes in food service businesses. If nothing more, they’ll be a voice of comfort if you receive some alarmingly confusing IRS mail.

    Once you have taken these steps you’ll realize that accounting doesn’t need to be scary. Start off on the right foot and you might actually find that it’s fun. Ultimately, you need to understand the financials in your business to be able to make corrections if your profit just isn’t where it needs to be.

    Do you have more accounting tips for the new food truck owners out there? Please share them with us in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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      bacon onion jam
      image credit: hauteapplepie.com

      So what exactly is bacon onion jam?

      According to Josh Henderson the owner of the Seattle food truck Skillet, it’s comprised of bacon, onions, balsamic, and brown sugar.

      I’ve heard it called Bacon Jam, Bacon Onion Jam, Bacon Onion Relish whatever it’s known as in your part of the world this sweet, salty, bacon spread will be a hit.

      This spreadable jam is an instant hit when used as a topping for burgers or hot dogs. If you are looking for other uses, consider it on toast or crostini, fresh vegetables, pita bread… the list goes on and on!

      While this isn’t Skillet’s recipe for bacon onion jam, I’ve done a little work in the kitchen and came up with my own variation. Once you’ve tried it out in your kitchen, let me know what you think in the comment section below, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

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      inbound marketing strategy

      Food truck owners have always been required to wear a lot of hats. Menu creation, food prep, cooking, HR, public relations, accountant and we could go on. With so many things plates to spin, marketing their trucks can often get put on the backburner.  Unfortunately, too many vendors miss out on the growth that marketing can provide their mobile food businesses.

      A great way to generate new faces at your service window is called inbound marketing. While you may not be familiar with this term, it’s a technique that some food truck owners are already using. Inbound marketing shares your food truck brand with local consumers through blogs, email newsletters and social-media marketing, to name a few. These platforms bring customers to you instead of trying to draw them in with the use of advertising purchases, or in technical jargon…outbound marketing.

      Try to incorporate one or more of these four easy steps into your inbound marketing strategy to increase the size of your customer lines and sales figures.

      4 Steps To Building Your Food Truck Inbound Marketing Strategy

      Leverage The Web

      Don’t assume that once you have created your food truck website that your time online is done. Get your brand out on the web, link up all of the social networks you use back to your website. This will help drive traffic from a wider spectrum of sites and increases the potential reach for your brand.

      Make sure that you check the “About” section at Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn to make sure you have your elevator pitch about who you and your food truck business are, what you cook and why someone should take the time to track your truck down.

      If You Build It, They Will Come

      Creating a blog isn’t an easy task, but there is a tremendous upside to providing your customers with great content. Not only does it help establish you as a food truck business expert, but it also helps to boost your website’s search ranking.

      Related: Developing a Blog for Your Food Truck Website

      Contribute To Local and Industry Websites

      Just as writing a blog for your food truck business, this involves some writing on your part, but it’s well worth the investment. Find local and mobile food industry websites that accept guest posts written by vendors. Getting your name out there will get you established as a thought leader and help will help generate business leads.

      Related: Contribute to Mobile Cuisine

      Provide Testimonials

      The best way to build confidence in the food and service you provide is through testimonials from people who have eaten from your truck or had your food truck cater one of their events. This can be done in a number of ways thanks to all of the social networking platforms available.

      Don’t forget to share the positive media coverage that your food truck receives. There’s nothing like giving potential customers an outside look into your food truck business.

      Related: Build Your Business With Food Truck Catering Testimonials

      We hope this article helped shed the light on creating an inbound marketing strategy for your food truck business. If you have any additional tips you would like to share feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet them to us or post them on our Facebook page.

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