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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parallel parking a food truck

Parallel parking a food truck is often one of the most difficult driving skills for new food truck owners to master. It takes time, patience, and confidence. Unfortunately, when driving a food truck in a busy city like Los Angeles, Washington DC or Chicago, parallel parking may be your only option when trying to set up for your next shift, especially when it requires parking in a busy downtown area.

 What is parallel parking?

Simply put, parallel parking is whenever you park your food truck at a curbside location, between two other vehicles or objects. You will be backing your truck into a space parallel, or beside your truck, rather than pulling forward, or backing straight into a parking space in a garage or lot. You will also be using an imaginary or real vehicle ahead of the spot you plan to enter, and parallel to your vehicle, to help guide you into the parking spot.

How to Parallel Park A Food Truck

  • Before you even slow down your truck, the first step to take is to check your mirrors to make sure traffic behind you is a safe distance away. Once you are sure of this, and you’re sure the parking space you’re eying up will fit your vehicle, turn on your signal and then slow down.
  • Stop beside the vehicle parked in front of the spot you plan to enter, leaving roughly 2 to 3 feet separating your vehicle from the one parallel to you.
  • Once you are stopped and in place, check your mirrors again to make sure traffic is still stopped. Now, begin backing up slowly, turning your wheel sharply toward the curb.
  • Once your vehicle is about halfway into the space, turn your wheel back the opposite direction to align your vehicle with the curb. If you hit the curb at any time, simply put your truck back in forward gear, check your mirrors for traffic, and follow the path back out of the space. You will need to begin turning your wheel earlier to align your truck with the sidewalk and avoid hitting the curb.
  • Once you’re in the parking space, pull your vehicle forward or back to assure you are lined up with the vehicles in front and behind. You’ll also want to check to make sure your vehicle is sitting 6 to 8 inches away and parallel to the curb.
  • Place your food truck in park. If your truck has a manual transmission car rental, apply the parking brake.

Now it’s time to get in the kitchen and get it ready to open your service window for a great day of sales.

4 Tips For Parallel Parking A Food Truck

Practice, Practice, Practice. Before you ever attempt parallel parking a food truck on a busy city street, take a day (or week if needed) to get to know your truck. Get familiar with the width or length of the vehicle. Walk around the vehicle so that you can begin to process the dimensions of your truck.

Find a large open area (school parking lots are great) where you can set up a driving course with cones to represent the cars or trucks on a street. Lay out the different situations you might run into. Bring a spotter with you to help explain what is going right and wrong and begin the process of getting muscle memory for this process.

Never pull your food truck forward into a space. Driving forward into a space between two vehicles may seem like the simple answer, but it isn’t. Often when parallel parking a food truck, it is on a busy street with traffic. When you pull in forward, you will likely leave the rear portion of your vehicle sticking out into the street. As well, when you reverse your vehicle to adjust it into the space, you will likely have less maneuverability due to the angle of your vehicle and rear wheels.

Take a deep breath and relax. Even though traffic might be waiting behind you, it’s always important to take your time. Moving slowly into the space will protect your vehicle, allow you to check your mirrors, and will make adjustments easier. Parallel parking is a part of operating a food truck in an urban area, and most drivers expect small delays for vehicles parking.

Use a spotter. I have always stressed this to any food truck owner that has brought up this issue. If you have a team member working with you, have them either get out of the truck or waiting for the truck to show up to a spot in a position outside of the vehicle where you can see them with your mirrors. If you are a one person team, get help from a fellow food truck owner or in a worst case scenario, ask someone one the street to help you park your huge rolling kitchen. Don’t start your shift off with having to call the police to report the accident you just caused.

Road and Track gives a mathematical equation on to to parallel park perfectly!!!

If you are a proclaimed master of parallel parking and have any additional advice to beginner food truck operators please feel to share your advice in the comment section below.

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deep fryer fire

Last week a food truck in Venice, CA had a fire which engulfed the truck in flames. The fire originated in in the deep fryer. Luckily nobody was hurt, but the damage to a truck may require an entire kitchen remodel and weeks of rebuilding while the truck is off the street.

Today we’ll look at the causes of these fires and how food truck operators can keep their employees and mobile kitchen safe from disasters like this.

A deep fat fryer is a vat, or multiple vats, filled with cooking oil that is heated by burners running through tubes underneath.  The tubes may serve as a heat exchanger for a gas burner, or electric coils. Baskets of food are submerged in cooking oil heated from 325ºF to 375ºF.

A grease fire typically occurs when cooking oil becomes too hot. When heating, oils first start to boil, then they’ll start smoking, and then they’ll catch on fire. Most vegetable oils have a smoking point around 450°F, while animal fats like lard or goose fat will start smoking around 375°F.

What Causes Deep Fat Fryer Fires?

Poor Mechanical Maintenance

Open fryers are particularly susceptible to poor mechanical maintenance.  Normal cooking temperature for deep fryer vegetable oil is about 375ºF.  Thermostat malfunction is a primary cause for deep fryer fires in commercial kitchens. If a thermostat malfunctions, cooking temperatures can rise. At 424ºF oil starts to smoke.  Smoke production will increase as the temperature rises.

Auto ignition takes place at approximately 523º to 788ºF, depending on the type of oil, the amount of impurities in it and usage.  New “high-temperature” fryers are designed to maintain the heat of the oil longer and cook at higher temperatures, making these units a more significant fire risk.  Appliance manufacturers should be involved in notifying end-users that new “high-temp” fryers require upgraded fire-extinguishing systems.

Fryer Grease Buildup

In nearly all fryer designs, the gas exhaust vent for the heat from the burner elements goes up the back of the unit behind the vat.  With repeated splashing a substantial coating of grease can build up and harden on top of and around this exhaust stack.

This residue provides an excellent fuel source especially if some of the buildup falls close to the burner elements below.  Most new fryers are constructed with the chimney open at the bottom, so any debris that falls down the gas flue should fall straight to the floor.

Inadequate Clearance

NFPA 96 requires a clearance of at least 16 inches between fryers and any open flame burners.  An 8 inch metal or tempered glass panel can be used to achieve this clearance. If this clearance is not met, open flames can ignite the cooking oil.

What to do if a fire does break out?

  • Turn the Heat Off. Don’t try to move the fryer. You might accidentally splash the burning oil.
  • Cover the Fryer with a Metal Lid. Fire cannot exist in the absence of oxygen. With the lid on (and the heat off), the fire should quickly consume all the oxygen and put itself out.
  • Pour on Baking Soda. Baking soda will extinguish grease fires, but only if they’re small. It takes a lot of baking soda to do the job.
  • Spray the Fryer with a Class K Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher. This is your last resort, as fire extinguishers will contaminate your kitchen.
  • Get Out and Call 911. If the fire does break out of control don’t try to be a hero. Get yourself and your entire staff out of the truck and call 911.

What not to do:

  • Do Not Use Water. Pouring water can cause the oil to splash and spread the fire. The vaporizing water can also carry grease particles in it, also spreading the fire.
  • Do Not Throw Any Other Baking Product On the Fire. Flour might look like baking soda, but it won’t react the same. Only baking soda can help put out a grease fire.

Deep Fryer Maintenance and Service

Every two weeks:

  • Take down, clean, and degrease the baffle filters in the hood to reduce buildup and the risk of fire.

Every six months:

  • Hire a professional cleaning contractor to clean the exhaust duct and flue above the fryer.
  • Have a fire service professional inspect and service the food truck fire suppression system.
  • Filter and change the oil consistently, per the manufacturer’s specifications, to help prevent a fire.
  • Confirm that fire suppression nozzles line up directly over each deep fryer and cooking appliance in your food truck kitchen.
  • Confirm that a Class K fire extinguisher is located inside the truck near of the hood system for additional fire suppression capability.
  • Prior to operating, review the operations manual provided by the manufacturer. Follow all recommendations on proper installation and maintenance of deep frying equipment.
  • Provide employee safety. Provide proper training before employees are allowed to operate a deep fryer and adequate supervision while it is being operated.

We hope this article shed some light on keeping your staff members and food truck safe from deep fryer fires. If you have any additional tips, please share them in the comment section below.

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Today’s article covers one of the most unused sources for building long term customer loyalty for food trucks but should be one of the most obvious: kids’ meals.

After all, around 45 percent of American families include children, who are typically picky eaters. In most cases, parents with kids have limited dining options. They can eat fast food or you can go to one of a handful of local restaurants. It’s not a great choice for the consumer. Why not help them out by providing a kid’s meal on your food truck?

Kids’ meals found at local diners or fast food restaurants are typically unhealthy, and uninspired. Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese (not the scratch made kind), and chicken nuggets are generally the available options. What if your food truck offered an imaginative kids’ menu that is as flavorful and inspired as your regular menu?

Kids’ Meals Need To Look Good

You will definitely want your serving style to be attractive to the parents as well as the child. If you do it right, this is the type of thing that parents tell their friends about, upload images to Instagram, and come back for.

Use smaller servings and fresh, colorful ingredients. This is where those beautiful purple potatoes, that bright orange cauliflower, and the red and white striped beets absolutely shine. Use small cookie cutters to turn steamed sweet potato slices into fun shapes.

Make Nutrition and Flavor A Priority

Don’t settle for less quality on your kids’ menu just because kids are eating it. If you do your take on chicken nuggets be sure they are made by you or your staff with a unique breading and truck made dipping sauces. Create scaled down versions of your most popular menu items and then brainstorm how to make them look fun when the kids dig in.

Don’t leave the foods bland, either. A little seasoning plus the appropriate herbs are just as delicious to a six year old as a thirty year old hipster.

Toys Are Optional

kids' mealsDepending on the amount of space you have on your truck, you may consider whether or not to give small toys away with the kids’ meals. It is really up to you. It is nice to have a kid’s menu that can be colored that is presented with a crayon or two but anything else is probably not going to make a big difference in your food truck’s marketing success.

If you do decide to provide toys get good ones. If you can find a local toy manufacture, consider having a small version of your truck created. I can’t tell you how much the kids love the mini food truck we had created for the promotion ofRunning a Food Truck for Dummies.”

Kids Eat Free

Think about offering free food for kids during certain hours. This is a great idea that can increase your line pretty quickly. Choose some of your off-hours for the free meals and use it to pump up business during those times. For example, offering a kids eat free option from 4:30 – 6:00 will get families to track your truck down when you normally wouldn’t be serving many people.

Generally children can no longer eat for free after the age of 12, although in some places it is 10. You’ll want to have a rule that the items must be ordered off of the kid’s menu, and maybe only one free child’s meal per paying adult.

There are numerous ways to build up your food truck business with small guests; it just takes a little forethought and planning.

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food truck growing too quickly

Intuit recently reported that 25,000 new small business jobs were created in May. This is approximately a 2 percent annual growth rate. Growth numbers like this are extremely good news. It shows that the economy (as well as the mobile food industry) continues to make its way back from the 2008 recession. With that said, can it be that growth is always positive? Unfortunately the simple answer is no. If left unchecked, a food truck business’ growth could drive it into a ditch. Today we provide a list of four signs that a mobile food business may be expanding too quickly.

Everyone is exhausted…all of the time

Ok, most of us understand that running a food truck business is demanding. But if you and your employees constantly work at top speed, eventually, you are going to break down. We understand that there will always be rushes, but if the rushes seem to come all shift long and day after day, you might need to scale back on the length of each shift. When there is no rest, everyone will become exhausted, to the point in which people just won’t take it anymore. Red flags to watch for include inconsistent quality of product and service as well as increased mistakes and injuries.

Employees stop engaging

When food truck employees start heading down the path from superstar to poor performer, you lose control of your most important asset: your staff. Keep an eye out for increased turnover, absenteeism and tardiness or complaints from customers about employees being rude. The quick reaction of most vendors would be to point a finger at the employee. However, you need to step back and identify whether you see a trend that needs to be addressed. Disengaged employees can directly lead to lost customers, and disengaged employees in any position in a food truck impact productivity and potential growth.

Losing loyal customers

When a food truck expands too quickly, it often loses control over quality control because it’s too busy getting items out of the window to get to the next customer in line. Repeat customers must always be a goal of a food truck. They lead to repeat purchases with very little marketing required. When your most frequent customers begin to disappear, you need to pay attention. If you’ve built a customer database (and if you haven’t…why not?),  a good rule of thumb is to reach out to your customer base at least once a month, be it through a newsletter, email blast or through various  social media platforms, with the sole purpose of understanding your customer’s needs. If you can’t make time for this, along with at regular social media engagement, your growth may be out of control.

Cash shortages

Lack of cash flow isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A food truck that’s growing solidly will likely have cash shortages as income and expenses balance out. On the other hand, unmanaged growth creates dangerous cash shortages that could affect your future growth opportunities. Red flags to watch for include inability to make payroll, postponing vendor payments, dipping into personal savings (including taking out additional mortgages, maxing out credit cards or taking out personal loans), not paying yourself, inability to take on catering jobs or attend large food truck rallies because you don’t have cash to make food purchases in advance or can’t afford the cost of entrance to an event.

So, is your food truck growing too quickly?

We hope this article helps any vendor that has seen any of these signs and put a stop to them before it’s too late.

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food truck tip of the day

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

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

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

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

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food truck catering difficulties

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

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

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

The Various Forms Of Catering

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

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

Catering On-site or Off-site

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

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

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

Special Diets for Event Guests

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

Pricing and Planing for Food Truck Catering

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

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

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

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food truck suppliers

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

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

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

Product availability

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

Supplier reputation

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

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

Compare prices

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

What are current food trends?

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

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

What else do they offer?

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

Ask additional questions

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

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

If you are a food truck and have a great supplier, or are a supplier looking to get food truck business, feel free to add your business to our new Food Truck Supplier Directory.

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food truck menu on facebook

Some of you may have missed it but a few months back Facebook announced that food trucks can now upload menus through SinglePlatform from Constant Contact to Facebook pages. SinglePlatform helps mobile food businesses showcase their most important information anywhere local consumers are making decisions online.

As a result, Facebook users can both find and “like” a food truck, in addition to view its menu to help them decide if they want to track them down. Considering that nearly 80 percent of online local-mobile searches result in offline purchases, this is a major benefit to food trucks promoting their mobile food businesses to Facebook’s over 1 billion active users.

food truck menu on facebookFor food trucks that already use SinglePlatform and operate in the U.S. or Canada, their menus featured on SinglePlatform will now automatically appear on their Facebook business page. For others, food trucks can upload their menus in PDF format to their Facebook page to take advantage of this new feature. (Handy guide on how to do it)

With this update, food trucks can take advantage of the size and influence of Facebook’s audience to attract potential new customers that search for places to dine in the areas you operate. Facebook makes it very easy to find new and existing food trucks.

Now that you have added your menu to your food truck’s Facebook page, here are some tips to further leverage this feature to your mobile food business’s marketing advantage.

Sending out an email blast inviting fans and customers to check out your food truck menu on Facebook.

Let your email list subscribers (see, I told you an email list can come in handy) know to check out your menu on Facebook, giving you a good reason to connect with them and increase social media engagement on your Facebook page.

Cross-promotion of your food truck menu on Facebook on other social networks:

Promote the menu on your Facebook page with your other social networks to expand its reach to more audiences. Using a free service like bitly, you can shorten and custom-brand your URL and track your response rates.

Sharing menu updates with customers and fans:

If you have updated your Facebook menu or added a new item, let your customers and fans know about it. Doing this gives you multiple opportunities to stay connected with your Facebook page community.

Starting up conversations about your menu with your Facebook fans:

After your Facebook fans have had the chance to view your food truck menu, ask them what they think about it. Facebook’s polling feature is a useful way to garner feedback about your menu from both potential new and existing customers.

Sharing photos from Facebook on Pinterest and Instagram:

Posting your food truck menu on your Facebook page gives you more reasons to sell the menu with pictures. Post new food and drink photos from your menu on your Facebook page and cross-promote them on Pinterest and Instagram, as well.

So how many of you are already using this feature? How many of you will be posting your menu on your Facebook page to boost your social media presence? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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food truck turnover percentage

With the mobile food industry continuing to grow we are constantly on the look out to assist both the owner operators as well as the customers of these rolling bistros. From time to time we run polls to gain industry information that truck owners can use to help better their customer service and the options that they provide to the communities that they serve. Other times our polls are set to find out general information “we” want to know.

The food service industry has always been a high-turnover industry. Turnover in the industry is defined as the percentage of the workforce an employer loses in a year, and in some sub sectors (such as fast food and fast casual), turnover is well over 100 percent.

This means that employers generally lose all of their workers in a year, and then lose another percentage of the workers who replace them in the same year.

The poll this week is to help us understand food truck turnover percentages.

To compute your food truck turnover percentage, divide the number of employee separations last year by the average number of active employees during the same period. Take your result and multiply it by 100.

Example: Last year your food truck had an average staff size of 4 employees and you had 6 separations (whatever the reason). Divide 6 by 4 (equal to 1.5) and multiply by 100.

Tada…you had a 150 percent turnover rate for your food truck.

Now it’s your turn. Once you come up with your food truck turnover percentage, enter the result in the poll below.

What Is Your Food Truck Turnover Percentage?

View Results

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We would also ask owners to share this link to this poll with other owners in your area so we can gain as much data as possible. Once we have this information we will share the findings with our readers.

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public relations basics

Most food truck’s across the country lack the cash to invest in an internal press staff, so as usual, this task is just one more job an already busy mobile food vendor needs to take care of themselves. So what is it that journalists want when you send them information about your food truck or an event you are going to be part of?

public relations basics

Check out our public relations basics list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts for pitching a story to the press about your food truck.

  1. DO some research and figure out the right reporter before you pitch a story. All reporters have beats and Associated Press also has national writers who specialize in certain areas, including business, entertainment, medicine, health, sports and lifestyles.
  2. DO make sure your story pitch is national in interest and sharply focused. AP is for national and international news. Stories about local food truck events and a new menu items developed by a local food truck aren’t AP stories — but they might be a better fit at a local publication.
  3. DO write succinct press releases, preferably with bullet points noting the time, place and date of the event and a FEW sentences explaining the “what” and “why” of the story. Every newsroom in America receives hundreds of press releases each day by fax and email. Long winded pitches fall through the cracks.
  4. DON’T shop your story around to multiple reporters at once. If one reporter turns down your pitch, it’s likely all reporters will turn it down. If a reporter can’t handle your pitch or it isn’t in their beat area but he or she thinks it has interest, the reporter will pass it along to the appropriate person. Please keep in mind, they talk to each other and pass along pitches all the time.
  5. DO tell reporters that if (despite no. 4) you’re sending a pitch to multiple people within the same newsroom. If a reporter begins a story based on a pitch, only to find out one or two other reporters in other departments or beats have done the same thing, this will make reporters more cautious the next time you pitch something.
  6. DON’T call to follow up on a pitch. If they are interested, they will call or email to let you know.
  7. DO take no for an answer. Nothing drives a reporter crazier than getting multiple pitches for the same story from the same person after they’ve said no once, twice or even three times or having a spokesperson argue on the phone over a “no” response. If you accept a no this time, maybe the next time they will work with you. If you drive them nuts when they are on deadline, that won’t happen.
  8. If you really have a great story, DON’T wait until the day before, or even two days before, to pitch it. The best stories may require a week or more of planning and reporting. Too often, pitches that could have been a good story, but we are first notified of them the day of the event or the day before. That’s just not enough time to turn around a story, alert all the editors, coordinate any video or photo coverage and edit the piece.
  9. DON’T assume you know everything about pitching the media. Media is ever changing and fast moving. With the proliferation of news sites on the Internet popping up daily, news comes in many forms and we can all learn a thing or two!
  10. DO be consistent and send news out regularly. One day your food truck story may be the one that gets chosen to follow.

If you and your food truck follow other rules that would fit into a list of public relations basics, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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