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.

Marzipan 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 marzipan fun facts.

The Facts: Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal, sometimes augmented with almond oil or extract.

  • There are two proposed lines of origin for marzipan; they are not necessarily contradictory and may be complementary, as there have always been Mediterranean trade and cooking influences. In both cases, there is a reason to believe that there is a clear Arabic influence for historical reasons (both regions were under Muslim control). Other sources establish the origin of marzipan in China, from where the recipe moved on to the Middle East and then to Europe through Al-Andalus.
  • January 12th is National Marzipan Day.
  • In the Middle Ages, marzipan was sold by pharmacists. They recommended it as a medicine for treating physical and mental disorders.
  • In Russia, marzipan became known from tales of Andersen, Hoffmann and Grimm brothers, where it symbolizes the children’s happiness and magic.
  • The world’s largest pistachio marzipan sweet weighed 9,255 lb 14 oz and was made by 225 chefs in an event organised by Spacetel Syria at Hamadanya Stadium, Aleppo, Syria on 1 July 2003.
Marzipan Fun Facts We Missed

Please feel free to let us know if we may have missed some marzipan fun facts 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 Marzipan.

food truck marketing tips

Now that its 2015 have you had some time to look back at your food truck’s numbers from last year? Do you feel like your food truck business could use a pick me up?

If the answer is yes, consider a new marketing approach for this year. What is one promotion that you have had in mind for your food truck, but haven’t tried? In case you’re looking for some ideas to jump start a new marketing promotion, we’ve come up with 5 food truck marketing tips just for you.

5 Food Truck Marketing Tips For 2015
Set Up Weekly Specials

Weekly specials are profitable because they tend to gain momentum over time by word of mouth.

Select some of your customer’s menu favorites and look for ways to highlight these specials once a week. If your truck is known for your awesome tacos, think about promoting one day a week as “half price taco day.”

Over time, your customers will come to count on your weekly specials and begin to incorporate your truck into their weekly dining plans.

Get Involved

Finding ways to get involved with your community can lead new patrons to your restaurant. Does your city have an annual half marathon that your mobile food business can sponsor?

Does your community have a local charity that you can participate in?

Have you built strong relationships with other businesses in your area? If not, think about how you and another business could team up together to raise awareness for a charity along with exposure for your mobile food business?

Hold Contests

Contests seem to provide a sense of fun and friendly competition to both your food truck staff and customers.

Over the years, we’ve learned that customers love to get involved when there are prizes at stake.

Contests and giveaways also offer the opportunity to gain much desired customer info (think email addresses) for later marketing use.

You can promote your contest through email, text messaging, social media, as well as at truck marketing.

Photo contests are a fun way for customers to participate in since the majority of food truck fans use smartphones to find you.

This trend has made entering contests through sites such as Instagram and Twitter very easy.

Find Excuses To Celebrate

Don’t have to wait for the next holiday season to run a promotion for your food truck. Even small holidays can create buzz if you promote it right.

As an example, January is National Soup Month. Does your truck have soup on the menu that can be featured for the month?

Finding small monthly holidays are a smart way to highlight already existing features on your menu without necessarily having to add new ingredients to your kitchen.

RELATED: National Food Holiday List

Create a VIP Club

Food truck customers love to feel that you care about them.

Hosting special events and offering specials and promotions to an email loyalty list creates an incentive for a customer to give you their email address for future promotions.

Dinner clubs, breakfast/brunch clubs offer new opportunities to build great loyalty from your existing customers.

A punch card like incentive offers value as well as thanks your food truck customers for coming back.

Do you have any other food truck marketing tips you would like to share with our readers? If so, please share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

food truck time management

Since 2010 when I started Mobile Cuisine I struggle to recall a single full-time food truck owner that isn’t working less than 70-80 hours a week. One of the common questions I ask when speaking with vendors relates to the last time they took a vacation, I usually get a response close to this: “Vacation? Are you kidding?”

While it’s important to drive yourself and your staff to excellence in all areas of food truck operations is vital, the question still remains: Are you running your food truck or is it running you?

I’ve assembled several steps a food truck owner can take to have a life outside of their truck.

5 Food Truck Time Management Tips

Establish a strict set of hours

No matter what, adhere to these hours. If you can’t, see if it makes more sense to hire someone to take care of the tasks that prevent you from following your new hours.

Restrict unsolicited communications

Do not become time suck victim to suppliers, or sales people. Yes, there may be promotional programs in which you may want to participate. But request that their offers are sent in writing.

Don’t not waste your valuable time with on-site meetings or lengthy discussions on the phone. If you can’t avoid their calls, refer them to a selected staff member with a patent-scripted reply.

Set the agenda yourself

The only people you really have time to talk to are your customers and staff. In order to meet your objectives efficiently, you must first determine if the matter is worth addressing.

Second, establish parameters to keep things moving. Limit all meetings to a maximum of one hour. If you can’t meet your objectives in an hour, plan for set up a second meeting.

Meetings lasting longer than an hour usually end up losing focus

Deal with paperwork once

All paper, including mail and email, should only pass through your hands one time. Upon review, act on it (reply, delegate, cut check for payment etc.), file it or throw it away.

Once you review any document, don’t leave the decision unfinished. Now, that unending mountain of paperwork will be reduced before you know it.

Hire office help

Owners, kitchen crews and wait staff are a food truck’s money makers. Because of this, their focus should be on a food truck’s operations; not office work.

There is no reason for a vendor to be sitting in front of their computer performing mundane office tasks at 2 AM, which could be effectively delegated to a college intern or virtual assistant.

Do you have any food truck time management tips for owners who have fallen prey to their food truck running them as opposed to them running a food truck? If so, please share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

business foundation

The mobile food industry is full of excellent examples of successful culinary entrepreneurs. The latest trend seen across the country has seen these mobile food businesses opening brick and mortar establishments. They have been built around the hard work and determination their owners put into their businesses while they were making daily truck stops in the communities they operated in.

These vendors didn’t just stumble into success, they worked for it. They built a food truck business foundation centered on great food and great service.

We have also seen a lot of food trucks stumble and fail and for the vendors in that category that we’ve spoken with, a common theme seems to play out.

They took their eye off the ball, and lost focus on the things that truly matter.

They spent too much time trying to learn the latest and greatest social media or marketing tactic to attract more people to their service window.

Now in some cases, they did attract more customers, but because they spent that time looking at shiny things, they lost track of what those new customers came looking for… great food and great service.

3 Elements To Building A Strong Food Truck Business Foundation

Marcus Lemonis is an entrepreneur and the star of CNBC’s “The Profit”. The reality-based series follows Lemonis as he invests $2 million of his own money in small businesses that are struggling but have the potential for success.

In each episode Lemonis looks at each business a uses a three-part evaluation process to determine how the failing business is operating. He breaks down the business into these three key components: people, product and process.

Here’s how they affect the success or failure of any business and how you can use them to evaluate the business foundation of your food truck.

People

Lemonis always emphasizes the importance of people for small-business success. But making sure you have the right people working for you is common knowledge to any food truck owner.

Not only is it critical to have the right people, but you have to have them in the proper roles as well.

While it might make sense early on to do everything yourself, as your food truck business grows, you need to make sure you have people that can excel at the jobs you assign them. This goes for your prep cooks, line cooks and the people who will be the first face your customers see at the service window.

It’s also important to create an environment for your employees to ensure they are able to perform at their best. Having the right people in place isn’t going to lead to success if they’re in an environment where they’re made to feel like failures.

Product

Lemonis’ second key business foundation ingredient is a company’s product. This includes pricing, packaging, sizing (think portioning). Many times, small-business owners assume that consumers will view their product the same way they do, but that isn’t always the case.

  • You may think you sell the burger in town, but what do your customers think?
  • Do you have packaging that takes a huge chunk out of your profits?
  • Do you use ingredients that have high cost, but low return and really don’t add anything to the overall taste of the dish?
  • Are you losing money with every sale because beef prices have increased and your 16 oz. burger patties now cost more to make than you charge your customers?
Process

The final element Lemonis looks at is a company’s operations. This is key to ensuring a business’s efficiency and opportunities to scale.

  • Since many food trucks operate as cash businesses, do you have no procedures in place for managing your cash flow?
  • Have you trained every one of your employees to prepare each dish the exact same way? Do some customers get 13 or 14 oz. burgers while others get a 16 oz. burger?
  • Does your service window staff member provide every customer every day with the same smile and speed? Does the way the staff member woke up or how traffic was determine the quality of service the customers will receive?

Building a strong business foundation for your food truck requires that all three of these Marcus Lemonis elements be in place and are well built. If you find yourself taking too much time away from maintaining the strength of these areas, your food truck’s foundation may start to crack.

How strong is your food truck foundation? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

press kit

We were recently informed that more journalists and reporters prefer to use online press kits to gather research information on food trucks as opposed to the old style hard copy press kits.

Why? Because the Internet is a 24/7 operation and a busy reporter on deadline can jump online and cruise through an online press kit without having to wait for an overnight package or fax.

Many food truck owners are embracing this new form of media relations and have already created their own press kit.

Like your Web site, your online press kit should contain certain elements and be simple to navigate.

Do’s and Don’ts” for creating your own food truck online press kit:
Do’s:

Be easy to locate on your Website. This link should appear prominently in the site’s menu or on the home page. Reporters don’t have time to search for it.

Provide materials commonly used by the media. A general press kit usually contains background of the truck, FAQ, and profiles of key individuals or spokespeople.

This is what a reporter will want to see when they visit your online media room. The purpose of providing these common documents is to minimize any extra work a reporter will need to do to get what they need.

Other important items to include are high-resolution, digital photos, high-resolution digital logo graphics, and of course your press releases.

Include the media coverage you may have already received. When you or your truck has been covered by the media (preferably the favorable stuff), it will help to legitimize your business to show it off.

However, be careful about copyright issues when re-posting articles. If you or your truck has appeared in the media, use anything from audio clips, video clips, and links to the media outlets’ web site in your online media room’s “In the Press” page.

A simple email to the author or editor can work as verification for reprint permission.

Include media contact information. If the person handling your media relations is not an employee of the business, be sure that the contact info in the online media room directs reporters to the person who is.

If a reporter reaches out and their request is lost in cyberspace, chances are, they won’t come back.

Don’ts:

Combine info for both the public AND the media. Ideally, the information provided for the media should be separate from content intended for the public or consumers.

One reason is that it makes it more difficult for the media to find what it wants, and another is because it reduces your control over the info provided to the media.

Messaging is very important, and while it can sometimes vary for the public, it should always be consistent for the media – after all, your messaging is what they’re using to cover you with.

Require a reporter to make numerous requests for additional info. There are always going to be some things that you do not want to provide online on a constant basis.

This could include certain photos of you and your truck and even your logo. Feel free to say “please contact us for photos of our team and truck,” or “please contact us for a high resolution image of our logo.”

The point of your press kit is to provide the media with most of what it needs.

Be out of date. Update press kit materials as needed, and try to keep a current press release available – even if it wasn’t distributed on the wire or to reporters directly.

By keeping a timely supply of “news,” in your media room, it will be obvious to the media that it receives your attention.

Other Helpful Tips:

Use links – not e-mail attachments.  Media rooms with media libraries should allow you to upload your documents and create a URL to their location online, which you can provide to the media instead of an e-mail attachment.

When was the last time you opened an e-mail from a stranger that had an attachment?

Use a blog. Blogs are a great way to discuss your food truck or the mobile food industry and are often used by members of the media when researching for a story.

By following these tips and by putting yourself in the shoes of a journalist, you will be able to develop an online presence that is both informative and convenient.

Do this and you’ll meet the demands of the media and increase the likelihood of gaining editorial exposure for your food truck business.

Do you have a press kit for your food truck? We’d love to see them. Share the link in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

menu item naming

tip of the day

So this is the year you’re finally going to do it: lose a few pounds, increase the size of your mobile food empire, pay off your food truck loan balance, be a better boss. Whatever your goal is, right now you’re probably feeling motivated and determined to stay on course.

But the sad truth is, the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a few weeks. To keep yours all year long (or as long as you want), follow these tips for crafting and carrying out these changes.

Focus on one resolution only. People are so gung-ho for change this time of the year that they often vow to follow through with multiple resolutions at once. Bad idea.

Committing to more than one thing is overwhelming; you only have so much willpower and energy to go around. So pick the one habit or behavior you truly want to tweak and make that your project for 2015.

Be specific. Resolutions like “I’m going to be healthier” or “I’m going to save a bunch of money” are certainly admirable, but these ambiguous objectives are nearly impossible to stick to.

On the other hand, “I’m going lose 10 pounds by Memorial Day” or “I’m going to put $100 dollars a month in my savings account” give you direction and a reasonable time frame to achieve your resolution. The more details and parameters you have, the easier it will be to reach your goal.

Make it a team effort. Telling your friends and family about your resolution offers two advantages: First, they’ll help protect you from potential setbacks…in other words, they won’t leave junk food around the house for you to eat in a weak moment. Also, because you won’t want disappoint the people rooting for you, you’ll try harder to adhere to your resolution.

Commit it to paper. Writing your goal down and keeping it in view–say, on a post-it note on your computer monitor or food truck dashboard–makes it feel official and tangible, and therefore you’ll be less likely to break it. Keep the wording short and focused; the clearer it is, the more motivating it will be.

Let yourself mess up once in a while. Changing behavior is truly hard work, so don’t allow a one-day sugar binge or couple of sneaked cigarettes leave you feeling demoralized and hopeless. If you get derailed, re-frame it as a learning experience and get right back on track.

food truck market research

To start a successful food truck business, you need to learn about your prospective customers, your competitors and the mobile food industry. The best way to gain this information is through food truck market research.

For those of you not familiar with the term, “Market Research” is the process of analyzing data to help you understand which types of menus or food products are in demand, and how to be competitive.

Conducting food truck market research will also provide valuable insight to help you:

  • Reduce business risks
  • Help build your food truck business plan
  • Spot current problems in the mobile food industry
  • Identify sales opportunities and revenue streams
How To Conduct Food Truck Market Research

Before you start your mobile food business, you need to understand the basics of market research by digging through the following US government resources.

Thankfully for you the US government offers a wealth of data and info about businesses, industries and economic conditions that can aid in conducting your market research. These sources provide valuable information about possible customers and competitors in your area:

Additional Food Truck Market Research Resources

Various third party organizations gather and analyze research data about culinary business trends. Use Internet and database searches to find information related to the locations you plan to operate.

  • Local food truck association
  • Trade groups
  • Business magazines
  • Culinary institutions

Food truck market research can also be conducted here at Mobile Cuisine. We routinely provide up to date information on the mobile food industry as well as provide information on various markets throughout the country.

If you’ve already conducted food truck market research for your food truck and have additional resources that helped you, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

bad interview questions

Working in the mobile food industry is much like any other restaurant industry job which means there can be a lot of turnover. Whether you are new to the industry or just need to fill a recently vacated position, you need to know what cannot be asked when you are involved in the hiring process.

Bad Interview Questions

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, as well as federal and state laws, prohibit asking certain questions of a job applicant, either on the application form or during the interview.

So what are some bad interview questions that you should you stay away from? Basically, you can’t ask about anything not directly related to the job.

13 Bad Interview Questions Or Topics To Avoid
  • Age or date of birth (if interviewing a teenager, you can ask if he or she is 16 years old)
  • Sex, race, creed, color, religion or national origin
  • Disabilities of any kind
  • Date and type of military discharge
  • Marital status
  • Maiden name (for female applicants)
  • If a person is a citizen; however, you can ask if he or she has the legal right to work in the United States

Other questions you should avoid include:

  • How many children do you have? How old are they? Who will care for them while you are at work?
  • Have you ever been treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist?
  • Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism?
  • Have you ever been arrested? (You may ask if the person has been convicted if it is accompanied by a statement saying that a conviction will not necessarily disqualify an applicant for employment.)
  • How many days were you sick last year?
  • Have you ever filed for worker’s compensation? Have you ever been injured on the job?

We hope this list helps keep you from getting in trouble for asking bad interview questions to applicants who are interested in working for your food truck business.

RELATED: Post You Food Truck Jobs With Mobile Cuisine

Do you have any additional tips or suggestion? If so, please share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

food truck tune up
image credit: vimeo/ Hot Shot's Secret

Food truck tune up intervals vary from one vehicle to another. Most older mobile food trucks with non-electronic ignitions should be tuned every 10,000 to 12,000 miles or every year, whichever comes first.

Newer trucks with electronic ignition and fuel injection systems are scheduled to go from 25,000 miles to as many as 100,000 miles without needing a major tune-up.

food truck tune upRefer to your the truck’s owner manual for recommended tune-up intervals, but be aware that even if it says that the vehicle doesn’t require scheduled tune-ups very often, it’s in your best interest to check periodically that your food truck is working at peak efficiency.

Since food trucks typically do a lot of stop-and-go driving to get to their set up locations and pull heavy loads, your ignition system may need to be tuned more often.

Symptoms that tell you that you need a food truck tune up of your electronic ignition system:
  • The truck stalls a lot. The spark plugs may be fouled or worn, the gap between the spark plug electrodes may need adjusting, or an electronic sensing device may need to be adjusted.If you’re having trouble pinpointing why your vehicle is stalling, you can help your automotive technician diagnose the problem by paying attention to whether the engine stalls when it’s hot or cold or when the air conditioner is on.
  • The engine is running roughly when idling or when you accelerate. Chances are the vehicle needs a tune-up.
  • The truck gets harder to start. The problem can be in the starting system (for example, a weak battery), in the fuel system (for example, a weak fuel pump), or in the ignition system, or can be due to a faulty electronic component, such as the electronic control unit (ECU).

Your food truck is the means to deliver your menu to your customers.

If it breaks down due to over use or a lack of preventative maintenance  your business will suffer until you are able to get it back on the road.

Be sure you use these tips to help determine if you should be getting it to the shop for a tune up to help keep it on the street.

Do you have any tips on how to determine if you need a food truck tune up? 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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