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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 Mission Statement

If you already have a food truck mission statement, and each of your food truck staff members knows what it is, and can repeat it from memory…FANTASTIC!!! Please disregard this article as you’ve already done your work. Now if you happen to be the remaining 95% of the food truck industry, you might want to read on.

A mission statement is a business tool that should be considered as important as your food truck business plan. It captures, in a few succinct sentences, the essence of your mobile food business’s goals and the philosophies underlying them. Equally important, the mission statement signals what your food truck business is about to your customers, employees, suppliers and the communities you operate in.

Answer the following questions to help you to create a verbal picture of your food truck mission statement:

  • Why are you in business? What do you want for yourself, your employees and your customers? Think about the spark that ignited your decision to start a mobile food business. What will keep it burning?
  • Who are your customers? What can you do for them that will enrich their lives and contribute to their success?
  • What image of your food truck business do you want to convey? Customers, employees and the public will all have perceptions of your company. How will you create the desired picture?
  • What is the nature of your menu and services? What factors determine pricing and quality? Consider how these relate to the reasons for your business’s existence.
  • What level of service do you provide? Most vendors believe they offer “the best service available,” but do your customers agree? Don’t be vague; define what makes your service so extraordinary.
  • What roles do you and your employees play? Smart leaders develop a leadership style that organizes, challenges and recognizes employees.
  • How do you differ from your competitors? Many food truck vendors forget they are pursuing the same dollars as their competitors. What do you do better, cheaper or faster than other trucks or restaurants?

Your mission statement should reflect your food truck’s special niche in the community.

Here is an example to help you fuel your creativity:

“Food Truck, LLC is an energetic, imaginative mobile food truck company aimed at offering high-quality, moderately priced, occasionally unusual foods using only local and natural ingredients. We view ourselves as partners with our customers, our employees, our community and our environment. We aim to become a regionally recognized brand, capitalizing on the rapid growth and popularity of the mobile food industry in the {insert your location here} area. Our goal is moderate growth, annual profitability and maintaining our sense of humor.”

Here is The Burnt Truck‘s (Orange County Food Truck) mission statement:

“To bring distinctively upscale taste to the streets of Orange County without all the fuss and nonsense of a high-end restaurant.”

Keys to Creating Your Food Truck Mission Statement

  • You must involve your key staff members in writing it. Set aside enough time to allow everyone to chime in. Brainstorm, and then begin to sort through what works and what everyone is passionate about.
  • It must be no more than a concise paragraph that reflects what your food truck is all about.

Once you’ve decided on a mission statement, it’s best to let it ferment in everyone’s minds, and then revisit it in a week or two. If you still feel it’s what your food truck is all about, then it’s time to share with your entire staff. Every staff member on your team should know your mission statement by heart.

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food truck unique selling proposition

A food truck Unique Selling Proposition (UPS) is what differentiates you from all the other food trucks and restaurants in your market – especially the trucks that look, smell and taste like yours. It’s the compilation of things that clearly separates you from the pack.

Defining what your USP is takes some creativity, hard work and soul searching. A USP can be almost anything that distinguishes you from your competition.

Determining your food truck unique selling proposition :

• Unique benefits to your customers
• Great prices
• Special menu options
• Incredible service
• A strong guarantee
• The best of the best
• Exclusivity or rarity
• Excellence
• Following a specific standard
• Specializing

Understanding who your customer is and what makes them purchase:

• Is it low prices?
• Great service?
• 100 percent money-back guarantee?
• Speed of service?
• Something special your product delivers that nobody else does?
• Your qualifications or celebrity?
• Promises you make that no other competitor does?

Ask yourself what makes you unique:

• How are you better?
• What makes you the best?
• Why do your customers dine with you?
• What are your special talents, qualities or strengths?
• What makes your product and or service superior?

With a little work, you can start to clearly communicate what makes you different from your competition. Once you’ve crafted your Unique Selling Proposition start using it! Put it on your menu. Include it in your advertisements. Post it on your website.

USE YOUR FOOD TRUCK UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION EVERYWHERE!

Your USP is much more powerful than your food truck brand. Your brand will help you get recognized, but your USP will help get them up to your service window and keep them coming back for more.

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food truck problem

Low sales is the biggest food truck problem we are asked to help fix for our clients. Unfortunately, in almost every case, sales aren’t the problem…something else is.

Have the lines at your food truck service window gotten shorter or less frequent over the last year, or for that matter in the last month? Has your truck really never had the amount of sales you expected? These are very common issues we hear about from new food truck owners.

The first step in trying to turn these trucks around is to get them to understand that low sales are a symptom, not a problem. Some will say that we’re just using semantics, but the difference we explain, between labeling a low or sliding sales as a problem versus a symptom is a critical distinction.

When sales are viewed as the problem, vendors often automatically assume the solution is to spend more time and/or spend money on the marketing of their food truck. While marketing will always be an important part of generating sales for mobile food vendors, a change in marketing is almost never the cure for poor sales totals.

Sure, if your sales are at levels that are too low or have been dropping, a different marketing approach might help. In more cases than not, the problem usually has more to do with what you’re doing or not doing in your food truck every day and how you’re customers perceive your mobile food business.

Everything in our lives is causal, this includes our businesses. If your sales are low you need to understand what’s causing it before you take any action. The best place to begin is to objectively look at what’s going on in your food truck business and at your local market.

Ask Yourself These Questions To Help Determine Your Food Truck Problem:

  • How’s is the quality of the food you serve? Is it consistent? Is this your opinion or the opinion of your customers?
  • Is your service window staff friendly and responsive?
  • Are you meeting your customer’s expectations? How do you know?
  • How does your food truck’s value proposition and the experience a customer receive at your truck compare to what they get at competing food trucks and restaurants in your area?
  • What are your customers saying about your mobile food business? Check out the comments on sites such as Yelp and other sites where diners can leave reviews of your food truck.

Taking the time to ask these questions and provide honest answers, (even if you have to do a little research to find them) will help you consider and identify factors that you may be totally missing when you assume you have a sales problem.

The decisions you make when running a food truck always need to be intellectual, not emotional. If your sales have soured or have never reached your sales forecast, don’t immediately look at additional or different marketing strategies to try and fix the problem. This could actually make the problem worse.

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food truck tip of the day

When something is new, it’s human nature to treat it like a chore. Chores are often time-consuming and not fun. While I know on weekend mornings, it really only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to vacuum the house, however, the idea of doing it becomes daunting.

If this is how you look at social media for your food truck business, of course it is going to feel overly time consuming and like a chores. You may even figure you just don’t have time for it. However, if you think of it like speaking with your customers at your truck, you will be ready and happy to add it to daily your routine.

Do you already take the time to make sure customers understand your everything involved in preparing your menu items? Do you consider that something you don’t have time for?

Maybe on busy days you do not feel like you have the time; regardless, you still understand the value. Same principle, different audience. Both are your customers.

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Food Truck Kitchen Repair Costs

Today we’ll give one tip to help save the life of their food truck as keep their food truck kitchen repair costs to a minimum.

According to data we’ve collected from talking and working with mobile food vendors, many food trucks spend anywhere from 1 to 2 percent of sales annually to repair and maintain their trucks and equipment.

Considering that the annual sales volumes for most food trucks range from less than $250,000 to more than $1 million a year, we’re talking about thousands of dollars in annual repair costs.

Naturally, the varying sizes, styles, age and locations of these food trucks account for much of these differences. (Larger trucks can fit more equipment and thus need heftier generators, cooling systems, etc. Also, as a truck ages, the need to repair or maintain it increases.) Even so, after factoring in all the variables, the fact is that some food trucks manage to control these expenditures much better than others do.

As veterans of the mobile food industry, we’ve found the reason for these kinds of cost differences among food trucks is most often the same reason there are differences in the quality of their food and service: the management and systems they have in place.

Be A Proactive Food Truck Owner

Effective food truck management requires a vendor to be proactive rather than a reactive. Proactive vendors anticipate events. They don’t wait for issues to pop up; they’ve implemented systems to avoid them. When it comes to maintenance and repair issues, these food truck owners never wait for something to break, but rely on their systems to keep their kitchen equipment and truck in good working order. These systems include the establishment of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to ensure consistency, reliability, and lower repair and maintenance costs. Let’s take a look at one way you can preserve the condition of your truck and equipment.

Most food truck kitchen equipment failures are the result of incorrect or infrequent cleaning. For example, some vendors who have spent all day slinging food get back to their commissary and realize they still need to clean their truck. In an attempt to get the job done faster they will often use hoses or even pressure washers to clean up the kitchen.

If you can take one piece of advice to lower your food truck kitchen repair costs we would ask that it be this:

Keep the hoses out of your food truck kitchen!

I’ve seen truck owners use a garden hose to spray down everything from ovens to floors. If you weren’t aware, water is one of the most corrosive substances in your truck. While you may have invested in equipment that has stainless steel exteriors, burners, wiring compartments, and the undersides of equipment don’t have the same protection. The over spray from a hose tends to penetrate areas that were never intended for exposure to water.

If more food trucks cleaned their equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you or your local equipment technician probably wouldn’t have as much work. Rather than spraying water, use scrub brushes and de-greasers on external surfaces, a manufacturer-approved oven cleaner for ovens, and wire brushes on burners.

The moral to this story is: The best way to minimize your food truck kitchen repair costs, and prolong the life of your kitchen equipment and truck is to develop some simple equipment cleaning instructions (or in other words: “a system”) to make sure you and your staff properly clean your mobile food business on a regular basis.

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Fight Rising Food Prices

Today we discuss the best practices to help fight rising food prices to give food truck owners the ability to maintain or even improve your profit margins.

If you’ve spent any time watching the recent national economic trends (and I always suggest every food truck owner should), you will have noticed some disturbing figures. Those figures are showing that the prices of food products such as meat, produce as well as a whole grocery list full of food items are up dramatically this year and are projected to get even higher.

To the mobile food business owner this means that even with a long list of summer food events to attend, steady sales and long lines at your food truck’s service window, food and other cost increases are putting additional stress on your already narrow food truck profit margins.

Now might be a good time to step back and make sure you’ve installed smart purchasing practices and doing everything possible to maximize the yield of every product that makes it into your shopping cart and minimize losses to shrinkage, waste, spoilage and over-portioning.

Here are 5 tactics used by many of the most successful and profitable food trucks. If you aren’t currently using them, now is the perfect time to retool and improve your food cost control systems.

5 Proven Tactics To Fight Rising Food Prices

Don’t over buy. Buy just what you think you’ll actually use on a given day. This will reduce waste and improve portioning, as employees won’t think they have an endless supply to use. Weekly head count historical data should be reviewed to know how much you sell from location to location throughout the year.

Understand your product. Are you using the most appropriate grade or quality of product for a specific cooking technique or dish? If 99% of your customers can’t tell the difference, maybe it’s time to reconsider the specifications on some ingredients on your menu.

Look at your portion sizes. You never want to lower your food truck customers’ perception of the value your dishes provide, but when faced with price increases or modifying the amount of certain ingredients, you have to choose wisely.

Consolidate vendors. Is it possible to get lower overall prices by buying more products from one supplier? Some food trucks have lowered their food cost overnight 4%-5% and more by using a single supplier for their shopping lists.

Know your weekly food cost. Weekly food costing will make your food truck staff more aware and accountable for food cost fluctuations. You’ll be able to respond to problems quicker and it will change the culture in your mobile food business with regard to food cost control.

Maintain Your Already Narrow Margins

Ultimately, when food costs go up for food truck owners, you have three options to maintain your already narrow margins.

1)      Do more to control your food costs

2)      Raise prices

3)      A combination of both

To keep your customers and your accountant happy, make sure you’re doing everything to fight rising food prices. Using the tactics provided in this article will help you make the most of the food you purchase at the best prices possible.

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Food Truck Propane Leaks

After yesterday’s tragic propane explosion in a Philadelphia food truck we felt the need to provide food truck owners the ability to check for food truck propane leaks themselves.

In many food truck businesses, propane is the fuel of choice for the powering of their kitchen equipment. Although propane companies have specialized equipment designed for checking for leaks and their severity, food truck owners and their staff members can and should check for leaks.

Propane Cylinder Dimensions

The dimensions presented below are approximate measurements of common size propane cylinders found in service today. The measurements are not exact so contact your propane company or container manufacturer for precise cylinder dimensions.

20#
30#
40#
100#
Capacity (gallons)
Weight (empty)
Weight (full)
Overall Height
Diameter
BTU Capacity
4.7 gal
18 lbs
38 lbs
18 inches
12.5 inches
430,270
7.1 gal
24 lbs
54 lbs
24 inches
12.5 inches
649,980
9.4 gal
29 lbs
70 lbs
29 inches
12.5 inches
860,542
23.6 gal
68 lbs
170 lbs
48 inches
14.5 inches
2,160,509

 

Checking For Food Truck Propane Leaks

The process for finding food truck propane leaks is quite simple because the supplies and ingredients are found in almost every home and consist of just soap and water. Using a solution such as this is safe and will not harm your food truck’s propane tank or plumbing connections. It’s been heard of that people use a match or lighter to check for leaks and nothing could be more unsafe. Soap and water will safely identify and give an indication of the size of the leak.

Homemade propane leak detector solution can be placed in a spray bottle or other container. Liquid dishwashing soap will produce the most bubbles when mixed with water and is what’s most commonly used. If a spray bottle is used, adjust the tip of the sprayer so that a sharp stream is produced by squeezing the bottle’s trigger.

Don’t use a broad misting as this won’t adequately cover the connection or seal that’s being checked for leaks. The sharp stream will provide enough of the soapy mixture to produce bubbles if there is in fact a leak as well as reaching into any recessed connections that are not easily reached.

Using a sponge or dish rag to dispense the solution will adequately indicate any propane leaks as well. These leaks are common on older tanks and installations so do not be alarmed if you find a leak.

If You Find Propane Leak

As a general rule, small bubbles indicate a small leak while large bubbles indicate a larger leak. Tightening the screws on the face gauge will probably stop any leak around the face gauge. However, trying to fix the leak yourself may do more harm than good. This is especially true on older tanks where the screws may be easily sheared off if over-tightened.

The best thing to do is call your propane supplier and let them know that you’ve found a leak and they’ll make arrangements to take care of it. Again, small leaks are not cause for alarm. It’s not all that much and leaks of this size are easily fixed by tightening a fitting or connection. Until the leak is corrected we suggest you shut down any of the kitchen equipment it fuels.

Propane is a very safe fuel. But as with any energy source, there are steps you should take to further ensure your safety:

  • Learn what propane smells like. Propane retailers have scratch-and-sniff pamphlets to help your staff members recognize its distinctive odor.
  • Know where gas lines are located, so you won’t damage them when shifting or moving kitchen equipment within your food truck.
  • Don’t store cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, gasoline, or other flammable liquids near a gas-burning appliance where vapors could be ignited by the pilot light. Propane is a very safe fuel. Propane’s unique molecular properties make it much safer and cleaner than related petroleum-based energy sources.

If you’d like to learn more about propane safety please follow this link to propanesafety.com

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food truck tip of the day

Many food truck owner forays into social media yield nothing more than wasted time and effort. Before you establish your food truck Twitter account or start a Facebook page, step back and think about what messages will be relevant to your customers or potential customers.

tip of the dayOf course you want to send out your next location or your special of the day/week, but if your other communications aren’t useful or interesting to them, you might as well be tweeting into a black hole.

Start by understanding the conversations that are already happening around your food truck. Then craft messages accordingly.

Before sending anything out, ask yourself:

  • What value does this message carry for our customers?
  • What action are we hoping to inspire?

If you don’t have a clear answer to each of these questions, it’s time to return to the drawing board.

 

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Food Truck Breaks Down

So you’re headed to your next event or parking stop and your food truck breaks down. What are you going to do now? This article explains what to do.

If your food truck starts sputtering or it is having problems while you’re driving, the first step you need to take is to try to get to the right-hand shoulder of the road as soon as you can, especially if you’re on a highway.

As you pull your vehicle off the road, keep the following safety procedures in mind:

  • Try to coast along the shoulder until you’re away from any curves in the road behind you. This placement pays off when you’re ready to get back onto the road because you can spot oncoming traffic before it’s on your tail.
  • If the engine dies on the highway and you can’t get off the road, don’t get out of the truck! Sitting in a dead vehicle while traffic is building up behind can be unsettling, but attempting to cross a freeway on foot is suicide.

If your food truck breaks down after dark, put the interior light on so that you’re more visible. If the engine is operable, keep it running so that you don’t run the battery down. Most heavily traveled highways are also heavily patrolled, and a highway patrol officer should be along shortly. Whether you’ve managed to park at the side of the road or you’re stuck in a traffic lane, remember these additional safety precautions:

  • Roll down the window on the driver’s side, hang out a white cloth or piece of paper, and roll the window back up to secure it in place: The cloth or paper alerts drivers that your vehicle is in trouble and that they should proceed around you.
  • If you know that you’re going to need roadside assistance, use your cellphone to call your auto club or the highway patrol: If you have no phone, and you can see an emergency call box only a few feet away, use the call box to call for help, get right back in the vehicle. If there isn’t a call box nearby, you’re probably better off just hanging the white cloth or piece of paper out the window and waiting for the highway patrol.
  • To avoid being hit by a passing vehicle, never work on your food truck from the side that’s exposed to traffic. If you can, drive farther off the road to a safe, well-traveled place, and try to reach into the trouble area from the front or the side that’s away from traffic.
  • If it’s daylight, put on your emergency blinkers to alert oncoming traffic to the fact that your vehicle isn’t moving. This is not a good idea at night because motorists coming up behind you may think that your vehicle is still rolling along the highway and run right into the rear end of your food truck.
  • If it’s nighttime and you’re not stuck in traffic, quickly place warning lights or reflective markers about six feet behind the vehicle to alert traffic, and then get back in the truck.
  •  If you get a flat tire, do not attempt to change it unless you can get to the side of the road and the tire is on the side of the vehicle that’s safely away from traffic.

Because driving on a flat tire for any longer than it takes to park safely can destroy the tire, you need to replace it close to where it went flat. This is one reason why subscribing to roadside service is a good idea.

We hope this article helps you in the case if or when your food truck breaks down so you can be safe and make sure you and your staff are able to get back on the road once it’s been repaired.

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