Monthly food costs are like a pulse indicating the health of your food truck and they shouldn’t fluctuate more than 1 percent.
Several culprits for rising food costs included poor portion control, high-cost menu items and poor production planning. It is suggested that food truck owners review at least one of these item a day. Management should also “look at what goes into the garbage” and check in with staff to adjust how much they are serving.
Poor production planning drives up costs for vendors who run out of product or produce too much. It is recommended pruning menus and factoring in seasons and the weather’s influence on customer tastes. Having too many menu items can slow down service, increases food costs and complicate your mobile food business. You can’t do all things for all people all the time.
Specials are a great way to test new menu items and also offer customers items that are no longer on the menu. Food trucks must also know what their signature items are and play to their strengths.
Accounting errors, theft of product, theft of cash and buying the wrong product for the intended use are also major contributors to food-cost fluctuations.
Be sure to use the smallest countable unit for your inventories. Consistency is very important, so monitoring inventory (if you actually have one) and costs with monthly reports and watching for theft of products, particularly for higher-cost items like meat. By doing inventory, you take the temptation away from people. This is stuff not only they can use, but sell to their neighbor.
Some food truck operators struggle with theft because they don’t want to accuse their employees or believe they are capable of theft. Between product and cash, 3 to 4 percent of your gross sales can go out the back door to employee theft. This doesn’t even include cheating on the time cards, just product and cash.
Most well-run food trucks have profits that are only about 15 to 20 percent of sales. You can have one fifth of your entire bottom line (more if your profits are smaller) wiped out if you don’t get rid of the theft.
Rising food costs and other clues can be indicators that theft is a problem. Overages can be the kiss of death. Ten dollars over is far worse than being short because employees could be overcharging customers and pocketing the extra money later.
A simple to step recommended to mobile food vendors is to limit cash register access to one employee each shift and never allow that employee access to the final receipt of all transactions.