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.