Customer frustration due to long wait times is a common problem in the food truck industry, but it doesn’t have to be. The best food trucks work hard to keep customers happy, even when there are long wait times. Their customers are greeted and presented with clear expectations of how long the wait will be. Meanwhile, the kitchen staff works hard to rapidly get the next order out the window.
In most cases, customers get upset only when the wait is caused by customer service or operational mistakes. Luckily, these are both areas that food truck owners have the ability to adjust when needed.
Is your food truck popular or just poorly run? Long wait times at your food truck could be due to its popularity. Or maybe, the order delays are caused by your own mistakes.
One common cause for customer frustration is poor estimates on wait times. If your service window staff is too optimistic; customers in a hurry can become irate when a 10 minute wait time becomes 30.
There are many variables that affect the experience at a food truck. Because of this, it’s hard to know which are behind your food truck’s wait time. That doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive and take steps to eliminate the things that cause your customers the most angst. Today we’ll discuss four strategies to minimize wait times at your food truck.
4 Strategies To Prevent Long Wait Times
Hire Cool And Calm Service Window Attendants
Even if you’re truck is slammed, the service window attendant’s job is to make sure all customers feel welcome the moment they walk up to your truck. Whatever else is happening inside your truck, your server should always be available to do their primary job. Take care of customers while they are in line.
Give Customers A View Into The Kitchen
Watching food be prepared can be a source of entertainment all on it’s own, so why not give your customers a bird’s-eye view into the process? If you’re able to provide a view into the kitchen in your food truck it’s a great way to keep customers occupied while they’re waiting.
By keeping customers entertained and also working to prevent long wait times, you’ll be able to keep your customers happy before, during, and after they order.
Properly Balance Your Labor
Looking at your labor as a percentage of sales by sections: service window (front-of-house), kitchen staff (back-of-house), and administration. Keeping your labor numbers low may look like it is saving you money, but the slower turns and longer wait times it creates smaller profits.
The best food truck point-of-sale systems will provide real-time data that can give you the insight you need. If your labor stats are skewed, don’t hesitate to call in more staff. Here are a few quick tips for approaching the relationship between wait times and staffing:
- Analyze your customer data to understand your peak times and to make sure you are adequately staffed.
- Create contingency plans for when employees call out.
- Look for ways to operate as seamlessly as possible when you enter a period of being understaffed. Can you sacrifice some internal procedures in the short term while you staff up? Look for ways to make sure your customers feel the shortage as little as possible and you keep your wait times to a minimum.
Continually Train Your Staff In Customer Service
Customer service doesn’t end when an order goes out the window. In fact, nowadays, it often doesn’t end until a review is posted online. Use these reviews (good and bad) and share them with your food truck staff. Use each of them as a learning experience in customer service.
There will always be room for improvement, so make notes about what went well and what didn’t, and then use them in your next shift. What’s key is to ensure that guests feel taken care of and that they spend their wait anticipating a great meal and better experience than your competition.
The Bottom Line
These tips should provide a good starting point for analyzing your food truck’s service delivery and beginning the process of decreasing long wait times. Make sure to focus first on the few changes that will yield the greatest results; you can refine the smaller details once you have made progress.