DULUTH, GA– As the U.S. food truck market continues its surge in popularity and size, NCR is spotlighting this dynamic market by offering insider tips, first-hand insight and customer stories.
Along with street vending, food trucks are one of the fastest-growing segments in the hospitality industry. According to the National League of Cities, food truck revenue is expected to increase 76 percent over the next five years.
Food trucks are also one of the fastest-growing segments for NCR Silver, an advanced tablet point-of-sale (POS) system for small businesses. More than just a mobile POS, NCR Silver offers back-office technology to run an entire food truck business – from integrating customer loyalty to automating different tax rates.
“It’s a simple user interface to change,” said Travis Schamerhorn, partner of Gotta Have It, an Atlanta-based “fusion” food truck and catering business. “I can also take payments anywhere and access everything I need to run my business on the same system.”
Other food trucks tout NCR Silver’s ability to manage multiple locations as a top draw.
“My favorite part is the reporting features,” said Joe Bruno, partner and head chef at Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen, a “farm-to-street” food truck in Atlanta. “We love the ability to pull up sales based on individual events, quickly see how we did, and plan for the next one. I always know how much product to bring to repeat events. NCR Silver helps us run our business more efficiently and prevent waste.”
As NCR Silver has grown alongside the food truck market – which took off in 2008 – the POS team has gained valuable insight into running a successful mobile business:
Know your regulations
Many local governments want to see food trucks succeed. But it takes time for laws that were written decades ago for brick-and-mortar restaurants to catch up.
Adjacent cities and counties can sometimes have different rules on safety, parking and more. Fees can also vary widely.
“Be sure to know each city’s and county’s rules first,” said Justin Hotard, president of NCR Small Business. “Compliance can sometimes be so time-consuming that it may be best to dedicate one person full-time to handle licensing, permitting and other regulatory requirements during the initial few months.”
Get creative with parking
With a mobile business, location is everything. To combat parking restrictions in certain communities, many food truck vendors are generating additional income by offering catering services.
The industry also is seeing an increase in free market options, such as “pods” in San Francisco, where trucks can park in public spaces and not worry about breaking local rules.
Bottom line, know the market options in the communities you serve – some are better than others – to minimize parking hassles and maximize customer reach.
Build – and maintain – your brand
The most successful food trucks have unique brands, which include everything from the menu and logo to truck design. Given the mobile nature of food trucks, letting fans know where you’re going each day is crucial. Social media is a prime vehicle for this, as well as overall customer engagement.
Loyalty programs also help. It’s beneficial for a loyalty program to work seamlessly with the checkout process – automatically tracking rewards with each sale, so customers see what they’ve earned, and have added incentive to come back. Loyalty integration eliminates punch cards and disparate programs.
“You need several ingredients to run a successful food truck – good service, amazing food and passion,” Hotard said. “The element tying all of this together is your brand. Staying consistent with your brand and continually engaging customers increases your likelihood of long-term success.”
For more industry stats and insider views, check out “#GetRolling America: 2014 Food Truck Facts” infographic and “Rolling with Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen: A Day in the Life of a Food Truck” video.
To learn more about NCR Silver’s features, visit the website, or call 1-877-630-9711. NCR Silver provides live, 7-day support and access to Silver SidewalkSM, a customer community portal with information and opportunities to connect with other members. NCR Silver tablet POS runs in the cloud, uses consumer-friendly technology, and works on Apple® devices running the latest iOS.